Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
July 26, 2014
No Israel, You Cannot Use Rape as A War Weapon
By Mahwash Badar
The Arabs and the War on Gaza: A Question of Collective Action
By Bassem Aly
Israel's Actions in Gaza Trample Hopes of Arab Peace Initiative
By Prince Turki Al Faisal
Gaza’s Resistance Will Not Be Crushed
By Ramzy Baroud
A Bitter Fact: Fascism in Israel
By Mustafa Akyol
Once And For All!
By Uri Avnery
‘Oh Gaza, May Peace Be With You’
By Sadiya A Nadeem and Rayya Taha
Why Gazans Are Courting Death
By Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan
Palestinians As The Israelis’ ‘Amalekites’
Nawar Fakhry Ezzi
The End of Century-Long Mistake in Turkish-Kurdish Relations
By Yahya Bostan
Egyptian Media and the Commentary of Cruelty on Gaza
By Abdallah Schleifer
No Israel, You Cannot Use Rape as A War Weapon
By Mahwash Badar
July 24, 2014
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has brought out what seems to be the misogynist, the racist and the overall hate in everyone. There are people who have asked Hitler to return and then there are people like Bill Maher who recently called Gaza ‘a crazy woman’.
Then there is the Israeli professor who says the best way to fight wars is to rape women. How I wish that was a line from The Onion. How I wish it was a politically incorrect joke made by Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live. Or something some crazy extremist had said somewhere where they were still flogging women in the streets. Unfortunately for women and academics everywhere, this remark was made by Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University. He said and I quote,
“The only thing that will deter [the terrorists] is if they know that either their sister or mother will be raped if they are caught.”
He also went on to justify that this is just how “Middle Eastern culture” is.
I must admit it’s hard not to take that personally, as a woman, as a feminist and as someone who generally and specifically condemns crimes against women and human rights’ violations.
Mr Kedar has been a member of the military intelligence and is now a researcher at the Began-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies.
Comforting to know, isn’t it?
Not to mention awfully smart.
Completely ignore Geneva Conventions, they’re just hurdles. So are the bodies of the innocents. They’re just roadblocks on the way to a bigger, better Israel. And while you’re at it, take a culture’s sensitivities and use it against them. End the pretence of ‘defending your border’ and come up with a clear cut slogan: we are out to destroy everything about the Palestinians; their lives, their futures, their culture, their existence period.
Clearly, there is no concept of cultural evolution and human rights’ violations involved in this argument.
The university responded by saying that,
“Dr Kedar did not call and does not call to fight terror with anything but legal and moral means.”
The reaction to this statement has met with expected and justified outrage from feminist groups from within Israel and beyond – but this is hardly an exclusive feminist issue. This is a humanity issue – a country that is already creating enough pools of blood and incarcerated bodies must show some remorse, if it has any left, at this ridiculous and sickening thought.
Is it not enough that Israel has already indiscriminately bombed innocent women and children and is basically forcing the Palestinians into extinction and, total and complete annihilation that, they now want to use women as a tool for revenge and extend their violent ambitions?
To add to these atrocious crimes against humanities, here is an educational personality, no less, who comes up with advice on how to deter suicide attacks. Not dialogue, not compassion, not potential ways to bring peace but more violence, and let’s make it gender-based because that will really hurt them.
Are they completely and wholly blind to what rape means and what a violent, unforgivable crime it is? Who is teaching them the rules of war? Whatever happened to sparing women and children? Whatever happened to fair play and justice, even in times of hate and disillusion?
But I forget that this is a war where rules of fair play and human collateral damage hardly matter. So at this point, I do not even have logical comparisons that I can bring the reader’s attention to. At this point, my sensibilities sputter and the only theory that comes to my mind is that maybe Israel has lost all possible sense of ethical treatment of human beings and the principles of what is right and wrong.
Perhaps the Israeli administration has already lost its moral compass: so a statement like this hardly ruffles any feathers of any human rights groups that are already tired of counting the bodies piling inside Gaza. Perhaps Israel’s complete and total lack of moral conscience when it comes to abundantly killing Palestinians has wiped all sense of what is humane and appropriate in a state of ‘war’, as they call it. In their blind hatred and racism, they have forgotten that what they are doing is paving way for another Holocaust – and this time they will join the ranks of those who have cost humanity rather than defended it.
Mahwash Badar is a clinical psychologist and movie buff, hopping countries with her son and husband. Permanently in a state of flux.
The Arabs and the War on Gaza: A Question of Collective Action
By Bassem Aly
22 Jul 2014
Readers of the Palestinian-Israeli history will easily note the role played by Arab countries in this political conflict that has existed for nearly seven decades. The nature and scope of such an involvement may have varied from time to time, but it has never vanished.
As a new round in the Gaza war rages on between Israeli troops and the Islamist Hamas movement, the question begs to be asked: How are Arab governments reacting this time?
For experts, some believe that much work can be carried out -- particularly under the umbrella of the Arab League -- while others opine that a series of obstacles hinder the effecting of a strong, collective action.
What have the Arabs done for Gaza this time?
Since the start of Israel’s aerial and ground offensives on 8 July, nearly 600 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more injured. Israel, on the other hand, has lost 27 people.
On the first day of the Israeli offensive on Gaza, Head of the Arab League Nabil El-Arabi called on the UN Security Council to convene immediately and take the "necessary measures" to stop the Israeli aggression.
El-Arabi expressed concern over the humanitarian status of the Palestinian people in Gaza in light of Israel's continued crimes and violations against civilians, which blatantly breach international humanitarian law.
Two days later, on 10 July, the Security Council held an emergency meeting, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asserting the urgency of avoiding, more than ever, another Palestinian-Israeli war. However, he also claimed that the threat of an Israeli ground offensive was only preventable if Hamas stopped firing rockets into Israel.
The second comment by the Arab League came on 15 July during an extraordinary league session.
Calling for "international protection" for the Palestinians, Arab foreign ministers called on all parties to accept the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire.
In an e-mail-based interview, however, Ben White, a researcher at the Journal of Palestine Studies, said he believed the Arab League "could do much more".
"There are steps and measures available to the League, and to member-states, that would significantly increase pressure on Israel -- such as, for example, advocating for and pushing for a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel through the UN," he suggested.
And prior to that?
No political action against Israel has been adopted until now in the current war between Israel and Hamas, aside from the pan-Arab organisation's aforementioned statements. Previously, however, some significant steps had been taken that deserve mentioning here.
Defending it for several years afterwards, the Arab League adopted the so-called Arab peace initiative in 2002 during the annual Arab League Summit in Beirut.
The plan was based on the land for peace principle, as well as Israeli's acceptance of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. In return, the Arab states would be committed to the establishment of peaceful relations with Israel. Israel, however, refused to commit to the plan.
The Arab League's biggest contribution to the Palestinians came in 2011 as it backed the Palestinian plan to seek full UN membership, which came in response to the constantly failed talks on statehood with the Israeli side.
The United States blocked the Palestinian request made by President Mahmoud Abbas in September 2011. But, in 2012, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to lift the status of the Palestinian Authority from an observer entity to a "non-member observer state", the same status as the Vatican.
Continuously, the Arab League had supported Egypt's previous reconciliation endeavours between Fatah and Hamas.
The two major blocs in Palestinian politics finally managed on 2 June to finalise a new government following seven years of enmity and failed attempts at compromise.
Israel's premier Benjamin Netanyahu warned against any international rush to recognise a Palestinian government constituted on the basis of a unity pact between Hamas and Fatah, a major cause of the ongoing Hamas-Israel war according to some commentators.
Kamel Hawwash, a British-Palestinian Professor at the University of Birmingham, had told Ahram Online then that Israel was against a single Palestinian government.
“It’s the most obvious symbol,” he asserted. Hawwash indicated that Israel needs a strong Palestinian Authority to maintain security control over the West Bank, but specifically wants to weaken Hamas.
All rounds of peace talks witnessed the exclusion of Hamas – described by Netanyahu as a terrorist organisation – which has no official dealings with either Israel or the West.
One conclusion to reach about the situation in Gaza: there is no unified Arab stance.
Hamas has rejected Egypt's initiative for an "immediate" ceasefire to end hostilities from both sides.
The plan -- accepted by Israel -- stipulated that Cairo host high-level delegations from both Israeli and Palestinian factions to discuss trust-building measures required for confirming the implementation of the deal.
Several international diplomatic efforts took place this week in order to end the war, including the visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Cairo. "We do believe that there's not another viable plan out there," US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said earlier.
Abbas met with Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Thursday. Both leaders believe a ceasefire is to be based on the terms and conditions of the Cairo-brokered ceasefire of 2012.
In Turkey, Abbas held a news conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Istanbul. "Israel accepted the ceasefire proposal. We [the Palestinians] must also accept it so that we can put the Israeli side at unease," AFP quoted Abbas as saying.
According to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Abbas wants France to lobby Qatar and Turkey -- Hamas allies -- to pressure the Islamist movement into accepting the truce.
The two men met at Cairo airport before Abbas left to Turkey on Friday.
On Monday, Egypt said it might be willing to amend its truce initiative in order to accommodate Hamas.
These conditions include lifting the Israeli and Egyptian blockade on Gaza and the release of several hundred Palestinians arrested by Israel last month during its search for three Jewish settlers abducted in the occupied West Bank, Reuters reported.
Moataz Salama, senior researcher at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, related Hamas' motives to refuse Cairo's plan with its affiliation to Egypt's now-banned Muslim Brotherhood movement.
The relationship between Egypt and Hamas had greatly deteriorated following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Since then, Egypt became at odds with Qatar over its support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Relations between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours, mainly Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, took the same deteriorating path. In March, the three governments withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, accusing it of interfering in their affairs and supporting the Brotherhood.
Abu Dhabi has accused Qatar’s Al Jazeera TV channel and websites of "fabricating" information suggesting that the UAE supported Israel's operation in Gaza, in the latest tensions between both countries.
UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash demanded an "official apology" from Doha-based Al Jazeera for publishing news stating that a meeting had taken place between foreign ministers of the UAE and Israel, local media said on Monday.
The website of Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr had reported on Saturday that UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahayan had met with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman and proposed "financing" the Israeli "aggression" against Gaza "on the condition that Hamas would be completely eliminated".
Al Jazeera was quoting a website named "Arabi21" which, in turn, said it was quoting Israel's Channel 2.
"Hamas, as well as Qatar, think they can abort Egypt's role in the ceasefire instead of integrating with it, but apparently they don't understand the historical aspect of Egypt in Gaza and its ability to be the only protector of any concluded agreements," Salama asserted.
Israel's actions in Gaza trample hopes of Arab Peace Initiative
By Prince Turki Al Faisal
July 25, 2014
As recent events so blatantly display, the Israeli government has ignored the Arab Peace Initiative and fully committed itself, as well as the Israeli and Palestinian people, to continuous conflict, bloodshed and suffering. A replay of the broken record of killing and counter-killing was inevitable the minute the Israeli prime minister shot down US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to restart negotiations between him and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Based on Benjamin Netanyahu's accusation that Hamas abducted and killed three Israeli settlers, Israeli security forces have rampaged the West Bank, arresting hundreds, including Hamas members of the Palestinian assembly, and killing a number of Palestinians in the process. The killing and burning of a Palestinian teenager by Israeli settlers then merely added to the bloodshed and exacerbated the situation.
Of course, blood has been spilling throughout the region since the passing of the UN Security Council’s Resolution 242 calling for Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967. The resolution also stipulated that the occupation of land by armed force is unacceptable, thus denying Israel any legitimacy in its attempts to justify holding onto the occupied regions. Yet, as history continues to repeat itself in savage cycles, the firing of rockets from Gaza was simply another response to Israeli belligerence, now under the guise of Netanyahu. The subsequent military assault we are currently witnessing as Israel’s response to these strikes has murdered hundreds of innocent Palestinians whom no callous and self-serving words of condolence can return to life.
The automatic support that American and certain European governments have given to Netanyahu is equally callous and self-serving. Pressing the Israeli prime minister to accept Kerry's proposals would have done more to prevent the present massacre of Palestinians, but instead these governments continue to stand by Netanyahu in his barbaric assault on innocent civilians. Not only does this represent a wholly unacceptable show of support for state-sanctioned murder, it also provides a stage for the hypocrisy of these Western leaders who expend more long-winded grief on the murder of three Israeli settlers than they do on the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians.
At the same time, Hamas has repeated its past mistakes. The rockets it lobs at Israel, even if they reach Tel Aviv, do no harm to Israel and hinder the Palestinian cause. The disparity between Israelis killed by rockets and the Palestinians annihilated by Israel's superior and indiscriminate firepower should not be ignored, even for the pursuit of just political ends.
When Hamas accepted, then refused, then claimed to seek adjustments to the Egyptian proposal, it gave Netanyahu what he sought from the beginning: the opportunity to appear reasonable and justified and thus cast a smokescreen over his foot-in-the-mouth blunders. Knowing that Gaza's citizens would endure insufferable amounts of killing should have checked Hamas' hubris, but it did not. Being willing to cause so much suffering before the inevitable return to “Hudna,” or cease-fire, shows the depths of indifference to which Hamas has fallen. Hamas' ill-advised alignment with Qatar and Turkey is another miscalculation. The leaderships of those countries look more to how they can deprive Egypt of its rightful leadership role rather than the stopping of Netanyahu's meting out death and destruction to the people of Gaza.
This is all the more unfortunate because the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza had looked upon the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah as a means of relieving their pains. Hamas' agreement to remain outside the government gave them further hope that things would get better. Now, the opposite has happened. One can only dream they will be successful in arranging a more prudent leadership.
When I published a July 7 op-ed in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, titled “Peace would be possible with the Arab Peace Initiative at its core,” I expressed the hope of so many around the world. The vision of the Arab Peace Initiative — the end to hostilities between Israel and the Arab/Muslim worlds — would enable normal relations among the peoples of the Middle East. Alas, the present conflict and tragedy has dampened that hope. During the first Israeli assault on the people of Gaza in 2006, I wrote that we are all Gazans now. Today, I repeat that statement without hesitation.
May God deliver the people of Gaza from their present unendurable sufferings at the hands of an Israeli prime minister who takes pride in flexing his brutally murderous military machine. May He also provide the Palestinian people with leaders who set their yearning for incessant war aside and do what is necessary to deliver their people unto peace. Moreover, may we all someday live in a world free of the atrocities that now befall the occupied lands of Palestine.
Gaza’s Resistance Will Not Be Crushed
By Ramzy Baroud
25 July 2014
As Israel’s so-called Operation Protective Edge continues, stories of entire families collectively killed and women and children targeted by Israeli soldiers saturate the media. Until now, more than 700 Palestinians have been killed, and 32 Israel soldiers been killed at the hands of the Resistance. In Shejaiya, elders, mothers and children scrambled for cover as shells rained down. I see it as the stealing of the souls of countless innocents.
The destruction is overwhelming, and everywhere, Palestinians lament there is nowhere that is safe. Regardless, resolve is strong and the people of Gaza will not resign themselves to surrender, I believe.
The resistance movement in Gaza is often misrepresented, intentionally at times, and at other times innocuously. In the heat of the information battle that has ensued since Israel began its latest war, many facts and essential context have gone missing.
Historically a Hub
Historically, Gaza has been a hub for uninterrupted popular resistance since what some see as the ethnic cleansing of Palestine at the hands of Zionist militias, and later the Israeli army, in 1947-48. An estimated 200,000 of Palestine’s then nearly 800,000 refugees were forced there, with many enduring squalid and humiliating conditions.
Despite the apparent shock of war and the humiliation of defeat, Gazans fought back almost immediately. There was no Fatah, no Hamas, and no siege - in comparison to its current definition – and Gazans didn’t organise around any political factions, or ideologies. Rather, they assembled in small groups known to Gazans as Fidayeen - freedom fighters.
These were dispossessed refugees still unaware of the complexity of their political surroundings, and the Fidayeen were mostly young Palestinian refugees fighting to return to their home, it seems. But their operations grew bolder day by day. According to my understanding, they would sneak back into their towns - which then eventually became part of Israel - with primitive weapons and homemade bombs. They would kill Israeli soldiers, steal their weapons and return with the new weapons the second night.
Some, I have heard, would secretly go back to their villages in Palestine to “steal” food, blankets and whatever money they had failed to retrieve in the rush of war. Those who never returned received the funerals of martyrs, with thousands of fellow refugees marching with symbolic coffins to graveyards. I understand that hundreds never returned and few bodies were ever recovered.
In my understanding, following every Fidayeen strike, the Israeli army would hit back at Gaza’s refugees, inspiring yet more support and recruits for the growing commando movement.
The prowess of those young refugee fighters was on full display in November 1956, when Israel invaded the Gaza Strip and large swathes of Sinai following the Suez Crisis. Egyptians fought the Israeli army with much courage, but the Palestinian garrison based in Khan Younis - now a major target in the latest Israeli war - refused to surrender.
When the fighting was over, Israel moved into Khan Younis and carried out what is now etched in the Palestinian collective memory as one of the most horrific mass killings in Gaza’s history - a massacre of 124 men and boys in the Rafah refugee camp known as al-Amiriyah School Massacre
“The victims were herded into the school under the batons of the soldiers,” reflects Dr Ahmed Yousef, in a recent article. “Those who survived the beatings were met with a hail of bullets and the demolition of the building over their heads. The bloodstains stayed on the school walls for years to remind us children of Israel's crime.”
Yousef, then a child in a Rafah, would later become a top adviser to Hamas’ first Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh in Gaza. His article, originally published in Arabic, was entitled: “The resistance will not surrender... we will be victorious or die.”
Are there any surprises in how the past is knitted both to Gaza’s present and future? It should also be of no surprise that Palestine’s perceived mightiest resistance today, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was reportedly formed in the central Gaza Strip.
These were poor refugees who grew up witnessing the brutality of the occupation, and the abuse it invited into their daily lives, I believe. (The group adopted the name of Izz al-Din al-Qassam, an Arab preacher who fought British colonialism and the Zionist forces until he was killed by British forces in a Jenin orchard in 1935.)
The first young men who started al-Qassam were all killed shortly after the inception of their group. But what they started has since become a massive movement of thousands of fighting men and woman which, as this article was being written, were keeping Israeli forces in northern Gaza at bay.
Resistance in Gaza, as in any historical inevitability, can never be interrupted. Successive Israeli governments have tried extreme measures for decades before the so-called Operation Cast Lead of 2008-9.
After the 1967 war, Ariel Sharon was entrusted with the task of pacifying the headstrong Strip. Then the head of Israel’s Defense Forces’ southern command, he was nicknamed the “Bulldozer” for good reason I feel.
It seems Sharon understood that pacifying Gaza would require heavy armored vehicles, since Gaza’s crowded neighbourhoods and alleyways weaving through its destitute refugee camps were not suited for heavy machinery. So he bulldozed homes, thousands of them, to pave the way so tanks and yet more bulldozers could move in and topple more homes.
Modest estimates put the number of houses destroyed in August 1970 alone at 2,000. Over 16,000 Palestinians were made homeless, with thousands forced to relocate from one refugee camp into another.
The Beach Refugee Camp near Gaza City sustained most of the damage, according to my understanding, with many fleeing for their lives and taking refuge in mosques and U.N. schools and tents. Sharon’s apparent objective of targeting terrorist infrastructure was in my judgement actually meant to target the very population that resisted and aided the resistance.
Indeed, the very infrastructure he harshly pounded for many days and weeks. Sharon’s bloody sweep also resulted in the execution of 104 Palestinians and the deportation of hundreds of others, some to Jordan, and others to Lebanon. The rest were simply left to rot in the Sinai desert, I believe.
It is the same terrorist infrastructure that who I see as Sharon’s follower, Benjamin Netanyahu, is seeking to destroy by using the same tactics of collective punishment, and applying the same language and media talking points.
In Gaza, the past and the present are intertwined. Israel, in my view, is united by the same purpose: crushing anyone who dares to resist. Palestinians in Gaza are also united with a common threat: their resistance, which, despite impossible odds seems likely to intensify, I feel.
Just by taking a quick glance at the history of this protracted battle - the refugees versus one of the Middle East’s strongest armies - one can say with a great degree of conviction that Israel cannot possibly subdue Gaza. You may call that a historical inevitability as well.
Palestinian-American journalist, author, editor, Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) taught Mass Communication at Australia's Curtin University of Technology, and is Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Chronicle. Baroud's work has been published in hundreds of newspapers and journals worldwide and his books “His books “Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion” and “The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle” have received international recognition. Baroud’s third book, “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story” narrates the story of the life of his family, used as a representation of millions of Palestinians in Diaspora, starting in the early 1940’s until the present time.
A Bitter Fact: Fascism in Israel
By Mustafa Akyol
Gideon Levy is a prominent Israeli journalist and a leading voice within the Israeli liberal left. The other day, he published a piece in daily Haaretz, where he writes regularly. He focused on the bewildering lack of concern some of his compatriots had regarding the civilian casualties, including children, in Gaza. Some Israelis were even expressing joy in the face of four Arab children burned to death by Israeli missiles while they were playing on the beach.
As Levy quoted, here were some of comments on the website, “Walla!”:
Shani Moyal: “I couldn’t care less Arab children were killed, too bad it wasn’t more. Well done to the IDF.”
Stav Sabah: “Really, these are great pictures. They make me so happy; I want to look at them again and again.”
Sharon Avishi: “Only four? Too bad. We hoped for more.”
Daniela Turgeman: “Great. We need to kill all the children.”
Chaya Hatnovich: “There isn’t a more beautiful picture than those dead Arab children.”
Orna Peretz: “Why only four?”
Rachel Cohen: “I’m not for children dying in Gaza. I’m for everyone burning.”
Tami Mashan: “As many children as possible should die.”
While I was reading these unbelievable words, news about another shocking comment by a prominent Israeli fell into my inbox. Here was Rabbi Dov Lior, an extreme right-wing religious leader in the settlement movement. He had just issued a religious ruling (say, fatwa), for “the total destruction of Gaza if Israel’s military leaders deem it necessary.” So, according to this rabbi, a carpet-bombing of Gaza, exterminating maybe a million civilians, would be just fine.
Then I also recalled what Ayalet Shaked, a young female Israeli politician who represents the far-right Jewish Home party, said in the Israeli Knesset. About two weeks ago, she had likened Arab children in Gaza to “little snakes” and expressed her delight over their killing.
Now, I don’t know about you, but what this kind of language reminds me of is a ruthless political culture that has zero sympathy for the innocent lives it takes, even those of little children, for the sake of its own political interests. The common, if not pejorative, definition for such hate-mongering political cultures is “fascism,” and it seems that Israel has a good dose of it.
Of course not all Israelis can be blamed for fascism. There are indeed many liberals, peaceniks, human-rights activists who resist this tide and to try to tell their compatriots that Palestinians are human beings, too. There are brave journalists such as Gideon Levy who do the same, risking being branded a “traitor.” (Indeed, watch out for the “traitors” in fascist cultures; they are often exceptionally good men – or women).
However, fascism is indeed still growing in Israel, “a country founded in its very blood trail,” as another daily Haaretz columnist, Bradley Burston, put it four years ago. (See: “Rebranding Israel as a State Headed for Fascism,” Huffington Post, May 18, 2010). This is drowning Israel in a perpetual state of war – for she never approaches the self-criticism and self-correction that she needs to make peace with Arabs.
And it is also degrading its values. Rather than being “a light unto the nations” as the Prophet Isaiah foretold, Israel is rather going down in history as an oppressor of nations. What a pity.
Once And For All!
By Uri Avnery
July 25, 2014
In this war, both sides have the same aim: to put an end to the situation that existed before it started. Once and for all!
To put an end to the launching of rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, Once and for all!
To put an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt, Once and for all!
So why don’t the two sides come together without foreign interference and agree on tit for tat?
They can’t because they don’t speak to each other. They can kill each other, but they cannot speak with each other. God forbid.
This is not a war on terror. The war itself is an act of terror.
Neither side has a strategy other than terrorizing the civilian population of the other side.
The Palestinian fighting organizations in Gaza try to impose their will by launching rockets at Israeli towns and villages, hoping that this will break the morale of the population and compel it to end the blockade that turns the Gaza Strip into an “open-air prison”. The Israeli army is bombing the Gaza Strip population and destroying entire neighbourhoods, hoping that the inhabitants (those who survive) will shake off the Hamas leadership.
Both hopes are, of course, stupid. History has shown time and again that terrorizing a population causes it to unite behind its leaders and hate the enemy even more. That is happening now on both sides.
Speaking about the two sides in a war, one can hardly avoid creating the impression of symmetry. But this war is far from symmetric.
Israel has one of the largest and most efficient military machines in the world. Hamas and its local allies amount to a few thousand fighters.
The closest analogy one can find is the mythical story of David and Goliath. But this time we are Goliath, and they David.
The story is generally misunderstood. True, Goliath was a giant and David a small shepherd, but Goliath was armed with old-fashioned weapons — heavy armour, sword and shield — and could hardly move, while David had a new-fangled surprise weapon, the sling, with which he could kill from a distance.
Hamas hoped to achieve the same with its rockets, whose reach was a surprise. Also with the number and efficiency of their tunnels, which are reaching into Israel? However, this time Goliath too was inventive, and the Iron Dome missile batteries intercepted practically all the rockets that could have harmed population centres, including my neighborhood in Tel Aviv.
By now we know that neither side can compel the other side to capitulate. It’s a draw. So why go on killing and destroying?
Ah, there’s the rub. We can’t talk to each other. We need intermediaries.
A cartoon in Haaretz this week shows Israel and Hamas fighting, and a bunch of mediators dancing in a circle around them.
They all want to mediate. They are fighting each other because each of them wants to mediate, if possible alone. Egypt, Qatar, the US, the UN, Turkey, Mahmoud Abbas, Tony Blair and several more. Mediators galore. Each wants to gain something from the misery of war.
It’s a sorry lot. Most of them pitiful, some of them outright disgusting.
The UN Secretary General is rushing around. He was chosen for his job by the US because he is not outstandingly clever. Now he looks pitiful.
But not more pitiful than John Kerry, a pathetic figure flying hither and thither, trying to convince everyone that the US is still a world power. Gone are the days when Henry Kissinger commanded the leaders of Israel and the Arab countries what to do and what not (especially telling them not to talk to each other, but only to him.)
What exactly is the role of Mahmoud Abbas? Nominally, he is the president of the Gaza Strip, too. But he gives the impression of trying to mediate between the de facto Gaza government and the world. He is much closer to Tel Aviv than to Gaza.
And so the list goes on. The ridiculous figure of Tony Blair. The European foreign ministers trying to get a photo opportunity with their neo-fascist Israeli colleague. Altogether, a disgusting sight.
I want to cry out to my government and to the Hamas leaders: For God’s sake, forget about the whole sorry lot, talk to each other!
The Palestinian fighting capabilities are surprising everyone, especially the Israeli army. Instead of begging for a ceasefire by now, Hamas is refusing until its demands are met, while Benjamin Netanyahu seems eager to stop before sinking even deeper into the Gaza morass – a nightmare for the army.
The last war began with the assassination of the Hamas military commander, Ahmad Al-Jaabari. His successor is an old acquaintance, Mohammed Deif, whom Israel has tried to assassinate several times, causing him severe injuries. It now appears that he is far more capable than his predecessor – the web of tunnels, the production of far more effective rockets, the better trained fighters – all this attests to a more competent leader.
(This has happened before. We assassinated a Hezbollah leader, Abbas Al-Mussawi, and got the far more talented Hassan Nasrallah.)
In the end, some kind of cease-fire will come into being. It will not be the end once and for all. It never is.
What will remain?
The hatred between the two sides has grown. It will remain.
The hatred of many Israelis for Israel’s Arab citizens has grown considerably, and this cannot be repaired for a long time. Israeli democracy has been hard hit. Neo-fascist groups, once a fringe, are now accepted in the mainstream. Some Cabinet ministers and Knesset members are outright fascist.
They are acclaimed now by almost all the world’s leaders and repeat parrot-like Netanyahu’s most threadbare propaganda slogans. But millions around the world have seen day after day the terrible pictures of devastation and death in the Gaza Strip. These will not be eradicated from their minds by a cease-fire. Israel’s already precarious standing in the world will sink even lower.
Inside Israel itself, decent people feel more and more uncomfortable. I have heard many utterances by simple people who suddenly talk about immigration. The choking atmosphere inside the country, the awful conformism of all our media (with Haaretz a shining exception), the certainty that war will follow war forever – all this is leading young people to dream about a quiet life with their families in Los Angeles or Berlin.
While standing in an anti-war demonstration in Tel Aviv, I was asked by a nice young man: “OK, assuming that this war is bad, what would you do at 6 o’clock after the war?” (That was the name of a famous World War II Soviet movie.)
Well, to start with I would drive away all the mediators and start to talk directly with fighters of the other side.
I would agree to put an immediate end to the land, sea and air blockade of the Gaza Strip and allow the Gazans to build a decent port and airport. On all routes, effective controls must ensure that no weapons are let in.
I would ask that Hamas, after receiving international guarantees, remove in reasonable stages all rockets and destroy all tunnels under the border.
I would certainly release at once all the Shalit-exchange prisoners who were re-arrested at the start of the present crisis. An obligation undertaken under pressure is still an obligation, and cheating by a government is still ugly.
I would recognize, and call upon the world to recognize, the Palestinian Unity Government and do nothing to impede free Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections, under international inspection. I would undertake to respect the results, whatever they may be.
I would immediately start honest peace negotiations with the unified Palestinian leadership, on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative. Now that so many Arab governments embrace Israel, there seems to be a unique chance for a peace agreement.
In short, put an end to the war once and for all.
Uri Avnery is an activist and an advocate of Palestinian rights.
‘Oh Gaza, May Peace Be With You’
By Sadiya A Nadeem and Rayya Taha
July 25, 2014
They have been enduring it for decades. But never has the atrocities, pain, or systematic massacre of innocent Palestinians made it so big on all platforms of the social media network.
Ever since Israel started its “self-defense” military campaign against Gaza, Facebook and Twitter have been flooded with pictures of dismembered innocent bodies of adults and children alike, wailing relatives, bombed houses, local and foreign doctors working round-the-clock in shoddy hospitals, and funeral prayers and mass burials.
Massive sharing of these heart-wrenching images and videos on social media has made the world aware — probably for the first time ever — of what is happening in one of the world’s most densely populated areas, Gaza. The strip is crammed with approximately 1.8 million people.
First hand ground reality reports
Facebook and Twitter have virtually become the voice of Palestinians’ sufferings in Gaza, showing the ground reality as compared to Israel-influenced foreign media that distorts news and fabricates images to their benefit.
“They didn’t have a way to show to the world what’s happening to them 20 years ago, but now they do with social media, and to shut them down like this would be very insensitive. Some of our friends here on Facebook and Twitter have families there and with the media outlets being biased, social media is their only way to plea to the world for help,” Jawad Khalil posted on Facebook.
The fast pace at which the social media carries news is astounding, as journalists and civilians alike tweet or post first hand real reports about the events taking place in Gaza every minute — much before news channels or even online news websites report after passing through the editorial protocol.
The first time Paul Mason, an economic editor on Channel 4 News, heard about the bombardment by the Israel Defense Force on the civilians in Shujaiya was via Twitter.
‘Early morning an activist on the ground I follow tweeted: ‘People running out of Shujaiya, bodies lying on ground.’”
Myriad of media reports show that in this era of technology it is not easy for the aggressors to hide their crime.
Mira Bar Hillel of The Independent in an article “Israel has discovered that it’s no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media,” published last week, wrote “…aggressors will have to live with the consequences of their acts, unable to hide behind hollow rhetoric. Because the Israelis had and have nothing with which to balance those images of bloodied, mangled little corpses in Gaza.”
She concluded her article with a resounding statement: “The Israeli army is getting more resistance online than on the ground. It’s not used to it and cannot cope.” Such is the power of social media.
Among the plethora of hashtags trending on Twitter in support of Gaza, some of the popular ones are #Freedom4Palestine #Pray4Gaza #SupportGaza #FreePalestine and #FreeGaza.
Difference between Judaism and Zionism
Through social media people have now also begun to differentiate between Zionism and Judaism.
Abu Insha said: “…Right now we have to fight Israeli terrorist. So please make aware people who don’t know the reality of Zionists and Israel (sic).”
In a video that was shared 3,500 times on Facebook, showing a New York protest where Karim Metwaly interviewed protestors, and while talking to a rabbi, Metwaly got the following response:
“…it’s our obligation (protest). We are so sad and so pained about what’s happening to an entire people, not now, not from two days, three days or three weeks, this has been going on for decades. This is not the Jewish people. This is not the voice of our people. This is an embarrassment to us all. This is oppression, a crime, an international crime, and should stop today.”
But even in a crowd, speaking out against the atrocities of Israel cannot protect one from slander, as the rabbi experienced being called“garbage.”
“…and when we understand what garbage is and what is not garbage we understand to put things in perspective and understand what is going on. And understand that there is a difference between Judaism and Zionism. Zionism is a political movement which doesn’t represent all Jews. Today, we can say we are pained to see atrocities on the people of Palestine and we are outraged with what is happening (in Palestine),” said the rabbi.
Protests around the world
As awareness of Palestinian genocide proliferates, people around the world — regardless of faith — have come together to stand up against Israel’s oppression of Palestinians — for the sake of humanity.
“I can’t do anything but I can at least stand up for them, and pray for them,” said a Facebook post.
Slogans, placards, chants shout out the same message — you don’t need to be a Muslim to stand for Gaza, you just need to be human. Protests till date have been held in Japan, India, New York, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Australia, Canada and the United States among a host of other countries. Facebook and Twitter have played an instrumental role in helping organize these protests.
Boycotting Israeli Products
Politicians know that protests are a phase that will eventually fade out. Despite numerous mass appeals to top the massacre in Palestine, Israel and its allies remain unmoved.
“….the government expects us to protest, and rally and chant. Our approach needs to be revolutionized and our thinking needs to be radicalized. We must not become complacent,” said Nada Ali, a Facebook user.
Large number of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram users has created pages calling for boycott of not just Israeli products but also products of companies that support Israel. The list can be found on csmonitor.com
An article published in Al-Arabiya titled “Hitting Israel where it hurts with BDS and protests” by Yara Al-Wazir states that BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), a boycotting movement that started in 2005, is “a way of putting on-going pressure on the Israeli economy in order for it to stop committing human rights atrocities. It worked in South Africa during the apartheid and it’s going to work in Palestine too.”
She also stated that “...for years, Israeli government officials have been meeting and discussing methods of tackling the BDS movement, so much so that in 2011, Israel made it illegal to boycott Israeli goods.”
To show solidarity with the Palestinian people, Rania and her friends on Facebook unanimously decided to boycott Israeli products.
Chicago-based renowned makeup artist Saleha Abbasi also said that she will clean out her makeup stash of products that support Israel.
On an international level, practical steps to boycott or suspend trade agreements have been reportedly taken by Chile and the Maldives.
“Oh Gaza, may peace be with you...we bleed for you...we feel for you...we pray for you...we are a part of you...we ask that He be with you,” said Mufti Ismail Menk’s Facebook post.
Why Gazans Are Courting Death
By Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan
July 25, 2014
Canadians are flabbergasted by the bizarre situation in the Middle East. A helpless, starving people are refusing to yield to a country that has nuclear weapons and is armed to the teeth, courtesy of the United States, and which is using its lethal weaponry against a defenceless people, raining missiles and bombs on civilians and buildings.
So does not Hamas care for the Palestinians who are being killed and wounded and for the infrastructure that is being devastated? Or have the Hamas leaders gone mad and do not see that mounting rocket attacks against civilians is not only criminal but also self-defeating —the rockets have not killed a single Israeli while Israeli attacks on Gazans are causing wholesale deaths, injuries and destruction?
Social media and commentators are explaining why Gazans are courting death.
Observers point out that the 2012 ceasefire agreement was repeatedly violated by Israel — it imposed a brutal, illegal siege, made armed attacks on Gaza, attacked fishermen in Gaza’s territorial waters and farmers in Gaza and killed Gazans by missiles and rockets. Israel also re-arrested several Palestinian prisoners who had been released in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas. So a cease-fire agreement would only stop Israeli bombing. It would not stop its strangulation of Gaza.
Oxfam says that the blockade has devastated Gaza. Nearly 50 percent of its youth are unemployed and 80 percent of people depend on food aid. Exports are now 3 percent of their pre-blockade levels. Transfer of goods to the West Bank is banned. Most people are unable to leave or enter Gaza and are deprived of health care, education and other services.
Nathan Thrall, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, explained in the New York Times why Hamas has become desperate.
Though it won the last election, Hamas transferred formal authority in 2006 to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah on President Mahmoud Abbas’s terms. Hamas also agreed to the US demand for non-violence, respecting past agreements and recognition of Israel through a long-term ceasefire. Israel torpedoed this reconciliation by blocking the payment of salaries of 43,000 civil servants who worked for Hamas and would work under the Palestinian Authority under the new agreement. It also refused to end the stifling border closures and siege of Gaza. Egypt also kept its border closed to Gaza.
Qatar had offered to pay Gaza’s 43,000 civil servants. But the US thwarted that arrangement. It also rebuffed a suggestion by a United Nations envoy that the salaries be paid through the UN.
Having kept Gaza under its stranglehold, Israel has agreed to a ceasefire that would return Gaza to a situation when it had electricity for barely eight hours a day, water was undrinkable, sewage was dumped in the sea, fuel shortages shut sanitation plants down and left waste on the streets and patients needing care were denied access to Egyptian hospitals.
Concluded Thrall: “The current escalation (of violence) in Gaza is a direct result of the choice by Israel and the West to obstruct the implementation of the April 2014 Palestinian reconciliation agreement. The road out of the crisis is a reversal of that policy.”
Noura Erakat, an assistant professor at George Mason University, states: “The primary issue is that of Israel’s military and colonial rule over the Palestinian population of the occupied territories, including Gaza, which is characterized by a discriminatory apartheid legal regime and brutal repression. When the rockets stop flying and the aerial strikes cease, Palestinians will continue to die a slow and protracted death under the boot of Israel’s occupation. In particular, the population in the Gaza Strip faces a horrific future. By 2020, it is predicated that Gaza’s one source of clean water will be unusable and the World Health Organizations says the 150-square mile Strip will be unlovable. Strong measures are required to hold Israel to account, aimed at ending the occupation and Israel’s apartheid regime through international legal institutions like the International Criminal Court, arms embargoes, and continued grassroots efforts by the Palestinian-led global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.”
Blogger Waleed Ahmed made the following points:
*Over 2,500 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza alone in the last seven years. The occupation, now in its 47th year, is one of the longest and bloodiest in human history.
*Israel’s discriminatory division of water means that Palestinians get 70 liters a day per person (far below the 100 liters per capita minimum)… Households in Gaza receive running water for only six-eight hours at a time about every other day. Gaza’s only water source, its Coastal Aquifier, will expire in 2016. At present, about 90 percent of the water supply in the Strip is contaminated and unfit for human consumption.”
Given Israel’s brutality and Western leaders’ hypocrisy, is it any wonder that Gazans are desperate?
Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan is a retired Canadian journalist, civil servant and refugee judge.
Palestinians as the Israelis’ ‘Amalekites’
Nawar Fakhry Ezzi
July 25, 2014
“If I perish, I perish” is the famous phrase, which the Biblical heroine, Queen Esther said when she was going to risk her life by talking to the King of Persia to save the Jews from genocide. In this biblical story, a Persian King took Esther in his Harem and made her his beloved queen without knowing that she was Jewish.
One of his top advisers was Haman the Agagite, who is a descendent of the Amalekites, the infamous historical enemy of the Jews. Haman planned an annihilation of all the Jews in Persia through a decree he got the King to approve by claiming that they were “different” and could be a threat to the Kingdom. When Esther revealed her identity to the King and explained to him that her life would be compromised by Haman’s plan, the King hanged Haman immediately.
The following verse from the Bible narrates the end of the story: “Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey” (Esther 8:11).
The author of a novel, which narrates this story, had a different twist on the verse mentioned. He justified the killing of the children of the Amalekites by claiming that if they grew up they would not spare the lives of the Jews and another ‘Haman’ would be born. Interestingly, the novel ends with a supposed descendent of Esther getting married to the Prime Minister of Israel who is ‘burdened’ by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This maliciously implied analogy between the Amalekites and the Palestinians ruined the novel for me. I would hope that Queen Esther, who lived in the fifth century BC as a member of a persecuted minority in Persia, would disagree with the author and would not approve of such a pathetic justification for killing the innocents in Palestine.
It is worth noting that this verse has different interpretations, which takes historical and social factors into consideration. This is not the issue though because the problem is that this justification, which I regarded as the author’s offensive personal point of view seems to actually reflect the underlying theory of Israel’s attitude towards the Palestinians.
This is the only way that can explain the unjustified indiscriminate killing of the Palestinian civilians, especially women and children, who constitute most of the casualties in the current attack on Gaza. Ironically, Israel which has one of the strongest armies in the world, still assumes the position of the victim, while they have turned into “Haman” themselves a long time ago.
A nearly 70-year-old war, which has taken hundreds of thousands of lives seems to be just as thirsty for blood as it was the day it was born. Burning Mohammed Abu Khdeir to death by an extremist Israeli group and killing four Palestinian children playing on the beach from the Bakr family were some of the tragic highlights of the on-going attack.
The day before Mohammed Abu Khdeir was abducted, Ayelet Shaked, a member of the Knesset, posted an old article on Facebook by a recently deceased journalist.
She claims that the translation from Hebrew to English has been distorted, but news from different parts of the world has used the same translation in which a call for genocide has been made.
In the article, the killing of the Palestinian mothers have been encouraged and a declaration that “in wars the enemy is usually an entire people, including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.” It seems like they had an epiphany that few have reached before them, which is that everybody is equal behind enemy lines. However, according to them, if there is no such thing as civilians, Hamas should not be considered a terrorist organization.
Of course, I do believe in something called ‘ethics of war’ in which we should not even hurt trees as normal people do, but, as the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan already affirmed, this is the mentality of Adolph Hitler, not normal human beings. Even if the translation is “distorted” as she claims, the many massacres starting with Deir Yaseen and the brutal killing of thousands of women and children over the years have conveyed the same message.
Many Jews around the world see the injustice and brutality of this attack and are standing against Israel by publicly opposing the atrocious attack on Gaza. Regardless of which side people might take in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, innocent women and children should not be part of that conflict for obvious reasons.
One cannot help but wonder when did humanity go astray that we justify killing children by anticipating evil instead of hoping that one of them might bring peace to this world?
The End of Century-Long Mistake in Turkish-Kurdish Relations
By Yahya Bostan
26 July 2014
There is no explanation for the ongoing atrocity in Gaza. The international community, which relies on the indifference of the U.S. for its existence, has failed once again. For many days, we have been watching as dust clouds rise from the small piece of land, buildings become dilapidated and deceased bodies of babies are pulled from the wreckage. The giant media outlets of the world have turned a blind eye to this state of insanity. The majority of official statements made by other countries have underlined their solidarity with the Israeli administration. The anxiety that has been aroused by the killing of Palestinian civilians is not going beyond the lines of news reports and articles. We all deeply felt the despair in Gaza when we saw the photo of a Palestinian mother who hugged the enshrouded body of her baby.
This despair has costs for all of us. Those who have turned Gaza into an outdoor prison in order to immobilize Hamas, which came to power through democratic elections, does not serve regional peace. On the contrary, this feeling of despair and victimization does nothing except make the marginal and radical groups in the region stronger.
We have current examples of this in front of us. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has brought Iraq to the brink of division and gained an extensive sphere of influence in Syria. This is the gift offered to the world by regional and global actors that have given the cold shoulder to the Syrian opposition and abandoned them to fulfill their hopeless destiny. If the legitimate Syrian opposition had been properly supported from the very beginning, Syria would not have turned into a hell in which ISIS could gain influence. Similarly, had the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki not insisted on his despotic and neglectful policies toward the Sunnis, ISIS would not have been welcomed by the Iraqi Sunnis to such an extent. For a while, the region has been tussling with instability which has further worsened through these imprudent policies. It is estimated that at least a decade is needed for Iraq and Syria to normalize.
This uncertainty in the region has accelerated the rapprochement and integration policy between Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Even though it disturbs regional and global actors, these two parties have taken their few-year-old rapprochement policy a step further due to the present regional threat. Last week, KRG president Massoud Barzani visited Ankara and held critical talks with Erdogan and Gül.
As I have mentioned in my previous articles, the statement of Barzani regarding the independence of the KRG aroused disturbance in Ankara. It is apparent that this subject, which is considered as an 'emergency case,' was also addressed during the talks and Barzani was told to keep away from these kinds of attempts. Another topic that was included in the agenda was the ISIS threat. The matter of taking humanitarian relief to Syrian districts, which are populated by Turkmens and Kurds and threatened by ISIS, was also discussed in detail. It will not be surprising if the Turkish trucks that take humanitarian aid to Gaza enter Kobani, which was captured by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Moreover, it was mutually approved that despite all oppression, the two parties would not step back from forming a policy to market Kurdish oil to the world through Turkey.
What is more important is that the two parties have acknowledged that the regional instability has been posing difficulties for both sides. Cooperation between Turkey and the KRG in the fields of security, economy, and social issues is of critical importance in the region as the instability spreads and climbs further. It was highlighted that third-party countries and actors should not be allowed to jeopardize this common vision. The forward-looking approach, which can be described as a strategic partnership, had bilateral consent. The secret of this cooperative vision is hidden in what Barzani told Erdogan regarding Turkey's approach toward Kurdish politics: "You ended a century-long mistake. We will follow you wherever you go."
Egyptian Media And The Commentary Of Cruelty On Gaza
By Abdallah Schleifer
25 July 2014
I do not think it should come as a surprise that Egyptian media has reported and commented upon the unfortunate notion that Hamas shares with Netanyahu the responsibility for the ongoing horrendous loss of life among Palestinian civilians in Gaza. They are complicit, it seems, by responding to the sweeping arrest of Hamas cadres in the West Bank earlier this month with a massive barrage of rockets fired in the direction of Israeli civilian population centers - Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beersheba. The barrage, I believe, was quite different to the customary tit-for-tat exchanges of a few rockets targeting nearby Israeli towns close to Gaza, usually coming from one the more radical Palestinian factions tolerated by Hamas and on occasion by Hamas itself. But Netanyahu’s reaction to the Hamas barrage was predictable, in my view, and it all fit into that curious symmetry that often occurs in the Arab-Israeli conflict with militant elements in both societies having a self-justifying political investment in the other sides’ extremism.
What seems to have come as a surprise, as Al Arabiya News reported yesterday, is that there are cases of Egyptian media outlets going beyond that observation to a condemnation of the entire Palestinian people and praise for Netanyahu. Israeli TV news bulletins also took note of these quite extreme comments but in contrast, the Israelis considered such comments in the Egyptian press as praise worthy, according to the news channel France24.
Somewhat different, but even more bizarre in my view, was the comment last week by the Egyptian news presenter Amany al-Khayat who played a tape of head of the Hamas Political Bureau Khalid Meshaal in which he was indirectly perceived to be slighting Egypt by appealing to Morocco to join with Hamas in a struggle to liberate Palestine, rather than appealing to Egypt given Egypt’s past history of struggle with Israel in defence of the Palestinians. Al-Khayat could have responded to anti-Egyptian street demonstrations by Moroccan Islamists and Leftists, denouncing Egypt for failing to meet Hamas’ conditions for a ceasefire, but she directly denounced Morocco’s king. Her language was so abusive that Egypt’s ambassador to Morocco apologized and Egypt’s foreign minister told the editors of Egyptian newspapers that he was deeply angered by al-Khayat’s comments.
I believe that those Egyptian journalists, commentators and TV news presenters or talk-show hosts condemning Palestinians are an extreme response to Hamas’ status as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood which the Egyptian government has classified as a terrorist organization. It also seems to be a response to Egyptian accusations that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is at best sympathetic and at worst participating in armed attacks against Egyptian soldiers by al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist factions operating in Sinai but reportedly based in Gaza.
The remarks made by some hosts praising Netanyahu and condemning the Palestinian people, I believe, are a symptom of what I see as a sentiment that has gathered momentum over the years; that the Palestinians, and in particular their leadership, do not appreciate the sacrifices made by Egypt in the many Arab-Israeli wars of 1948, 1956, the undeclared war of attrition in 1969 and 1970, and the October 1973 war.
But, there are other aspects. Egyptian TV talk shows, both on the many privately owned channels as well as Egypt state TV, have attracted a tremendous following precisely because they tend to practice a polemical, lively and sensational style of journalism, in my opinion. This reinforces the tendency that I personally believe has always existed in the Egyptian media, which suggests it is quite acceptable for reporting to be partisan rather than objective or detached and in turn for columnists to go beyond expressing opinion with dramatic polemical flourishes.
The most seemingly outrageous example of this tendency occurred during the second Palestinian Intifada, when a popular and respected columnist for a state-owned newspaper wrote: “Too bad Hitler didn’t finish the job,” in an apparent allusion to the mass murder of millions of European Jews. Of course, it seems that such a remark was gold for Israeli propagandists and pro-Israel advocates in the Western world. Columns of opinion can too easily become columns of cruelty, whether rejoicing in the Holocaust or dismissing the suffering of all the Palestinian people.
Abdallah Schleifer is a veteran American journalist covering the Middle East and professor emeritus at the American University in Cairo where he founded as served as first director of the Kamal Adham Center for TV and Digital Journalism. He is chief editor of the annual publication The Muslim 500; a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (USA) and at the Royal Aal al Bayt Academy for Islamic Thought (Jordan.) Schleifer has served as Al Arabiya Washington D.C. bureau chief; NBC News Cairo bureau chief; Middle East correspondent for Jeune Afrique; as special correspondent (stringer) , New York Times and managing editor of the Jerusalem Star/Palestine News in then Jordanian Arab Jerusalem.