Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Israel and its thugs

News reaches us of award-winning Gazan journalist Mohammed Omer's detention and assault at Jordan's Allenby Bridge crossing to the West Bank. Unsurprisingly, there's been not a whisper of the crime from the BBC. Mohammed had been in London to receive the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for outstanding journalism, and was making his way back to Gaza for a family wedding.

As Mohammed later recounted from a hospital bed in Gaza:
"They behaved with unimaginable hatefulness and vindictiveness. They couldn’t accept the very idea of a Palestinian journalist winning a renowned journalism prize. They wanted to punish me for being a successful journalist and especially for exposing Israeli barbarianism to the people of Europe."
The Shin Bet officers who terrorised and hospitalised Mohammed seem blatantly unconcerned at the adverse publicity they must have known would follow. Which leads us to conclude that, as with the open murder of countless Palestinian children, Israel is engaged in a gratuitous policy of civil terrorism, using such incidents to threaten and induce fear in the Palestinian population.

A group of Mohammed's friends have written an open letter to Ron Prosor, Israel's ambassador to the UK, requesting an urgent inquiry and explanation. As with the Shin Bet's unapologetic actions, we await his diplomatic 'response' with little confidence.

Mohammed's distressing experience is a stark reminder of the ruthless treatment being meted out to anyone found highlighting Israel's criminal behaviour. Norman Finkelstein was recently detained and deported by Israel for doing so.

Whether it's standing on a Palestinian's neck, as happened to Mohammed, or 'diplomatising' such crimes, all participants in this oppression are thugs.

Recently, we joined a protest, near Glasgow, against the Jewish National Fund's staging of a pro-am golf event. Behind its 'charitable' front, the JNF is a racist organisation engaged in appropriating Palestinian land and concealing evidence of the ethnic cleansing. One disturbing image of the fundraising golf day saw young Zionists shrugging their shoulders and laughing when told about the Israeli army's murder of Palestinian children. Complicit thugs, on this occasion, dressed-up in sporting clothes.

But it's the 'respectable' thugs in their political suits who must take the greatest blame for allowing such crimes to continue. Some, at least, are trying to come to terms with their past silences, such as former Dutch Prime minister Andreas Van Agt:
"I'm driven partly by my shame for not speaking up for the Palestinians when I was in power, and partly by some striking experiences I had when visiting the Occupied Territories in the recent past," he says. "People often ask me how come I'm so outspoken now, but did not speak up when I was in a position of power. And it's true, I never spoke up for the Palestinians, except for when Sabra and Shatila happened. And even that was in soft terms."

"In one of my visits to Bethlehem I heard a story, which now I know is just one of many," Van Agt recalls. "It was a story horrendous humiliation [sic] of a Palestinian student trying to get to university for a collective exam. His story, which the university president told me, struck me like lightening..[sic]"

At the last IDF checkpoint on the way, according to the story which Van Agt says he heard from the university president, the student was pulled over and ordered to climb out of the window. "Then the humiliation began. He fell down and was then ordered to walk on hands and feet and bark. Then the soldiers laughed about the Palestinians all being dogs."

"I began studying, figuring out what's going on there. I found one story after the other. Then I started thinking about the 39 United Nations resolutions begging, demanding and imploring Israel to vacate the Occupied Territories. All were dismissed by Israel. Saddam Hussein was attacked after four resolutions, but Israel got 39 and nobody talks about applying even the slightest pressure on Israel to comply with them," he complains.
For those in thrall to Israel as a bastion of 'freedom, democracy and tolerance' amid a region of 'despotic' Arabs, here's a useful reminder of its actual criminal standing. As these key UN resolutions on Palestine detail, no amount of public relations or official denials is ever going to conceal the wanton brutality of Israel's actions. Yet, whether openly flouting international law or publicly beating and murdering innocent civilians, this regime, it seems, is without shame or remorse in its capacity for arrogant thuggery.



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