Saturday, June 06, 2009

Mississippi in the Middle East



I have often thought that an analogy to Israeli behavior toward Arabs, both in Israel proper and in the occupied territories, is American attitudes to blacks prior to the mid 1950's. Certainly no analogy perfectly matches the sad Israeli reality, neither apartheid nor the U.S. of 60 and 70 years ago, but the American one might ring more true to those of us who grew up with the U.S. civil rights struggles.

If there is any truth to the analogy than the occupied territories are the Deep South - complete with lynchings, corrupts cops, complicit courts, mayors, and newspapers, and, of course, the KKK ( settler militants), it is reinforced of it by the following story, excerpted from Haaretz:

Israeli forces kill Palestinian protester at Na'alin rally


Palestinian officials reported on Friday that a Palestinian demonstrator had been killed during the weekly anti-separation fence rally near the West Bank town of Na'alin.

Palestinian medical officials said 36-year-old Yusuf Srour had been killed by Israeli forces.

Medics said Srour was hit in the chest by a live bullet and another protester was wounded when soldiers fired at protesters.

Srour died minutes later, Mohammed Shahwan, a doctor on the ambulance called to the scene, told reporters.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Border Police officers had opened fire with riot dispersal equipment when they came under a heavy barrage of rocks. He said live ammunition was not used.

Later, the IDF issued a statement saying that the victim was a Hamas activist central to the weekly anti-separation fence protests.

The statement went on to say that Srour and several other Palestinian activists had approached a Border Policeman, who felt his life was in danger and opened fire in the direction of their legs. Two of the other protesters were wounded, and Srour was killed.

The IDF also said that Srour had been arrested several times by Israeli forces over his involvement in violent protests.

Na'alin is the scene of weekly protests against the continuing construction of an Israeli barrier that has cut through the village.

Israel says the barrier it has built along its boundary with the West Bank is needed to keep bombers from infiltrating its towns.

Palestinians denounce the network of fencing and concrete walls which cut deeply into the West Bank in spots such as Na'alin, as a land grab that denies them territory they want for a future state.

Meanwhile, five demonstrators were injured in confrontations with security forces in the anti-separation fence rally in Bil'in.

Two months ago, Ibrahim abu-Rakhma was killed during a separation fence rally in Bil'in after suffering a tear-gas grenade hit to his chest, which witnesses said was launched some 30 meters away by security forces.

The Israel Defense Force issued a response following the incident, stating that approximately 100 protesters had attempted to tear down part of the separation fence while hurling rocks at security forces. IDF troops responded to the mayhem by employing demonstration dispersal devices.

Another incident occurred four months ago, in which American citizen Tristan Anderson, in his thirties, sustained critical wounds during an anti-separation fence protest in Na'alin.

Peace activists with the International Solidarity Movement of the Oakland, Calif. area, said Anderson was struck in the head with a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops.
So: Arab or pro-Arab protesters - not terrorists - are regularly shot dead on the West Bank. No one is charged and the newspaper (the Great Liberal newspaper Haartez no less) attempts a "balanced report" that is rife with lies and half truths.

How many ways does it deceive? Let me count the ways.

1) "Palestinian officials reported on Friday that a Palestinian demonstrator had been killed during the weekly anti-separation fence rally near the West Bank town of Na'alin."

The guy is definitely dead, and he was definitely killed by the Israeli forces. Even the army spokesman admits that (in this article and in others in the Israeli press). There is no doubt about these facts. So why is it neccessary to start the report with "Palestinian officials reported"? Because this will automatically make the reader assume they might be lying? It allows the Israeli reader to discount the whole event, and it allows the newspaper to not have to express an opinion.

2) "Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Border Police officers had opened fire with riot dispersal equipment when they came under a heavy barrage of rocks. He said live ammunition was not used."

"Riot dispersal equipment" includes rubber coated bullets which have been shown to kill and seriously wound on very many occasions in the past, especially when fired at close range. There are also numerous documented cases of where the army or border police have claimed to have used rubber coated bullets and subsequent physical evidence has shown that they used standard ammunition. In any case the protester was killed, so the ammunition was "live" enough. What's the point of this statement except to weasel out of moral responsibility by hiding behind irrelevant legal details.

3) "The statement went on to say that Srour and several other Palestinian activists had approached a Border Policeman, who felt his life was in danger and opened fire in the direction of their legs."

Since they were unarmed, and on the other side of a security fence, how was his life endangered? And since Srour was hit in the chest, how is it that the Border Policeman (unnamed to maintain anonymity) fired at his legs?


4) "Na'alin is the scene of weekly protests against the continuing construction of an Israeli barrier that has cut through the village. Israel says the barrier it has built along its boundary with the West Bank ..."

Either the first statement is false, or "Israel's" statement is false. They can't both be true. In fact is the later statement that is a lie. But the claim - attributed to no individual, but rather to the State itself, is left to stand.

Na'alin is not on the boundary of the West Bank and pre 1967 Israel but about 1-2 km inside the West Bank. The place were the protest and murder occurred is where the separation barrier cuts the road between Na'alin and is "suburb" Midya (see image below.) It is about 600 meters inside the West Bank and effectively cuts off the residents of Na'alin from a good part of their fields and olive trees, also within the occupied West Bank.

The annotated satellite photo below shows the area. The red lines are the 1949 armistice lines - the "Green Line" delimiting Israel proper from the areas occupied in 1967. Pre 1967 Israel is to the west (left)) of westernmost red line. The West Bank is to the east (right) of the easternmost red line. The area between the two red lines was "no-man's-land" between 1949 and 1967. It was now been fully expropriated by Israeli agricultural settlements. The darker color shows Israeli access to irrigation water, denied to Palestinian farmers to the east (right) of the easternmost red line. The black line is the separation barrier. Na'alin is in the northeast (upper right), and the Israeli settlement of Hashmonaim and Ramat Modiim are in the south east (lower right.)


5) "Two months ago, Ibrahim abu-Rakhma was killed during a separation fence rally in Bil'in after suffering a tear-gas grenade hit to his chest, which witnesses said was launched some 30 meters away by security forces.

The Israel Defense Force issued a response following the incident, stating that approximately 100 protesters had attempted to tear down part of the separation fence while hurling rocks at security forces. IDF troops responded to the mayhem by employing demonstration dispersal devices."

There is video all over the internet of this incident. (See here for instance.) It shows: much fewer than 100 demonstrators, no appreciable violence by the demonstrators, and no attempt to tear down the separation fence. Despite this completely damning evidence, no one had been charged with that murder.

It is like killing black "trouble makers" in Mississippi in the 40s and 50s. And the newspaper reports the death like it was a traffic accident, or worse that the "niggers" had it coming.

Just another day in the Ol' South.

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