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January 4, 2011

EDITOR: The Lie Machine is as true as it ever was

Not three days after they killed a woman protester, the IDF has already found the ‘truth’, as we knew it would. Apparently, gas had nothing to do with the death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah. Well, they certainly did not persuade even the editors of Haaretz, as you can see from their editorial, below. When you have been lying for decades, how can you tell the truth?

IDF: No proof Palestinian woman died from tear gas at protest: Haaretz

Defense sources find inconsistencies in medical report over the death of Jawaher Abu Ramah, who reportedly died after inhaling tear gas at demonstration against West Bank fence.

The Israel Defense Forces said on Monday that the medical report on the death of a Palestinian woman said to have been killed at a West Bank protest contains significant inconsistencies regarding the circumstances of her death.

Bil’in residents claim that Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36 died after inhaling tear gas fired by IDF soldiers during a protest against the West Bank security barrier on Friday.

Military sources said, however, that there was no evidence that Abu Rahmah even participated in Friday’s demonstration against the security barrier in Bil’in – nor that she died from inhaling tear gas.

Following repeated requests from Israel’s defense establishment, the Palestinian Authority on Monday turned over the medical report on Abu Rahma’s death. IDF officials say the medical report contradicts the family’s version of events.

According to information obtained by Haaretz from Palestinian medical sources, in the weeks before Abu Rahmah’s death she was taking drugs prescribed for a medical condition. It is not known whether these drugs, combined with the tear gas and the “skunk bombs” used by the soldiers, could have caused her death.

Her family says Abu Rahmah’s death was caused by the Israel Defense Forces’ use of a particularly lethal type of tear gas, but they cannot explain why other demonstrators affected by the tear gas did not need medical care.

Eyewitnesses told Haaretz that the tear gas had an immediate and dramatic effect on Abu Rahmah, who within a few minutes after exposure went into convulsions, began foaming at the mouth and lost consciousness.

Abu Rahmah’s brother Samir said that for several weeks his sister had complained of bad headaches, mainly near one ear. He said she also had dizzy spells and problems keeping her balance and had unusual marks on her skin.

On December 21, Abu Rahmah saw Dr. Khaled Badwan, head of the ear, nose and throat department of Jerusalem’s Augusta Victoria Hospital. He refused to be interviewed for this report.

According to a document obtained by Haaretz, Badwan prescribed a common remedy for dizziness and instructed her to bathe her ear in hot water. Samir said Badwan thought the problem was caused by water trapped in the middle ear, but nevertheless ordered a CT brain scan.

Physicians consulted for this article said Badwan probably suspected another condition.

After receiving normal results from the December 27 brain scan, Abu Rahmah saw Dr. Nasser al-Mualem at the Ramallah hospital, who according to Samir said her problem was common and told her to return in one month.

The medical documents seem to support Samir’s claim that with the exception of the headaches and dizziness, his sister was in generally good health. None of the doctors consulted for this article could think of a condition or symptoms that could be fatal in the presence of tear gas.

The lawyer representing the Abu Rahmah family completely denied the IDF’s claims. Lawyer Michael Sfrad said that Abu Rahma went in for testing a week ago for a routine winter illness.

“According to people I spoke with, [Abu Rahmah] was at the demonstration on Friday but not at the forefront of the protesters,” he said. “After she was injured by the tear gas, she was taken to the village and then transferred to an ambulance. An operational investigation cannot produce reliable findings; therefore we demand a criminal investigation by the military police.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Abu Rahmah’s death calling it a “new Israeli crime carried out by the occupation army against our helpless nation.”

Israel must allow Palestinians to protest in peace: Haaretz Editorial

The IDF should allow the demonstrations at Bil’in to take place. It should act only when there is danger to life and property.
Jawaher Abu Rahmah, a 36-year-old kindergarten teacher, was killed over the weekend after she choked on tear gas while watching the weekly demonstration at her village. Residents and human rights activists from at home and abroad demonstrate against the separation fence that was built on village land. Abu Rahmah died less than two years after her brother Bassem was killed by a tear-gas canister fired directly at his chest at a similar protest. A third brother, Ashraf, was caught on camera as he was shot by Israeli soldiers while he was handcuffed.

The demonstrations at Bil’in, which have been going on since work to build the fence on village land began in February 2005, are entirely legitimate. The residents have the right to protest the theft of their land for the giant settlements set up around their village. More than three years ago, following such demonstrations, the Supreme Court ordered that the fence’s route be moved to give the village back some of its land – about 700 dunams. The defense establishment has yet to carry out this ruling.

Since the demonstrations against the fence began in the West Bank, 21 protesters have been killed, according to Palestinian sources. This is a chilling statistic that should greatly trouble every Israeli. So should the death of Abu Rahmah. According to the demonstrators, the Israel Defense Forces used particularly large quantities of gas on Friday. An Israeli doctor who takes part in the protests, Daniel Argo, told Haaretz that some tear gas is less dangerous than the kind used by the IDF. So it’s not clear why the army chooses to use the more dangerous type.

The IDF should allow the demonstrations at Bil’in to take place. It should act only when there is danger to life and property. And even then it should act as security forces do in democratic countries when there are demonstrations. Just as the settlers’ protests against the Gaza disengagement passed without deaths, so should the Palestinian protests against the fence pass. There are enough ways to break up demonstrations, if this is at all necessary, without risking the lives of the participants.

Abu Rahmah died in vain. She didn’t endanger anyone. There’s no need to mention the countries where the regimes kill people who demonstrate against them. Israel must not become one of them.

We’re not looking for revenge, says family of Palestinian protester who died after rally: Haaretz

36-year-old Jawaher Abu Rahmah died Saturday, a day after inhaling tear gas fired by the IDF at a protest in the West Bank village of Bil’in.

The family isn’t seeking revenge, says a relative of 36-year-old Jawaher Abu Rahmah, who died Saturday after she inhaled tear gas at a protest in the West Bank village of Bil’in. What they want is an end to the occupation and their land back.

Palestinian, Israeli and foreign activists run away from tear gas in the West Bank village of Bil'in, December 31, 2010. Photo by: Reuters

“For me, as relative, her death – a martyred death – at the hands of the Israeli occupation, is an honor for me,” says Abu Nidar Abu Rahmah, Jawaher’s uncle. Her brother, Bassem, was killed in April 2009 by a tear gas canister fired during a demonstration in the same village.

“No one from the army has called us to apologize,” he says. “There is no communication between us and the army. Even when Bassem was hit, we spoke to the army and asked them to send help, and they never did.”

Jawaher had been working in recent years with her younger brother and sister as tailors in Ramallah, says Mohammed Al Khatib, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the village. After Bassem was killed, most of the responsibility for bringing in an income fell on her shoulders.

The father of the family, who had been employed in construction in Israel until diabetes prevented him from working, died six years ago after battling cancer. The family’s impoverished state meant that seven children – five boys and two girls – cut short their high school education and went out to work. The two youngest sons studied at a boarding school in Bethlehem.

Now family matriarch Subhiyeh has four sons and one daughter left. One of her sons, Ashraf, was shot in the leg at close range by an Israel Defense Forces soldier in 2008, after he was arrested and tied, handcuffed and blindfolded, to an IDF jeep. The soldier  who shot him maintained that he was acting on the orders of his commander, Omri Burberg.

Part of the land owned by the family is now used for homes from the settlement of Modi’in Illit. Another part is behind the West Bank separation fence, they expect to get a few dunam back when Israel changes the route of the fence in accordance with a High Court order.

The whole family currently lives in a three-room house. At the time of his death, Bassem had just laid the foundations for a house he intended to build for the entire family. Khatib says that the last thing the women in the village heard Jawaher say was how much she was looking forward to moving into their new home.

“Our family believes in Allah,” says Abu Nidar, “they know and I know that the occupation army has made us all into targets. We are not surprised by anything that happens. Now the family is not seeking vengeance, we just hope that our girl will go to heaven. Jawaher’s mother said she doesn’t want revenge. Allah will avenge us.”

“We have no problem will the people of Israel. We have a problem with the army and the occupation,” he says. “We know that our land will be returned to us even if someone is killed every day. We say this to [Benjamin] Netanyahu: The demonstrations here will not end until we get our land back. We believe in a popular struggle, a non-violent struggle. We don’t want a violent struggle.”

EDITOR: Chomsky gets it wrong again…

In this otherwise interesting article, Chomsky again makes an argument for the Two-State solution, rubishing the One_State solution by defining it thus;

“Therefore those concerned with Palestinian rights should call for Israeli takeover of the entire West Bank, followed by an anti-apartheid struggle of the South African variety that would lead to full citizenship for the Arab population there.”

This is totally nonsensical. No one in Palestine, or no one progressive elsewhere, is considering or proposing this anathema. Chomsky is setting up a straw-man, so he can knock it down. The one-state idea is not based on the racist, ultra-nationalist state of Israel as it now is, but on a future secular, democratic state of ALL ITS CITIZENS. This state cannot, by definition, be Jewish, Muslim or Christian, and will not be Zionist. Hence, Chomsky’s argument against secularism and democracy in Palestine is false, and also anti-democratic. For a thinker of his standing to resort to such low tactics is sad, and proves that for all his critique of Israeli brutalities, he is wedded firmly to the Zionist tennets of a Jewish State.

Breaking the Israel-Palestine Deadlock: truth-out

Monday 03 January 2011
by: Noam Chomsky
Palestinian Abu Ayaesh picks his grape harvest downhill from the homes of the Karmi Zur settlement. (Photo: michaelramallah)
While intensively engaged in illegal settlement expansion, the government of Israel is also seeking to deal with two problems: a global campaign of what it perceives as “delegitimation” – that is, objections to its crimes and withdrawal of participation in them – and a parallel campaign of legitimation of Palestine.

The “delegitimation,” which is progressing rapidly, was carried forward in December by a Human Rights Watch call on the U.S. “to suspend financing to Israel in an amount equivalent to the costs of Israel’s spending in support of settlements,” and to monitor contributions to Israel from tax-exempt U.S. organizations that violate international law, “including prohibitions against discrimination” – which would cast a wide net. Amnesty International had already called for an arms embargo on Israel. The legitimation process also took a long step forward in December, when Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil recognized the State of Palestine (Gaza and the West Bank), bringing the number of supporting nations to more than 100.

International lawyer John Whitbeck estimates that 80-90 percent of the world’s population live in states that recognize Palestine, while 10-20 percent recognize the Republic of Kosovo. The U.S. recognizes Kosovo but not Palestine. Accordingly, as Whitbeck writes in Counterpunch, media “act as though Kosovo’s independence were an accomplished fact while Palestine’s independence is only an aspiration which can never be realized without Israeli-American consent,” reflecting the normal workings of power in the international arena.

Given the scale of Israeli settlement of the West Bank, it has been argued for more a decade that the international consensus on a two-state settlement is dead, or mistaken (though evidently most of the world does not agree). Therefore those concerned with Palestinian rights should call for Israeli takeover of the entire West Bank, followed by an anti-apartheid struggle of the South African variety that would lead to full citizenship for the Arab population there.

The argument assumes that Israel would agree to the takeover. It is far more likely that Israel will instead continue the programs leading to annexation of the parts of the West Bank that it is developing, roughly half the area, and take no responsibility for the rest, thus defending itself from the “demographic problem” – too many non-Jews in a Jewish state – and meanwhile severing besieged Gaza from the rest of Palestine.

One analogy between Israel and South Africa merits attention. Once apartheid was implemented, South African nationalists recognized they were becoming international pariahs because of it. In 1958, however, the foreign minister informed the U.S. ambassador that U.N. condemnations and other protests were of little concern as long as South Africa was supported by the global hegemon – the United States. By the 1970s, the U.N. declared an arms embargo, soon followed by boycott campaigns and divestment. South Africa reacted in ways calculated to enrage international opinion. In a gesture of contempt for the U.N. and President Jimmy Carter – who failed to react so as not to disrupt worthless negotiations – South Africa launched a murderous raid on the Cassinga refugee camp in Angola just as the Carter-led “contact group” was to present a settlement for Namibia. The similarity to Israel’s behavior today is striking – for example, the attack on Gaza in January 2009 and on the Gaza freedom flotilla in May 2010.

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When President Reagan took office in 1981, he lent full support to South Africa’s domestic crimes and its murderous depredations in neighboring countries. The policies were justified in the framework of the war on terror that Reagan had declared on coming into office. In 1988, Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress was designated one of the world’s “more notorious terrorist groups” (Mandela himself was only removed from Washington’s “terrorist list” in 2008). South Africa was defiant, and even triumphant, with its internal enemies crushed, and enjoying solid support from the one state that mattered in the global system.

Shortly after, U.S. policy shifted. U.S. and South African business interests very likely realized they would be better off by ending the apartheid burden. And apartheid soon collapsed. South Africa is not the only recent case where ending U.S. support for crimes has led to significant progress. Can such a transformative shift happen in Israel’s case, clearing the way to a diplomatic settlement? Among the barriers firmly in place are the very close military and intelligence ties between the U.S. and Israel.

The most outspoken support for Israeli crimes comes from the business world. U.S. high-tech industry is closely integrated with its Israeli counterpart. To cite just one example, the world’s largest chip manufacturer, Intel, is establishing its most advanced production unit in Israel.

A U.S. cable released by WikiLeaks reveals that Rafael military industries in Haifa is one of the sites considered vital to U.S. interests due to its production of cluster bombs; Rafael had already moved some operations to the U.S. to gain better access to U.S. aid and markets. There is also a powerful Israel lobby, though of course dwarfed by the business and military lobbies.

Critical cultural facts apply, too. Christian Zionism long precedes Jewish Zionism, and is not restricted to the one-third of the U.S. population that believes in the literal truth of the Bible. When British Gen. Edmund Allenby conquered Jerusalem in 1917, the national press declared him to be Richard the Lionhearted, finally rescuing the Holy Land from the infidels.

Next, Jews must return to the homeland promised to them by the Lord. Articulating a common elite view, Harold Ickes, Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of the interior, described Jewish colonization of Palestine as an achievement “without comparison in the history of the human race.”

There is also an instinctive sympathy for a settler-colonial society that is seen to be retracing the history of the U.S. itself, bringing civilization to the lands that the undeserving natives had misused – doctrines deeply rooted in centuries of imperialism.

To break the logjam it will be necessary to dismantle the reigning illusion that the U.S. is an “honest broker” desperately seeking to reconcile recalcitrant adversaries, and to recognize that serious negotiations would be between the U^.S.-Israel and the rest of the world.

If U.S. power centers can be compelled by popular opinion to abandon decades-old rejectionism, many prospects that seem remote might become suddenly possible.

(Noam Chomsky’s most recent book, with co-author Ilan Pappe, is “Gaza in Crisis.” Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.)

© 2011 Noam Chomsky

Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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