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Home arrow Blog arrow June 2009 arrow June 15, 2009

June 15, 2009
June 15, 2009: Israeli Police and Military Brutalize PEACEFUL Protesters at Netanyahu's Speech and related links  I returned home from my 10 days in Israel and Occupied Palestine two hours ago. Also, had the worst flight of my life. After getting gassed in Bil'in on Friday, I said good bye for a while to the CODE PINK activists who went to Tel Aviv and I returned to Jerusalem.

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June 12, 2009: Getting Gassed in Bil'in

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June 11, 2009: Winning the War of Legitimacy

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June 9, 2009: An Evening in Sderot

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June 8, 2009: Israel's Future Leaders 

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June 7, 2009: It's All About the Children 

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Ann Wright, retired US Army Reserves Colonel,former U.S. diplomat, CODE PINK activist reported:

Israeli Police and Military Brutalize Peaceful Protesters at Netanyahu’s Speech
By Ann Wright
 
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was making a major foreign policy speech at Tel Aviv university on June 14, 2009, Israeli police outside the university attacked international protesters of Israel’s invasion of Gaza, illegal settlements and the apartheid wall.


Heavy handed police treatment of the CODEPINK: Women for Peace delegation began immediately after members of the group unfurled several pink banners that read “Free Gaza” and “End the Occupation.”  CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin and New York activist Zool Zulkowitz were physically dragged across the street from their original protest site next to the entrance gate to Bar Ilan University where audience members and press entered the university complex to attend the speech.


Several hours later, a French journalist who was a member of the CODEPINK delegation, was arrested as she crossed a small street in an attempt to take photos of the demonstration.  As she was placed in an Israeli police car, several members of the delegation converged to determine why the journalist was being held.  Israeli police and military violently shoved the group back into a wall.  Delegation member Tighe Barry from Santa Monica, California was struck in the face with the butt of a military rifle and pushed to the ground where he could barely breathe.  He was taken by ambulance to the Trauma Center of Tal-Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv where he was treated for a concussion, an injured neck and an asthma attack.  Medea Benjamin and several other delegation members were bruised in the arms and upper body from being shoved and manhandled by the police and military.


The journalist was taken to a local police station and released an hour later without charges.  Mr. Barry was treated overnight at the hospital.

The CODEPINK delegation has requested that the Israeli police and military investigate the brutality used by their forces on the peaceful, non-violent protesters.

When President Obama spoke in Cairo on June 4, a separate CODEPINK delegation that had just returned from six days in Gaza in early June, held a demonstration right outside Cairo University holding signs that read “Stop funding Israeli War Crimes.”  Egyptian police allowed the demonstration to take place.

“Is this the great democracy that the U.S. taxpayers pay for with $3 billion dollars a year?”, cried Medea Benjamin as she was being dragged away by the police.


About the Author: resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war
Ann Wright is a retired US Army Reserves Colonel and a former U.S. diplomat.  She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, and Mongolia.  She was on a small State Department team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December, 2001.  She has visited Gaza three times in the past three months, co-leading two delegations over of 120 persons.


Jerry Levin was my first guide through Hebron, in June 2005. He wrote:


The consequences for peace of the demonstrably undemocratic Jewish State

 
Introductory comment: My home base newspaper the Birmingham News, has once again taken the lead among large daily newspapers in the U.S. in being hospitable to long over due critiques of the implications of false claims by apologists for a Jewish State that Israel is a Middle East democracy in a way that none of the Islamic nations are. After the first OP-ED, "Israel is not a democracy," ran in early April, I submitted updated reworkings of the same thesis to much larger dailies in the U.S.: twice to the New York Times and the Washington Post, and once to the Los Angeles Times and USA today. All were summarily rejected without comment.

I wasn't surprised. But, of course, hope does spring eternal. But that only emphasizes even more the importance, I think, that if you feel so inclined, to e-mail your appreciation to the News' Editor Tom Scaritt at tscarritt@bhamnews. com with a copy to Viewpoints Editor, Joey Kennedy at jkennedy@bhamnews. com for being willing to give exposure to my currently counter-intuitive argument.

In subsequent reports I will pass on some of the pieces rejected by the big majors because the critiques remain as current as the Israeli government's latest public statements, and because of their currency will additonally amplify my argument.

Specifically that argument is that it is illogical to expect any constructive action to take place in the Israel Palestine region unless crucial reforms begin inside Israel State in the form of dismantling all the de jure apartheid laws and regulations making life for non-Jews there as almost egregiously miserable as life for non-Jews in the occupied territories…minus the retail violence meted out by the Jewish State's internal security forces. But, of course, it continues to be meted out wholesale, as for instance, to the thirteen non-Jews shot dead in October 2000 protesting nonviolently in their villages the ferocious Army violence perpetrated in the West Bank and Gaza at beginning of the second uprising and continuing to today. So after reading this second OP-ED in the Birmingham News and the brief explanation above honk twice if they resonate constructively with you.
Thanks.


 
Sunday June 14th Birmingham News OP-ED follows:
There's Inequality in Israel too.
 
There are serious omissions in President Obama's historic speech in Cairo having to do with the Israel Palestine conflict. For instance when Obama said that he has an unyielding belief that all people yearn for the ability to speak their minds in how they are governed and the need to have confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice, he needed to make that clear by admitting to the following:


 That he knows those rights are lacking not only in the occupied territories but in the State of Israel too. Arab Christian and Muslims and other non-Jews living inside Israel do not enjoy the same rights, privileges and individual freedom as do its Jews.


That Obama knows that serious restrictions are embedded in Israeli laws and governmental regulations that were enacted to ensure that Jewish nationality counts for considerably more than it does for Israel's non-Jewish citizens. When it comes to collective legal rights and individual dignity, Israel's non-Jews, despite the fact that they are citizens, have been subjected to oppressive confiscatory second class citizenship since 1948.


That Obama knows apartheid is alive and well not just in the occupied territories but also inside Israel. Because of apartheid laws, non-Jews living inside Israel are not legally eligible, to state just two examples, for equal distribution of public funds for such vital social programs as education and health; or for the freedom to build a home anywhere outside of Arab villages and towns. Jews, of course, may live anywhere.


That Obama knows that because of these facts, Israel is neither a pervasively humane nor real democracy in the best sense of that word. The effect of its internal discrimination is not much different from the kinds of oppression the President alluded to that currently exists in some Islamic nations. So it would have been monumentally historic had he called on Israel to live up to the human and civil rights needs of its non-Jewish citizens.


Obama knows that many Israeli Jews and American Jews are demanding that too. But currently they are outnumbered, so it would have been helpful for him to have encouraged them to keep at it because he like they know that such demands are precisely similar to those cited in the November 1947 United Nation resolution which enabled creation of a "Jewish State" and "Arab State." In it, the UN meticulously directed the establishment of constitutional rights in both states guaranteeing for "all persons… equal and nondiscriminatory rights in civil, political, economic and religious matters and the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms including freedom of religion, language, speech and publication, education, assembly and association. "


Moreover he as well as they know that Israel's leaders failed to live up to the formal affirmation of the UN's directives even though they were agreed to by its founders in the May 1948 Declaration that announced the establishment of the "State of Israel." That Declaration proclaimed that the "Jewish State" will "ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex."


When Obama ended the speech, it would have been reassuring to all those who want to believe that the United States stands for impartial democracy for him to have pledged that the United States will start holding Israel up to the same high standards of rule and governance that it is holding up to Islam.
Those omissions notwithstanding, and to give credit when it is due, it was encouraging to hear the President declare it is time for the "settlements to stop," that Palestinians who are being obliged to "endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation," are deserving of his sympathy, that "America will not turn its backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own. It was also appropriate for him to warn Hamas "to put an end to violence."
 
That above was the latest OP-ED run in the news. I'm copying in below for those, new to my list serv, the first OP-ED run by the news, which kicked off my subsequent analysis of the implications for peace of the demonstrably undemocratic Jewish State.
 


Sunday April 12th Birmingham News OP-ED follows:
In truth, Israel is not a democracy.
 
Birmingham Jewish Federation Executive Director, Richard Friedman in recent writings in the Birmingham News continues to claim that "the Jewish State" of Israel is a "tiny and humane democracy struggling against Islamic fanaticism in the Middle East [and so] deserves our support and admiration." As the anniversary of Israel's momentous, violent and controversial establishment nears, I am challenging those assertions.

It is true that tiny Israel is struggling to protect its noncombatant citizens from potentially deadly rocket attacks by its tinier violent opponent, the militant wing of Hamas, as well it should.
But what Mr. Friedman's arguments on behalf of Israel obscure is the Jewish State's historic and violently abusive and predatory treatment of non-Jewish citizens living inside Israel or its non Jewish subjects hanging on in the West Bank and Gaza.


Until now, however, publicly questioning the Jewish State's exclusionary conduct has been an elephant in the room that has been avoided by U.S policy and opinion makers for generations. Apparently believing it not to be particularly relevant with respect to our interests in that part of the world, a succession of U. S. administrations have rationalized their massive economic and military support by giving disingenuous lip service to Mr. Friedman's eyes wide shut claim that Israel is the only "true democracy in the Middle East."

Israel has no constitution and no bill of rights. In addition its history of legislating apartheid, unequal civil rights, privileges and access to public funds make a disqualifying mockery of the definition of "true" and the concept of "democracy." The truth is there are no true democracies in the Middle East.
Amazingly while the concept of an Islamic state ruled by either authoritarian theocratic, monarchical or secular elites is not compatible with American political values, the notion of a Jewish defiantly ethnically exclusionary state continues to be o.k. The sensibilities of the strongest supporters of Israel do not seem to be offended by the second class status Israel's Jewish majority has legally imposed on its Christian and Arab Muslim populations even though doing that does not square with an egalitarian view of what constitutes "democracy" and the Jeffersonian concept of equal inalienable rights for "all men."
It is true those living in Israel have citizenship; but it is even truer that Jewish nationality still counts the most. Nevertheless Israel's exaggerated democratic characterizations of itself have gained such astounding credibility that its government has been able to put off reversing the inferior civil and human rights status of Palestinians living in Israel or under its control in the West Bank and Gaza.
Meanwhile the kind of effective massive few strings attached support Israel continues to receive from especially the United States is enabling its  military/industrial /theocratic ruling establishment to put off coming to grips fairly and decently with West Bank and Gazan Christian and Muslim Palestinians' aspirations for political, economic, and territorial integrity. Still a succession of U. S. administrations has participated in the scornful rejection of any persons or parties who challenge the "right" of the exclusivist Jewish State "to exist."


Except for a violent extremist Islamic fringe that does not speak for all Palestinians, what most Palestinians are calling into question when they dispute "Israel's right to exist," is not the right of Jews to continue living there. What they are still futilely disputing is the moral and ethical legitimacy of Israel's current legally discriminating militantly elitist ethnically pure governing establishment. Also contrary to the kind of negative stereotyping rhetoric still prevalent in the United States, what Christian and Muslim Palestinians in the street mean when they talk about "the  destruction of Israel" is a radical but nonviolent change of government orientation from political and social exclusion to inclusion. In other words, what they want to have established at last is the first true democracy in the Middle East.


Moreover, even though some militant Hamas leaders behind the unconscionable indiscriminate sometimes lethal rocket attacks on Israeli noncombatants do call for violent upheaval, most Palestinians including politically oriented Hamas leaders do not. They favor one achieved by the kind of dramatic internal political reform in Israel that I have been describing.


At this moment it does not seem likely that President Obama's policy includes encouraging the kind of political change in Israel that will result in an end to the current exclusivist Jewish state and the beginning of a truly democratic pluralist equalitarian society that would not be prey to any sectarian, ethnic, gender, or racial interests. To bad because such nonviolent regime change could set the stage for the establishment of two side by side similar truly democratic states, one in Israel and one in Palestine, that  could go far in creating political stability in the Middle East that has been so tragically elusive until now.
 
Jerry Levin is a former CNN Middle East reporter, who was kidnapped and held hostage by Hezbollah in 1984. He escaped after eleven and a half months in captivity due to the nonviolent behind the scene efforts of friends and colleagues organized by his wife, Sis Levin. The group included  Muslim, Christian, and Jews in the U.S. and the Middle East.  Since then he has been working for the absolute release of non-Jews in the region from every aspect of Israeli domination, control, expropriation, and pogrom-like violence. Over the years he has worked with several violence reduction organizations in the West Bank (including CPT - Christian Peacemaker Teams) and Gaza, and with nonviolent peace and nonviolent justice organizations in the U.S . In April at a ceremony in San Francisco he and his were recognized by the Dali Lama as one of 2009's "Unsung Heroes of  Compassion.

In addition to this site, he has also created a blog that can be accessed via
http://fromtheinsid elookingout- jerrylevin. blogspot. com/

 



  



 
 



 






   
 
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