Posts Tagged ‘War crimes’

Expose the Holocaust against Palestinians and Israel’s crimes against humanity!

 

The Demographic History of Palestine

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At the beginning of WWI (1914), the Jewish population in Palestine was 38,754 (5% of all population) of which 12,332 were Ottoman subjects and the rest were new European immigrants.

 

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1895 jews

 

By the end of the British Mandate (1920-1948), which was supposed to bring independence and freedom to the Palestinian people, the Jewish immigrants were increased considerably but were able to hold land of only 6% of Palestine and that through the collusion of the British Mandate.

Percentage of Jewish Owned

In addition to helping the Jews obtain land, the British government also facilitated the mass immigration of Jews into Palestine, thus altering its ethnic composition.

By 1946 there were 608,225 (32.96%) Jews including illegal immigrants and 1,237,334 (67.04%) Palestinians (Muslims and Christians); thus in spite of the mass immigration, Jews constituted a minority population, albeit larger than before.

Palestinian vs Jewish Owned

Palestine – pre-1948

The cardinal principle of Zionism had been initiated by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in 1923 and applied faithfully by David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dayan, Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu. Jabotinsky was very clear; “israel” can only be imposed by brute force and will be shielded by an iron wall. He stated:

Their [the Arabs] voluntary agreement is out of the question… Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population. This colonization can, therefore, continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population – an iron wall which the native population cannot break through. This is our policy towards the Arabs.

David Ben-Gurion Quotes

 

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Ben-Gurion – Born: October 16, 1886, Płońsk, Poland

 

Everybody sees a difficulty in the question of relations between Arabs and Jews. But not everybody sees that there is no solution to this question. No solution! There is a gulf, and nothing can bridge it… We, as a nation, want this country to be ours; the Arabs, as a nation, want this country to be theirs.
Written statement (June 1919), as quoted in Time magazine (24 July 2006)

The acceptance of partition does not commit us to renounce Transjordan: one does not demand from anybody to give up his vision. We shall accept a state in the boundaries fixed today, but the boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them.
Speech in 1937, accepting a British proposal for partition of Palestine which created a potential Jewish majority state, as quoted in New Outlook (April 1977)

What matters is not what the goyim say, but what the Jews do.”
An “oft-repeated credo” according to the “Windsor Star – Dec 3, 1973 and repeated in various newspapers (with minor variations) including the Jerusalem post (May 22,2009) “It doesn’t matter what the goyim say, but what the Jews do”

Under the guise of United Nations General Assembly resolution 181 of the Partition of Palestine, which was only a non-binding suggestion and was dropped by the UN and USA in March 1948 in favour of UN trusteeship on Palestine, Ben Gurion initiated his plan, Dalet, to eliminate the Palestinian population from the area of Palestine that was to be governed by the Jewish immigrants. In this area, half of the inhabitants were Arab Palestinians. Ben Gurion would have none of them. He expelled the majority before the state of Israel was (illegally) declared on May 14, 1948.

Plan Dalet – called for the conquest of Arab towns and villages inside and along the borders of the area allocated to the proposed “Jewish State” – according to the UN Partition Plan. In case of resistance, the population of conquered villages was to be expelled outside the borders of the Jewish state. If no resistance was met, the residents could stay put, under military rule.

israeli War Crimes

War Crimes

“War” crimes perpetrated by the Zionist forces against the Palestinian civilian population, included at least 232 incidents, which included atrocities, massacres, destruction, plunder and looting between 1947 and 1956. Almost every one of the thirty Zionist/Israeli military operations was accompanied by one or two massacres of civilians. There were at least seventy-seven reported massacres, half of which took place before any Arab regular soldier set foot in Palestine.

Half of the 77 massacres committed by “israel” in 1948 took place before “israel” was declared

The expelled population, before The British left and before “israel” declared itself as a state, was half the total Palestinian refugees. This could not have happened without killing as many as possible. Half of the 77 massacres committed by Israel in 1948 took place before “israel” was declared.

Of these massacres, we know of the infamous Deir Yassin on 9 April 1948. Few knew about Bureir, where 120 of the inhabitants were killed and their homes torched. A mere 48 hours after the massacre in Bureir, Ben Gurion stood solemnly before the Jewish immigrants’ assembly to announce the foundation of Israel and declared:

We appeal – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of “israel” to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.

In the following 6 months, the other half of the 77 massacres (out of 156 war crimes listed in the Atlas of Palestine 1917-1966) committed by the israelis established their practice of using massacres as a well-tried weapon of ethnic cleansing. Jabotinsky’s plan was working as Ben Gurion was turning the myth into a fact; Palestine almost became a “land without people”.

Another example of Israel ethnic cleansing arose after the signing of the first Armistice agreement between israel and Egypt on 24 February 1949. This agreement allowed the Egyptian forces to withdraw from a besieged enclave with their arms. Two villages, Faluja and Iraq-al-Manshiyya, lay within this enclave that the Egyptian forces were defending. Under the Armistice agreement endorsed by the U.N., israel guaranteed the safety, the life, and property of these two villages, which the defending Egyptian forces had to leave behind. Disregarding its agreement with the U.N. and Egypt, israel terrorized the two villages with indiscriminate shooting, constant curfews, looting, and attempted rape. Three weeks later, israel forcibly expelled the population in stark violation of the Armistice Agreement.

Kafr Qasem Massacre [Operation Hafarferet]

The israelis reneged on the “agreement” with King Abdullah I of Jordan to divide Palestine between them. In April 1949, the Zionists dictated to him that they must grab extra Palestinian land known as the Little Triangle, in central Palestine. The affected area is about 90,000 acres where one 100,000 Palestinians lived. Thus its eighteen villages were annexed outright to israel. There was a condition that the inhabitants must remain in their homes. One of these villages was Kafr Qasem. The people of the Little Triangle were not expelled at the time, but there was an Israeli plan for them. Israel was waiting for the opportunity to carry it out.

It came in October 1956, on the same day of the Tripartite Aggression, or Suez Campaign, in which Israel, Britain, and France conspired to topple Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and regain the Suez Canal. Ben Gurion’s aims were more than that, to convert the Armistice line, which has no legal value as a border, into a de facto border for Israel and to expel the Palestinian population within this “border.” It was attempted in Kafr Qasem under “operation Hafarferet”, an outright expulsion plan. Read More

It took four decades for Israeli historians to have access to declassified Israeli files. Benny Morris was hailed as a brave, objective historian when he found evidence to corroborate what the refugees were saying all along. Curiously he said that these repetitive similar massacres were ‘an accident of war’ not a plan. Not so, said Ilan Pappe. He compared the Palestinian oral history and the Israeli files and found them consistent. He gave it its proper name “Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”.

The Kafr Qasem massacre is, therefore, part of a persistent pattern of ethnic cleansing of which Sabra, Shatila, Jenin, Rafah and the destruction of the Gaza Strip are but a few stations on this bloody trail. But the Kafr Qasem massacre was different in some ways. First, it was against “Israeli citizens”, thus making the claim of Israeli democracy a mockery. Second, the claim that atrocities were committed in the heat of war is false. There was no war in Kafr Qasem, no uprising, no revolt. It was a sheer bloodbath.

Unlike the massacres that are associated with the Nakba, it was perpetrated after the israeli state was established. It was deliberate, planned, calculated, a cold-blooded murder against workers returning from their fields not having heard that a curfew was imposed over their village. After the massacre, Kafr Qasem was subjected to military cordon and media prohibition, which imposed debilitating isolation after the massacre. No one was allowed in or out of the village and a tight gag order was placed on the news. Twenty-two days after the massacre, news finally reached the world.

 

And the israelis crimes continue – their barbaric dream is parallel to ISIS, where they wish to establish a “jewish kingdom” from the Nile to The Euphrates!

Rest assured! The Crusaders were expelled from Palestine after 90 years of occupation. So shall the new “jewish crusaders” be expelled. It’s a matter of time. 

Free Palestine!

palestine flag waving

Palestinian woman

Women on the front line in the deadly “no-man’s land” of Gaza’s “buffer zone”

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“Then the Israeli snipers called me on the speaker, saying, ‘You, the woman with the keffieh, if you approach the fence again we will shoot you in the head’.

In the deadly no-man’s land of Gaza’s buffer zone, a small group of Palestinian protesters hidden by black smoke, braved Israeli sniper fire and reached the perimeter fence. Tearing a piece away they made it back to safety, holding their trophy.

The stunt was remarkable given the deaths of nearly three dozen protesters in recent weeks at the hands of soldiers firing across the border fence.

Since the start of the Great Return March four weeks ago, in which Gaza’s refugees are demanding the right to return to their lands now inside Israel, 32 unarmed protesters, including a child, have been killed by Israel’s sharpshooters ranged on the other side.

But this stunt was all the more remarkable given that those who carried it out were women.

Further up the buffer zone other women stood in front of protesting men, trying to provide cover for them against Israeli fire on Friday. One of the women, Taghreed al Barawi, said they did this because “women are less likely to be shot at than men”, although their sex has not protected the 160 or so women who have also been wounded during the last week of the buffer zone protests.

“Then the Israeli snipers called me on the speaker, saying, ‘You, the woman with the keffieh, if you approach the fence again we will shoot you in the head’. But I am not afraid and next time will burn their flag and raise ours.”

Taghreen al Barawi said she had “this feeling of strange courage” as she got closer to the fence. She also spoke of being inspired by Ahed Tamimi, the 17-year-old West Bank teenager, currently being held in an Israeli jail after she slapped an Israeli soldier outside her home.

Pictures of women in the front line of an Arab uprising are not surprising at first sight – women played a lead role in the Arab Spring, and, as in the case of Ahed Tamimi, are increasingly in the forefront of West Bank protests too.

But in Gaza’s traditional Hamas-run society, as well as living under Israel’s siege, women are also subject to repressive social codes which mean spontaneous public protest

“I would be Ahed if I could,” was a cry heard from many Gaza women after the teenager’s recent sentence was passed. “She is strong, she is beautiful, she is courageous,” said two veiled students, staring adoringly at Ahed’s portrait – wearing jeans, hair uncovered – on a wall outside Gaza’s Islamic University.

Also emblazoned on the wall were portraits of former Palestinian leaders including Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and Ahmed Yassin, founder of Hamas.

It is not, however, only the social taboo which until now has prevented these women from protesting as Ahed did.

Since Israel’s decision in 2005 to withdraw its troops from bases inside Gaza, redeploying to the perimeter with a blockade at sea and control of the skies, it has been even harder for ordinary Palestinians to resist in the way Ahed Tamimi did.

In the days of the old intifada any Palestinian could land a stone on a soldier with no trouble, as the soldiers were in amongst them. “Now we can’t be like Ahed because we can’t even see a soldier, never mind hit them with stones. We never get close enough to kick or punch. If only we could,” a young man complained.

For those in Gaza this inability to see or hit back at the enemy has created a uniquely desperate despair, which has spilled out into the buffer zone protests of recent weeks. Perhaps for this reason, Hamas understood it could not hold back any protester and allowed women to protest too.

As the marches have continued and the death toll has risen, some in Gaza have withdrawn support for the uprising, saying the protesters are simply “committing suicide” by throwing themselves in front of Israel’s bullets.

But others, including many young women, are determined to continue until the climax on 15 May.

“What do we have to lose? We are dying in Gaza under siege. Why not die in the buffer zone protesting instead. At least there’s a chance our message will be heard,” said Intimah Saleh, 27, protesting with her mother who cooks food for those on the front line.

Asked whether she thought the women of Gaza would produce an Ahed Tamimi, she said: “Of course. But we have many Aheds here.”

And asked whether Ahed could be a future Palestinian leader, a group of teenage boys laughed and said: “No. The Israelis will not allow it. Before that happens they’ll make sure she’s shot.”

  • ATW Comment: Palestinians should not care if the “israeli’s allow it!”  Ahed Tamimi would be the best leader in the future! Abbas and his thugs need to drop dead!

Nice/Munich terror suspect Einat Wilf linked to false-flag-loving WINEP

They aren’t even trying to hide it any more

Nice/Munich terror suspect Wilf works with Patrick Clawson, who openly calls for murderous false flag attacks

By Kevin Barrett, Veterans Today Editor

What kind of a world are we living in when false flag terrorists, drunk on chutzpah, don’t even bother to wipe their fingerprints off the murder weapons…and openly brag about their love of false flags, publicly calling for more of them?

As I have been reporting over the past few days, high-ranking Israeli operator Einat Wilf’s husband, Richard Gutjahr—who flagrantly vaunted his foreknowledge of the Nice truck attack by filming the truck at the perfect moment just before it started mowing people down—was also caught on location filming the shopping mall attack in Munich.

Mossad photographer Richard Gutjahr was pre-positioned in both Nice AND Munich! Talk about chutzpah...

When I reported Gutjahr’s self-incriminating Munich tweets (and the use of his photo in an RT piece on Munich) those tweets, and the photo at RT, suddenly were taken down within an hour of when my story appeared. Even such shameless chutzpah apparently has its limits.

Now we learn that Gutjahr’s wife/case officer Einat Wilf is the “Baye Foundation Adjunct Fellow” at a brazenly pro-false-flag-terror think tank, the Washington Institute of Near East Policy (WINEP). That’s also the home of Richard “Prince of Darkness” Perle, Edward “Zionist Coup d’Etat: A Practical Handbook” Luttwak, Henry “Almost 9/11 Commission Czar” Kissinger, Condoleeza “Who Could Have Imagined” Rice, and other key 9/11 suspects.

The Tel Aviv stabbings:
What the media left out

On Wednesday in Tel Aviv, a 23-year-old Palestinian man stabbed and injured as many as 12 Israelis who were riding a public bus during morning rush hour. No deaths were reported, although three people were hospitalized with serious injuries.

U.S. mainstream media coverage of this attack painted a picture of Israeli citizens living in fear of deranged Palestinian terrorists. The media rarely mentioned that Israeli forces have maintained a 48-year military occupation that profoundly impacts and virtually imprisons 4 million Palestinian men, women, and children in the West Bank and Gaza. The media also omitted significant information on Palestinians killed and injured by Israel during the period reported on.

Palestinian Girl

Last October, a young Palestinian girl was killed after an Israeli settler hit her with his vehicle.

 

Below are some examples:

CNN’s coverage of the incident reported details of the deaths of  10 Israelis who were killed by Palestinians last October and November. Yet CNN neglected to mention that just three days ago Israeli police  killed a 47-year-old Palestinian man when the police stormed the funeral procession of another Palestinian shot and killed by Israeli police. Since October of 2014, at least  19 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis (5 of them children). Only three of these deaths were mentioned in CNN’s article.

The New York Times said that yesterday’s stabbings “broke a period of relative calm that followed a spate of attacks against Israelis” in recent months, perpetrated by “Palestinians armed with knives, cleavers and guns.” The Times  seems to think a period is “calm” as long as no Israelis are harmed. Since October 1, 2014, at least 1,677 Palestinians(approximately 250 of them children) have been injured by Israeli forces or settlers living on confiscated Palestinian land. During this time period, 196 Israelis were injured by Palestinians.

(The Times also fails to divulge that its reporters for the story, Isabel Kershner and Irit Pazner Garshowitz, are both Israeli citizens and that Kershner’s husband is a spin doctor for the Israeli military establishment.)

The Associated Press and NPR’s coverage  similarly provided largely Israeli-centric context. The AP described yesterday’s attack in graphic detail, and both AP and NPR made sure to remind readers of last November’s attack on a Jerusalem synagogue that left 5 Israelis dead. They did not, however, mention recent Israeli attacks on Palestinians. Among the thousands of incidents since last October:

Additionally, in the last four months, at least 260 Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were made homeless after Israel demolished their homes. Half of them were children. Approximately 110,000 homes in Gaza  were destroyed during Israel’s deadly assault last summer, and 14,000 Gazans are still living in UNRWA schools. Lack of adequate shelter during winter storms and flooding has caused the deaths of three Palestinian infants, one toddler, and one adult.

from If Americans Knew

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RAMALLAH, WEST BANK — Centuries of European colonialism have provided the world with certain basic lessons about subjugating colonized peoples: The longer any colonial occupation endures, the greater the settlers’ racism and extremism tends to grow. This is especially true if the occupiers encounter resistance; at that point, the occupied population becomes an obstacle that must either be forced to submit or removed through expulsion or murder.

Stolen Palestinian Lands

In the eyes of an occupying power, the humanity of those under its thumb depends on the degree of their submission to, or collaboration with, the occupation. If the occupied population chooses to stand in the way of the occupier’s goals, then they are demonized, which allows the occupier the supposed moral excuse of confronting them with all possible means, no matter how harsh.

The Israeli occupation of Palestine is one of the only remaining settler-colonial occupations in the world today.

And it is not limited to East Jerusalem and the West Bank: Although Israel withdrew its settlers and army from Gaza in 2005, it is still recognized by the United Nations as an occupying power, due to its complete control of Gaza’s airspace, sea access and of almost all of its land borders.

Over the years, Israel has used all forms of pressure to prevent the Palestinians from achieving their national rights and gaining independence. It hasn’t been enough for Israelis to believe their own claims about Palestinians; they have sought incessantly to impose this narrative on the world and to have it adopted by their Western allies.

Unsurprisingly, all of this has led to complete shamelessness in mainstream Israeli rhetoric about Palestinians. After all, if one is not held accountable, then one has the freedom to think — and do — what one wants. With no internal or external checks, one can act with impunity.

The Israeli left is a relic, all but extinct, and the extremist right is entrenched in the Israeli political establishment. Attacking the Palestinians has become officially sanctioned policy, embedded in Israeli public consciousness and politely ignored in Western political circles.

There is now an extremist, racist ideological current in Israel that not only justifies the recent onslaught on the Gaza Strip, but actually encourages the use of enormous and disproportionate violence against civilians, which has led to the extermination of entire families.

Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Knesset, recently called on the Israeli army to attack and occupy Gaza, paying no heed to anything but the safety of Israeli soldiers. He then demanded that Gaza be annexed to Israel, and asked the army to use all means at its disposal to “conquer” Gaza, by which he meant that obedient Palestinians would be allowed to stay, while the rest — the majority — should be exiled to the Sinai Peninsula. This cannot be understood as anything less than a call for ethnic cleansing.

Ayelet Shaked, a Knesset member for the Jewish Home Party, a member of the governing coalition, called on the Israeli army to destroy the homes of terrorist “snakes,” and to murder their mothers as well, so that they would not be able to bring “little snakes” into the world.

Ayelet Shaked

And Mordechai Kedar, a professor at Bar Ilan University, publicly suggested that raping the mothers and sisters of “terrorists” might deter further terrorism. The university did not take any measures against him.

“The only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped.” This assertion was made by Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University about three weeks ago on an Israel Radio program. “It sounds very bad, but that’s the Middle East,” added Kedar, of Bar-Ilan’s Department of Arabic.

Such statements are no longer isolated incidents, but reflective of the general sentiment within a country where chants of “Kill the Arabs” are increasingly common. It is no longer an aberration to hear these opinions expressed in public, or by politicians and academics. What is unexpected — and unacceptable — is that such statements are not met with any sort of condemnation in official Western circles that claim to oppose racism and extremism.

The rise in Israeli racism and extremism against Palestinians would not have happened without the unconditional support that Israel receives from its allies, most significantly the United States.

Israel cannot continue to be the exception to the rule of international law and human rights. The international community must hold it accountable for its rhetoric and its actions, and begin to treat it like all other countries. It should not be allowed to continue to enjoy its state of exceptionalism and to use this to wreak destruction on the Palestinian people.

After 47 years of occupation, two decades of stalled peace talks and almost eight years of a strangulating siege of the Gaza Strip, the international community must demand that Israel clearly state what it intends to do with its occupation of the Palestinian people. Since the Palestinians are not the occupiers, but rather those living under occupation, this question cannot be asked of them.

If Israel wants to continue its occupation and hinder Palestinians’ path to freedom and independence, then it should be aware that the Palestinian people will continue to resist with all the means at their disposal. If Israel intends to end the occupation, then it will find that the Palestinians are more than ready for an agreement.

What the Palestinians are enduring today in Gaza should be a clarion call for the entire world to end the bloodshed. But it will take more than a cease-fire. It will take peace. And peace cannot happen without an end to the occupation.

Ali Jarbawi is a political scientist at Birzeit University and a former minister of the Palestinian Authority. This article was translated by Ghenwa Hayek from the Arabic.

The Shame of Shuhada Street

In Hebron, Palestinians are subjected to daily indignities—large and small.
A Jewish settler walks past a Palestinian on Shuhada Street, in the West Bank city of Hebron. (Nayef Hashlamoun/Reuters)

HEBRON, West Bank—I first saw the boys through the rear view mirror of the car I was riding in, as they approached Shuhada Street. One of them was about the age of my daughter, who became a bat mitzvah last week. The other might have been 16 or so, like my older son. The boys hesitated at the top of the street and seemed to take a breath. Then they stepped into the void.

Shuhada Street, lined with small shops whose owners typically lived upstairs, was once among the busiest market streets in this ancient city. But in 1994, in response to a horrific massacre that left 29 people dead and 125 injured, the Israel Defense Forces began clamping down on Shuhada Street. They welded shut the street-facing doors of all the homes and shops, and by the time of the Second Intifada in 2000, had turned the bustling thoroughfare into a ghost street on which no one was permitted to set foot. No one, that is, who is Palestinian. Israeli Jews and foreign visitors are free to come and go along the road—to snap photos and make their way to Hebron’s three Jewish settler outposts, Beit Hadassah, Beit Romano, and Avraham Avinu. But there is nothing to buy, nothing to see, no reason to tarry. The stores are all closed. The few Palestinians who remain have been barred from the street where they live. If they want to enter their homes, they must do so through back doors, which in many cases involves clambering over rooftops.

One might be tempted to view Shuhada Street as just another casualty in an endless cycle of violent retribution. A Palestinian kills dozens of Hebron’s Jews, so Israel punishes the Palestinians of Hebron by closing Shuhada Street. But that is not, in fact, what happened. The victims of the massacre that impelled the Israeli government to shutter Shuhada were not Jews. They were Palestinians—unarmed Palestinians gunned down as they prayed at the nearby Cave of the Patriarchs by Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Jewish zealot with Israeli military training and a Galil assault rifle, who stopped firing only when he was overcome and killed by survivors of his attack. You can add Shuhada Street, and the vibrant urban life it once sustained and embodied, to the list of Goldstein’s victims.

My visit to Hebron had begun at Goldstein’s tomb, in a small park in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba on the city’s outskirts. The grave has become a site of pilgrimage and ecstatic veneration for some religious Israelis and sympathetic foreigners despite the Israeli government’s prohibition on monuments to terrorists. The massive slab of marble is inscribed with the words, “He gave his life for the people of Israel, its Torah and land.” On the day I visited, the gravestone was littered with small stones, placed there in homage in accordance with Jewish tradition.

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An ultra-Orthodox Jew prays at Baruch Goldstein’s gravesite, in 1998. (Reuters)

After puzzling over the epitaph (I was born in Jerusalem but my family emigrated to Canada before I learned to read), I brushed away the commemorative stones. A mass-murderer deserves no such honor. An Israeli army jeep rumbled alongside the park and I stepped back, nervous that I would be harassed for my action. The Israeli military presence in Hebron is intense—between 600 and 650 soldiers, military police, and commanders, or at least one for every settler—and its role is very clear: The security forces are there to protect the settlers, regardless of how brutal or inflammatory the latter’s actions may be, and regardless of the fact that, as Goldstein’s homicidal cowardice makes clear, it is the Palestinians who often need protection against settlers who, sure of support from the Netanyahu government, seek to make permanent their incursion into the city.

My companions and I then made our way to Shuhada Street, where an Israeli soldier checked our passports to ensure both that we were not Palestinian and that we understood the omnipotence of Israeli military authority. We passed the new Beit Hadassah museum, an exhibit of curated propaganda dedicated to legitimizing the presence of Jewish settlers in the city. Then we came to the end of the street, and I happened to glance in the rearview mirror, where I saw the two boys. I didn’t need to be the mother of children their age to fear for their lives and safety. I only needed to have been following the news.

Less than a week before, on Nakba Day, when Palestinians commemorate the displacement that preceded and followed Israel’s declaration of independence, there had been a protest in front of Ofer military prison in the West Bank town of Beitunia. After the protest was dispersed, two Palestinian teenagers had been shot and killed by the Israeli army. Video of the killings had surfaced on the Internet, and in my hotel room in Jerusalem I had watched as another Arab boy my son’s age, carrying the kind of backpack my son carries, doing nothing more than crossing a street—crumpled and pitched forward, motionless.

Now, several days later, I watched these Shuhada Street boys risk death for the sake of a liberty so rudimentary and fundamental that my own children are not even aware of its existence, or its importance, or its simple human beauty: the right to walk down the street.

I should have gotten out of the car and joined them. I should have taken out my cell phone and started filming. But I just sat in the car and fretted. Thankfully, the Israeli soldiers on duty that day did nothing more than lift their weapons and motion the boys back to permitted ground, and the boys obeyed. It was one of many such interactions—petty indignities and tiny acts of courage. It was nothing as dramatic as an incident, viewable on YouTube, in which settler girls take advantage of a school holiday to lie in wait for Palestinian children on their way home from school, then curse the other children and throw rocks at them while Israeli soldiers look on, periodically urging the rock-throwers to stop but doing little to protect the victims of the violence. Nothing as dramatic as another encounter, also captured on video, in which a female settler, flanked by soldiers, lobs curses at a Palestinian woman who had the temerity to walk out the front gate of her own house. “Whore! Whore!” the settler hisses.

I ended my visit to Hebron at a small community center run by Palestinian peace activists, where we shared plates of hummus and fresh vegetables and tried to find inspiration in the tiny outpost of hope. But the bright murals painted by Palestinian activists had been disfigured by Jewish settlers with splashes of gray paint, and we ate under the stony gaze of soldiers assigned to guard settlers whose vandalism is among the least of their offenses.

The litany of Hebron’s many immiserations is long. I could write paragraphs about the racially differentiated access to water, and about how settlers sometimes spray the ground with their hoses, taunting Palestinians who have severely limited access to water for drinking or cooking or bathing. I could describe the ugly anti-Arab graffiti I saw, the bumper stickers plastered onto walls with messages like, “Arab! Don’t even dare to think about a Jewish woman!” I could describe the achingly torturous journey an elderly resident of Shuhada Street must make just to leave her house, with its front door welded shut, because one day in 1994 a hate-filled fanatic massacred her townspeople.

 

But out of respect for the people who escorted me down the tragic length of Shuhada Street, I will try to close on a note of hopefulness. My guides were a couple of Jewish Israelis, raised in religious homes, who had served as soldiers in the West Bank and who, as a result of what they saw and what they did, now devote their lives to raising awareness about the injustices of the Occupation. My guides described in painful detail the structural inequality of a land where one ethnic group lives under oppressive military rule, and another under democratic, civilian authority. They described receiving explicit instruction to make Palestinians feel as if they were constantly under surveillance, constantly pursued, constantly harassed. They said their role, as described by Moshe Ya’alon, the current defense minister and former army chief of staff, was to “sear the hearts and minds of the Palestinians.” My guides told me of instances in which they were involved in “Straw Widow” actions, where they invaded a Palestinian home, shut the family into a single room, and then made free use of the house. Ostensibly these home invasions were conducted for security reasons, but just as often they were simple training exercises. Sometimes the homes were chosen because they had a satellite dish, and an important soccer match was on TV. “What hope is there?” I asked them, in response. They replied that they named their organization Breaking the Silence because they fervently believe that once people know what is happening in Hebron and the rest of the Palestinian territories, change is inevitable.

I’m not sure that I share their faith in the power of knowledge to create justice, but I want to. And that’s why, as Bibi Netanyahu’s right-wing government broadcasts its contempt for the U.S. State Department’s commitment to working with the new Palestinian unity government, and announces the construction of 1,500 new settlement housing units in the West Bank, I, a Jewish American born in Israel, who believes in Israel’s right to exist within its own borders, am breaking my own silence.

 

The Atlantic