This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.
- More than 5000 people have died in the Central African Republic (CAR) in the last 9 months, according to the AP’s tally. The AP admits this is probably only a portion of the real number.
- About 1500 more UN troops will head to CAR next week.
- CAR is the crisis that never makes headlines.
- Libya has accused Sudan of sending weapons to Islamists in Tripoli and expelled the Sudanese military attache.
- The UN helicopter that crashed in South Sudan last month was shot down.
- Peacekeepers in Somalia used their hospital connections to target vulnerable women and girls for sexual assault and rape.
- With the killing of Al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane has been confirmed, the group chose a new leader — Ahmad Umar.
- Drone footage surveys the extent of damage in Gaza.
- Israel has ordered investigation into five incidents during the latest Gaza war, including the deaths of the four boys playing soccer on the beach.
- CrisisGroup analyzes the importance of Aleppo in the Syrian civil war.
- The largest Syrian rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham, lost nearly all of its leadership in an unexplained explosion.
- BuzzFeed profiles a smuggler who has brought thousands of foreign fighters into Syria.
- The Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda linked Syrian group, has released 45 peacekeepers.
- Yemen is pursuing talks with the Houthi rebels.
- A transcript of President Obama’s remarks on ISIS and strategy from Wednesday.
- And… Obama, airstrikes and that tricky War Powers Act.
- The Pentagon is authorized to proceed with leadership targeting as a tactic against ISIS, with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at the top of the hit list.
- Partnerships against ISIS bring their own complications.
- Kurdish Peshmerga forces make advances against ISIS with the help of US airstrikes.
- The Washington Post keeps a running tally of US strikes against ISIS.
- Looking at the legal rationale offered up by the administration for conducting strikes in Syria.
- A more in-depth look at what was on the ISIS laptop obtained by journalists.
- ISIS may have taken anti-tank weapons from Syrian rebels.
- Tim Arango, the Baghdad Bureau Chief for the New York Times did a Reddit AMA.
- In the thirteen years (this week) since the 9/11 attacks, how has al-Qaeda changed? It has been weakened but it hasn’t been defeated.
- The Iraqi parliament approved a new government headed by Haider al-Abadi.
- Qatar confirms the detention of two British men researching migrant labor issues.
- Afghanistan’s election results are likely coming next week.
- Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has already said he will not accept the official results.
- Pakistan is digging a trench along the border with Afghanistan.
- Imran Khan marks a month of protests — demonstrations which have wearied Pakistan’s capital city.
- Luhansk counts its dead.
- Russia still has 1000 troops in Ukraine and 20,000 at the border.
- The EU tightens Russia sanctions.
- Mexican journalist Karla Silva was savagely beaten for her critical reporting.
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) says the declassified CIA torture report might not be released until November.
- We already know, though, that CIA waterboarding of top terrorism suspects involved “holding them underwater until the point of death.”
- Zelda, the Dear Abby of the NSA.
- In 2008, Yahoo! ended its legal battle against complying with the PRISM program because the government threatened a $250,000/day non-compliance fine.
- An appeals court ruled that Jose Padilla’s 17-year sentence was too lenient and revised it to 21 years.
- Crowdsourcing a catalogue of all the guns of World War One.
Photo: Bambari, Central African Republic. June 2014. A Moroccan peacekeeper with the UN’s MINUSCA peacekeeping force on patrol. Catianne Tijerina/UN.
Forty-three veterans of one of Israel’s most secretive military intelligence units – many of them still active reservists – have signed a public letter refusing to serve in operations involving the occupied Palestinian territories because of the widespread surveillance of innocent residents.
The signatories include officers, former instructors and senior NCOs from the country’s equivalent of America’s NSA or Britain’s GCHQ, known as Unit 8200 – or in Hebrew as Yehida Shmoneh-Matayim.
They allege that the “all-encompassing” intelligence the unit gathers on Palestinians – much of it concerning innocent people – is used for “political persecution” and to create divisions in Palestinian society.
The largest intelligence unit in the Israeli military, Unit 8200 intercepts electronic communications including email, phone calls and social media in addition to targeting military and diplomatic traffic.
The signatories say, however, that a large part of their work was unrelated to Israel’s security or defence, but appeared designed to perpetuate the occupation by “infiltrating” and “controlling” all aspects of Palestinian life.
Written in uncompromising language the letter states: “We, veterans of Unit 8200, reserve soldiers both past and present, declare that we refuse to take part in actions against Palestinians and refuse to continue serving as tools in deepening the military control over the Occupied Territories.”
They add: “The Palestinian population under military rule is completely exposed to espionage and surveillance by Israeli intelligence. It is used for political persecution and to create divisions within Palestinian society by recruiting collaborators and driving parts of Palestinian society against itself. In many cases, intelligence prevents defendants from receiving a fair trial in military courts, as the evidence against them is not revealed.”
Accompanying the letter – published in the Israeli media on Friday, and organised several months before the recent Gaza war – are a series of testimonies provided by the signatories to Yedioth Ahronoth and shared with the Guardian.
A common complaint, made in both the testimonies and in interviews given by some of the signatories, including to the Guardian this week, is that some of the activities the soldiers were asked to engage in had more in common with the intelligence services of oppressive regimes than of a democracy.
Among allegations made in the statements are that:
• A significant proportion of the unit’s Palestinian objectives “are innocent people unconnected to any military activity. They interest the unit for other reasons, usually without having the slightest idea that they’re intelligence targets.” According to the testimonies those targets were not treated any differently from terrorists.
• Personnel were instructed to keep any damaging details of Palestinians’ lives they came across, including information on sexual preferences, infidelities, financial problems or family illnesses that could be “used to extort/blackmail the person and turn them into a collaborator”.
• Former members claim some intelligence gathered by the unit was not collected in the service of the Israeli state but in pursuit of the “agendas” of individual Israeli politicians. In one incident, for which no details have been provided, one signatory recalls: “Regarding one project in particular, many of us were shocked as we were exposed to it. Clearly it was not something we as soldiers were supposed to do. The information was almost directly transferred to political players and not to other sections of the security system.”
• Unit members swapped intercepts they gathered involving “sex talk” for their own entertainment.
The letter has been sent to the chief of staff of Israel’s armed forces and also the head of military intelligence.
Unit 8200 is one of the most prestigious in the Israeli public’s mind, with many who serve in it going on to high-flying jobs after their military service, many in Israel’s hi-tech sector.
According to an article this year in Haaretz, former unit members include a supreme court justice, the director general of the finance ministry, an internationally successful author, the chief executive of one of Israel’s largest accountancy firms and the economy ministry’s chief scientist.
Operating a signals interception base, the unit is also at the front of Israel’s cyberwar capabilities. According to some reports – never confirmed – it was involved in developing the Stuxnet virus used to attack Iran’s nuclear programme.
Most of those who signed the letter have served in the unit in the last decade – as recently as three years ago in full-time military service – with the majority still on the active reserve list, meaning they can be called up at any time.
All of those who spoke to the Guardian said they were “highly motivated” to join the unit and had volunteered to serve extra time in it beyond their national service.
Although there have been “refusenik” letters before – most famously more than a decade ago when a group of reserve pilots refused to participate in targeted assassinations – such detailed complaints from within Israel’s intelligence services are highly unusual.
Three of those involved, two sergeants and a captain who gave interviews to the Guardian and a handful of other foreign media before the letter was released this week, were at pains to make clear they were not interested in disclosing state secrets. They had engaged a high-profile lawyer to avoid breaking Israeli law – including by identifying themselves in public. Copies of the letter sent to their unit commander, however, use their full names.
Those involved told the Guardian they were proud of some of the work they had done, which they believed had contributed to Israel’s security.
In their interviews, they described a culture of impunity where soldiers were actively discouraged in training lessons from questioning the legality of orders, and of being deliberately misled by commanders about the circumstances of a case in which one member of their unit refused to cooperate in the bombing of a building with civilians in it in retaliation for an attack in Israel.
They added that there were in effect “no rules” governing which Palestinians could be targeted and that the only restraint on their intelligence gathering in the occupied territories was “resources”.
“In intelligence – in Israel intelligence regarding Palestinians – they don’t really have rights,” said Nadav, 26, a sergeant, who is now a philosophy and literature student in Tel Aviv. “Nobody asks that question. It’s not [like] Israeli citizens, where if you want to gather information about them you need to go to court.”
He said: “The intelligence gathering about Palestinians is not clean. When you rule a population that does not have political rights, laws like we have, [then] the nature of this regime of ruling over people, especially when you do it for many years, [is that] it forces you to take control or infiltrate every aspect of their life.”
“D”, a 29-year-old captain who served for eight years, added: “[That] question is one of the messages that we feel it is very important to get across mostly to the Israeli public.
“That is a very common misconception about intelligence … when we were enlisting in the military [we thought] our job is going to be minimising violence, minimising loss of lives, and that made the moral side of it feel much easier.”
He added: “What the IDF does in the occupied territories is rule another people. One of the things you need to do is defend yourself from them, but you also need to oppress the population.
“You need to weaken the politics. You need to strengthen and deepen your control of Palestinian society so that the [Israeli] state can remain [there] in the long term. We can’t talk about specifics … [but] intelligence is used to apply pressure to people to make them cooperate with Israel.
“It’s important to say, the reason I decided to refuse – and I decided to refuse long before the recent [Gaza] operation. It was when I realised that what I was doing was the same job that the intelligence services of every undemocratic regime are doing.
“This realisation was what made me [realise] personally that I’m part of this large mechanism that is trying to defend or perpetuate its presence in the occupied territories.”
The last major refusenik episode in Israel to grab the public’s attention was in 2002 when 27 reserve pilots published a letter refusing to fly assassination sorties over Gaza after 14 civilians, including children, were killed alongside Salah Shehade, the leader of Hamas’s military wing, in a bombing.
Nadav made a reference to the killing – and the outcry that surrounded it. “When you look at what happened this summer, when building after building were destroyed and the inhabitants and hundreds of innocent people were killed and no one raised an eyebrow, as opposed to just one decade ago when the killing of a family of a commander of Hamas shocked people. It was a huge story in Israel.”
Replying to the refusenik letter and the allegations, a spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces criticised the soldiers for making their complaints public, and attempted to cast doubt on the claims.
“The intelligence corps has no record that the specific violations in the letter ever took place. Immediately turning to the press instead of to their officers or relevant authorities is suspicious and raises doubts as to the seriousness of the claims.
“Regarding claims of harm caused to civilians, the IDF maintains a rigorous process which takes into account civilian presence before authorising strikes against targets.”
Dancing Israelis Arrested On 9/11
The JNS ad, ‘Who is David? Who is Goliath?’
The Middle East map wars have returned to the trains and buses of Boston.
Controversy swirled last October over a pro-Palestinian ad campaign hosted by greater Boston’s transit system, featuring a series of four maps purporting to show, incrementally, the “Palestinian loss of land, 1946 to 2010,” and captioned “4.7 million Palestinians are classified by the UN as refugees.”
In recent weeks, Boston commuters have once again been asked to contemplate a map of Israel, this time by an avowedly pro-Israel news organization.
In this go-around, the daily Metro newspaper, distributed gratis at subway stops around the city, included a half-page ad sponsored by the Jewish News Service. Captioned “Who is David? Who is Goliath?” the ad presents a map of North Africa and the Middle East. It depicts 16 countries stretching from Morocco to Iran in a tan color, with each of their populations listed. Wedged among them near the middle is one country in blue: Israel.
The text complains that while there’s no lack of media coverage on Israel, “what’s lacking is objective coverage.” It asserts that “this tiny Jewish nation … generally receives inaccurate, harsh, even hostile coverage from the world’s press,” and that Jewish News Service “was created to correct that.”
Citing its exclusive distribution rights for Israel Hayom– the free Israeli daily owned by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and known for its unwavering support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – in 31 Jewish weeklies across the United States, the JNS ad invites the reader to join it “in getting the truth out about Israel.”
So, what “truth” about Israel did JNS’ recent Metro ad reveal to Boston’s commuters? Apparently, that Israel is surrounded by countries much larger than it is in size and population, all shaded with the same tan color. (The fact that the largest countries bordering on Israel – Egypt and Jordan – have peace treaties with it isn’t noted, nor is the fact that a number of the 16 tan countries are openly hostile to one another.) Admittedly, though, in several obvious respects Israel is the outlier. Fair enough.
But there’s another truth about Israel that the map apparently provides. The blue-tinted country, the map shows, extends from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. Granted, if you look very, very carefully, you’ll see faint outlines designating what’s identified as “West Bank (Judea and Samaria) pop. 2.1 M,” and “Gaza Strip pop. 1.7 M.” But those territories aren’t shaded tan. They, along with Israel within the Green Line, are blue. From the river to the sea.
The message here is both inescapable and ironic. JNS, through its ad, is telling Boston’s commuters that the State of Israel is, or at least will be, one state that includes Gaza and the West Bank, in addition to what the international community recognizes as Israel within the Green Line.
This map, on its face, doesn’t acknowledge, nor does it anticipate, a future Palestinian state.
The irony is that while a number of Israel advocates, including the Anti-Defamation League, expressed dismay over the four-map “Palestinian Loss of Land” ad displayed last October, the JNS map effectively confirms the ad’s concept, as it wipes away any last vestige of Palestinian land.
This is the “objective coverage” JNS claims is so sorely lacking elsewhere? Is Israel already one state that includes Gaza and the West Bank? Some – on the left and the right - could plausibly argue that, de facto, it is. The Israeli government’s recent activities and pronouncements, including itsappropriation of almost 1,000 acres near the Gush Etzion settlement bloc last week, only bolster their claim.
But, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, Israel isn’t one blue-shaded country from the river to sea. In fact, the United States and the international community – not to mention most Israel advocacy organizations in this country – insist that creation of a viable Palestinian state next to Israel is both just and necessary.
JNS might be telling the “Greater Israel” truth as it sees it, or wants to see it. But that doesn’t make it so, doesn’t make it right, and it surely doesn’t make it responsible journalism.
Fortunately, Boston strap-hangers are pretty smart people. They know how to read maps. And they can see the road this one is sending us down – effectively eliminating a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - leads to a dead end.
very chilling topic on twitter right now.
i have my own reasons for #WhyIStayed, and looking through this hashtag, i can see so many women and men who were lost, just as i was.
i stayed because it was the first time i felt important to anyone. he “loved” me. when he said he would die if i left him, i thought it passionate. when he started showing up unannounced at my house, because my friends told him my brother’s friends were over, i thought the jealousy was endearing.
then he tried to kill himself when i left town for two days. he was convinced that i would find someone else, in a town where i knew no one. i came back home, and promised i would never leave.
the manipulation and emotional abuse became physical—but only once. he slammed me against a wall after i made a joke about dumping him once i started college. i hid the bruises from my family, for weeks. that was the moment i decided to get out, no matter what happened. for some people, it only takes one time. others need more than one. and some people never make it out alive.
it is not always easy to “just leave.” it is a blessing if you are able to leave, with no consequences.
“Civility” comes in many forms, sometimes wearing a uniform.
As I was driving through Indiana en route to Michigan this weekend, I saw this billboard for a local sheriff’s election campaign. There, above the uniformed police officer with his military-style crew cut, is the slogan “Return to Civility.”
It seemed the perfect metaphor for what “civility” has come to mean on US campuses: the forceful policing, at the behest of Israel lobby groups, of any discourse or activism critical of Israel.
In the wake of Israel’s latest Gaza massacre, the civility police are cracking down hard. Most notoriously, administrators and trustees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have used the excuse of “civility” to fire Steven Salaita for his strong criticisms of, among other things, Israel’s slaughter of hundreds of children in Gaza.
But civility crackdowns are now breaking out across the country. Another alarming case involves a student at Ohio University.
Pouring cold water on free speech
Last week Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis challenged the newly elected student senate president Megan Marzec to take the “ice bucket challenge.” This is a stunt where someone pours a bucket of ice water over their head on video to raise awareness of the disease ALS.
It has become a very mainstream activity which allows the participant to appear philanthropic at no political risk (former President George W. Bush took the “challenge,” inadvertently recalling his administration’s use of water-boarding as a form of torture).
But what Marzec did – as Palestinians have done with their own “rubble bucket challenge” – is to subvert the meme.
She made a video in which she pours a bucket of fake blood over her head to protest Israel’s abuse of Palestinians.
“I’m urging you and OU [Ohio University] to divest and cut all ties with academic and other Israeli institutions and businesses,” Marzec says in the 50-second video that she posted on her Facebook page Wednesday afternoon, The Columbus Dispatch reports.
“This bucket of blood symbolizes the thousands of displaced and murdered Palestinians, atrocities which OU is directly complacent in through cultural and economic support of the Israeli state,” she adds. (The original instance of the video is no longer available but I am including this copy in my post because I believe people should see that it is, contrary to the lurid criticisms, rather tame, polite and indeed civil.)
Marzec was quickly and swiftly denounced. The Twitter account of the Student Senate tweeted: “On behalf of the student senate, we humbly apologize for the video President Megan Marzec posted.”
The campus group Bobcats for Israel and Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity, called for her resignation.
“In part of the video she promotes the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, which is anti-Semitic,” one student critic told The Cleveland Jewish News.
Marzec herself has reported receiving death threats for her protest. She showed The Athens Post newspaper messages she’d been sent that “ridiculed her as a woman, among other insults,” and said that she’s been subjected to “a whole slew of very vile things.”
But she strongly defended her protest. “It’s clear to me that my video was not anti-Semitic,” she told The Post. “Any reframing of the video is caused by outrage that I am standing in solidarity with oppressed Palestinians.”
More than 600 people have signed an online petition in “solidarity with Megan Marzec’s right of free speech to publicly state her political opinions on the liberation of Palestine.” It also condemns “any attempt to employ threats and/or acts of interpersonal violence to intimidate Ohio University students into silence.”
Enter the president of Ohio University, who has come down not on the side of Palestinians victimized by massive Israeli violence, not on the side of Marzec who was trying to draw attention to that violence, and not against those denigrating and threatening her.
Instead, the university and President McDavis issued a campus-wide call for “civility”that criticized only Marzec.
“Her actions do not reflect the position of Ohio University or President McDavis,” the university statement says. “We recognize the rights of individual students to speak out on matters of public concern and we will continue to do so, but want to be clear that the message shared today by her is not an institutional position or a belief held by President McDavis.”
And then here is the “civility” punchline (emphasis added):
In a university community of our size, there are many issues that merit our attention and dialogue. As stewards of the public trust, we have a responsibility to encourage the free exchange of ideas. For it is through dialogue on conflicting views that we will move toward mutual understanding.
I take great pride in the fact that Ohio University is a community that tackles hard issues head-on. The conflict in Israel and Gaza is no exception. But the manner in which we conduct ourselves as we exercise our right to free speech is of utmost importance.
In my First Year Student Convocation address, I emphasized the idea that we are a University family. As members of a University family, we will not always agree,but we should respect one another. And when we engage in difficult dialogue on issues such as this, we must do so with civility and a deep appreciation for the diverse and resilient international community in which we live.
Who is being protected?
There is much to be said about McDavis’ invocation of the “family” – with all its connotations of patriarchy, hierarchy, privacy, discipline and infantilization as a metaphor – but I will leave that for another day.
There are important unstated assumptions in McDavis’ statement. Notably, he seems to be saying that by criticizing Israeli violence against Palestinians, and urging the institution to end its complicity, Marzec was somehow targeting and injuring a component of the campus community or “family.”
Unless there is a brigade of the Israeli army with particularly sensitive feelings permanently stationed on campus, this cannot be the case.
Rather, the implication seems to be that criticism of Israel and its actions is deemed offensive to Jewish students. This is certainly implied by the intervention of the Jewish fraternity.
But we must always reject the equation of Jewish students with the State of Israel, no matter how often pro-Israel groups and university administrations insist on it.
This is the Israel lobby’s new tactic, as I have argued in my recent book The Battle for Justice in Palestine: to equate criticism of Israel or solidarity with Palestinians with “hate speech,” “hate crimes” or even attacks on an individual such as sexual or racial violence that must be ultimately subject to university or juridical discipline and punishment.
In the case of Salaita, this meant the loss of his job based on libelous and speculative claims that his statements about Israel would mean students in his classroom might be endangered.
In the same vein, when Palestine solidarity groups have distributed mock eviction notices as a tactic to educate peers on campus about Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes, they have usually faced false allegations from Zionist groups that the dorm rooms of Jewish students were “targeted.”
It is in this context that Students for Justice in Palestine at Northeastern University was banned last Spring, an unprecedented act of repression that the administration onlyrescinded after a fierce student campaign and a national outcry. The year before they were banned, Northeastern SJP had been forced to sign a “civility statement,”following an organized walk-out of a talk given by Israeli soldiers.
This is the same basic idea behind the wave of complaints against various universities made by Zionist individuals and organizations under Title VI of the US Civil Rights Actin recent years alleging that campus Palestine solidarity activism was making Jewish students feel “unsafe.”
While the strategy has so far failed at the legal level, it is succeeding with university administrations, who are rushing to issue “civility” statements explicitly or implicitly targeting utterers of speech critical of Israel.
It cannot be mere coincidence that Nicholas Dirks, chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, sent an email to the entire campus community last week also calling for “civility.”
Ostensibly marking the 50th anniversary of Berkeley’s famed Free Speech Movement, Dirks said, “we can only exercise our right to free speech insofar as we feel safe and respected in doing so, and this in turn requires that people treat each other with civility.”
What does “civility” mean in this context? Does it mean saying “please,” “thank you,” “sir” and “ma’am” to war criminals? Or does it mean electing a sheriff instead of a professor to run a university to make everyone feel “safe” and secure?
(A similar statement has also just been issued from Penn State University. No particular cause is mentioned as prompting the statement and it does not mention Palestine, but I expect to see more of these.)
Dirks, as I recount in The Battle for Justice in Palestine, was the vice president at Columbia University who, prior to taking his new job at Berkeley, boasted about his role in the witch-hunt against Professor Joseph Massad.
Losing their grip
Zionism is losing its grip. It has lost the substantive debate on the past and future of Palestine in the academy. It no longer has a hold on the hearts and minds of young people the way it did in the years after the 1967 War.
Many of the Jewish students whose “safety” is being invoked to justify the campus crackdowns are joining – and in some cases leading – chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and similar groups.
Key Israel lobby groups, as I explain in the book, see US campuses as the battleground on which the future of US support for Israel will be secured or lost.
Raw power – intimidation, denial of tenure, firings and other kinds of discipline – are being used to try to stop the growth of Palestine solidarity on campus.
Corporatized university administrations across the country are fully complicit in this repression. And this iron fist is being wrapped in the velvet glove of “civility.”
"To All the Little Black Girls With Big Names (Dedicated to Quvenzhane’ Wallis)"
Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley had a big name stamped on her birth certificate. After having a few years to understand the implications, she wrote this poem.
Mahmoud Darwish, Silence for Gaza
A Poem in Fragments(via maxineanwaar)
African-American Girls & Women Killed By Police: Speak Their Names. See Their Faces. Know Their Stories.
There is this false myth going around that Black women are not victims of police violence. I believe the myth exists because quite frankly the media, social justice organizations and we the public tend not to focus on it. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I hope this post will make all of us change our minds. Here are the stories of some of the Black women and girls killed by law enforcement:
Pleasant Grove crash claims life of second person | AL.com (Heather Parker)
Family grieves after loved one killed in crash with APD (Jacqueline Culp)
Pedestrian Killed on I-95 in Florida (Laporsha Watson)
After Cleveland shooting, cities restrict police chases(Malissa Williams)
Elderly Woman Shot & Killed By Hearne Police Officer (Pearlie Golden)
Former Pa. trooper pleads guilty in fatal accident (Robin T. Williams)
Friends: Woman killed by police was nonviolent | Las Vegas (Sharmel Edwards)
The NYPD’s Poor Judgment With the Mentally Ill | Village Voice (Shereese Francis)
Harrisburg woman identified as victim in police SUV crash (Shulena S. Weldon)
$2.5M settlement in shooting of Lima woman by police officer (Tarika Wilson)
Texas Police Admit Officer Shot & Killed Unarmed Woman (Yvette Smith)
First day of school in Gaza Sep 14th,2014.
School was delayed in Beit Hanoun because people is taking shelter in schools as they lost their houses were destroyed in the recent israeli attack on Gaza. The school plan is about outside class rooms activities to help children get over the psychological trauma after war .
Children prayed for their dead friends and put up their names instead of the place they should have be using is school.
Through all the turmoil of these last weeks and months I have been tortured by thoughts of children, Jewish children, Palestinian children, Syrian, Iraqi children – all those who most innocently of all, and most grievously of all, are the victims of the Middle East Madness.
Rachel mebaka et baneha, Rachel mourns her children. With her I weep for the children knowing that they are all her children, our children, every one of them.
The shameful apologies trying to justify the death of Arab children with trite explanations of ‘collateral damage’ and ‘use children as shields and they will die’ fill me with anger. Yes, a Jewish child’s life if precious to me but how dare anyone suggest that another child’s life is less precious, less deserving of a future? What is most frustrating is that those who place lesser values on non-Jews are supposed stalwarts of a community that I can no longer rightfully call mine. Where is the commitment to open dialogue, the respect to hear out opposing ideas, where is the dictum that commands us to listen, to debate, to agonize with each other rather than hurl epithets of disloyalty?
People see suffering and unless it is Jewish suffering they are silent. How dare they? Many years ago, at the famous March on Washington, Rabbi Joachim Prinz declared that the crime of the century was silence, silence in the face of injustice. I say it now to my own community; Jewish silence in the face of injustice is intolerable because Jews are commanded to live by a moral code that calls such silence not only wrong but makes it a crime.
My father has been gone for many years now but he left me to be the guardian of his dream, a dream of a Zionism whose engine to fulfillment would be the socialism of the kibbutz movement. Both have now been corrupted and made irrelevant in a land that practices capitalist consumerism and allows children to go to bed hungry. In my mind I have been offering my father apologies that his dream has been thwarted and that both he and I are left with the sadness of frustrated hope.
I am an old man now but I know how to grieve over a boyhood dream that has gone.