Category Archives: israel/palestine

Medic carrying wounded Palestinian child in Gaza, 17th October 2023

Aren’t the Children of Gaza Worth Saving?

If our answer is yes, then we have to stop sending Israel the weapons that kill them. No one turns his back on a child whose life is threatened. This is how it should be. Who turns away from a child in danger? Why then the silence on the children killed, maimed, buried alive and orphaned in Gaza since the 8th of October last year?

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Village of Ehden, North of Lebanon by Paul Saad

Letter from Mount Lebanon

Peace is precarious in Lebanon, where everyone remembers the toll of previous conflicts and fears the spread of war.

Ehden is an ancient village on the northern heights of Mount Lebanon. Perched above the Qadisha (Sacred) Valley, it has long been a redoubt of the Maronite sect, an Eastern rite of Roman Catholicism whose adherents built their first church, Saint Mamas, here in 749 AD. Some Maronites like to claim descent from the Phoenicians, although their fourth-century founder, Saint Maroun, was born in northern Syria and never set foot in Lebanon. The people of Ehden and Zgharta, its sister village in the foothills nearer the sea, spoke Aramaic into the nineteenth century. Even today their Arabic is pronounced with a distinctive Aramaic accent. Most Lebanese, including urban Maronites, regard them as hillbillies whose feuds would embarrass the Hatfields and McCoys. Five families—Frangieh, Moawad, Doueihy, Karam, and Makary—have vied for dominance over the centuries. The Frangiehs have been primus inter pares since one of them, Suleiman Frangieh, became president of Lebanon in 1970.

My Makary grandmother raised me on mountain folktales. In one, her father is killed defending the village from an Ottoman raid about 1890, a few months before she was born. Other relatives told me he died in a feud among the families. Although her mother married again and took her to the New World, she never lost touch with her native land. Her Arabic—like her cooking—marked her as a born-and-bred Zghartawi.

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Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five

The Unjust Prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation Five

“For the law holds, that it is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer,” wrote Sir William Blackstone in 1765, expressing a fundamental principle of Anglo-Saxon justice. Miko Peled, in “Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five,” his exhaustive study of the U.S. government’s case against five defendants from a friendless minority, demonstrates how American justice has deviated so far from Blackstone that the courts can convict a hundred innocents for one who is guilty. “Injustice” portrays a modern version of Franz Kafka’s “Trial” in which five Palestinian-Americans confront the character Joseph K.’s dilemma: “K. was living in a free country, after all, everywhere was at peace, all laws were decent and were upheld, who was it who dared accost him in his own home?”

The FBI, the Treasury Department, and other assorted police forces in Texas and California accosted them with raids on most of their family houses early in the morning on July 26, 2004. The criminal trial against the Holy Land Foundation Five — or HLF 5, as the five Arab-Americans became known, a reference to the Islamic charity they founded in 1990 — opened exactly three years later. It culminated in a hung jury. The retrial in Dallas federal court began in September 2008, and included unprecedented testimony from “Avi,” the pseudonym assumed by an Israeli intelligence agent whose qualifications the defense was unable to probe. Judge Jorge Solis, although he instructed jurors that they were allowed to weigh the agent’s credibility in light of his anonymity, nonetheless brushed aside the defendants’ right under the Sixth Amendment “to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” Nothing in the U.S. Constitution until then permitted conviction by anonymous accusations, but the court convicted all five men.

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Gaza: an inquest into its martyrdom

As Gaza sinks into desperation, a new book makes the case against Israeli brutality

Israel celebrates a double anniversary on May 15 this year, the founding of the state and the formal establishment of the Israeli Defense Forces, the name the state gave to its combined army, navy, and air force. Armed statehood fulfilled the political Zionists’ dream of gathering Jews from the ancient Diaspora under their own government in what they declared to be their “promised land.” During the battle over the land between 1947 and 1949, the IDF expelled three-quarters of the indigenous population. Of the 750,000 Palestinian Arabs who fled, 250,000 took shelter in Gaza, a tiny pocket of southwest Palestine then occupied by the Egyptian army. The destitute and traumatized refugees were three times more numerous than the 80,000 Gazans who took them in.

The United Nations passed but did not enforce annual resolutions calling for the refugees’ return. Israel invaded the territory in 1956, withdrew under American pressure in 1957, and invaded again in 1967. As its population grew to nearly 2 million souls packed into a pocket five miles wide and 40 miles long, Gaza has become a byword for misery. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron, no advocate of the Palestinian cause, called it “an open-air prison.”

In his new book, Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom, Norman Finkelstein presents Gaza’s case like a veteran prosecutor at a homicide trial. “This book is not about Gaza,” he writes. “It is about what has been done to Gaza.”

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“Rise and Kill First” Explores the Corrupting Effects of Israel’s Assassination Program

In the mid-1960s, television comedy writer Sol Weinstein produced a series of satirical novels about agent Israel Bond of M 33 and 1/3, a barely disguised Mossad.

As Ronen Bergman makes clear in his penetrating exposé of Israel’s mostly secret assassination program, “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations,” the agents who Israel sent out to murder its enemies were never very funny. Israel is a rarity among nations: Rather than confine its assassins to the shadows, it promotes them to prime minister. Bergman’s history records extra-judicial, face-to-face murders by Menachem Begin, Yitzak Shamir, Ariel Sharon, and Ehud Barak, all of whom rose to head the Israeli government. This meticulously researched book, written over seven and a half years, exposes a state apparatus that blurs distinctions between intelligence-gathering and operations, soldiers and assassins, politicians and killers, yet claims more triumphs than defeats.

Bergman, an Israeli former lawyer and investigative journalist, charts not only the details of assassinations over the past century, but also the corrupting effect of relying on the black to the exclusion of diplomacy and compromise. Why negotiate with your enemies when it’s so easy to kill them?

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