Wednesday, May 24, 2017

1967 and the myth of Palestinian victimization

Video of the week: A PALESTINIAN MYTH - The so called NAKBA -

In the weeks of tension before the Six Day War, Israel’s struggle for survival was seen around the world as a contest between good and evil. The threats to “push the Jews into the sea,” were widely reported, as were the military preparations and sudden departure of UN peacekeepers. Israel was still the plucky David of 1948, ominously threatened by the Arab Goliath. Although the PLO – the Palestine Liberation Organization – was created in 1964, the Palestinians received little attention. In this environment, Israel’s success was widely applauded, particularly in the West.

But gradually, the images began to change as the Arabs used their oil power and threats of terrorism to gain allies and market anti-Israel campaigns in Europe. In France, the elite’s support for Israel waned before 1967, based on a cold calculation of economic interests, and in Britain, a mix of Arabist romanticism and antisemitism gained influence.
In North America, avant garde intellectuals switched support to the newly minted Palestinian cause.

Under Yasser Arafat, PLO airplane hijackings and mass terrorism such as the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre put the “plight of the Palestinians” high on the priority list, and the Arab oil embargo that accompanied the 1973 Yom Kippur War reinforced this process. Support for Israel became a liability, but rather than admitting that this was due to weakness and fear, political officials and diplomats blamed the post-1967 “occupation.”
Israel suddenly became the dominant power, and was automatically pronounced guilty (without much of a trial) for the failure to end the conflict. In 1980, Europe officially promoted Palestinian independence as a magic solution to the conflict, and condemned “Israeli settlements” as the “primary obstacle to the peace process,” while terrorism and incitement were hidden under the diplomatic, journalistic and academic carpets.

This language and the policies behind it have not changed in 37 years.

But for Palestinian leaders, settlements and the absence of a Palestinian state next to Israel were not the main issues; Arafat told anyone who would listen that “the goal of our struggle is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromise or mediations. We don’t want peace, we want victory. Peace for us means Israel’s destruction and nothing else.” (Cited in The Washington Post, March 29, 1970.) In the United Nations, which was still taken seriously at that time, the Arabs were joined by the Soviet Union, which combined Cold War competition with crude antisemitism.

Bodies such as the UN Commission on Human Rights (now a council) were turned into platforms for Israel-bashing – in part for its own sake, and also to turn attention away from the dictatorships. As one official noted, it was much easier to “support a condemnation of Israel for reprisals against Arab sabotage” than to deal with real abuses.

UNRWA, created in 1948 ostensibly to help war refugees, remains a permanent source of propaganda and hate, and in 1975, the UN General Assembly adopted the infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution. The Division for Palestinian Rights was created and funded to orchestrate a traveling road show known as the Committee for the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to promote the mythology in Jakarta, Beijing, Brussels and elsewhere.

Into this propaganda mix powerful human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, began promoting the myths of Palestinian victimization and Israeli “violations of international law.” Mass producing condemnations of Israeli “occupation” while erasing the images of Palestinian terrorism and its victims, they rewrote the history of the conflict as well as the reality on the ground. A generation of journalists, political officials, and other “elite opinion makers” were indoctrinated into accepting this narrative without question. In this environment, the transition to boycott campaigns and other forms of demonization was simple.

Among Israelis, the gap between our understanding of history and the way it was portrayed elsewhere was largely ignored, allowing the damage to fester and grow. When politicians finally recognized the implications of the “narrative war,” many of the responses, including the recent legislation to ban leading foreign boycott activists, were heavy-handed and counterproductive.

As the 50-year anniversary of the 1967 war approaches, the myths of Palestinian victimization and Israeli guilt will resonate widely in the UN, college campuses and media platforms.

The challenge is to expose these slogans, and restore at least some connection to reality. But whether this will actually happen depends on how we package our messaging.

The days of David vs. Goliath and the image of Israel as a country threatened with imminent destruction are long gone.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Palestinians: The Secret West Bank

Video of the week- Israeli Clowns Cheer Up Syrian Refugees-

by Bassam Tawil  •  April 26, 2017
  • As Abbas and his advisors prepare for the May 3 meeting with Trump, thousands of Palestinians gathered in Ramallah to call on Arab armies to "liberate Palestine, from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) sea." The Palestinians also called for replacing Israel with an Islamic Caliphate.
  • It is possible that deep inside, Abbas and many of his top aides identify with the goals of Hizb ut Tahrir, namely the elimination of Israel. Abbas also wishes to use these Islamic extremists to depict himself as the "good guy" versus the "bad guys." This is a ploy intended to dupe Westerners into giving him more funds "out of fear that the Islamists may take over."
  • Abbas's claim that he seeks a just and comprehensive peace with Israel is refuted by fact after fact on the ground. His sweet-talk about peace and the two-state solution will have far less impact on Palestinians than the voices of Hizb ut Tahrir and its sister groups, which strive to "liberate Palestine, from the river to the sea."

Westerners often refer to Ramallah as a modern and liberal city dominated by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction. The city boasts fancy restaurants and bars where alcohol is served freely to men and women in Western dress, who sit together to eat and to smoke water pipes (nargilas).

But the scenes on the streets of Ramallah, headquarters of Abbas's Palestinian Authority (PA) last week broadcast a rather different message -- one that calls for the elimination of Israel. The message came on the eve of Abbas's visit to the White House for his first meeting with US President Donald Trump.
According to PA officials, Abbas is scheduled to affirm during the meeting with Trump his commitment to the two-state solution and a "comprehensive and just peace" with Israel.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Video of the week-Yahya Mahamed's Israel Story -

JPost., by SHOSHANNA KEATS-JASKOLL April 25, 2017

 Sometimes we are privileged to meet rare and inspiring people, people whose life experiences are so different from our own that hearing about them provides us with a new understanding of the human spirit, a new way to see things, and a new way to think.

Yahya Mahamed is one such person. Tall, dark and slim, the first thing one notices about him is his smile.

It’s sincere and disarming and immediately evokes the feeling that a friend has been found. As his story unfolds, it becomes clear that behind those dimples is a young man of courage, humor, intelligence and a tremendous heart.

Metro sat with Mahamed at the Jerusalem office of StandWithUs, an NGO dedicated to educating people around the world about Israel. This is his story.

“I grew up in Umm el-Fahm, the third-largest Arab city in Israel. It’s a very problematic place. The Islamic Movement runs the municipality. This means they have power over everything: schools, services, who gets hired... and they are very anti-Israel. ISIS logos and swastikas are common,” he says.

“When they came in 30 years ago, they took over the city. They outlawed alcohol and made it policy to prevent people from prospering. They don’t take care of the city; they don’t pave the streets, fix the playgrounds or make youth centers. We went without a public library for six years...

“When people ask for the things that cities are meant to have, the municipality blames
Israel. They say that Israel charges them so much that they cannot get things done.

“And yet, somehow within days of collecting taxes, city officials have new cars. It’s a closed circle that feeds on itself; a steady diet of corruption, lack of municipal services, and anti-Israel indoctrination. They are sabotaging the city and blaming Israel for it in order to keep the locals isolated and dependent.
“Violence is the norm in Umm el-Fahm,” he continues.

“Bullets are shot into the air, and several people have been hit by them. The police aren’t where they need to be. If they were, it would greatly improve quality of life and safety for the city.” It would also help dispel the accepted view that the job of the police is to oppress the residents, he adds.

Mahamed was raised to perceive Israel as an oppressive, evil regime. “I remember being a child and watching television with my mother. The only thing on was Palestine, Israel oppressing Palestine, Israelis killing Arabs, Arabs killing Israelis. Nothing else. My whole world was the conflict; in school, on TV, in the community. I was an Arab and therefore a Palestinian."

“I recall at one point traveling to the West Bank to see family. I noticed that we had different ID cards than they did. That was the first time I actually realized that I was Israeli,” he says.

“You see, as a child, I was given this illusion: either Israel or Palestine, but not both. Israel only existed because it took land from the Palestinians. We were given no Jewish history. I wasn’t given an education, I was given propaganda. I was taught in school that Hitler did a good thing and left a small group of Jews alive so that the world would know why he killed the rest.

“The problem in Umm el-Fahm is that there is no one to give an alternative
viewpoint. For the past 30 years, this narrative has reigned. And it is sacred... Until 2011, I was very anti-Israel.”

He pauses. “Nobody is really anti-Israel, it’s just that they aren’t able to think. They haven’t been allowed to think.” The mosques, he says, are used to disseminate a political agenda. In the mosques on Fridays, one hears about ISIS.

When asked how he became a Muslim Zionist, he says, “I got out. I was in a pre-army program learning to be an automobile mechanic.
As Arabs, we don’t have to go to the army, but the state provides these programs in high school for us. One day, I passed by a map of the world on the wall and tried to find my country. But it wasn’t there. Palestine was written across the entire area – in my Israeli school. I thought, wait a minute, that’s not correct. Even though I identified with the idea... it just wasn’t true. I told my friend whose father is a state inspector and two days later it was down.”
His dimples flash as he smiles. “I guess that was the unintentional beginning of my Israeli activism.”
In 12th grade, Mahamed began searching for a job.

Because he hadn’t been given much English or Hebrew language instruction, his options were limited.

“They [Islamic Movement] do this on purpose to make you unable to communicate and it works like magic,” he says.

He found work as a busboy in a Tel Aviv hotel, but admits he was afraid to go, frightened by the things he had been told about how Jews would treat him. His fears were soon assuaged when the manager took him under his wing, teaching him what he needed to know and befriending him.

“During my first week, just before Succot, I was waiting for the bus... A Chabadnik comes up to me and starts passionately telling me how important it is to shake the lulav [palm branch], and I’m smiling and letting him go on and when he’s done, I tell him, you know, I’m not Jewish. He looked a bit sad, but then he said, ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish or not; what matters is that you are a good person.’ And that made me think the whole way to Umm el-Fahm.

“I had made a friend in the hotel manager; the Jews at the hotel were very welcoming and accepting; and now this Chabadnik tells me it doesn’t matter if I’m a Jew, so long as I am a good person. My experiences directly contradicted everything I had learned my whole life. I’d been told that Jews think they are God’s chosen people and better than everyone else. But bit by bit, I realized that what I had been taught simply wasn’t true.”

One summer morning in 2014 brought news that would change Mahamed’s life: three Israeli Jewish teenagers had been kidnapped by Hamas. “I freaked out,” he recalls.

“I started thinking about my friends and how it could have been them. In truth, it could have been me, because it doesn’t matter Arab or Jew, we are all Israelis. I went online and searched for information.

I found a campaign called Bring Back Our Boys and I participated, posting a picture of myself with an Israeli flag. That’s when all hell broke loose.”

Mahamed got a call from a shop owner in Umm el- Fahm who told him to go to the police because people were talking about him and it sounded very dangerous.

His post had gone viral and among his 400 Facebook notifications were numerous death threats.

“I had to quit my job; I stayed in the house for two months; I missed my high school graduation.”

It took a while for the police to get involved, but eventually eight people were arrested for making death threats against Yahya. To this day, he relies on a car to get around because it isn’t safe for him to walk or take public transportation in Umm el-Fahm.

MAHAMED MAKES a point of saying that there are many Arabs who have gone through a similar process of encountering Jews, realizing that what they had been told about them and Israel is not true, and then choosing to leave their communities as a result.

“You have to get out of the Arab mentality and understand that you are Israeli. If you can get out of the mentality of ‘I’m an Arab which means I am a Palestinian,’ that conflict mentality of either/or, then you’ve made it to the safe zone.

“People aren’t haters,” he explains, “they are just crippled in their way of thinking.”

People often try to “help me do teshuva,” he says. For example, on a day commemorating the 1956 Kafr Kasim massacre, when residents of Kafr Kasim, who were working in their fields and unaware of a curfew, were shot dead by IDF soldiers, his friend Bassam asked him how he could support Israel. Yahya acknowledged that what had happened in Kafr Kasim was wrong and asked Bassam if he also commemorates the Hebron massacre.

“‘What massacre?’” asked Bassam. “I sent him a link to a Wikipedia article and didn’t see him for three weeks. When I saw him next, he had changed. He had read the article I sent, and then another, and another. He read about Jewish history back to the Roman conquest. He was livid that he had never learned this stuff. Since then, he’s left Umm el-Fahm and is now pro-Israel.”

When asked if he also wants to leave Umm el-Fahm, Mahamed says that although it’s not easy to stay, he doesn’t want to go. “Things are messed up, but we can fix them. If every thinking individual left and went to Tel Aviv, who would bring Tel Aviv to Umm el-Fahm? “I clean the hate – literally. I remove the ISIS graffiti, the swastikas, because they normalize terror and hate. We need to take away the hate,” he says.

“I’m paving new roads there. People ask me about dead babies in Gaza. They don’t expect me to say, ‘Yes, that happened, but did you know that five minutes earlier Hamas sent a rocket from there?’ They are surprised.

They never accept what I say the first time, but it plants a seed, and that seed will grow.”

When StandWithUs first contacted Mahamed via Facebook, he was hesitant to join the organization until he learned that its website has an Arabic page and that it also reaches out to Arabs. Then he decided to join their efforts and has been an educator there since 2016.

When asked why he chooses to advocate for Israel, Mahamed says, “I’m Israeli. I like it here. Here we enjoy full rights. I believe that Israel doesn’t only hold hope for the Jewish people, it holds hope for the entire Middle East.”

Yahya has had speaking engagements in Finland for Limmud (Jewish learning festival), in Texas with the B’nai Brith youth organization, and, most recently, in South Africa for Israel Apartheid Week.

“In the US, you know what to expect from BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement].

They come at you with images of dead children, they yell. South Africa is a whole other story. We went with the South African Union of Jewish Students, who had made an agreement with the campus that this year half of the piazza would be for BDS and half for us. But when we showed up, BDS had taken the entire piazza. They were stealing our materials and ripping our posters. We wound up in a physical fight with them. We expected them to be difficult, but this was another level.

“South Africa is the BDS movement’s stronghold. They use the terms ‘apartheid’ and ‘racism’ to play on people’s emotions and get an immediate response. Then they flood them with lies.

“It’s nuts,” he says. “People came to me after being on the BDS side saying, ‘Why does the IDF rape Palestinian women?’ I say, ‘Wait, wait. I’ve heard of house demolitions, arrests, checkpoints, but rape? Rape isn’t common between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian women, I am familiar with COGAT’s [Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories] numbers and I follow Palestinian news sources, and I’ve never of an incident like that. Where do you get this stuff?’ I had a checklist, baby killing, yup, rape, oh wait, that’s a new one, and I’d write it down.

“Then they speak about Gaza as the most densely populated place in the world,” he continues, “and I’m like, don’t take my word for it, go to Google maps and see the empty fields for yourself. SAUJS’s [South African Union of Jewish Students] campaign was called See Israel for Yourself and it was incredible. We say, ‘Don’t listen to us, maybe we are biased. Don’t listen to them, they are dangerous. Go read for yourself,’” he says.

“People were fascinated that I was there as an Israeli Arab – my being there had a huge impact. The BDS people gave short bursts of heavy propaganda. We would spend 45 minutes with people answering their questions.”

Mahamed pulls out a video of South African students thanking his team for being a safe place on campus where they could ask questions and get answers, and where they were encouraged to think for themselves.

They expressed anger at being lied to and say they now support Israel.

When asked what he feels the solution is, Mahamed just smiles. “We don’t offer solutions, we educate. We don’t want to indoctrinate – that’s what the other side does. We just want people to think.”

Right before press time, Mahamed updated Metro on recent difficult developments. A video he had done for StandWithUs was picked up by local Arabic news sources. They spread it around, adding false claims that Mahamed had been taught English by SWU, that he is paid by the government and other lies, including incitement against him. Within a few hours, the police contacted him and advised him to file a report with the Umm el-Fahm police and to leave the city for a while.

The police are investigating, and Mahamed has moved to Jerusalem. It has been a stressful few days, he says, but as always he is staying positive.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

EU builds illegal structures in area C of the West Bank

For the full article go to “EIPA”

“They can’t come and on the one hand blame Israel for creating facts on the ground and yet spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a comprehensive plan for illegal construction,” said Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations after the EU called on Israel to halt the demolition of illegal EU-funded Palestinian structures in Area C of the West Bank.
He said that while it was fine for the EU to build in Area C in coordination with Israel, “in the same breath, there’s a system that… like thieves in the night, they are building illegal buildings… to create territorial contiguity for the Palestinians. They are creating facts on the ground instead of pressuring the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.”
On Saturday, the EU issued a statement from the the spokesperson of the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s diplomatic corps, said that “in the past weeks there have been a number of developments in Area C of the West Bank, which risk undermining the viability of a future Palestinian state and driving the parties yet further apart.”
The EU mentioned in particular that “on 25 January Israel decided to declare 154 hectares of land near Jericho in the West Bank as state land, and according to the latest reports, decisions have been taken to permit further settlement expansion, involving more than 150 new residential units.”
It also cites the demolishon on 3 February of several Palestinian residential structures in the south Hebron hills. “We call on the Israeli authorities to reverse the decisions taken and to halt further demolitions,” the statement added, recalling that on 18 January EU Foreign Ministers confirmed “the EU’s firm opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and actions taken in this context, including demolitions and confiscation, evictions, forced transfers or restrictions of movement and access.”
While the EU claims that EU humanitarian activities are carried out ‘’in full accordance with international humanitarian law, with the sole aim of providing humanitarian support to most vulnerable people’’, Israel has repeatedly criticized the EU for funding constructions that are “illegal” and are aimed at creating “facts on the ground” in violation of the Oslo Accords.
According to the Israeli Army Radio, the EU has built over 200 illegal structures for Palestinians in Area C, which is under full Israeli civil and security control since the Oslo accords, in the last several years.
According to the report, the supervisory unit of the Civil Administration has located ten such structures in the past two weeks and even caught a truck carrying disassembled parts last week.
While the structures are easily dismantled in a short period of time, the Civil Administration has expressed concern about keeping up with the growing phenomenon.
The structures, which typically arrive disassembled in trucks in the middle of the night, are erected in the early morning with the goal of expanding existing Palestinian villages in the area.
Most of the buildings are branded with the EU’s symbol or that of an EU-affiliated organization.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said in a statement: “All building in area C in Judea and Samaria requires the permission of the relevant authorities. The Civil Administration takes enforcement measures against illegal construction in accordance with the law.”
Jerusalem compares the EU moves to build these illegal structures to international criticism – even from the EU itself – of Jewish building in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
“You come and complain about our unilateral steps to determine facts on the ground? Here you’re doing the exact same thing on the Palestinian side,” an Israeli government spokesman charged.

Video of the week: STOP illegal EU Settlements -