New Age Islam
Fri Jan 15 2021, 01:16 PM


Islam and the West ( 1 Aug 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

World Media on Gaza and Israel Part - 12


Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Desk

02 August, 2014




Collective Punishment in Gaza

By Rashid Khalidi

In Gaza War, Follow the Money

By Tarek Fatah

Gaza: Falling Rockets and Failing Media

By Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi

West Bank Palestinians Raise Money for Gaza

By Daoud Kuttab

Glass Houses

By Khusro Mumtaz

The Rape of Gaza

By Haidar Eid

Israeli Impunity and Global Helplessness

By K.P. Fabian

Israel Is Betraying the Holocaust Lessons

By Mohammad Badrul Ahsan

Blue Cloth over Their Conscience

By Vijay Prashad

Protecting Children in Gaza

By Iwan Mucipto

‘Goal Is To Neutralise Terror Tunnels’

By Daniel Carmon

Why Jointly Condemning Israel and Hamas Is Wrong

By Abdullah Hamidaddin


Collective Punishment in Gaza

By Rashid Khalidi

July 29, 2014

Three days after the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched the current war in Gaza, he held a press conference in Tel Aviv during which he said, in Hebrew, according to the Times of Israel, “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”

It’s worth listening carefully when Netanyahu speaks to the Israeli people. What is going on in Palestine today is not really about Hamas. It is not about rockets. It is not about “human shields” or terrorism or tunnels. It is about Israel’s permanent control over Palestinian land and Palestinian lives. That is what Netanyahu is really saying, and that is what he now admits he has “always” talked about. It is about an unswerving, decades-long Israeli policy of denying Palestine self-determination, freedom, and sovereignty.

What Israel is doing in Gaza now is collective punishment. It is punishment for Gaza’s refusal to be a docile ghetto. It is punishment for the gall of Palestinians in unifying, and of Hamas and other factions in responding to Israel’s siege and its provocations with resistance, armed or otherwise, after Israel repeatedly reacted to unarmed protest with crushing force. Despite years of ceasefires and truces, the siege of Gaza has never been lifted.

As Netanyahu’s own words show, however, Israel will accept nothing short of the acquiescence of Palestinians to their own subordination. It will accept only a Palestinian “state” that is stripped of all the attributes of a real state: control over security, borders, airspace, maritime limits, contiguity, and, therefore, sovereignty. The twenty-three-year charade of the “peace process” has shown that this is all Israel is offering, with the full approval of Washington. Whenever the Palestinians have resisted that pathetic fate (as any nation would), Israel has punished them for their insolence. This is not new.

Punishing Palestinians for existing has a long history. It was Israel’s policy before Hamas and its rudimentary rockets were Israel’s bogeyman of the moment, and before Israel turned Gaza into an open-air prison, punching bag, and weapons laboratory. In 1948, Israel killed thousands of innocents, and terrorized and displaced hundreds of thousands more, in the name of creating a Jewish-majority state in a land that was then sixty-five per cent Arab. In 1967, it displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians again, occupying territory that it still largely controls, forty-seven years later.

In 1982, in a quest to expel the Palestine Liberation Organization and extinguish Palestinian nationalism, Israel invaded Lebanon, killing seventeen thousand people, mostly civilians. Since the late nineteen-eighties, when Palestinians under occupation rose up, mostly by throwing stones and staging general strikes, Israel has arrested tens of thousands of Palestinians: over seven hundred and fifty thousand people have spent time in Israeli prisons since 1967, a number that amounts to forty per cent of the adult male population today. They have emerged with accounts of torture, which are substantiated by human-rights groups like B’tselem. During the second intifada, which began in 2000, Israel reinvaded the West Bank (it had never fully left). The occupation and colonization of Palestinian land continued unabated throughout the “peace process” of the nineteen-nineties, and continues to this day. And yet, in America, the discussion ignores this crucial, constantly oppressive context, and is instead too often limited to Israeli “self-defense” and the Palestinians’ supposed responsibility for their own suffering.

In the past seven or more years, Israel has besieged, tormented, and regularly attacked the Gaza Strip. The pretexts change: they elected Hamas; they refused to be docile; they refused to recognize Israel; they fired rockets; they built tunnels to circumvent the siege; and on and on. But each pretext is a red herring, because the truth of ghettos—what happens when you imprison 1.8 million people in a hundred and forty square miles, about a third of the area of New York City, with no control of borders, almost no access to the sea for fishermen (three out of the twenty kilometres allowed by the Oslo accords), no real way in or out, and with drones buzzing overhead night and day—is that, eventually, the ghetto will fight back. It was true in Soweto and Belfast, and it is true in Gaza. We might not like Hamas or some of its methods, but that is not the same as accepting the proposition that Palestinians should supinely accept the denial of their right to exist as a free people in their ancestral homeland.

This is precisely why the United States’ support of current Israeli policy is folly. Peace was achieved in Northern Ireland and in South Africa because the United States and the world realized that they had to put pressure on the stronger party, holding it accountable and ending its impunity. Northern Ireland and South Africa are far from perfect examples, but it is worth remembering that, to achieve a just outcome, it was necessary for the United States to deal with groups like the Irish Republican Army and the African National Congress, which engaged in guerrilla war and even terrorism. That was the only way to embark on a road toward true peace and reconciliation. The case of Palestine is not fundamentally different.

Instead, the United States puts its thumb on the scales in favor of the stronger party. In this surreal, upside-down vision of the world, it almost seems as if it is the Israelis who are occupied by the Palestinians, and not the other way around. In this skewed universe, the inmates of an open-air prison are besieging a nuclear-armed power with one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world.

If we are to move away from this unreality, the U.S. must either reverse its policies or abandon its claim of being an “honest broker.” If the U.S. government wants to fund and arm Israel and parrot its talking points that fly in the face of reason and international law, so be it. But it should not claim the moral high ground and intone solemnly about peace. And it should certainly not insult Palestinians by saying that it cares about them or their children, who are dying in Gaza today.

Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University and the editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies, and was an adviser to the Palestinian delegation at the Madrid-Washington Palestinian-Israeli negotiations of 1991-93. His most recent book is “Brokers of Deceit.”


In Gaza War, Follow the Money

By Tarek Fatah

July 29, 2014

Watching the war between Israel and Hamas is like witnessing a one-sided Mixed Martial Arts contest, where the combatant being beaten to a pulp refuses to concede defeat and the referee is unwilling to intervene.

Tragically for Palestinian civilians in Gaza, who are suffering hell on earth, Hamas was unwilling to concede defeat and sue for an end to the “ground and pound” strategy inflicted by the Israeli military (IDF).

That is, until now.

Palestinian children who died and were injured were mere sacrificial lambs, at the mercy of their supposed saviours.

They were part of the cast of extras in a cruel, ongoing tragedy.

In previous Arab-Israeli conflicts. there was always outside intervention, mostly by the U.S., to end the bloodshed and act as the impartial referee.

Unfortunately, this time the refereeing is in the hands of John Kerry, one of the most incompetent American secretaries of state to have ever criss-crossed the battle lines of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

By putting Israel on an equal footing with Hamas — a terrorist organization committed to the annihilation of the Jewish State and the Jews — Kerry revealed a line of thinking that is today pervasive in the U.S. State Department, a legacy of Hillary Clinton.

Hundreds of Palestinian lives could have been saved had the Egyptian ceasefire proposal of July 15 gone into effect.

Israel, the Arab League and the Palestinian Authority accepted the proposal, only to see Hamas reject it by firing fresh salvos of rockets aimed at Tel Aviv airport, leading to a temporary ban on all flights to Israel from Europe and North America.

Instead of taking Hamas to task, it was rewarded by the Americans, who inserted Hamas-authored amendments to the original document, and then asked Israel to take it or leave it.

Israel was furious and its cabinet rejected the Turkish-Qatari-Hamas crafted document.

How Qatar and Turkey, two countries most hostile to the West remain America’s allies in the Middle East is beyond belief, but they do.

They fund and fuel the destructive dogma of the Muslim Brotherhood and in Hamas they have a terror group just as Pakistan has the Taliban.

For Hamas, this is not a fight just against Israel or for an independent state of Palestine.

This is a fight inside radical Islam that has seen the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, at the cost of al-Qaida and other pan-Islamists.

If Hamas had not fought the “Jewish Entity” this Ramadan, it could have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in Islamic charity “Zakat” that billionaire sheiks of the Arab gulf states give away to Jihadi movements, ranging from the Taliban to al-Qaida and now, ISIS, in a manner similar to wealthy Europeans in the 1500s buying “Indulgences” to cleanse their sins.

And so, as I predicted, on July 29, a day after Ramadan and the end to the charity season, a new ceasefire proposal based on the original Egyptian draft came from Cairo.

This time it had the blessings of the top leaders of the Palestinian movement and the government of President Mahmoud Abbas.

A Hamas spokesperson has reportedly rejected the call, but that is part of its tough-guy act to smear other Arabs as weaklings.

After some posturing and machismo, the Hamas leadership will agree to a ceasefire.

As Deep Throat once said, follow the money.


Gaza: Falling Rockets and Failing Media

By Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi

1 August 2014

Lies are easily exposed when the truth comes out.

Indeed, social media outlets and several journalists with refreshing conscience have finally spoken out against the farcically biased and unprofessional stance taken by the Western media in favour of Israel during its ongoing onslaught on Gaza.

MSNBC’s Rula Jebreal is one such example. Jebreal recently denounced the media for being complicit with the infamous American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) through their continuous funding. “It is because of this money that we journalists have become disgustingly biased in favor of Israel,” Jebreal said. “Just look at the airtime given to Israeli commentators compared with their Palestinian counterparts,” she said.

Jebreal also referred to NBC’s recent failed attempt to apparently silence their veteran journalist, Ayman Mohyeldin, in Gaza. Mohyeldin’s only fault, as I understand it, was his emotive coverage of the Israeli slaughter of four children as they played on the beach. Mohyeldin had also spoken about restrictions on movement due to the continued Israeli siege on Palestinians in a televised report. No amount of “objective” coverage, such as Mohyeldin’s assertion that Hamas’ military wing operates in a highly condensed area and that any rocket-launching attempts are inevitably made in residential areas, did him justice.

Mohyeldin’s removal from Gaza, however, did not last long. Popular pressure via social media sites forced NBC to send Mohyeldin back to the war-torn region soon enough.

Sadly, such instances remain rare in the U.S. media.

Rampant Headlines

Indeed, the U.S. continues to paint this war as being equal between both sides.

Rampant headlines, such as one that read “Israel and Hamas trade attacks as tension rises” in the New York Times, are a wicked perversion of the truth.

Sometimes, only one-sided stories make it to the press, such as a Wall Street Journal headline that read “Gaza rockets reaching deeper into Israel.”

The Washington Post, meanwhile, took journalistic brazenness to new levels.

“Two Israelis killed in Gaza clash,” read one headline, with “death toll tops 330 as Hamas militants step up attacks” as a subheading to suggest to the average layman that Palestinian “terrorists” are responsible for the death of their own people.

It is this kind of coverage that degrades Palestinian lives so effectively and violates the very basic tenets of the journalism profession. Yet such a dynamic is nothing new.

The U.S. media, it seems, has always sided with Israel, using pro-Israeli terms and adopting the Jewish state’s fundamental narrative. Occupied territories have become “disputed,” illegal settlers who kill Palestinians are “extremists” and Palestinian fighters are “terrorists.” Other channels have gone even further than this.

Fox News, for example, bluntly defends right-wing Republicans and their unwavering support of Israel. CNC, NBC, and to some extent, CNN, also take Israel’s side, in my eyes.


These charades, however, can’t continue for long with the explosive advent of social media sites, which have given a new and unprecedented platform for publicizing the other side of the story. ABC’s Diane Sawyer, for instance, succumbed to pressure on Twitter and apologized for telling viewers that images of the destruction in Gaza were in Israel.

The tragic images of children killed by the Israeli army, and especially the images of the four kids who died while playing on the beach, has revived world conscience and reminded readers of the “other” side of the story. All of these indicate that change is inevitable.

Even in the U.S., certain journalists have had the courage to portray the facts as they are. Satirist Jon Stewart has parodied many of the media’s injustices, in one instance commenting on NBC’s coverage of an exchange of fire between fighters and the Israeli Defense Forces.

Stewart even mocked Israel’s “humane” alert bombs signaling Gaza’s residents to flee their homes. “Evacuate to where?” asked Stewart rhetorically. “Have you seen Gaza? Israel has closed its border and Egypt has closed its border. What, are they supposed to swim for it?”

Some journalists defend their journalistic bias toward Israel, arguing that Israelis provide them with English-speaking eyewitnesses, unlike the Palestinians in Gaza.

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, however, had an answer to that contention. “That simply won’t wash,” writes Zogby. “There are a number of courageous souls covering the situation within Gaza,” citing the name of journalists narrating from the ground. This, in fact, is true and journalists should not betray the ethics of the profession by taking the easy way out. They, instead, should take it upon themselves to do their factual homework and defend values and morals through their writing.

By any standards, Gaza is an open wound and media outlets that ignore this catastrophe are taking an active part in the crime. Research centers should analyze media coverage and keep a check on the way social media activists are fabricating and propagating stories.

Verily, amid the madness, the voice of truth will always prevail.

Mohammed Fahad al-Harthi is the editor-in-chief of Sayidaty and al-Jamila magazines. A prominent journalist who worked with Asharq al-Awsat in London and Arab News in KSA, al-Harthi later moved on to establish al-Eqtisadiah newspaper in KSA, in which he rose the position of Editorial Manager. He was appointed editor-in-chief for Arajol magazine in 1997. He won the Gulf Excellence award in 1992.


West Bank Palestinians Raise Money for Gaza

By Daoud Kuttab

August 1, 2014

A burly man driving a Land Rover ran quickly into the Greenland supermarket and asked for 10 large boxes of bottled water. When the owner of the store, where I happened to be at the time, asked what the water was for, the man answered that it was a contribution to Gaza. Without a blink, the storeowner ordered one of his staff to add five more boxes as a contribution. At the entrance of the store in this Ramallah suburb of Tireh, I saw two signs calling on customers to contribute to Gaza. “Your small contribution will go a long way,” said an ad, signed by the Latin Church in Ramallah.

Driving through the occupied West Bank, we see large signs that state, “We are all Gaza.” Radio stations blare revolutionary chants, Marcel Khalife patriotic songs and Mahmoud Darwish poems between news reports and interviews with Gaza reporters and Palestinian analysts.

In Bethlehem, 68-year-old Alex Awad said that he felt guilty every time he went into a store and picked up a product with a bar code starting with 729 — a reference to its Israeli origin. Palestinians have been encouraged to look for products beginning with the 625, the Palestinian barcode. Awad, who runs the Shepherd Society, said he was working with Gazans to help them with the current crisis. Awad is working with a New Zealand Christian humanitarian organization to raise $100,000. They hope that the money will be distributed to Gazan families at the rate of $250 a family to help them with buying food, water, gas or paying for alternative housing if their homes are destroyed.

Awad told Al-Monitor that he was dusting off an article he wrote years ago, calling on Palestinians to stop using Israel currency. “This is a small act but it is something everyone can do and it allows people to feel that they are not helping the occupiers,” he said. Awad conceded that the Palestinian government may have made commitments in the Paris Accords to use the Israeli shekel, but that this was the time to end this commitment. “Israel has violated so many elements in that agreement, including not allowing the movement of goods and people between the West Bank and Gaza. But even if the Palestinian Authority can’t rid itself of these commitments, there is no reason why the people are obliged to use the currency of our occupiers.” A large percentage of the currency coming to Palestine is in dollars, Euros or Jordanian Dinars. Awad asked why people were quick to change that to the Israeli shekel.

Awad, author of “Palestinian Memories: The Story of a Palestinian Mother and Her People,” lost his father in 1948 when he was two years old. He says that it is important to relay the Palestinian narrative to counter the Israeli public relations machine.

The support for Palestinians in Gaza is not bound to supermarkets and local groups. The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) used television to seek support for Palestinians in Gaza. Mohammad Assaf, who won the “Arab Idol” TV talent competition last year and has been named UNRWA’s Youth Ambassador, appeared in a black and white ad on the entertainment-only television channel MBC4, appealing for funds to help Gaza's displaced refugees.

Palestinian citizens of Israel also got involved in contributions for Gaza. In Um al-Fahm, 2 million shekels ($585,000) were raised. Another group organized buses to the West Bank city of Tulkarem, where Palestinian citizens of Israel donated blood at a hospital.

In addition to in-kind contributions — preferred by many to avoid corruption — and financial support, many Palestinians in the West Bank feel that they need to demonstrate in support of the people of Gaza. Demonstrations peaked on the last days of the holy month of Ramadan and were put down forcefully by the Israelis, causing the deaths of six Palestinian demonstrators.

A huge Ramallah-to-Jerusalem protest July 25 brought out tens of thousands and ended in harsh repression by Israeli soldiers near the Qalandia checkpoint. Two Palestinians were killed and 200 were injured. Since the start of the Eid al-Fitr holidays, the demonstrations came to a halt but calls for a day of anger on Aug. 1 brought out massive demonstrations throughout the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Near Ramallah, a 19-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli troops. Angry demonstrations also occurred in and around Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, Tulkarem and other West Bank cities.

Palestinians in the West Bank know that their contributions and support and demonstrations are not going to change the main issues regarding Gaza. Their contributions, whether bottled water, blood donations or anti-Israeli demonstrations are meant to show solidarity and to give frustrated Palestinians the feeling that they are doing something to support their brethren in Gaza.


Glass Houses

By Khusro Mumtaz

August 01, 2014

What’s happening in Gaza is heart-rending, no disputing that. The images of dead and maimed Palestinian children that we’re seeing on CNN and the BBC should melt hearts of stone. I also get frustrated and angry at Israel’s ability to escape – time and time again – global condemnation of its (usually disproportionate) use of force against innocent Palestinians and its skill in controlling the public debate in the US, which then influences what happens in the rest of the world.

At least this time around (unlike in the lead up to the neocon-driven invasion of Iraq) the global media’s coverage appears to be a little more even-handed, reporting extensively not only on Palestinian civilian casualties but also on the pro-Palestinian London protests as well as news segments with United Nations representatives clearly holding Israel responsible for Palestinian deaths and serious injuries in designated ‘safe-zones’.

So, of course, the Pakistani public and media are agitated. Television anchors are expressing moral outrage. So called defence-analysts in Laal Topis are (at least implicitly) urging Pakistan’s armed forces to rush to the aid of the Palestinians. Respected columnists are asking for long marches to be undertaken and protests to be held supporting the Palestinian cause. The imams of our mosques are calling for death and destruction to rain down upon the Israelis in their Khutbas. Even the PM has stirred himself enough from his default somnolent state to issue unequivocal statements denouncing Israeli actions as “war crimes” and “genocide”.

All well and good. But where is the similar outrage at the actions of Isis (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and its massacres and beheadings? What about the sickening videos that Isis circulates celebrating these very massacres and beheadings? What about the demolition of the tomb of Hazrat Younis (Jonah) by this same self-declared caliphate? Imagine if the Israelis or American/British forces had been responsible for this destruction. Pakistanis (especially the defenders-of-Islam variety) would have gone apoplectic. So what does our PM have to say about Isis? Nothing. What about our television anchors? Nothing.

What about the actions of Boko Haram and its campaign of terror in Nigeria? Pakistan remains largely silent on the kidnapping and forced conversions of innocent Christian Nigerian girls. We can try and pretend that Isis and Boko Haram and the like (including extremists operating in Pakistan) are all creations of Mossad or RAW or the CIA and that they are all part of some insidious Zionist plot but does that mean we do not even pass censure on their actions? Is it all okay if it’s Muslims doing the killings – even if the victims are also Muslims?

We’ve also gotten ourselves all worked up about Narendra Modi getting elected as India’s prime minister and the terrors this will unleash on the Muslims of India (the force-feeding in Ramazan of a fasting Muslim caterer by an Indian MP supposedly being the latest evidence of the Modi’s new India). Modi’s track record on minorities in India should make any objective observer pause and think but before we start wringing our hands in despair at the fate of our poor Muslim brethren across the border we need to look in the mirror first.

What about the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan by the Pakistan-supported Taliban? Where was the condemnation for that? What about the killings of the Hazaras? Does this count as genocide? What about the targeted killings of Shia professionals? What about the various church burnings? What about the attacks on Ahmadiyya places of worship? What about the targeted killings of Ahmadis, including those involved in charitable services? Do all our Hindus feel genuinely safe in the land of the pure? Does all this count as persecution of a minority community?

What about the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Pakistanis at the hands of the extremists operating in Pakistan? Why are there so many apologists (in government or out) for their actions? Even if it is all a Zionist or Indian plot shouldn’t the actions be vigorously denounced with the same force and fury as Israel’s deeds in Gaza?

We were all silent when the governor of our most populous province was assassinated by a religious fanatic. Those who didn’t have the courage to speak up included the president of the country. He didn’t even have the decency to attend the slain governor’s funeral, despite the fact that the deceased had belonged to his own party, a party which supposedly stood for secular values. There was resounding silence in the national and provincial assemblies. All the main opposition parties also remained mute.

The television anchors prevaricated. The religious scholars found excuses, if not praises. The killer was feted in many quarters, including within the legal community. Rallies were held in his support. Where was our outrage then?

I repeat: is it all okay if it is Muslims doing the killings or if the killings are done in the name of Islam?

Khusro Mumtaz is a freelance columnist.


The Rape of Gaza

By Haidar Eid

31 Jul 2014

"A terrorist, like those who kidnapped the boys and killed them, the only thing that will deter them, is if they know that either their sister or mother will be raped if they are caught," said Middle East scholar Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University

How can one describe the ongoing massacre in Gaza with language that has long been proven to be slippery?

Where is one to start and finish if one wants a semi logical analysis of the dramatic footage of children bleeding to death despite Israel's attempts to convince us that these children were not the targets, but the militants were?

If there were any questions to be asked, they would be about the nature of a hegemonic modern ideology that dehumanises toddlers and drives soldiers to shoot women, shell hospitals and schools used as shelters for those who have become homeless. It is definitely not the right time for such grandiose philosophical questions. But what is the Palestinian to do when she or he lives such a crude political reality?

This article does not claim to be a reasonable political analysis of the "Gaza conflict" and "violent clashes" that erupted recently in the Gaza Strip. Nor does it claim to be an analysis that investigates the background and expected outcome of what many Palestinian activists consider the end of Oslo.  It therefore, should not fall into the mind-body bourgeois dichotomy. Emotions at this historical junction cannot be ignored.

Consider this: While writing this article, a dozen Palestinian civilians were killed; more than 1,300 have been killed as Gaza massacre begins its 24th day; rights groups say 80 percent of dead are civilians. And Israeli attacks seem to be on the rise. The (unpuzzling) question that Palestinians have been asking, and answering, is "How can a government which claims commitment to peace with its "Palestinian partner" order its soldiers to shoot and kill indiscriminately?"

The importance of the image in "the age of mechanical reproduction" lies in its ability to convey an instant message. For many, the only source of information is what they see on their TV screens. The footage of headless toddlers, has, therefore, become the direct message that Palestinians want to use to convey: "This is our daily political reality. This is where we have reached 20 years after the signing of the Oslo Accords." So much for the peace process and the two-state solution!

Yet mainstream media has systematically sanitised the images that have been coming out of Gaza to present a more "acceptable" picture of violence.

To echo Edward Said and Noam Chomsky, how can the international media - read western - be objective when they are controlled by five transnational corporations, all of which have intimate relationships with the US defence industry? Are the more than 200 children killed in Gaza only "regrettable" collateral damage?

What about the 28 families that were completely wiped out while having their breakfast? And the children in Shujayea who bled to death for hours while their parents watched  because the Israeli soldiers refused to let an ambulance approach the area? And the entire Abu Jamei family getting killed when their four-storey home was targeted by an Israeli fighter jet? How many more are "acceptable collateral damage" for the western media? The Hamads in Beit Hanoun? The Hajjs in Khan Younis? The Syams in Rafah? The Zaanins? Kanan and Saji, Al-Hallaque, massacred together with their father, pregnant mother, grandmother, and aunt while the family was breaking their fast at  iftar. And their grandfather, my colleague Professor Akram Hallaque has to live now with the pain of losing his family - wife, daughter (my student), two grandchildren, and pregnant daughter- in-law. His son has been in intensive care for days now.

Who will bring justice to them? Who will be made to pay for the loss of these families? Negotiations brokered by Obama and Kerry on behalf of the Israelis? War criminal Tony Blair? Are they supposed to see a non-sovereign state of West Bank and Gaza as a "fair" deal for the lives of the dear ones they have lost?

Those who have been killed had lived such short lives, all of it in the Gaza Strip - a life lived and lost as refugees under brutal Israeli occupation. It's our fate: to die in the 2006 war, or if not, in the 2008-09 war.  Or if you've survived, then another attempt in 2012, and if still living, then they'd finish you off in 2014, or next time in 2015, 2016, 2017?

But is this enough for them? No! Gaza is a challenge to the Israeli regime because here two-thirds of the population are refugees who are entitled to the right of return under UN Resolution 194. Could this be the real reason Israel is committing genocide on Gaza repeatedly? Kill the "brute" and live happily ever after?!

Gaza has become a permanent war zone; the biggest concentration camp on earth has become a burial site - a noisy graveyard. The Palestinian body has become the ultimate target of the Israeli bullet - the younger the better! The Palestinian body has, in other words, become the site of (in) justice: eliminate the body, and it will leave a vacuum that can be occupied - a land without people for people without land.

The Palestinian people have long realised that the so-called "peace process" does not challenge or change the long-held status quo, nor will it allow them to exercise their national and political rights.

Right or left, the Israeli position is crystal clear: No return to the borders of June 4, 1967, No dismantling of Jewish settlements, No return of Palestinian refugees, no backing down on Jerusalem as the undivided, eternal capital city of Israel, and no sovereign, independent Palestinian state with its own military on the western bank of the Jordan river.

The best that is on offer is a Palestinian Bantustan, a reservoir for the unwanted natives. And the people in Gaza don't even deserve that undignified solution: better to get rid of them all with a final solution via genocide with the support of the US president, European countries, the Arab League and even some native Palestinians! Hearing these powerful instigators and supporters of the genocide bleating for a ceasefire 24 days after such a huge massacre adds insult to injury!

The Palestinians of Gaza get blamed for being shot and bombed because they did not run away; they get blamed for being in the same building that they have lived in all their short, brutal lives; they get blamed for not being able to run in 57 seconds; they get blamed for letting their children play on the beach.

And they get blamed for refusing to let the coloniser, the occupier, the oppressor, the murderer and its allies dispossess them and dishonour their dead with their false words, their biased media channels, their fake empathy and their useless shuttle diplomacy that has no intention of giving Palestinians their rights under international law. Hence, the unprecedented brutality continues!

Haidar Eid is an associate Professor at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza.


Israeli Impunity and Global Helplessness

By K.P. Fabian

1 August 2014

It IS difficult, almost impossible, to envisage an early negotiated cease-fire to put an end to the unconscionable carnage in Gaza. US Secretary of State John Kerry has been working hard, but with his hands tied. President Obama has spoken more than once to Prime Minister Netanyahu on the need for a cease-fire, but always deferentially.

In his public statements, President Obama starts with an endorsement of Israel’s right to self-defense in a manner implying that Israel alone has that right, and not the Palestinians. US gives enormous support to Israel, financially, militarily, and diplomatically. One might have expected that such support would enable the US to have some influence on Israel. But, the truth is that the more the US gives, the more Israel’s clout to influence US policy, and the less the US influence over Israeli policy, grips.

Students of international relations cannot find another instance of such an asymmetrical relationship between the recipient and the giver. Hence, the principal cause of the delay in arranging for a cease-fire to be followed by negotiations is the lack of leverage of the US vis-a-vis Israel.

The second cause for the delay is that Egypt under President El-Sissi does not want to talk to Hamas. This is the sea change between 2014 and 2012 when Egypt under Mursi was able to talk to both Israel and Hamas and arrange for a cease-fire. The cease-fire proposals put out a few days ago by Egypt were not formulated in consultation with Hamas. Obviously, Egypt knew in advance that its proposals would be rejected by Hamas.

The third cause for the delay is that Israel does not want to call a halt to its ground operations without claiming success in a manner that is convincing to the Israeli public. It argues that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) need more time to complete their military mission.

Reflection shows that the argument is not convincing. Rockets continue to be sent toward Israel and there is no reason to believe that the IDF will ever be able to take out the last rocket or the last launching facility. Nor will the IDF be able to kill off all Gazans who can make rockets. Israel knows all this.

Another argument or excuse for continuing with the ground operation is that Gazans have been digging tunnels into Israel and that it wants to locate and destroy all the dug tunnels. The IDF might or might not succeed. But, once again, Hamas will be able to dig new tunnels after the cease-fire unless Israel re-occupies Gaza.

The US has so far failed to use its trump card. When a rocket fell near the Ben Gurion International Airport, flights from the US and Europe to that airport were suspended. Israel reacted sharply and the flights were resumed. Why did the US and EU give in without requiring Israel to agree to a cease-fire? The simple answer is lack of political will to be assertive vis-a-vis Israel.

John Kerry met in Cairo with his counterparts from Qatar and Turkey, two countries that have some influence on Hamas. Egypt would have resented Kerry’s meeting and the Qatari foreign minister went out of his way to say that there was no move to undermine Egypt’s role. Since one of the key demands of Hamas is the re-opening of the Rafah border, Egypt can always prevent a deal.

Iran has called for a meeting of the NAM’s Group on Palestine next week in Tehran. India is a member of that group. A meeting at the level of Permanent Representatives to the UN has already taken place in New York.

So far, Hamas has gained politically, though at an enormous cost in terms of human lives and misery. The resistance against Israel is getting reunited. Because it is not supporting the government of President Bashar Assad in the many-layered civil war going on in Syria, Hamas had to move its head office from Damascus to Doha.

It appears for the time being that a negotiated cease-fire is unlikely. Such a cease-fire entails negotiations after the cease-fire has come into force and Israel is unlikely to agree to negotiations with Hamas directly or obliquely. As a matter of fact, Israel’s policy objective of politically weakening Hamas has boomeranged.

When Hamas won an election in Gaza and took over government there, instead of trying to work with that government, Israel tried to strangle it by imposing an economic blockade that finally compelled Hamas to leave office and to patch up with Fatah on terms rather humiliating. Once again, if Israel were serious about finding a negotiated resolution to its differences with the Palestinians, it could have agreed to serious negotiations under the mediation of John Kerry.

Instead, Israel decided to strike at Hamas and the kidnapping followed by murder of three Israeli boys was taken as an excuse. It will be remembered that Israeli police have told BBC that Hamas had nothing to do with the abduction or murder.Brazil has recalled its ambassador from Israel. The UK has stated that Israel is losing international support. The most likely scenario is that Israel might unilaterally announce a cease-fire along with “a mission accomplished” claim; Hamas will reject the cease-fire, and continue to send rockets for a while to claim victory; Israel will have the option to “show restraint” and the rockets will cease for the time being.

K.P. Fabian is a senior Indian diplomat. Courtesy: Asianlite


Israel Is Betraying the Holocaust Lessons

By Mohammad Badrul Ahsan

1 August 2014

ON July 20, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on a US television show and accused Hamas of a “double war crime.” He said the Palestinian organization was targeting Israeli civilians while its militants were hiding behind Palestinian civilians. What Netanyahu didn't mention is that the state of Israel is guilty of double standard. It has been defending one mockery of truth while hiding behind another. Perhaps Netanyahu would like the world to forget that the creation of Israel is a Western charity at Arab expense. The persecution of Jews in Europe had eventually caught up with the Western conscience, and it was shoved down the Arab throat. Many light-hearted Palestinians joke today that they're paying the price for the sins Germany committed in the Second World War.

In the shifting sands of time, much of the world has forgotten that original injustice and the Palestinians are misunderstood as intruders in their own homes. Many people don't remember these people have a genuine grievance; their homeland for over a thousand years was forcibly taken from them. The Palestinians have been driven out of their homes so that the Jews could have a homeland.  The Zionists justified that imposition claiming that Palestine was their Promised Land. They argued that this was the land God had promised to the Israelites. The promise was first made to Abraham and then renewed to his son Isaac, and to Isaac's son Jacob.

God's promise proved bunkum until the British got involved. The Balfour Declaration initiated the creation of the Jewish state when British foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour wrote to British Jewish community leader Baron Walter Rothschild in 1917. The Zionists also wanted the Palestinian land because their ancestors lived there some 2,000 years ago!

King Abdullah of Jordan had made an impassioned appeal against this “historic claim” in an article he wrote in The American Magazine in November 1947.  He eloquently argued that “if such fantasy were allowed” then Italians might claim England because the Romans held country for a long time. For the same reason, England might claim France, "homeland" of the conquering Normans. And the French Normans might claim Norway, where their ancestors originated. The Arabs also should claim Spain, which they ruled for 700 years.

The king went on in the same vein that Mexicans might claim Spain, "homeland" of their forefathers. They might even claim Texas, which was Mexican until 100 years ago. He then asked the American readers what would happen if the American Indians wanted to get back the "homeland" of which they were the sole, native, and ancient occupants until only some 450Thus Israel, a contradiction in conception, has thrived on double standard. And it has called the rightful claimants of the land terrorists and terrorized them every time they vowed to fight against it. If Hamas is targeting the Israelis hiding behind the Palestinians, Israel is also waging an unjust war hiding behind its superior firepower. Nearly 2,000 Palestinians have been killed already during the ongoing incursions by Israel and Netanyahu has declared that his army wouldn't stop unless the “mission” was accomplished.

The Jordanian king in his essay had also tried to convince the western countries to relocate the Jews to their own soils. He wrote that some of the Jews still living in the concentration camps had opted for their original countries in Europe instead of going to Israel. But the Jewish Agency for Palestine had hoodwinked them to change their minds. It had even severely beaten and tortured the dissenters.

It's already a moral failure for Israel that the former victim has turned into a ferocious victimizer. The sound of its missiles, armoured vehicles and purported propaganda can't drown out the voice of conscience that the Zionists are taking out the frustration of Holocaust on the people, who historically had nothing to do with it. Impervious to the sufferings and sacrifice of its victims, Israel is now recreating in them the anguish of Jews, who were picked up from their homes, transported to concentration camps and, in all innocence, incinerated in Nazi gas chambers.

Late Israeli premier Ariel Sharon, known as the Butcher of Beirut, said that the Jewish lesson of the Holocaust was that nobody cared Jews were being murdered. That lesson should have made Israel a more considerate and compassionate nation. Instead, Israel is following the Holocaust masterminds in their footsteps. It doesn't care that innocent Palestinian men, women and children are getting killed to satisfy its lust for land.

Israel has lost the high moral ground on which it stands, as Benjamin Netanyahu's “mission” is resonating the horror of Hitler's “final solution.” By undermining the Holocaust lessons, Israel has reduced itself into a pathetic question: How long exactly does it think it can exist under false preteens?

Mohammad Badrul Ahsan is the Editor of weekly First News and an opinion writer for The Daily Star.


Blue Cloth over Their Conscience

By Vijay Prashad

Aug 02, 2014

Despite abuses from the Israeli government, the U.S. political class is fully supportive of its acts in Gaza

On the night of Tuesday, July 29, three shells hit the Jabalia Elementary Girls School — a U.N. designated emergency shelter for 3,300 Palestinians. Those who had taken refuge there came because the Israelis had warned them to leave their homes. The U.N. had given the Israelis the coordinates of this school 17 times. Their warnings made no impact. The shells killed at least 16 people and wounded hundreds. The U.N. official in charge, Pierre Krähenbühl (of UNRWA), said in a powerful statement, “Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today, the world stands disgraced.”

No ceasefire is on the horizon. The ‘humanitarian pause’ of August 1 broke down after two hours. The U.N. Security Council could not agree on the language for a resolution — its strongest instrument. A toothless “presidential statement” from the Council called not for an end to the conflict but for “an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire, allowing for the delivery of urgently needed assistance.” In other words, the U.N. Council members recognise that they have no authority to end the conflict. All they can do is to ask for “humanitarian pauses” so that the U.N. agencies can bring in emergency supplies to a desperate population.

Israel has destroyed Gaza’s only power plant, which impacts the already fragile sewage and water purification system as well as food storage. Electricity is mostly off, which means that the Palestinians are in danger of being cut off from the world. As it is, when Israel conducts its “operations” inside Gaza, it seals the area, preventing media from entrance. The aftermath of these operations has been devastating, whether in Gaza City’s neighbourhood of Shuja’iyya or the town of Khuz’a. Forty-four per cent of Gaza’s 140 square miles (360 square km) have been designated a “buffer zone” by the Israelis. Gaza’s Ministry of Health puts the figure for the dead at over 1,300 and the wounded at close to 8,000 — this number rises steadily.

The U.N. says that over 250,000 of the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza are now in their shelters. The U.N. is on its last legs as far as supplies go. “We have reached the tolerable limit that we can accommodate,” Mr. Krähenbühl told the Security Council on July 31. Gaza continues to be under siege by Israel, and the border crossing with Egypt — at Rafah — is effectively closed. The tunnels that the Israelis are destroying had been the arteries for the Palestinians to break the embargo. That is now closed to them.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travelled around the region trying to move a ceasefire agenda. The Palestinians are clear that any genuine ceasefire must include an end to the siege. Even Mr. Krähenbühl agreed, telling the Security Council on July 31, “The illegal blockade of Gaza must be lifted.”

This is unacceptable to Israel, which believes that the suffocation of Gaza is in its security interest. An official of the Eshkol Regional Council had told the International Crisis Group (ICG) in 2009, “Our forces should flatten Gaza into a parking lot, destroy them.” An end to the siege is the last thing that such a political view would allow. Members of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inner circle called Mr. Kerry’s plan a “strategic terrorist attack.” The ceasefire plan brokered with Qatar and Turkey, the Israeli officials said, would spur them to expand their operations against Gaza — to flatten Gaza.

Relations with U.S

Israeli insults against the Obama administration have been legion. In 2010, the Israelis announced the building of new settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem on the day that U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden arrived in Israel with a peace proposal that included a moratorium on settlement building. He was humiliated. The next year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went before a joint session of the U.S. Congress to say that Israel would never make peace with Hamas. It was seen as a direct snub at U.S. President Barack Obama, who had suggested that a hard-line position against Hamas would not occasion a peace process.

Mr. Netanyahu’s attitude toward the U.S. was clear in his 2001 visit to Ofra, an illegal settlement in the West Bank. He talked to the settlers about the need to pummel the Palestinians. A settler asked him if he worried about the world reaction to such a policy. “Not at all,” he replied, “especially today with America. I know what America is. America is something that can easily be moved. 80 per cent of the Americans support us. We have that kind of support.”

Mr. Netanyahu is correct. Despite abuses from the Israeli government, the U.S. political class fully supports Israel. In the midst of this campaign on Gaza, with all evidence pointing to a violation of the rules against collective punishment, the U.S. Congress unanimously voted to give full support to the Israelis. It also charged the U.N. Human Rights Council with hypocrisy over its resolution that asked for an investigation of Israel’s conduct in the war. The U.S had cast the only ‘No’ vote in Geneva. Not only this, the U.S. Defense Department handed over its stockpiles of weapons that are stored in Israel.

 The U.N. has no appetite to apply the principle of Responsibility to Protect. That form of humanitarianism is only useful when it suits western interests

A U.S. defence official said that Israel took possession of 120 mm mortar shells and 40mm grenades — both of which are being used in this bombardment. Seventy nine of the hundred U.S. Senators supported the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, which would allow for more arms to be delivered to Israel. The act also encourages the U.S. to ensure that Israel continues to have a “qualitative military edge” over its neighbours. The U.S. political class, despite the abuses from Tel Aviv, seems eager to back Israel to the hilt — diplomatically, financially and militarily.

In 1937, for two hours, the German Condor Legion bombed the small Basque town of Guernica. The incendiary bombs killed hundreds of civilians. Colonel Wolfram von Richthofen, who commanded the squad, wrote that their firebombs “resulted in complete annihilation.”

Picasso turned his talent to bring this event to life, which resulted in his masterpiece, Guernica. Later, he would say, that the painting allowed him to express his “horror of the military caste” which takes the world into “an ocean of misery.”

A tapestry of the painting used to hang outside the U.N. Security Council. When U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell went to make his fraudulent case for a war against Iraq in 2003, a blue cloth was hung over Guernica. It could not interfere with the masters of war. Today, a blue cloth is hung over any statement that questions Israel’s right to annihilate Gaza.

International Political Action

Valerie Amos, U.N. head of the Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief department, asked, “Where is the humanity, the morality? It’s children, civilians dying.” Mr. Krähenbühl, in an equally emotional statement, noted, “We have moved beyond the realm of humanitarian action alone. We are in the realm of accountability. I call on the international community to take deliberate international political action to put an immediate end to the continuing carnage.” The apposite phrase here is ‘international political action.’ Mr. Krähenbühl meant the U.N. Security Council. From August 1, the president of the Council is the U.K.’s Ambassador, Sir Mark Lyall. In his statement to the Council on July 30, Sir Mark blamed “both sides” for the conflict, saying, “The people of Israel have the right to live without constant fear for their security, but the people of Gaza also have the right to live safely in peace.”

The argument of “both sides” erases the context of this bombardment — the occupation of the Palestinian lives and the scale of Israel’s offensive. There is no parity here. Sir Mark’s approach shows that the UNSC has no appetite to move a resolution based on the U.N. principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P). That form of humanitarianism is only useful when it suits western interests. When it does not, the lives of civilians are of no concern. No wonder Mr. Netanyahu can so casually say, “We need to be prepared for a protracted campaign in Gaza.”

Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies, Trinity College.


Protecting Children in Gaza

By Iwan Mucipto

August 01 2014

Every time Hamas and Israel fight, the press focuses on dead children. In the end, children become effective weapons of propaganda. This article is not about defending Israel, but about condemning children as weapons, either as child soldiers or as propaganda material.

The war that pits Hamas against Israel is an exercise in futility, there can be no winner, only losers. Israel can only win if it occupies Gaza and enforces peace through extreme violence, which only emulates the actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq.

Hamas cannot win through conventional warfare, so it tries several alternatives. The use of suicide bombings has been thwarted by Israel’s infamous wall. Tunnelling allowed the capture of Shalit once and for a price.

Firing rockets has been rendered ineffective because of Israel’s second wall, the Iron Dome technology.

Eventually, Hamas has had to rely on victimhood, but using victimhood for propaganda will not win a war. It leads to irresponsible behaviour like firing rockets from densely populated residential areas, which only invites counter strikes with heavy collateral damage. The media then exploits the death of civilians and children.

Hamas believes it will win because it occupies the moral high ground, which justifies its reason for existence as spelled out in its constitution — the destruction of Israel. But victimhood will not destroy Israel.

Arabs and Muslims are enraged, but with an all-out sectarian war brewing in the region, a West less dependent on Saudi Arabia or Gulf oil and an impoverished Egypt, no Arab country is willing to risk its armies (and economy) against Israel.

Meanwhile, the ranks of Jihadi volunteers are tied up in the Syria war, depleted, divided among themselves, and Egypt is not willing to let them through, only to have to hunt them down later on its own soil.

Ethnic religious conflicts in Indonesia often used to start with some bored youngsters starting a fight over a girl.

In the long run, exploiting victimhood only produces a pathological culture based upon hurt pride and self-pity under an umbrella of fanatical and hateful fundamentalism, producing an unproductive society dependent on donations, which in turn is in need of more victims. So the vicious circle is closed.

Focusing only on dead children in Gaza is unfair because the Palestinians are not the only victims in this world, which is dominated by a species of aggressive, territorial and tribal primates covered by a “thin veneer of civilization”.

Palestinian victimhood begs the question — is one more a victim when victimized by Israel and less when victimized by a non “Zionist entity”? What about the children who died in Darfur? Why was the world not up in arms when Sudan used famine as a weapon?

If 300 Palestinians perish in a 10 day engagement, what about the 200,000 Syrian deaths and the thousands who have been killed and maimed in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan over the years?

One bomb that went off in a market caused unspeakable carnage, with men, women and children indiscriminately killed, torn to pieces, their flesh shredded and burned, but where are the sobbing parents on TV and why are there no Santri (Islamic students) demonstrating on the streets of Jakarta sobbing hysterically because of such an calamity?

In the case of children killed and maimed, orphaned and abused, there should be no selective outrage. Why not? Because it creates discrimination, like there are first class victims and second class victims. Or third class victims, like when a religious affairs minister suspected of corruption blames certain victims of sectarian violence for their own plight because they provoked the attacks by belonging to a certain minority.

What then has to be done? We should not pick whose children should be focused on as victims and whose are not. We should not only care for children whose parents’ share our religion or tribe, as this will lead to matters escalating.

Ethnic religious conflicts in Indonesia often used to start with some bored youngsters starting a fight over a girl.

We should recognize each other as belonging to the same species, Homo sapiens, God’s creatures struggling to transcend our biological and cultural stages of evolution to come home to our Creator, whatever we may call Him or Her in whatever language.

We should recognize that we are all responsible for the suffering of our children, who are trusted in our care by the same God.

So let’s work for peace. For the Palestinians to have peace and pride, they have to look at other people who have been beaten and down trodden for inspiration, like the Japanese, Koreans or Chinese.

The Palestinians need a leader who dares to say: “Let’s learn from the Jews, study at their universities and then buy back our land or at least a control share of their companies”.

The Palestinian leader should tell his people that power doesn’t grow out of the barrel of a gun anymore; it grows out of elite universities. And as Muslims aren’t we told to go and learn all the way to China? This sounds naïve, but it is true.

Minorities who have emancipated themselves almost always find equilibrium between modernization and nationalism through Western education shaped to their own needs and made their own. Science is not Western, it is human.

Peace can only grow out of mutual respect. Victimhood creates pity, sympathy and empathy, but not really respect.

Iwan Mucipto holds a Master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Indonesia and a diploma degree in social ecology from Pitzer College in Claremont, California, the United States.


‘Goal Is To Neutralise Terror Tunnels’

By Daniel Carmon

Aug 01, 2014

These Hamas terror attacks could have easily sent the Israeli civilian death toll soaring if it weren’t for the premium Israel places on protecting its civilians via warning systems, bomb shelters and the ‘Iron Dome’ defence system

Rarely in a diplomat’s career is one lucky enough to have a posting that is important and interesting, combining the elements of classic diplomacy with the new tools of development diplomacy, new media and social networks.

Israel and India established full diplomatic relations just 22 years ago during the time of P.V. Narasimha Rao.

Nevertheless, the relations between our two civilisations date back thousands of years. The Jewish community in India is one of the cornerstones of these relations. Jews have been living in India peacefully for generations. India’s unique, tolerant and welcoming society allowed them to flourish and become an integral part of the amazing mosaic of what we all know as India.

The relationship between Israel and India is based on common values, challenges and interests. Our two nations are democracies that promote freedom of speech, encourage innovation and entrepreneurship and from a very early age inculcate in their people the desire to grow, evolve, always be better and achieve more.

The partnership between India and Israel is not new to me. In the last nine years, I have been closely engaged with the issue of international development, both at the UN, where Israel initiated many resolutions on agriculture and entrepreneurship for development, and particularly, in the last three years as deputy director-general of the ministry of foreign affairs and head of MASHAV — Israel’s International Development Cooperation Agency. Until recently, I led the biggest agricultural project Israel has been involved with anywhere in the world, a project that benefits tens of thousands of Indian farmers.

I am proud to represent a country that has been, and in some aspects still is, a living “development laboratory”. Over the years we have tried and succeeded to meet challenges similar to those described in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Tri-colour Revolution” and have gained expertise in agriculture, dairy industry, solar energy, water management and conservation. Cooperation in these fields is imperative to both our countries, together with civil society, academia and applied R&D in which we already have a number of programmes and platforms.

The bilateral commercial relations between India and Israel are one of the pillars on our partnership and will continue to be so.

Mahatma Gandhi had said: “The earth, the air, the land and the water are not an inheritance from our forefathers but on loan from our children. So we have to hand over to them at least as it been handed over to us.” Those wise words guide us to make our world safer and better for our children and grandchildren.

Like many in Israel, I am not the first one in my family to be fascinated with India. Two of my children have already travelled across India, as 40,000 Israelis do every year, with a similar number of Indians coming to Israel. In order to increase this number, we have recently opened an office of our tourism ministry in Mumbai, serving all of India.

Last but not least are the defence ties between the two countries. Israel and India face common threats and challenges that can be jointly addressed. We recently signed bilateral agreements in homeland security and counter-terrorism to create a framework for both countries. It will provide us an important and useful tool to save the lives of Israelis and Indians. Terror and state-sponsored terrorism are a global danger to us all. They can affect each and every aspect of our lives and livelihood as it has struck Indians and Israelis more than once. Terror is born out of extreme ideology that targets those who do not share the same perception. Terror could strike in Jerusalem, Mumbai or Mosul in different forms, but the ideology is the same and the best way to confront it is to join hands.

In recent years, and especially since June 12, my country is facing continuous rocket attacks by the Hamas terrorist organisation that unlawfully rules the Gaza Strip — 18,000 rockets have been fired by Hamas and other terror organisations since Israel unilaterally left Gaza in 2005. After three weeks of Israeli restraint, when Hamas further escalated the intensity of rocket attacks, Israel was left with no choice but to respond, as any country would do.

Hamas commits a double war crime. On the one hand it specifically targets its rockets, more than 2,600 in the last three weeks, on the Israeli civilian population. On the other hand it does so out of inhabited areas, schools, hospitals and mosques while using the civilian population in Gaza as human shields. Hamas is also using terror tunnels to infiltrate into Israel in order to kidnap or kill Israelis. Israel laments the loss of any uninvolved civilian but stresses that the responsibility for those deaths lies solely with Hamas. Israel is doing its utmost to protect the uninvolved citizens in Gaza by distributing pamphlets, making phone calls and sending SMSes to the civil population asking them to leave areas serving as launching grounds and other terrorist infrastructure. The Hamas interior minister ordered them to act as human shields. People who tried to leave were terrorised. Israel has agreed to all six ceasefires proposed by Egypt or the UN while Hamas had violated each and every one of those.

These Hamas terror attacks could have easily sent the Israeli civilian death toll soaring into the thousands if it weren’t for the premium Israel places on protecting its civilians via warning systems, bomb shelters and the “Iron Dome” defence system. All along Israel keeps the border crossings open and continues to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Israel’s goal is to stop the rocket fire at its civilian population and neutralise the terror tunnels that threaten Israeli communities. Parallel to the evolving situation on the ground and attempts to reach a sustainable ceasefire, Israel expects the support of the international community in its fight against terrorism.

When I arrived a few days ago in New Delhi, I was gratified to hear foreign minister Sushma Swaraj’s words about the importance of India-Israel relations. The Israeli government, through its embassy in New Delhi, is fully committed to further enhance the bilateral relations with Mr Modi’s new government, in every field, forum and arena where Israel and India meet.

Daniel Carmon, Israel’s new ambassador to India, presented his credentials to President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday. He has earlier served as ambassador to the UN, and in Argentina and the United States.


Gaza Ceasefire a Bust, But Israel Is Making Headway

By Brooklyn Middleton

1 August 2014

At the very end of the 24th day of the Israeli military’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, the United States and the United Nations indicated all parties and militant factions had agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire slated to begin at 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT) on August 1.

Two quiet hours at the beginning of the much-needed humanitarian ceasefire passed before air raid sirens sounded in the southern Israeli community of Karem Shalom – indicating incoming projectiles being fired from Gaza – followed by retaliatory Israeli artillery strikes on multiple positions, killing at least ten Palestinians.

This latest ceasefire attempt came after the Palestinian death toll had risen to at least 1,400 - a figure that includes both Palestinian civilians and militants – while the Israeli Defense Forces' death toll climbed to 61 with another three Israeli civilians killed.

Despite the fact that this latest ceasefire also spiralled into failure, it should not be completely ruled out that a de-escalation of violence could still occur; the primary reason for this assessment is that Israel is nearing the completion of its stated primary objective: According to Haaretz, 90 percent of the tunnels have been destroyed. Secondly, while Hamas leaders’ apparently icy relations with the Egyptian military that ousted its Muslim Brotherhood allies lessen Cairo’s influence on the militant group, the rising death toll and fact that Hamas has secured few major strategic victories has momentarily taken precedence over this it seems.

With that said, if Hamas achieves its long sought after goal of capturing an IDF soldier or if it infiltrates a southern Israeli community and carries out an attack, the possibility of a ceasefire in the coming days could diminish significantly.

Despite Hamas’ inevitable bellicose statements and vows to reject any ceasefire that falls short of completely lifting the blockade, it accepted this 72-hour ceasefire despite the stipulation that IDF troops would remain in Gaza and continue carrying out tunnel destruction operations.

Is Hamas Now Weakened?

Hamas’ acceptance of this stipulation, which one could assess was one of the key points leading to the rejection of the other ceasefires, is, in my mind, the most solid evidence to show Hamas is now weakened to the point where the group is ready to negotiate.

As the Israeli army continues working on destroying tunnels, diplomatic efforts for negotiations appear now to be actually involving the most important groups; despite the fact that days ago U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attempted to broker a ceasefire without Egypt playing any significant role. This attempt was quickly rejected by Israel and lambasted by the Israeli press and it appears the U.S. now clearly recognizes any negotiations without Egypt will fail to bring any remotely sustainable results. During the truce, the U.S. State Department indicated that “Israeli and Palestinian delegations will immediately be going to Cairo for negotiations with the Government of Egypt, at the invitation of Egypt, aimed at reaching a durable cease-fire.”

While a longer-term ceasefire, one that will likely return to the November 2012 agreements, remains in the works, the increasingly dire unfolding humanitarian crisis in Gaza should also be addressed; medical supplies continue dwindling, with the Palestinian Authority reportedly refusing Israeli aid and hospitals completely overwhelmed with patients. The Israeli military field hospital at the Erez crossing has reportedly only seen the treatment of about 30 Palestinians, likely due to the fact that seeking care from an enemy in the middle of a war as well as Hamas’ public execution of 30 “Israeli collaborators” may have instilled legitimate fear into Palestinians desperately in need of medical care.

That said, now that yet another ceasefire has ended without progress toward a longer lasting truce, Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority should coordinate efforts to open the Rafah crossing for the evacuation of wounded Palestinian civilians with Palestinian Authority security forces deployed to the vicinity of the crossing. Opening Rafah for humanitarian purposes as quickly as possible could lead to a longer term arrangement with the PA manning the crossing - a bold diplomatic step toward empowering Abbas as well as a crucial humanitarian arrangement.

Brooklyn Middleton is an American Political and Security Risk Analyst reporting from Israel. Her work has appeared in Turkish and Israeli publications including The Times of Israel and Hürriyet Daily News. She has previously written about U.S. President Obama's policy in Syria as well as the emerging geopolitical threats Israel faces as it pursues its energy interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. She is currently researching Ayatollah Khomeini’s influence on Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant groups to complete her MA in Middle Eastern Studies.


Why Jointly Condemning Israel and Hamas Is Wrong

By Abdullah Hamidaddin

1 August 2014

This is a very difficult time to write about the war in Gaza. Not that it is easy at others times. But to write (or speak or comment or take a position) about an event where scores of people are being killed or wounded requires a huge effort to emotionally detach oneself and take a cold view of a human tragedy. Moreover, biases are surely heightened here. Anyone writing about Gaza today already has a position on Hamas or Israel. One may think that the best position is to refrain from taking any side and instead talk about the mistakes and the rights of both sides. But that does not always work. Sometimes, one needs to be more critical of one side over the other.

Personally, I am not a fan of Hamas. I have criticized the militant movement to the point where I am now accused of being an ‘Arab Zionist’ and my name and picture are circulating – along with some 30 other writers - in what some have dubbed “a list of shame” or a list of “Zionist tails.” But I must say something against placing Hamas near Israel when it comes to accusations of war crimes; not in defence of Hamas per se but to reject equating two fundamentally different forms of crimes.

On July 23, the U.N. Human Rights Council voted to establish an inquiry to determine whether crimes against humanity and international law have been committed in the latest war on Gaza. The position of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay was that both Israel and Hamas may be committing war crimes.

The United States took the staid position of voting against anything that condemns Israel. As far as it was concerned this was one-sided, targets Israel, imbalanced and needless. The EU decided that the resolution was unbalanced and that it “did not condemn the firing of rockets into Israel.” Israel was concerned about “naming and shaming” Israel and insisted that it had shown restraint and that Hamas was the aggressor.

Not So Surprising Stands

The American position is not surprising. In my view, the U.S. has a habit of reminding the people of the region that Arab death and suffering does not matter. Israel has a record of disregard for international law and human rights when it comes to the treatment of Arab civilians in the territories it occupies; yet it worries about tarnishing its image! The EU’s reason to abstain was odd: imbalanced and not mentioning Hamas? I read the resolution a few times. And each time I would find this sentence: “Condemns all violence against civilians wherever it occurs, including the killing of two Israeli civilians as a result of rocket fire, and urges all parties concerned to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.” I believe that’s enough condemnation in a situation where more than 1,300 people are dead, around 7,000 wounded – many with life-long injuries – and the effective destruction of an already devastated economy! True, Hamas was not named in this resolution, but any human watching the situation, I believe, will see that the crimes being committed are not by Hamas. To demand a “balanced” resolution about an absolutely imbalanced human tragedy is a farce!

I am not absolving Hamas of responsibility. Though Hamas did not start the war in my view, it had a chance to stop it. Hamas did target civilians, it seems. And Hamas did store weapons amongst civilians, and in hospitals and schools. Hamas made mistakes and must be held accountable for them. But the mistakes of an occupier should never be made equal with those of the occupied. I believe that the resolution was balanced and fair. It condemned both sides, but shed more light on the side that committed a few thousand more crimes. It also focused on Israel, which is justified, in my mind, as it was the stronger party and because it was not suffering from a siege that choked its citizens, pushing many of them to prefer a suicidal Hamas to a more rational leadership.

A week later, Pillay came out and said: “Hamas militants in Gaza have also violated international humanitarian law by firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel, sometimes from densely-populated areas” and that “by placing and firing rockets within heavily populated areas both sides are committing ‘a violation of international humanitarian law, therefore a war crime’”. So now Israel and Hamas are equally accused of committing war crimes. It is as if she is taking into consideration the European criticism and decided to openly accuse both sides of war crimes. Perhaps she hopes that by doing so she would seem more balanced. Whatever her reasons for mentioning Israel and Hamas jointly as perpetrators of war crimes, I feel it is immoral. In my view, it equates the perpetrator with the victim; the one who started the crime and the one who crossed the line in self-defence. In my understanding, Israel started the war. More importantly, Israel is an occupier.

I have nothing against the principle of accusing a resistance movement of a war crime (and as it turns out most resistance leaders and movements have committed crimes of one sort or another). Hamas has a lot to answer for. But picture an abused woman who broke the law while avenging herself, imagine her reading a statement that combines a condemnation of her abuser and a condemnation of her illegal response! Amid the fog of this war one thing is always clear in my eyes: Israel is the abuser.

Abdullah Hamidaddin is a writer and commentator on religion, Middle Eastern societies and politics with a focus on Saudi Arabia and Yemen. He is currently a PhD candidate in King’s College London.