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Counterpunch article full of lies about Israel

At the popular website, www.counterpunch.org ,the following article relating the experiences of a husband and wife team, Kathleen and Bill Chistison who recently visited "Palestine" was printed as the lead feature article on Sept. 24, 2004. The article is re-printed below in its entirety with my frequent comments imbedded. Please note the frequent blatant untruths and the glaring ommissions which, for the naive reader, leave the impression that the Palestinians are fine, good people and the Israelis are evil and brutal.
"Finally It Broke My Heart"
Random Impressions from Palestine

By KATHLEEN and BILL CHRISTISON
Former CIA Analysts



A few weeks spent in Palestine is always an assault on the senses, on the emotions. And after three trips to the West Bank in the past eighteen months, it is impossible not to draw some conclusions. For most Americans, the eleventh commandment of the politics of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is Thou Shalt Not Reach Conclusions, for conclusions ­ that Israel wants the land of Palestine without the people; that the Israeli settlements, the roads accessible only to Israelis,....



BECKY: That's because when Palestinians and Israelis drove through Palestinian towns, the residents regularly threw rocks at their cars. Their crime? Driving a car with Israeli license plates. Pure hatred of Jews.



....the land confiscations,....



BECKY: Many Palestinians build homes on land they do not own and have no title to. Perhaps the writer is referring to confiscated land for the security barrier. this was done under emminent domain in order to save Jewish lives from Palestinian terrorism. Oh, and its working too. Lives ARE being saved. But this is not worthy of mention by these authors.



.... the house demolitions,....



BECKY: Homes of suicide bombers, buildings used to house terror cells or where gunshots are frequently fired from. Also on the Egyptian border to stop the arms smuggling tunnels. And homes are demolished that were built illegally on other peoples land and without permits. These would be bulldozed in Santa Cruz County too.



.... the destruction of agricultural land...



BECKY: Sometimes groves of trees are bulldozed because they regularly hide gunmen who shoot at Israelis.



....add up to an act of ethnocide against the Palestinian people;



BECKY: Ethnocide???? what is that? Israel is destroying the Palestinians ethnicity? These are the same people that say the temple mount never contained the Jewish temple. These are the same people who waged a war of annihilation against the Jewish people on Yom Kippur. These are the same people who teach their children to hate anything Jewish. If the authors mean ethnic cleansing, how do they then justify advocating for the removal of all Jewish communities on the West Bank or the ethnic cleansing of Jews?



... that Israel's occupation...



BECKY: Yeah, Israel's occupation of ISRAEL!! UN resolution 242 passed in 1967 grants Israel legal administrative and military control of conquered lands until a peace accord can be signed agreeable to all parties. Israel has tried to give the Palestinians their own state in 1993, 2000, and 2003 just to cite recent history.



... and Israel's land greed...



BECKY: Arab/Islamic land = 5,354,002 square miles
Israel's land area = 8,473 square miles

Israel wants peace more than it wants more land. The author makes no mention of Palestinian Authority's school textbooks, radio shows, tv and official emblems all have the entire state of Israel as Palestine. They don't want the Jewish State to have any land at all.



...are the root of the conflict and the root cause of terrorism...



BECKY: The root of the conflict is Arab/Islamic hatred of Jews and their attempt to genocide them. These Arabs were allies of Hitler and urged him to eliminate the Jews. Sadly, this kind of hatred is widespread and common even today.



....are too pointed for most people, too embarrassingly descriptive of an ugly reality impossible to ignore. Without conclusions, American friends of Israel can live comfortably in denial, believing that although the occupation may be misguided, ultimately Israel is good and innocent, it is only protecting its security,...



BECKY: This author either doesn't know or declines to report that Israel has built the Palestinians 7 universities and 20 Community colleges, 166 medical clinics, universal health insurance for all Palestinians, invested in business, industry and infrastructure, built a sports stadium, expanded water, sewage, and electical systems for the Palestinians just prior to the Oslo agreement. Israel has done a lot more than just protect its own security.



...the whole conflict is the Palestinians' fault. But when you are in Palestine,...



BECKY: There is no Palestine. The "Palestinians" have rejected a Palestinian state every time its been offered.



....when you see hundred-year-old olive groves...



BECKY: Yeah right!! "Ancestral groves" BTW Israel is the ONLY country in the world that had more trees in the year 2000 than it had in the year 1900.



...bulldozed to make way for the wall,...



BECKY: Israel planted 60,000 olive trees uprooted by the fence. I don't like the wall---which is a wall for about 4% of its path and a fence for 96% of its path---but its only there to stop the Palestinians from murdering Jewish civilians. The author makes no mention of this.



....when you see entire city blocks bulldozed and cleared of homes where thousands once lived,...



BECKY: Where? When? The author provides no specifics.



.... when you actually watch a home being demolished, when you see huge Israeli colonies and small outposts on every hilltop,



BECKY: Gee. I can see Californian communities and homes on every hilltop too. I dont feel like murdering people as a result.



... when you see markets closed because the wall has separated commerce from its customers, when you see destruction all around, denial is no longer possible. You must conclude that there is a deliberate scheme here. You must acknowledge the unthinkable, that Israel has been built from the beginning on the ruins of another nation,....



BECKY: Israel is built on land that was part of the British Mandate and granted to the Jewish State by a UN resolution. Prior to British control, the land was part of the Turkish Ottoman empire. What nation is Israel on?? Palestine?? hardly. There was no Palestine in 1948 and there never was one.



.. that Israel has all but destroyed another people in order to have a Jewish-majority state,...



BECKY: The "destroyed" Palestinian people have increased their numbers on the West Bank THREEFOLD since 1967.



... that Israel is not moral as its friends claim, not a light unto the nations.



BECKY: These authors are anti-semites, telling half-truths, and jumping to unsupported conclusions.



"You Are the Proof that Palestinians Are Not Alone"



What is perhaps most surprising is to encounter so many people, Israelis as well as internationals, who agree with these conclusions and who speak openly and almost casually about their distaste for Zionism and the flaws inherent in the system it has generated. For the second year running, at a work camp sponsored by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) to rebuild a recently demolished Palestinian home in the village of Anata, just outside East Jerusalem, we encountered more people than we knew existed, from more organizations than we knew existed, working to oppose the occupation and help Palestinians oppose Israel's expansionism.



BECKY: They support the suicide bombers?



These are people who put their own personal safety at risk and their own personal comfort aside in order to help Palestinians rebuild, protect Palestinians from Israeli settlers....



BECKY: I did a google search on "Palestinians killed by Israeli settlers" and found only 6 entries. Two of them reported no deaths by Israeli settlers. The only one which reported any deaths was dated 1987. Nothing recent. This is a phantom issue made up by these authors and their ilk. Palestinians are not in danger from Israelis settlers. Israeli settlers ARE in danger from Palestinians. Blame the victim!!



...and soldiers, bring the Palestinian message to the world, stand in solidarity with Palestinians in distress. ICAHD itself, founded and led by Jeff Halper, is both an activist and an education organization, with a small core staff of Israeli and Palestinian experts, starting with Halper himself, who know every road in the West Bank, every settlement, the details of every Israeli expansion plan, every mile of the separation wall.



In addition, there are countless other volunteer organizations, including, among others, the International Solidarity Movement; Christian Peacemaker Teams; Ecumenical Accompaniers (who accompany Palestinians traveling in areas with a heavy Israeli settler presence). Some people return year after year, during vacation time or school breaks; one Quaker woman was there this year for her ninth summer. Israeli peace groups, including non-Zionist groups uncomfortable with Israel's Jewish exclusivism and prepared to live in a Palestine in which Jews and Palestinians enjoy equal rights, are numerous. International volunteers also work with Palestinian medical and social relief organizations. During the two weeks of the work camp, we hauled cinderblocks and carried mortar with volunteers from France, England, Israel, Palestine, Canada, Australia, Scotland, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, South Africa, and the United States ­ many of whom worked on other projects before and after the work camp. A group from Japan working with children in Gaza joined our camp for a day of hard toiling. These Japanese workers were true Stakhanovites.



BECKY: Those peace and social justice movements frequently endorse terrorism and violence against Jews...the ISM is run by the PLO and endorses violence against Israel which they call "legitimate armed struggle". These "peace and justice" organizations don't go to Sudan where REAL genocide is happening because they will get shot by the Sudanese govt. The Israeli govt. presents no such threat. It's much safer to protest against Israel because Israel is a democracy which allows dissent.



Being with these individuals and these groups gives one a great sense of the possibilities, a sense that with this many people dedicated to achieving justice for the Palestinians, the struggle cannot possibly be lost. But a return home brings one back to the stark reality that very few Americans ­ and, for all intents and purposes, no politicians of any political stripe ­ care a whit. The stark reality is that neither John Kerry nor George Bush gives a damn how many Palestinians die while they laud Ariel Sharon's efforts to "guarantee security for Israel," or how many Palestinian lives and livelihoods are ruined....



BECKY: Apparently these authors don't care how many Jewish lives are ruined when a loved one is maimed or killed while eating pizza, sitting in a coffee shop or riding a bus to school.



... when homes are confiscated or demolished, agricultural land and greenhouses bulldozed, water wells destroyed to make room for the wall that Kerry and Bush alike regard as a marvelous innovation in Israeli peacemaking. The stark reality is that over 90 percent of our congressional representatives vote with numbing regularity to endorse the deliberate strangulation of the Palestinian people.



BECKY: Land confiscated under emminent domain for the security barrier pays compensation to the land owners. Should our congressional representatives vote to support Hamas, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or Islamic Jihad?



How ignorant they all are,...



BECKY: How ignorant of the facts does a reader of this article have to be to believe this claptrap?



...these politicians who are supposed to represent us, about the realities of life under the dominion of Israel. How ignorant they all are of the facts: that Israel daily destroys or steals homes and land from Palestinians because Jews want these properties,...



BECKY: If Israel's only motive was to "steal land" why did Barak offer 95% of the West Bank to the Palestinians in 2000? If Israel is so militarily superior to the Palestinians, why didnt they long ago march in and take back the land? Why has Israel allowed the Islamics to control the top of the Temple Mount? This is because Israel wants peace more than land.



...that more miles of the impenetrable, permanent concrete barrier wall are built every day on Palestinian land, that Israel killed 385 Palestinians, 40 of them children under the age of 15, during the five and a half months in which Israelis recently enjoyed a respite from suicide bombings.



BECKY: These numbers include suicide bombers and terrorists killed by the army. Land owners are compensated for land taken by emminent domain to build the fence. Oh, the Palestinians still want to kill Jews. But the security barrier is working. It is the cause of the "recent respite".



Kill ratios of 385 to 29 ­ more than two Palestinians killed every day versus one Israeli killed every week ­ are good for Israel,...



BECKY: No killing is "good for Israel" but the people the IDF are killing are the leaders and perpetrators of the terror attacks. They are either arrested, tried, and jailed or killed.



...and what is good for Israel is good for U.S. politicians as well.



BECKY: The authors are right here. Israel's use of military equipment is good for the US arms industry.



This is also good for the media, which gets a rest from hard reporting on human conflict. Americans have not heard anything from the mainstream media about almost 400 newly dead Palestinians.



BECKY: Again--do a google search and you will find that deaths of Palestinians are being reported with regular frequency---and MORE than Israeli deaths are being reported.



Since we were in Palestine last year, new miles of the wall and new Israeli-only roads have been built. New destructions of markets and homesteads have occurred. But little of this makes it into the mainstream press. For two weeks in August, ISM activists led a non-violent march along the length of the wall, from Jenin in the northern West Bank to Jerusalem ­ every day scores of protesters simply walking along the wall ­ but few would know this from watching TV news in the U.S. or reading the New York Times.



How cavalierly they all ­ the politicians and the media and the friends of Israel ­ forget about the Palestinians as human beings with basic human rights like the rest of mankind;



BECKY: 98% of Palestinians are under self-rule in the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians have the same rights as Israelis to use the Israeli courts for any grievance. They can and do win judgements. It is the PA which has denied them the right to vote when they elected Arafat 8 years ago for a five-year term. Arafat suspended the elections. He blamed it on Israel, of course.



...how cavalierly they write off the Palestinians as unworthy of those rights guaranteed to us Americans and of course to Israelis: the rights to life, liberty, property, the pursuit of happiness, security against foreign occupiers. How cavalierly they ignore common human decency. Like that proverbial tree falling in the forest, we international volunteers and peace groups must wonder if anyone hears us.



BECKY: Where are all these groups when it comes to the rights of the Sudanese to not be murdered, raped, displaced, or have their land stolen? The Palestinians dont have it that bad. They have a ten-fold higher standard of living than sub-saharan Africans do.



We take heart, however, from one fact in particular: Palestinians hear us, and that after all is what it's all about. Palestinians know that ISM volunteers stay with families whose homes are demolished in illegal Israeli acts of collective punishment,...



BECKY: Aren't the suicide bombings collective punishment?



...giving them strength and some little bit of hope. Palestinians know that groups of internationals will help them with the olive harvest next month, in areas where the wall has blocked Palestinian owners from reaching their own orchards.



BECKY: The funny thing about olives is they require almost no care. Just plant them and come back to harvest the olives. Olive farmers need access to their trees about 3 weeks a year. The IDF has promised to open gates and allow the farmers access to their crops.



Palestinians know that Christian groups will protect children on their way to school from the harassment of angry, racist Israeli colonists.



BECKY: Right! Israelis are against Palestinian children going to school. What a crock!



Palestinians know that ICAHD volunteers will rebuild a home here and there in an act of defiance against the occupation and of solidarity with Palestinians. Palestinians know that not all Americans are like their government, or even like most of their opposition presidential candidates. Salim Shawamreh, whose house we rebuilt last year under ICAHD's auspices and who is now an ICAHD board member, spoke at the ceremony marking the completion of this year's house. Palestinians often think that no one anywhere in the world knows or cares about their plight, he said, but ­ addressing the international volunteers ­ "You are the proof that Palestinians are not alone."



"The Price People Should Pay to Be Free"



The wall is "the biggest crime against humanity in the last fifty years," he says.



BECKY: A bigger crime than Rwanda? East Timoor? A bigger crime than the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia? Black September?



Juliano Mer Khamis, director of the recently released motion picture Arna's Children, spoke to the work camp after an evening showing of his powerful movie. He is himself a powerful presence ­ handsome, forceful, angry on behalf of the Palestinians. Mer Khamis is the son of the Arna of the movie's title, a Jewish Israeli woman born and raised in the Galilee, and a Palestinian father from the same region of Israel. The parents were communists, never Zionists, and Arna spent much of her life working on behalf of Palestinian liberation. For many years, only the family's Jewish identity rubbed off on the son; like many children of mixed marriages, Mer Khamis initially identified aggressively with the power and superiority represented by his Jewishness, even joining the elite paratroops to prove his loyalty to the Jewish state. Until, that is, one day when, while on duty at a checkpoint between Palestinian and Jewish areas inside Israel, he encountered a carload of his own extended Palestinian family and was ordered by a superior officer to harass and humiliate them.



BECKY: I want to know what he was ordered to do.



After he refused the order, slugged the officer,...



BECKY: This is an assault. What did he expect would happen to him?



..and served eighteen months in a military brig, his thinking, his politics, and the center of his self-identity changed.



Mer Khamis worked with his mother on the youth theater project that is the subject of Arna's Children. The movie is the story of Arna's efforts in 1994 to organize a theater group for young Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp. Although girls were also involved, the movie concentrates on half a dozen Palestinian boys in their mid-teens. This was a period, just after the signing of the Oslo peace agreement, of considerable optimism in both Israel and Palestine, and the movie shows happy young people totally engaged in their amateur theater work. Ten years later, the hope and hilarity of young people working together have been extinguished. Arna herself is dead of cancer, and all but one of the Palestinian teenagers is dead, either the targets of Israeli assassination, or killed fighting Israeli forces during Israel's siege of Jenin in April 2002, or in two cases in suicide attacks inside Israel.



BECKY: They became suicide bombers? How awful!! And the authors blame Israel??????



Seeing the human face of these young kids turned militant leaves the audience drained.



BECKY: Does the author mention any of the incitement to hatred by the Palestinian Authority? NO!!



Asked during a discussion after the movie if he supports suicide bombings, Mer Khamis never says yes or no but answers with a long description of the Palestinian situation.



BECKY: That means "yes".



Palestine, he points out, is a unique guerrilla situation: there are no jungles and no mountains in which to hide in order to attack and ambush the Israelis. "All they have is their suicide attacks." He notes that "the intifada with stones," the first intifada in the late 1980s, "where they die in front of the camera and the world sympathizes," turned into an armed intifada when Israel responded to stones with Kalashnikovs,...



BECKY: So they blame Israel for THEIR OWN use of guns, bombs, and suicide bombers?



...which occurred on the first day of the second intifada in September 2000. Israel has pushed the Palestinians farther and farther, Mer Khamis says, provoking greater militancy with each step, so that it could justify its actions before the world.



BECKY: This is the same argument a wife-batterer uses to justify beating his wife. She "made" him do it. Barak offered the Palestinians their own state of Palestine on 95% of the West Bank. Sharon made a similar offer in 2003. I can see why that would infuriate them into trying to kill as many Jews as possible.



Suicide attacks are the Palestinians' last steps, justifying any oppressive measures in Israel's eyes. These include assassinations and, the worst, the separation wall.



BECKY: Israel's security fence is hated because it is frustrating the suicide bombers.



An Israeli official summoned Mer Khamis for a meeting after the movie was released, thinking it could be used for pro-Israeli propaganda because it shows an Israeli woman helping the Palestinians. But Mer Khamis countered that rather than paternalistically "helping" Palestinians, in fact Arna "strengthened these boys to fight for their rights." She turned her back on Zionism and was fighting against Israel on behalf of the Palestinians. The boys are now almost all dead, and Mer Khamis says that in Jenin today you simply don't see the age group between 18 and 29, but he says this is the price people should pay to be free.



BECKY: So the Palestinians are willing to sacrafise their own children to kill Jews? How noble!!



He quoted one of the boys as saying that he would rather die on his feet than live on his knees.



BECKY: They teach kids this crap in the schools and mosques. They tell them they will get laid by 72 virgins if they are killed by the IDF. They name streets and schools after suicide bombers who they call "martyrs". It is sick and disgusting and done by cynical adults to achieve political gains.



This is the only way to be free, Mer Khamis affirms. (Undoubtedly, neither Mer Khamis nor the teenagers of Jenin have ever heard of Patrick Henry or any of those other revolutionary heroes whose memorable pronouncements on freedom we Americans purport to live by ­ for ourselves, at any rate.)



BECKY: OH, and how much freedom do the people in Arab/Islamic countries have? They are not fighting for freedom. They are fighting to kill Jews and to dismantle the Jewish State of Israel because they cannot stand to have even one tiny Jewish country anywhere in the mideast.



Over the long term, Mer Khamis is optimistic for the Palestinians, but he believes the fighting will go on for years more. Conflicts can be solved only when they reach a peak, he says, and Ariel Sharon's role is to bring this one near its peak. But it will get worse before it gets better. The first intifada trained the leadership of the second intifada, including the teenagers of Arna's theater group;..



BECKY: These "leaders" are all dead. Some plan.



... youngsters today, some of them pictured singing a militant song at the end of the movie, are being trained for leadership of the third intifada, sometime in the future. Optimism comes at a heavy price.



An interesting aside: One of the teenagers is shown in the movie saying that he had initially been suspicious of Mer Khamis because he is a Jew, until he clearly demonstrated his sympathy for the Palestinians. Asked after the movie why the Palestinians focused on his Jewishness when he is actually as much Palestinian as Jewish, Mer Khamis observed that, for Palestinians, Israel is not a culture but an apparatus of oppression, and they think of "Jews" as soldiers.



BECKY: This "thinking" allows them to kill Jewish babies and celebrate the deaths.



They are not anti-Semitic in the way many in the West are; they don't hate Jews,..



BECKY: Could have fooled me.



.. only Jews seen to be oppressors,...



BECKY: Like the teenage "oppessors" in the Dolphinarium discoteque and the other "oppesser" schoolchildren riding a bus?



.. and this is the only face of Judaism that most Palestinians see.



BECKY: Again. The authors do not mention the incitement in the schools, the textbooks, the mosques which teach hatred of Jews---teach the illegitimacy of the State of Israel, and teach that becoming a martryr by killing "infidels" is the highest most honored thing they can do.



The Inevitable Consequences of Zionism



On off days at the work camp, ICAHD staff took the group on political tours of Palestinian and Bedouin areas inside Israel. The tours proved to be a dramatic illustration of the discrimination and racism inherent in a system designed specifically to maintain a Jewish majority ­ a system based on the superiority of Jews over anyone else.



BECKY: A SIDENOTE on the Jewish people as the "chosen" people. According to the Torah, the Jews were chosen to receive the Jewish law. Only Jews are obligated to follow Jewish law. They are not superior to anyone else.



Palestinians, including Bedouin, living inside Israel are citizens of the state. They can vote in Israeli elections; Bedouin, although not other Palestinians, serve in the Israeli military. As a matter of law and of the institutional arrangements inherent in Israel's status as a Jewish-majority state, however, Palestinians and Bedouin, because they are non-Jews, do not receive anything like equal rights or services from the state.



BECKY: This is a bold-faced lie. They have exactly the same rights and services as Jewish citizens do. Those who do not serve in the military receive no military benefits. Arab/Israelis can serve in the IDF, but must first petition a board for entry into military service. The purpose of this difference is that the Arabs should not have to fire on their Arab brothers. Orthodox Jews are likewise not obligated to serve in the military.



Not only do they face the kind of de facto discrimination that blacks have faced in the U.S...



BECKY: This is true. Individual Israelis are very prejudiced against Palestinians. Racism is a problem but it is not institutionalized in the Israeli government. But then racism is a problem which is hardly unique to Israel. Certainly many Palestinians have racist attitudes towards Jews.



...their schools are inadequate, their municipal services are inadequate, they face job discrimination, their towns often sit next to toxic waste dumps and other environmentally hazardous sites ­ but because Israel is explicitly a Jewish state, Palestinians are unable by law to enjoy the benefits of the state provided to Jews or in any way to live in the state as Jews do.



BECKY: Another lie. BTW how are the living conditions of Arabs in Arab countries by comparison?



The state owns 94 percent of Israel's land and holds it in trust specifically for the Jewish people, meaning that Palestinians cannot buy land ­ even land they once owned before Israel was created and they were dispossessed.



BECKY: Government land is leased and not sold. Jews can't buy land either.



They usually cannot even rent state land.



BECKY: Their leaders have for years urged them to not cooperate with "the Zionist entity" so they often dont even apply for permits, but just build illegally.



They are not permitted, by law, to move into Jewish cities or the Jewish neighborhoods of mixed cities. Despite a high birth rate and growing population, Palestinian towns and cities cannot expand their municipal limits. Many Palestinian and Bedouin towns are not recognized at all by the state, meaning they receive no services whatsoever from the government, including electricity and water, and are subject to demolition whenever they build residences, mosques, schools, or municipal buildings. As a matter of government policy, the state rings Palestinian towns with Jewish towns in order to limit Palestinian growth. In some mixed cities, the authorities are actually building walls to shield Jews from having to see or deal in any way with their Palestinian fellow citizens.



BECKY: The author hasn't heard of the Palestinian town near the fence which was asked which side of the fence they wanted to be on. The town voted overwhelmingly to be on the Israeli side of the fence.



Most significantly, as a matter of law and because Israel defines itself as the state of Jews everywhere rather than a state of its citizens, no Palestinian, even those who once lived on the land before 1948, may immigrate to the Jewish state.



BECKY: Another bold-faced lie. Any Palestinian can apply through immigration to become an Israeli citizen. Only Jews are AUTOMATICALLY granted citizenship. 170,000 Palestinians who were displaced in 1948 have been re-admitted and granted Israeli citizenship under Israeli immigration law, needing only to show some proof that they lived in Israel in 1947-48. This program ended with the Oslo accords in 1993.



The only way Israel was able to establish itself in the first place as a state with a stable Jewish majority was by dispossessing and expelling most of those Palestinians who lived on the land before 1948;



BECKY: The authors need to present a false history in order to justify their current position. All facts prove that the Palestinian Arabs fled on the urgings of their own leaders. Very very few were "driven out" by the Israelis. Remember that back in 1948 Israel was attacked by 7 Arab nations with troops that outnumbered the Israelis by 10 to 1. How could they---while they were fighting for their very existance---take the time to drive 650,000 Arabs out of the country??? It defies all logic and is not documented by the news sources of the day. OH!! And the authors fail to even mention the UN resolution which passed which created Israel in the first place!!!!



it maintains its Jewish majority by barring these natives and their descendants from returning.



BECKY: Because Israel is a democracy, they fear having the Jews become a minority. In a majority rule society, if the Jews are the minority, it would take only one vote to end the Jewish state forever. Israel is currently 20% Arab/Islamic. Jordan, by contrast has a 60% Palestinian population, but they don't fear Jordan becoming a Palestinian country because Jordan is a monarchy. The issue only exists because Israel is a democracy.



We were able to witness some of the effects of this racism on a trip to several Bedouin towns in the Negev where, because the towns are unrecognized and no schools are provided, children must walk miles in the desert heat to reach schools in recognized villages; where nuclear and chemical wastes from Dimona and other neighboring plants seep into the ground, contaminating the water and the earth; where demolition orders are pending on virtually every building; where Bedouin who loyally served the state in the military receive none of the benefits for which Jewish veterans are eligible;



BECKY: Another bold-faced lie. Bedoins who serve in the IDF receive military benefits.



where Jewish towns are being deliberately planted to prevent Bedouin expansion.



BECKY: I doubt this is the motive. Israel's population is growing and they need to build new towns.



We also visited the Palestinian city of Baqa in north central Israel, where the separation wall has split a thriving town that lay astride the 1967 border, half inside Israel, half in the northwestern West Bank. (Baqa was one city in 1948 but was split in two by the 1949 armistice line, the western half remaining inside Israel, where its residents became Israeli citizens, and the eastern half coming under Jordanian rule in the West Bank. Western and eastern sections were reunited physically, although not legally, when Israel captured the West Bank in 1967, and the city again essentially functioned as one until the wall irrevocably split it.) In August 2003, in order to make way for the wall, Israeli tanks and bulldozers destroyed a market area that straddled the border. Described as the most vigorous open-air market in the West Bank and used by Jewish Israelis as well as Palestinians from both Israel and Palestine, the once-bustling market area is now dead on both sides of the border; almost 150 market stalls and several private homes were demolished, and what shops and stalls remain intact have closed for lack of business.



BECKY: Blame Palestinian terrorism for the inconvenience and the economic difficulties created by the fence.



The massive 25-foot-high concrete wall...



BECKY: In the sections where the fence is a wall, it is because of the frequent sniper attacks from the Palestinians into the Jewish neighborhoods. It is an anti-sniper wall.



... bisects the principal east-west commercial road and separates families, divides commercial ventures, and separates people from service providers. A system of permits now allows only slightly more than 100 named individuals, out of a city of thousands, to pass from one side to the other through a single gate in the wall, operated by Israeli soldiers.



BECKY: Why don't the authors ask Mer Khamis why the Palestinians don't stop the terror attacks against Israeli civilians? Ask him why they are willing to continue the attacks even when it means much suffering, inconvenience, and economic ruin for their own people?



Our group left its mark, out of sight of the Israeli soldiers, by writing protest messages on the wall in a variety of languages,...



BECKY: So they are simple vandals.



but this was small satisfaction against the realization of the destruction of lives represented by the wall, and against the sobering knowledge that Israel treats its own citizens in this way only when they are not Jews.



BECKY: Israel has stated that if the terror attacks stop, they will dismantle the fence. Why don't they?



We witnessed a similarly discriminatory situation in the twin cities of Lod and Ramle, well inside Israel, near Tel Aviv. Once entirely Palestinian towns, both were almost totally emptied of their Palestinian inhabitants in July 1948, thanks to a forcible expulsion led by a future Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin.



BECKY: Another lie. The Israelis BEGGED the Arabs to stay and build the new nation together. Many did stay and they became Israeli citizens---were not hurt or harmed--and now enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the Arab world.



Those Palestinians who escaped expulsion...



BECKY: Meaning they didn't follow their Arab leaders orders to flee,

and their descendants now make up 25-30 percent of each city's population, living for the most part in the slum sections of cities otherwise populated by Israel's poorest Jewish immigrants. These are the poor suburbs of Tel Aviv, and Lod is the location of Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport.



BECKY: I don't know if this is true or not.



As elsewhere in Israel, Palestinians in Lod and Ramle are unable to expand their neighborhoods. We drove through one residential section where Israeli authorities had placed huge boulders to prevent Palestinians from building. Walls ­ not as high as the separation wall in the West Bank but just as solidly concrete ­ are being built in both cities to separate Jewish from Palestinian neighborhoods. Several Palestinian (but no Jewish) homes have been demolished to accommodate the wall. Our guide, a sympathetic Israeli doing a doctorate in urban planning with particular emphasis on how Israel institutionalizes its racist policies,...



BECKY: The authors keep making this assertion but have yet to give a single example.



pointed out one spot in Ramle where Palestinian boys regularly scale the wall to play soccer and basketball in a field on the other side very near a Jewish residential neighborhood. The Jews are outraged that Palestinian kids can enter their neighborhood, and a Ramle city official whom our guide interviewed for his dissertation confessed that he felt he had abdicated his municipal duties by failing to keep the Palestinian boys out of the Jewish side.



BECKY: Does this official have a name or are we just to trust the authors?



In Lod, the Israeli military and police have actually established a checkpoint in one spot between Jewish and Palestinian sections at which cars are stopped and questioned. Our bus was stopped and, although we were allowed to pass into the Palestinian section, a police jeep followed the bus, lights flashing, until we drove out of the city limits. Israelis are obviously uncomfortable when outsiders witness the state's racism.



BECKY: I think its more obvious that the authors are paranoid.

All of these official, state-mandated discriminatory measures against the non-Jewish population...



BECKY: So far the author has only mentioned the presence of a checkpoint (in a country regularly assaulted by terrorists) as proof of institutionalized racism. I don't see how this is any kind of proof. The other "evidence" they have presented were false statements about Bedouins not receiving military benefits.



...are the inevitable consequences of establishing a state on the basis of Jewish exclusivity and Jewish-majority rule.



BECKY: This is quite a leap of logic. Israel's checkpoints are to stop terror attacks. I guess if the Jews were not in the mideast, they wouldn't be attacked by Palestinian terrorists. But Jews have been attacked in Turkey and Morrocco within the past year, and these were not Jewish majority states. Jew hatred is nothing new. I think the Palestinian terrorists trying to kill Jews are the true racists. The "inevitable consequences of Zionism" is that the Jewish people have a tiny sanctuary in the middle of Muslim world dictatorships.



For Israelis, the more they can keep Palestinians out of sight and out of mind, the better. Invisible is good from the Jewish perspective; gone altogether would be far better, but this is something the Israelis have not yet been able to achieve. They're working on it.



BECKY: This is the "the Israelis want to drive all the Palestinians out of Gaza and the West Bank" scare theory. While one doesn't blame the Israelis if they are sick of the Palestinians trying to kill them all the time, this has never happened, is not openly debated in the Knessett, is not a major talking point of any Israeli politcal party, and I think, will never happen. It is more paranoid conjecture on the part of these clearly anti-semitic authors.



To cap this picture of the impact Zionism has had on Palestine's native population, the group also walked through what little remains of a Palestinian town in the Galilee that Israeli forces erased from the landscape in 1948.



BECKY: When the entire population fled to make room for the Arab forces to drive the Jews into the sea?



Saffuriya, about five miles north of Nazareth, was a farming community of over 4,000 people with a history going back to Hellenistic times. Archeological excavations have revealed the remains of a Roman amphitheater; the ruins of a sixth-century Christian church are still evident; Muslims conquered the town in the seventh century; Crusaders built a castle there, which was later captured by Saladin; an Ottoman ruler built a fortress, still prominent today, on the town's highest point in the eighteenth century. Israeli forces attacked the town in July 1948, and most residents fled north to Lebanon.



BECKY: Here is a little more information on this attack. During the Arab uprising of 1936-39, and again in the 1948 War of Independence, the village was the 'hideout' of Arab squads operating against Jewish settlements in the region under the command of Mahmud Safuri (for whom the village was named). On the night of 15th-16th July 1948, the small town was captured by the Israel Defense Forces during the second stage of a military maneuver known as "Operation Palm Tree", under the command of Hayim Laskow and the village was abandoned by its population.



A small number remained or reinfiltrated, but according to Israeli historian Benny Morris ­ no friend of the Palestinians but an honest historian ­ Jewish authorities wanted Saffuriya's approximately 7,000 acres of cultivable land for new Israeli villages and also feared that, if left alone, the town would return to its prewar population.



BECKY: Perhaps they feared the return of the Arab attack squads?



As a result, in early 1949 the authorities trucked the remaining Palestinian inhabitants to other villages, distributed the land to three Israeli farming villages, and demolished Saffuriya's 700-plus homes.



Our group was led by a young man, the grandson of Saffuriya residents who now lives in Nazareth, through tall weeds and past huge prickly pear cactus ­ something every Palestinian recognizes as the certain indication of an abandoned Palestinian village ­ to stand on the long-abandoned site of Saffuriya. We stood in the old cemetery, looking up at the hillside that had once constituted the built-up area of the town. The young guide stood in front of the hill and showed us a large wall calendar with a picture of the same location dating from the 1930s. The picture shows a sizable town, houses spilling down the hillside, agricultural lands below, and the square Ottoman fortress at the top of the hill. Today the fortress is still there, but no houses remain; the hillside has been densely planted with tall pines by the Jewish National Fund. Americans are familiar with the Jewish campaigns of past decades to raise donations for tree-planting in Israel, supposedly an effort to help Israelis "make the desert bloom." Here we saw evidence of the human tragedy that enabled the planting of many of those trees. Clearly, in an Israeli context, trees are better than Palestinians. Another of the consequences of Zionism.



BECKY: Note that the authors did not bother to mention the presence of Arab attack squads holed up there and launching murderous attacks on Jewish targets. The authors are not interested in a fair or accurate assessment, but in building up hatred against Israel and sympathy for the Palestinians.



The Logic of the Occupation



Trying to visit the small Christian Palestinian town of Zababdeh in the northern West Bank one Sunday morning after the work camp was finished, we encountered the arbitrariness of Israel's domination close up. Invited to visit a Palestinian Melkite Catholic priest who is the friend of some American friends of ours, we left Jerusalem at 9:00 in the morning in a car driven by a Palestinian friend, Ahmad, who has a Jerusalem ID card, as well as yellow Israeli license plates, and speaks Hebrew and English, in addition to Arabic. For Palestinians, in this most surreal of environments, the origin of one's ID card and the color of one's license plates are critical to getting along in life. Possessing a Jerusalem ID card is the only way a Palestinian can enter the city without a special, hard-to-obtain permit. Having yellow license plates, as opposed to the green and white plates of the West Bank, is the only way a Palestinian can drive through most checkpoints or drive on the many limited-access roads built for Israeli settlers.



BECKY: The authors call this "arbitrary domination" but since it is solely Palestinian terror groups who regularly attack Israelis and IDF soldiers, this is just a justified security measure and a necessary evil . Even in the USA, non-citizen visitors are required to say where they are going, what business they have, and when they will be leaving when they cross the USA border. Palestinians are not Israeli citizens.



We drive from Jerusalem down to the Jordan Valley and north along a route paralleling the Jordan River. Although considerably longer, Ahmad calculates that this is an easier route than straight north through the West Bank because we can avoid the notorious Huwwara checkpoint near Nablus, where Israeli soldiers get off on extremely harsh treatment of Palestinians.



BECKY: Right! And the Palestinians don't celebrate when a suicide bomber blows up a busload of Israeli schoolchildren?



After about an hour, we turn left, heading back into the heart of the West Bank toward the Hamra checkpoint. After this, we will have a clear, checkpoint-free road to Zababdeh. It is very quiet here, only a few cars waiting to get through the checkpoint in each direction. By mid-morning, it is beginning to get hot, and the Israeli soldiers are already bored and irritated. When our car approaches the checkpoint and stops, the soldiers begin to harass Ahmad, who has gotten out of the car. Put out your cigarette, turn off the engine, give us your ID card, why are you here? Ahmad is friendly but not obsequious. He puts out his cigarette but demands to know why this is necessary. Because sometimes Palestinians throw cigarettes at us, the soldier says inanely.



BECKY: Could this be true? Do Palestinians sometimes throw cigarettes at IDF soldiers?



Ahmad explains our purpose.



BECKY: Obviously the purpose of this trip is to report on how evil and inhumane the Israelis are, even when the facts conflict with the report.



Zababdeh is a Christian village, the priest is a Christian, there are no terrorists there, we are Americans. No luck. The soldiers say that no one with a Jerusalem ID and no foreigner may enter the West Bank. Obviously, we have been in the West Bank all along, but this logic seems not to matter. We all plead our case, we in English with the one soldier who speaks English (and is obviously originally an American), Ahmad in Hebrew with the checkpoint CO. No luck. They say we can call the district headquarters and put in an appeal, but this could take hours. They wave us off to wait at the side of the road. We would leave, but they have kept Ahmad's ID card and refuse to return it. This is worse than taking his clothes or confiscating his car.



As we wait, Ahmad steams. "They each have a role," he says. "This one is to deal with the foreigners; that one is to get permissions [from higher authority]; that one is to give shit. Each one has his job. He feels he is the God of everybody." Periodically, each of us tries to talk to one soldier or another, no longer pleading for passage but simply for the return of Ahmad's ID card, but always to no avail. Finally, after an hour and a quarter, the American-Israeli soldier comes to the car and tells us that we two Americans can "enter" ­ that is, walk through the checkpoint and pick up a taxi on the other side ­ but Ahmad cannot.



When we make it clear that we will not abandon Ahmad, they finally return his ID, and we leave, retracing our steps down to the Jordan Valley. We head farther north and again turn left toward the heart of the West Bank, trying another checkpoint. By now, it is noon, and the temperature outside is 104 ­ enough to create some sympathy even for Israeli soldiers. One soldier, outside a guard tower overlooking the checkpoint, is so bored he is sound asleep, head tilted back in his chair. The soldier in charge here is nicer, at least not out to humiliate Ahmad, and he does not take Ahmad's ID when he goes to his guardpost to call someone about how to handle us. Again we wait for an hour, held captive by the "nice" soldier's repeated tantalizing assurances that he is trying to get authorization for us to pass. Again, however, after an hour we are turned away.



This time the story is that Ahmad can enter, but we cannot because we are foreigners. In Israeli thinking, this is apparently not a contradiction. It is the logic of the occupation. We return to Jerusalem almost six hours after leaving. Were Israel not controlling Palestinian lives in the West Bank, we could have spent this six hours driving directly north to Zababdeh, visiting with our friend the priest for three hours, and returning directly to Jerusalem. We call the priest when we return to Jerusalem. "This is what we go through all the time," he tells us. "Please tell this story when you go home."



BECKY: Could they have arranged passage ahead of time somehow?



Encountering Americans



Somewhat to our surprise, we have encountered American aid workers, contractors working for USAID, at our East Jerusalem hotel both this year and last. They have all been on contract from private companies building wells and rebuilding roads for Palestinians. The irony of this is inescapable. Last year, speaking to one of these Americans, a supervisor whose subordinates were working on roads in Ramallah, we commented on the irony, wondering at a US government that was financing Israel's destruction of roads all over the West Bank as its tanks rampaged through cities and countryside,...



BECKY: The IDF incursions into the West Bank are to root out terror cells, seize arms caches, and to catch or kill known terrorists. It is war there. In war, stuff gets destroyed. Again, if the Palestinian people did not support the terrorist groups (and opinion polls repeatedly show that they do) then the IDF would not have to be there. If the PA would arrest the terrorists (as they agreed to do under the Oslo accords but never did) Israel would not even have to be there.



...and was then financing the reconstruction of the same roads. The same applies to wells, which Israeli tanks and bulldozers regularly destroy and contaminate. Oh, this contractor said, harrumphing a bit uncomfortably, we don't get into politics; it would make life and work too difficult if we took sides in the conflict. Indeed. Difficult too if they were to challenge the illogic of their US paymasters. This year we made the same point to another contractor whose team was working on wells, but his response was belligerent: nobody has ever destroyed his wells, he insisted, entirely missing the point that he is the one who is repairing Israeli damage. His contract, he declared self-importantly, is worth $7 million. Gee, this might buy the wing of one of the many F-16s the U.S. donates to Israel every year.



BECKY: Israel BUYS military hardware from the USA. Israel NEEDS a major military force since they have been attacked FOUR TIMES by the combined Arab armies in the region. If Israel were not heavily armed, they would have been annihilated long ago.



Later, at the airport in Amman, Jordan, as we prepared to fly home, we encountered four young Americans at the departure gate, all dressed in desert fatigues without insignia, all muscular and thick-necked, all obviously enjoying their loud conversation about the numbers of RPG rounds their installation had taken on this or that night. They were clearly coming from Iraq, heading for a home leave; they did not have the demeanor of troops on their way home for good.



As they continued their conversation, largely for the benefit of those of us around them, Jordanians and Americans, who were not so privileged to live in the macho world of Baghdad, a young woman in civilian dress arrived at the gate and, in the same boisterous manner, struck up a deliberately easy-to-overhear conversation. What did they do in Baghdad, she wondered? Personal bodyguards for Ambassador John Negroponte. Were they working for Blackwater (the now notorious company that has sent hundreds of so-called "contractors" ­ i.e., armed mercenaries ­ to Iraq to do guard duty at prisons and at military installations)? Yes. It soon came out in the conversation that she too had been in Baghdad a few months earlier, working in some kind of legal capacity inside the Green Zone.



They all fell to comparing their living arrangements ­ they seemed to inhabit sections of the Green Zone with names like Paradise Hills, or perhaps it was Paradise Gardens ­ and their own experiences dodging mortar rounds and RPG fire. One of the young men, asked "how it is these days," lamented that it was bad, now that the idealism has gone.



We had to wonder, when was that, that there was any idealism? But we didn't ask. We cringed at the knowledge that Americans like this transit Amman all the time, en route to and from Iraq, leaving behind an impression of Americans that grows worse by the day. And Americans wonder why Arabs cannot abide us anymore.



BECKY: Did I miss something here? What did the American's say or do (other than be part of the Iraqi occupation) to make the Arabs hate them?



Sad Days



Our good-bye to the Middle East last year had a bit of romance to it. After we had left Palestine across the Allenby Bridge to Jordan in August 2003, we spent the evening before our flight home from Amman with some Palestinian-Jordanian friends who own a home and orchard in the hills north of Amman. Arriving in the late afternoon, we talked for a while and then went out to the orchard to pick figs. Eating figs right off the tree in this beautiful setting was like being transported to the hills of Tuscany, far away from the tragedy of Palestine...



BECKY: Actually, Jordan is 60% Palestinian where they have fewer rights than the Palestinians in the West Bank do.



...and the turmoil of Middle East politics. We could look across the Jordan River and down at the entire West Bank. As night fell, the lights of Jerusalem and the West Bank began to blink on. Our Palestinian friends pointed out the lights of Nablus opposite us, those of Jenin farther north. Jerusalem was a huge display of lights far to the south. What are these near lights just across the river, we asked, knowing there was no sizable Palestinian town in this area. That's an Israeli settlement, our hosts said, and the group fell silent.



BECKY: Yes! the Evil Israelis living in houses with their lights on at night! horrors! Do the authors think that the West Bank should be cleansed of Jews? Not exactly a new concept.



Leaving was sadder this year. The memory of the wall,...



BECKY: Fence!



... the visual evidence from all over Palestine of Israel's cruel destruction in the name of making life comfortable for Jews,....



BECKY: Comfortable!! How about making it so they are not murdered as often?



...and the memory of Israel's racist treatment of its non-Jewish citizens were still vividly with us as we left Palestine and a few days later left Jordan. The wall in particular haunted and still haunts us.



BECKY: Surprisingly they saw no evidence of Hamas, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Islamic Jihad, the PLO, the PFLP, Tanzim, Hizbollah, honor killings, lynchings of Israeli "collaborators", Palestinian TV hate incitement,corruption in the PA, prejudice against Gays, Lesbians, or Jews, hate speech from the pulpit every Friday from the mosques, snipers or even kids throwing rocks at tanks. At least they did learn about suicide bombers and how they are justified!



Supporters of Israel are fond of saying with considerable sarcasm that the wall...



BECKY: Fence!



... is only an inconvenience to Palestinians ­ and, they claim, only a temporary one at that ­while those Jews murdered and maimed by Palestinian terrorism are permanently murdered and maimed.



BECKY: Is there anything untrue about this? Is the fence stopping murderous attacks or not?



But there is something special about the in-your-face brutality of the wall. It destroys permanently, it ruins lives and does so permanently, it is a permanent blight on the landscape (even if it is eventually torn down, the olive groves and agricultural land that it destroys will not grow back soon),...



BECKY: Another blatant lie!! Israel spent a great deal of money and time moving 60,000 trees and replanting them rather than destroy them.



... it is a permanent blight in people's lives. Several Palestinians who protested the wall in peaceful demonstrations have been permanently shot to death by Israeli soldiers.



BECKY: Where and when? Who was shot? What were the circumstances? Was there an armed gunman in the "peaceful" demonstration?



The wall's massive physical size ­ and the casual disregard for Palestinian lives of those who defend its construction ...



BECKY: Again, the authors fail to mention that Palestinians took the Israelis to court to oppose the fence saying it seriously impacted their lives. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled the barrier was legal under emminent domain in order to save lives and minimize the violent attacks, but that the course of the barrier needed to be changed by 40 miles to relieve hardships on the Palestinian people. Israel has hardly failed to consider the Palestinian people.



...­ leave those who have stood in its shadow, dwarfed by its monstrous presence, dumbfounded, at a loss for words to describe it. But the feeling of immense sadness is palpable.



BECKY: The Palestinian terrorists are sad that its so much harder to kill Jews now. Note, the authors have NOT ONE WORD of relief that less Israelis are dying from suicide bombings now that the barrier is mostly complete.



Just yesterday a woman from France who had been part of the work camp wrote us that she had been thinking about the destruction and desolation in Palestine, comparing it to the beautiful landscapes near her home in the French Alps; she said that "finally it broke my heart." Palestine tends to have that effect on you.

Bill Christison was a senior official of the CIA. He served as a National Intelligence Officer and as Director of the CIA's Office of Regional and Political Analysis. He is a contributor to Imperial Crusades, CounterPunch's new history of the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kathleen Christison, a former CIA political analyst, is the author of Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy and Wound of Dispossession: Telling the Palestinian Story. They can be reached at: christison (at) counterpunch.org.

They can be reached at: christison (at) counterpunch.org.

Becky Johnson is a schoolteacher in Santa Cruz, Ca. and has never been a member of the CIA. She can be reached at: becky_johnson (at) sbcglobal.net
 
 


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Comments

Re: Counterpunch article full of lies about Israel

the way you introduce this article tells me more about you than about the article, it tells me you like to polarize (and pretend others did it) and folks who do that usually don't stop there but go on to in-, sub-, or con- but in all cases pervert the situation. Folks who wield a judaic mindset have been proven particularly apt at it, look at the history of clashes with all sorts of peoples (via bernard lazare for instance who goes through dozens of just the major ones and that's not counting the victims of communism), first they wow, then infect their host with a little something called christianity, then they got'm where they want them cause a poor christian who misinterprets jewish history can rightfully be looked down upon, secretly snickered at and always felt superior over. Now they are repeating a little groundgaining the bible did not altogether cover up and you go defend this? Infantile egoism, occasional brilliance and plenny of degenerative diseases have nothing on a high enough birthrate when it comes to turning some location into a nearly unfullfillable piece of promised land
 

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