Monday, June 30, 2008

[ePalestine] MIDEAST: Israelis Assault Award Winning IPS Journalist

MIDEAST: Israelis Assault Award Winning IPS Journalist

By Mel Frykberg 

GAZA CITY, Jun 28 (IPS) - Mohammed Omer, the Gaza correspondent of IPS, and joint winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, was strip-searched at gunpoint, assaulted and abused by Israeli security officials at the Allenby border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank on Thursday as he tried to return home to Gaza. 

Omer, a resident of Rafah in the south of Gaza, and previous recipient of the New America Media's Best Youth Voice award several years ago, was returning from London where he had just collected his Gellhorn Prize, and from several European capitals where he had speaking engagements, including a meeting with Greek parliamentarians. 

Omer's trip was sponsored by The Washington Report, and the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv was responsible for coordinating Omer's travel plans and his security permit to leave Gaza with Israeli officials. 

Israel controls the borders of Gaza and severely restricts the entrance and exit of Gazans allegedly on grounds of security. Human rights organisations accuse the Israelis of using security as a pretext to apply collective punishment indiscriminately. 

While waiting in Amman on his way back, Omer eventually received the requisite coordination and security clearance from the Israelis to return to Gaza after this had initially been delayed by several days, he told IPS. 

Accompanied by Dutch diplomats, Omer passed through the Jordanian side of the border without incident. However, after arrival on the Israeli side, trouble began. He informed a female soldier that he was returning home to Gaza. He was repeatedly asked where Gaza was, and told that he had neither a permit nor any coordination to cross. 

Omer explained that he did indeed have permission and coordination but was nevertheless taken to a room by Israel's domestic intelligence agency the Shin Bet, where he was isolated for an hour and a half without explanation. 

"Eventually I was asked whether I had a knife or gun on me even though I had already passed through the x-ray machine, had my luggage searched, and was in the company of Dutch diplomats," Omer said. 

His luggage was again searched, and security then proceeded to go through every document and paper he had on him, taking down the names and numbers of the European parliamentary officials he had met. 

The Shin Bet officials then started to make fun of the European parliamentarians, and mocked Omer for being "the prize-winning journalist". 

The Gazan journalist was repeatedly asked why he was returning to "the hell of Gaza after we allowed you to leave." To this he responded that he wanted to be a voice for the voiceless. He was told he was a "trouble-maker". 

The security men also demanded he show all the money he had on him, and particular attention was paid to the British pounds he was carrying. His Gellhorn prize money had been awarded in British pounds but he was not carrying the entire sum on him bodily, something the investigators refused to believe. 

After being unable to produce the prize money, he was ordered to strip naked. 

"At first I refused but then I had an M16 (gun) pointed in my face and my clothes were forcibly removed, even my underwear," Omer said. 

At this point Omer broke down and pleaded for an end to such treatment. He said he was told, "you haven't seen anything yet." Every cavity of his body was searched as one of the investigators pinned him down on the floor, placing his boot on Omer's neck. Omer began vomiting, and fainted. 

When he came round his eyelids were being forcibly opened and his eardrums probed by an Israeli military doctor, who was also armed. He was then dragged along the floor by his feet by the Shin Bet officials, with his head repeatedly banging on the floor, to a Palestinian ambulance which had been called. 

"I eventually woke up in a Palestinian hospital with the doctors trying to reassure me," Omer told IPS. 

The Dutch Foreign Ministry at the Hague told IPS that Foreign Minister Maxime Zerhagen spoke to the Israeli ambassador to The Netherlands and demanded an explanation. 

The Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv has also raised the issue with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which in turn has promised to investigate the incident and get back to the Dutch officials. 

Ahmed Dadou, spokesman from the Dutch Foreign Ministry at the Hague told IPS, "We are taking this whole incident very seriously as we don't believe the behaviour of the Israeli officials is in accordance with a modern democracy. 

"We are further concerned about the mistreatment of an internationally renowned journalist trying to go about his daily business," added Dadou. 

A spokeswoman at the Israeli Foreign Press Association said she was unaware of the incident. 

Lisa Dvir from the Israeli Airport Authority (IAA), the body responsible for controlling Israel's borders, told IPS that the IAA was neither aware of Omer's journalist credentials nor of his coordination. 

"We would like to know who Omer spoke to in regard to receiving coordination to pass through Allenby. We offer journalists a special service when passing through our border crossings, and had we known about his arrival this would not have happened. 

"I'm not aware of the events that followed his detention, and we are not responsible for the behaviour of the Shin Bet." 

In the meantime, Omer is still traumatised and in pain. "I'm struggling to breathe and have pain in my head and stomach and will be going back to hospital for further medical examinations," he said. (END/2008) 


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Sunday, June 29, 2008

[ePalestine] Zeina Ashrawi Hutchison: Denied the right to go home

Denied the right to go home

21 Jun 08 
Zeina Ashrawi Hutchison
(Hanan Ashrawi’s daughter, telling her story) 

I am Palestinian - born and raised - and my Palestinian roots go back centuries. No one can change that even if they tell me that Jerusalem , my birth place, is not Palestine , even if they tell me that Palestine doesn't exist, even if they take away all my papers and deny me entry to my own home, even if they humiliate me and take away my rights. I AM PALESTINIAN. 

Name: Zeina Emile Sam'an Ashrawi; Date of Birth: July 30, 1981; Ethnicity: Arab. This is what was written on my Jerusalem ID card. An ID card to a Palestinian is much more than just a piece of paper; it is my only legal documented relationship to Palestine . Born in Jerusalem , I was given a Jerusalem ID card (the blue ID), an Israeli Travel Document and a Jordanian Passport stamped Palestinian (I have no legal rights in Jordan ). I do not have an Israeli Passport, a Palestinian Passport or an American Passport. 

Here is my story: 

I came to the United States as a 17 year old to finish high school in Pennsylvania and went on to college and graduate school and subsequently got married and we are currently living in Northern Virginia. I have gone home every year at least once to see my parents, my family and my friends and to renew my Travel Document as I was only able to extend its validity once a year from Washington DC . My father and I would stand in line at the Israeli Ministry of Interior in Jerusalem , along with many other Palestinians, from 4:30 in the morning to try our luck at making it through the revolving metal doors of the Ministry before noon – when the Ministry closed its doors - to try and renew the Travel Document. We did that year after year. As a people living under an occupation, being faced with constant humiliation by an occupier was the norm but we did what we had to do to insure our identity was not stolen from us. 

In August of 2007 I went to the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC to try and extend my travel document and get the usual "Returning Resident" VISA that the Israelis issue to Palestinians holding an Israeli Travel Document. After watching a few Americans and others being told that their visas would be ready in a couple of weeks my turn came. I walked up to the bulletproof glass window shielding the lady working behind it and under a massive picture of the Dome of the Rock and the Walls of Jerusalem that hangs on the wall in the Israeli consulate, I handed her my papers through a little slot at the bottom of the window. 

"Shalom" she said with a smile. "Hi" I responded, apprehensive and scared. As soon as she saw my Travel Document her demeanor immediately changed. The smile was no longer there and there was very little small talk between us, as usual. After sifting through the paperwork I gave her she said: "where is your American Passport?" I explained to her that I did not have one and that my only Travel Document is the one she has in her hands. She was quiet for a few seconds and then said: "you don't have an American Passport?" suspicious that I was hiding information from her. "No!" I said. She was quiet for a little longer and then said: "Well, I am not sure we'll be able to extend your Travel Document." I felt the blood rushing to my head as this is my only means to get home! I asked her what she meant by that and she went on to tell me that since I had been living in the US and because I had a Green Card they would not extend my Travel Document. 

After taking a deep breath to try and control my temper I explained to her that a Green Card is not a Passport and I cannot use it to travel outside the US. My voice was shaky and I was getting more and more upset (and a mini shouting match ensued) so I asked her to explain to me what I needed to do. She told me to leave my paperwork and we would see what happens. 

A couple of weeks later I received a phone call from the lady telling me that she was able to extended my Travel Document but I would no longer be getting the "Returning Resident" VISA. Instead, I was given a 3 month tourist VISA. Initially I was happy to hear that the Travel Document was extended but then I realized that she said "tourist VISA". Why am I getting a tourist VISA to go home? Not wanting to argue with her about the 3 month VISA at the time so as not to jeopardize the extension of my Travel Document, I simply put that bit of information on the back burner and went on to explain to her that I wasn't going home in the next 3 months. She instructed me to come back and apply for another VISA when I did intend on going. She didn't add much and just told me that it was ready for pick-up. So I went to the Embassy and got my Travel Document and the tourist VISA that was stamped in it. 

My husband, my son and I were planning on going home to Palestine this summer. So a month before we were set to leave (July 8, 2008) I went to the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC , papers in hand, to ask for a VISA to go home. I, again, stood in line and watched others get VISAs to go to my home. When my turn came I walked up to the window; "Shalom" she said with a smile on her face, "Hi" I replied. I slipped the paperwork in the little slot under the bulletproof glass and waited for the usual reaction. I told her that I needed a returning resident VISA to go home. She took the paperwork and I gave her a check for the amount she requested and left the Embassy without incident. 

A few days ago I got a phone call from Dina at the Israeli Embassy telling me that she needed the expiration date of my Jordanian Passport and my Green Card. I had given them all the paperwork they needed time and time again and I thought it was a good way on their part to waste time so that I didn't get my VISA in time. Regardless, I called over and over again only to get their voice mail. I left a message with the information they needed but kept called every 10 minutes hoping to speak to someone to make sure that they received the information in an effort to expedite the tedious process. I finally got a hold of someone. I told her that I wanted to make sure they received the information I left on their voice mail and that I wanted to make sure that my paperwork was in order. She said, after consulting with someone in the background (I assume it was Dina), that I needed to fax copies of both my Jordanian Passport and my Green Card and that giving them the information over the phone wasn't acceptable. So I immediately made copies and faxed them to Dina. A few hours later my cell phone rang. "Zeina?" she said. "Yes" I replied, knowing exactly who it was and immediately asked her if she received the fax I sent. She said: "ehhh, I was not looking at your file when you called earlier but your Visa was denied and your ID and Travel Document are no longer valid." "Excuse me?" I said in disbelief. "Sorry, I cannot give you a visa and your ID and Travel Document are no longer valid. This decision came from Israel not from me." 

I cannot describe the feeling I got in the pit of my stomach. "Why?" I asked and Dina went on to tell me that it was because I had a Green Card. I tried to reason with Dina and to explain to her that they could not do that as this is my only means of travel home and that I wanted to see my parents, but to no avail. Dina held her ground and told me that I wouldn't be given the VISA and then said: "Let the Americans give you a Travel Document". 

I have always been a strong person and not one to show weakness but at that moment I lost all control and started crying while Dina was on the other end of the line holding my only legal documents linking me to my home. I began to plead with her to try and get the VISA and not revoke my documents; "put yourself in my shoes, what would you do? You want to go see your family and someone is telling you that you can't! What would you do? Forget that you're Israeli and that I'm Palestinian and think about this for a minute!" "Sorry" she said," I know but I can't do anything, the decision came from Israel ". I tried to explain to her over and over again that I could not travel without my Travel Document and that they could not do that - knowing that they could, and they had! 

This has been happening to many Palestinians who have a Jerusalem ID card. The Israeli government has been practicing and perfecting the art of ethnic cleansing since 1948 right under the nose of the world and no one has the power or the guts to do anything about it. Where else in the world does one have to beg to go to one's own home? Where else in the world does one have to give up their identity for the sole reason of living somewhere else for a period of time? Imagine if an American living in Spain for a few years wanted to go home only to be told by the American government that their American Passport was revoked and that they wouldn't be able to come back! 

If I were a Jew living anywhere around the world and had no ties to the area and had never set foot there, I would have the right to go any time I wanted and get an Israeli Passport. In fact, the Israelis encourage that. I however, am not Jewish but I was born and raised there, my parents, family and friends still live there and I cannot go back! I am neither a criminal nor a threat to one of the most powerful countries in the world, yet I am alienated and expelled from my own home. 

As it stands right now, I will be unable to go home - I am one of many. 

FOR MORE INFO on this cruel Israeli policy see:


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Friday, June 27, 2008

[ePalestine] UN: Israel violated truce 7 times in one week (Just for the record) (Israeli News site linked to Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth)

UN: Israel violated truce 7 times in one week 

UN records 7 incidents of IDF soldiers attempting to drive Palestinian farmers away from border fence by shooting at them. Only one offence marked against Palestinians for firing on Sderot; report does not include most recent rocket fire 

Roi Mandel 
Published:  06.27.08, 00:31 / Israel News 

Since it went into effect last week, at least eight violations of the new ceasefire agreement with Hamas and the Palestinian factions have been recorded, a UN source told Ynet on Thursday. According to the source, seven violations were committed by the IDF, while the Palestinians are responsible for just one. 

However the UN report does not include the Qassam fire launched towards the Negev during the day. "It is important that both sides honor the ceasefire, in order for it to be the first constructive step towards a wider and more extensive peace process between the sides," the source said.  

Most of the offences committed by the IDF include shots fired by soldiers at Palestinian farmers attempting to reach their land near the border security fence. According to the UN, on June 20 an IDF patrol shot at Palestinian farmers near the fence east of Rafah. The soldiers fired for ten minutes in order to drive the farmers away, but no injuries were reported. 

During the evening of the same day a similar incident was recorded, in which IDF forces shot at Palestinian farmers near the Maghazi refugee camp. Soldiers reportedly fired for five minutes, and no injuries were reported. An hour later soldiers fired towards fisherman near the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya in an attempt to drive them away. 

Early on June 21 Navy forces opened fire in the same area, and later the same morning forces fired towards Palestinians near the Maghazi refugee camp. No injuries were reported in either case. 

70-year old Jamil al-Gahoul was injured from IDF fire two days later, when an army patrol opened fire on a group of Palestinians reportedly gathering wood near Beit Lahiya at 7 am. 

Only one Palestinian offence 

The first violation committed by the Palestinians was recorded a day later, on June 24, when Islamic Jihad fired three rockets at Sderot from the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun. 

On Wednesday morning IDF forces opened fire towards Palestinian farmers near the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis. An 82-year old man was seriously injured from the fire, which lasted a few minutes. 

Regarding the accusations against Israel the IDF stated that no attacks had been carried out in the Gaza Strip during the past few days, but that some incidents had occurred in which IDF soldiers had carried out operations.  

Israel and Hamas have accused each other of violating the ceasefire agreement. Following the rocket fire at Sderot, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the fire constitutes a blatant violation of the truce. Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided that the Gaza border crossings would remain closed following the fire, causing Hamas to accuse Israel of infringement of the agreement.  

Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report 


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[ePalestine] LECTURE SERIES: Sam Bahour and Shir Hever

Ramallah Friends Meeting "Quakers" 


Towards a Just Society and the Role of the People 

The Economics of Occupation and the Business of Development:
A Critical Look at Economic, Business and Palestinian Rights 

Where: Ramallah Friends Meetinghouse

When: May 14, 2008



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Saturday, June 21, 2008

[ePalestine] UNICEF cuts ties to Israeli billionaire Leviev (SUPPORT UNICEF's decision: WRITE-CALL-DONATE)


UNICEF cuts ties to Israeli billionaire Leviev 

Fri Jun 20, 2008 5:33pm EDT 
By Daniel Trotta 

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.N. children's fund UNICEF has severed ties with an Israeli billionaire and financial backer due to his suspected involvement in building settlements in the occupied West Bank, UNICEF said on Friday. 

Lev Leviev, a real estate and diamond mogul who is one of the richest men in Israel, has supported UNICEF with direct contributions and indirectly by sponsoring at least one UNICEF fund-raiser. 

He is chairman of Africa Israel Investments, a conglomerate whose units include Danya Cebus, which the Arab rights advocacy group Adalah-NY charges has carried out settlement construction, considered illegal by the United Nations. 

UNICEF decided to review its relationship with Leviev after a campaign by Adalah-NY and found "at least a reasonable grounds for suspecting" that Leviev companies were building settlements in occupied territory, a UNICEF official said. 

"I can confirm that UNICEF has advised Adalah in New York that it will not be entering into any partnerships or accepting financial contributions from Lev Leviev or his corporate people," Chris de Bono, a senior adviser to the executive director of UNICEF, told Reuters. 

"We are aware of the controversy surrounding Mr. Leviev because of his reported involvement in construction work in the occupied Palestinian territory," de Bono said, adding that it was UNICEF's policy to have partners who were "as non-controversial as possible." 

UNICEF could not say how much Leviev had donated as an individual. In his only known partnership with UNICEF, Leviev last year donated jewelry to a fashion event in France that benefited the French national committee for UNICEF, de Bono said. 

Representatives of Leviev's jewelry and real estate businesses were not immediately available to comment on Friday, in part because of religious observances after dark in Israel. 

(Editing by Todd Eastham) 


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Monday, June 16, 2008

[ePalestine] Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (MUST SEE FOR ALL AMERICAN SUBSCRIBERS)

Dear friends, 

This is a short 13 minute (in two parts) history lesson that speaks volumes.  It is a MUST SEE for all AMERICAN SUBSCRIBERS, especially the mothers that are quietly wondering if their sons and daughters will be sent to Iran, some, sadly, will be shipped from from Iraq.

Living the tragedy of Palestine after total and multiple US and UK catastrophes, the parallels are too painful.

The video links below are a talk by Stephen Kinzer, author of "Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq." He is a former New York Times foreign correspondent and author of several books, including "All the Shah’s Men" and "Bitter Fruit."

More from this speaker may be found at Democracy Now from March 03, 2008: 

Stop this madness NOW, electing a new President is NOT enough,


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[ePalestine] The American Conservative: The Spy Who Loves Us

June 2, 2008 Issue 

The Spy Who Loves Us 

Pay no mind to the Mossad agent on the line. 

by Philip Giraldi 

After Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard was sentenced to life in prison in 1986, the U.S. negotiated an understanding with Israel—a “gentlemen’s agreement” —stipulating that neither nation would thenceforth conduct espionage operations in the other’s territory without consent. But the agreement was a sham from the beginning. The Israeli government didn’t even honor its commitments in the aftermath of the Pollard case, failing to return the estimated 360 cubic feet of stolen information to enable the U.S. to conduct a damage assessment. The United States, for its part, continued to recruit and run agents inside Israel throughout the 1980s and 1990s. And it was known within the intelligence and counterintelligence communities that Israel did the same in the United States. David Szady, the FBI’s assistant director for counterintelligence, was so dismayed by the level of Israeli spying in the late ’90s that he called in the head of the Israeli Embassy’s Central Institute for Intelligence and Special Activities (Mossad) office and told him, “Knock it off.” 

Pollard’s name was in the news again on April 22, when former U.S. Army weapons engineer Ben-Ami Kadish was arrested for passing secrets to Israel. Kadish had been an agent run by Yosef Yagur, who directed Pollard. Yagur, under cover as a science attaché at the Israeli Consulate General in New York, fled the U.S. in 1985 after Pollard was arrested, but remained in touch with Kadish. 


The arrest revived suspicions that Israeli agents might still be operating inside the U.S., most particularly “Mega,” whose cover name was revealed in an NSA-intercepted conversation between two Israeli intelligence officers. “Mega” was clearly at the policymaker level, as Kadish and Pollard frequently sought files by name or number. Someone more senior in Washington appeared to be directing the Israeli handlers toward sensitive information. Whoever “Mega” was, he is still at large. 

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arieh Mekel sought to play down the allegations, noting, “Since 1985 there have been clear orders from prime ministers not to conduct these kinds of activities.” The media obediently reported the disclaimer under headlines such as Agence France Presse’s: “Israel says no spying on US since 1985.” But the spokesman had not said that. He referred to “these kinds of activities,” possibly meaning the recruitment of American Jews to work as Israeli intelligence agents. Mekel’s half-hearted denial was a step removed from the Israeli government’s reaction to the 2004 investigation of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, when then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev insisted that Israel “does not spy on the United States of America.” 

It’s possible that Israel has largely demurred from recruiting American Jews as spies, but Tel Aviv’s intelligence operations in the U.S. have undeniably continued. The magnitude of Israeli espionage is certainly known to some senior government officials and is hidden in classified files. But even evidence available in public records attests to widespread infiltration. 

Spy operations run by a case officer directly involving a controlled agent are only one of many tasks delegated to an intelligence service. Other responsibilities might include tapping into communications networks, directing agents of influence in the foreign government who can enable favorable policy decisions, running covert actions that feed misleading information to the media, and arranging technology transfers that frequently rely on companies that are either fronts or co-operating with the intelligence service to obtain secret military or commercial information. Even if Israel has stopped recruiting American Jews—and that is by no means certain—it nevertheless continues to carry out many core intelligence operations in the United States. 

Israel has little need to run agents of influence here as its intelligence officers, diplomats, and politicians already have unfettered access to policymakers. It has been reported that the Pentagon under Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith—both of whom have been investigated for passing classified information to Israel—took few steps to monitor Israeli visitors. Likewise, the Israeli Embassy has excellent access to the media. When it wants to plant propaganda or place stories intended to shape opinion in a direction favorable to Israel, the Mossad generally looks to the British press. Rupert Murdoch’s Times group of newspapers and the Daily Telegraph, formerly owned by Conrad Black, have featured many articles that clearly originated with Israeli government sources. Such pieces are often picked up and replayed in the United States. 

Virtually every U.S. government body concerned with security has confirmed that Israeli espionage takes place, though it is frequently not exposed because FBI officers know that investigating these crimes is frustrating and does no favors for their careers. But Israel always features prominently in the annual FBI report called “Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage.” The 2005 report states, “Israel has an active program to gather proprietary information within the United States. These collection activities are primarily directed at obtaining information on military systems and advanced computing applications that can be used in Israel’s sizable armaments industry.” It adds that Israel recruits spies, uses electronic methods, and carries out computer intrusion to gain the information. 

The focus on U.S. military secrets is not limited to information needed for the defense of Israel, as was argued when Pollard was arrested. Some of the information he stole was of such value that many high-ranking intelligence officers believe the Soviet Union agreed to the release of tens of thousands of Russian Jews for resettlement in Israel in exchange. In early 1996, the Office of Naval Investigations concluded that Israel had transferred sensitive military technology to China. In 2000, the Israeli government attempted to sell China the sophisticated Phalcon early warning aircraft, which was based on U.S.-licensed technology. A 2005 FBI report noted that the thefts eroded U.S. military advantage, enabling foreign powers to obtain hugely expensive technologies that had taken years to develop. 

In 1996, ten years after the agreement that concluded the Pollard affair, the Pentagon’s Defense Investigative Service warned defense contractors that Israel had “espionage intentions and capabilities” here and was aggressively trying to steal military and intelligence secrets. It also cited a security threat posed by individuals who have “strong ethnic ties” to Israel, stating that “Placing Israeli nationals in key industries … is a technique utilized with great success.” The memo cited illegal transfer of proprietary information from an Illinois optics firm in 1986, after the Pollard arrest, as well as the theft of test equipment for a radar system in the mid-1980s. A storm of outrage from the Anti-Defamation League led to the Pentagon’s withdrawal of the memo, an apology that predictably blamed the language on “a low-ranking individual,” and a promise that no similar warning would be written again. 

But the issue of Israeli spying would not go away. Soon after, the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, completed an examination of espionage directed against American defense and security industries. The report described how Israeli citizens residing in the U.S. had stolen sensitive technology to manufacture artillery gun tubes, obtained classified plans for a reconnaissance system, and passed sensitive aerospace designs to unauthorized users. An Israeli company was caught monitoring a Department of Defense telecommunications system to obtain classified information, while other Israeli entities targeted avionics, missile telemetry, aircraft communications, software systems, and advanced materials and coatings used in missile re-entry. Independently, a Defense Department source confirmed the GAO report, citing “dozens of other spy cases within the U.S. Defense industry.” The GAO concluded that Israel “conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any U.S. ally.” 

In early 2001, several federal government agencies noticed a series of intrusive approaches by Israelis who were ostensibly selling paintings. In June, the Drug Enforcement Administration made a compilation of the activities of the so-called “art students” in a classified report, which was later leaked. The report documents 125 specific attempts by Israelis to gain entry to government offices, residences of government employees, and even Defense Department facilities between January and June 2001. The Israelis “targeted and penetrated military bases” and were observed trying to enter federal buildings from back doors and parking garages. One detained Israeli was caught wandering around the federal building in Dallas with a detailed floor plan in hand. Many of those arrested were found to have backgrounds in “military intelligence, electronic surveillance intercept, or explosive ordnance units.” 

Now, there may have been an Israeli student subculture in the U.S. selling cheap reproductions. But it is also clear that the art-student mechanism was used by intelligence officers to provide cover for espionage. The students were organized in cells of eight to ten members that traveled in vans, which provide concealment for electronic equipment. Several of the students were able to afford expensive airline tickets to hop from plane to plane, two of them flying in one day from Hamburg to Miami, then to Chicago, and finally winding up in Toronto on tickets that cost $15,000 each. In Miami and Chicago, they visited two government officials to try to sell their art. Another student had in his possession deposit slips for $180,000. Six students used cellphones provided by a former Israeli vice consul. Many claimed to be registered at either the University of Jerusalem or the Bezalel Academy of Arts in Jerusalem, but not a single name could be connected to the student body list of Bezalel, and there is no University of Jerusalem. 

It is plausible that the art students who were actually intelligence officers might have been seeking entry to DEA facilities to gain access to confidential databases. If the broader Israeli espionage effort was focused on Arabs in the United States, such information would be invaluable. The DEA report concluded cautiously that the Israelis “might well be engaged in organized intelligence gathering.” Of the 140 art students arrested, most were deported for immigration violations. Some were just let go. 

And then there are the movers. Urban Moving Systems of Weehawken, New Jersey was largely staffed by Israelis, many of whom had recently been discharged from the Israeli Defense Forces. As has been widely reported, three movers were photographed celebrating in Liberty State Park against the backdrop of the first collapsing World Trade Center tower. The celebration came 16 minutes after the first plane struck, when no one knew that there had been a terrorist attack and the episode was assumed to be a horrible accident. The owner of the moving company, Dominik Suter, was questioned once by the FBI before fleeing to Israel. He has since refused to answer questions. 

Whether the movers and the art students had jointly pieced together enough information to provide a preview of 9/11 remains hidden in intelligence files in Tel Aviv, but the proximity of both groups to 15 of the hijackers in Hollywood, Florida and to five others in northern New Jersey is suggestive. 

Speculation about 9/11 aside, it is certain that Urban Moving was involved in an intelligence- collection operation against Arabs living in the United States, possibly involving electronic surveillance of phone calls and other communications. When they were arrested, the five Israelis working for Urban Moving had multiple passports and nearly $5,000 in cash. They were held for 71 days, failed a number of polygraph exams, and were finally allowed to return to Israel after Tel Aviv admitted that they were Mossad and apologized. 

Between 55 and 95 other Israelis were also arrested in the weeks following 9/11, and a number were reported to be active-duty military personnel. The FBI came under intense pressure from several congressmen and various pro-Israel groups to release the detainees. The order to free them came from Judge Michael Mukasey, now the U.S. attorney general. An FBI investigator noted, “Leads were not fully investigated” due to pressure from “higher echelons.” According to one source, the White House may have made the final decision to terminate the inquiry. Though the investigation could have gone much farther, the FBI identified two of the Weehawken movers as Israeli intelligence officers and confirmed that Urban Moving was a front for Mossad to “spy on local Arabs.” One CIA officer involved in the investigation concluded, “The Israelis likely had a huge spy operation.” 

In May 2004, there were two incidents involving Israelis in moving vans in proximity to U.S. nuclear facilities. One occurred in Tennessee near the Nuclear Fuel Services plant, which reprocesses nuclear waste from hospitals. The van was pursued by the local sheriff for three miles after refusing to pull over. The two fleeing Israelis, who threw a bottle containing an accelerant, had in their possession Israeli military ID’s and false U.S. documents. In the second incident, two movers in a van tried to enter the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia, which is home to eight Trident nuclear submarines, but were arrested when dogs detected drugs inside their vehicle. The men had military ID’s and false documents. There was no follow-up by the FBI even though both incidents were reported to federal authorities. 

There have also been reports of intensive targeting of U.S. government facilities overseas. In late 2001, State Department security noted a series of incidents at diplomatic missions and military bases, all involving Israelis. It described many of the incidents as “bizarre.” In one instance, French police arrested several Israelis at 2 a.m. after they were observed taking numerous photos of the U.S. embassy in Paris. As it was dark, their behavior was unusual to say the least—or perhaps not since it was revealed that the Israelis were using infrared film to detect communications equipment in the embassy. 

In August 2004, the media discovered an FBI investigation, begun in 1999, involving Pentagon intelligence analyst Larry Franklin. He had openly met Israeli Embassy intelligence officer Naor Gilon as well as two AIPAC officials, director Steve Rosen and chief analyst Keith Weissman. He pleaded guilty in October 2005 to revealing classified information and is now serving a 12-year prison sentence. Rosen and Weissman are currently on trial. If the prosecution is correct, Franklin passed classified information relating to Iran to both AIPAC employees, who in turn provided the information to the Israeli Embassy. The defense has argued that such exchanges are routine in Washington, particularly between close allies such as Israel and the U.S., but that is a dubious reading of events. Passing classified information and documents is not the same as casual political conversation over a cup of coffee. If Israel had stopped spying on the United States, Gilon should have refused to receive the information provided by Franklin. He might even have gone through official channels to report Franklin’s activity. He did neither. Nor did Rosen and Weissman object when they received information that they knew to be classified. Instead, they passed it on to the Israelis. 

In June 2006, it was revealed that the Pentagon had begun to deny security clearances to American Jews who had family in Israel. Israelis seeking security approval to work for American defense contractors were also finding it increasingly difficult to obtain clearances. A Pentagon administrative judge overruled an appeal by one of the Israelis, stating, “The Israeli government is actively engaged in military and industrial espionage in the United States. An Israeli citizen working in the US who has access to proprietary information is likely to be a target of such espionage.” 

Israel conducts much of its high-tech spying through its corporate presence in the United States. It is heavily embedded in the telecommunications industry, which permits access to the exchange of information. The Whitewater investigation revealed that President Bill Clinton warned Monica Lewinsky that their phone-sex conversations might have been recorded by a foreign government. That foreign government would have been Israel, where government and business work hand-in-hand in the high-tech sector, and many former government officials and military officers hold senior management positions. The corporations, in return, receive large contracts with the Israeli government and the Israel Defense Forces. 

Two Israeli companies in particular—Amdocs and Comverse Infosys, both of which are headquartered in Israel—do significant business in the United States. Amdocs, which has contracts with the 25 largest telephone companies in the U.S. that together handle 90 percent of all calls made, logs all calls that go out and come in on the system. It does not record the conversations themselves, but the records provide patterns, referred to as “traffic analysis,” that can provide intelligence leads. In 1999, the National Security Agency warned that records of calls made in the United States were winding up in Israel. Amdocs also has an apparent relationship with some of the art students who were arrested in 2001. Several were provided with bond money by an Amdocs executive. 

Comverse Infosys provides wiretapping equipment to law enforcement throughout the United States and also has large contracts with the Israeli government, which reimburses up to 50 percent of the company’s research and development costs. Because equipment used to tap phones for law enforcement is integrated into the networks that phone companies operate, it cannot be detected. Phone calls are intercepted, recorded, stored, and transmitted to investigators by Comverse, which claims that it has to be “hands on” with its equipment to maintain the system. Many experts believe that it is relatively easy to create a so-called “back door” that permits the recording to be sent to a second party, unknown to the authorized law- enforcement recipient. And Comverse equipment has never been inspected by FBI or NSA experts to determine whether the information it collects can be leaked, reportedly because senior government managers block such inquiries. 

According to a Fox News investigative report, which was later deleted from Fox’s website under pressure from various pro-Israel groups, DEA and FBI sources say that even to suggest that Israel might be spying using Comverse “is considered career suicide.” 

A number of criminal investigations using Comverse equipment have apparently come to dead ends when the targets abruptly change their telecommunications methods, suggesting at a minimum that Comverse employees might be leaking sensitive information to Israeli organized crime. 

The chickens occasionally come home to roost. In 2002, Israeli espionage might have been directed against the U.S. Congress, which has so assidiously ignored Tel Aviv’s spying. Congressman Bob Ney, currently in prison for corruption, arranged a noncompetitive bid for the Israeli telecommunications company Foxcom Wireless to install equipment to improve cellphone reception in the Capitol and House office buildings. Foxcom, based in Jerusalem, has been linked to imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Telecommunications security experts note that equipment that can be used to enhance or improve a signal can also be used to redirect the phone conversation to another location for recording and analysis. The possibility that someone in the Israeli Embassy might be listening to congressmen’s private phone conversations is intriguing to say the least. 

Some might argue that collecting intelligence is a function of government and that espionage, even between friends, will always take place. But the intensity and persistence of Israeli spying against the United States is particularly disturbing since Israel relies so heavily on American political and military support.  Other allies like Britain, France, and Germany undoubtedly have spies in Washington, but there is a line that they do not cross. 

Given the stakes involved, it would be reasonable for the United States to quietly offer Israel’s leaders a choice. They can continue to receive billions of dollars in aid, or they can persist in spying against their greatest benefactor. They should not be permitted to do both.     


Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Officer, is a fellow at the American Conservative Defense Alliance. 

Copyright © 2008 The American Conservative


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Saturday, June 14, 2008

[ePalestine] Israel paying heavy economic price for occupying Palestinian territories

Middle East Online

Israel paying heavy economic price for occupying Palestinian territories 

Israeli occupation caused doubling of poor families in country, negatively affected tourism industry. 

JERUSALEM - The occupation of the Palestinian territories is exacting a high price from Israel, a local think-tank said. 

"The prolonged conflict with the Palestinians is a millstone around Israel's neck," Adva, a social justice NGO, said in a 4 June report, The cost of the occupation

Israel's poor carry much of the burden as inequality within the country grows. The percentage of families considered poor has doubled since the 1970s, the report said, noting this was due to the conflict and partially the result of immigrants from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union being unable to integrate in Israeli society. 

Government spending cuts in recent years have targeted social services. "[From] 2001 through 2005, child allowances were cut by 45 percent, unemployment compensation by 47 percent, and income maintenance by 25 percent," causing increased suffering for the poorest. 

While generally seen as an economic powerhouse with a growing economy, Adva said Israel was actually lagging behind other countries. In the last decade, Israel's economy grew by 43 percent compared to the world average of 67 percent. The US and Western Europe's economies grew by 68 percent, the Gulf nations saw theirs expand by 174 percent, and China topped 193 percent. 

Israel is also falling behind neighbouring countries such as Egypt and Jordan in terms of tourism. 

"We live in denial of the price. We act as if there is no cost to the continuation of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and must realise there is a heavy one," Shlomo Swirski, the academic director of Adva told IRIN. 

The Tel Aviv-based NGO pointed out that the building of the barrier in the West Bank, which Israel says it needs for security reasons, is estimated to have cost 13 billion shekels (nearly US$3.9 billion). 

More generally, the increases in the military budget amounted to 36 billion shekels (US$10.7 billion) between 1989 and 2008, Adva estimated, which is "more than the total spending for elementary, secondary and tertiary education in Israel in 2008". 

The total amount spent on running the occupation is much higher, but cannot be calculated "because most of the budget books about defence expenditures are secret". 



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Friday, June 13, 2008

[ePalestine] 'Jewish settler attack' on film / settlers fabricate kidnapping / Book Review: Palestine Inside Out – An Everyday Occupation

'Jewish settler attack' on film 
By Tim Franks 
BBC News, Jerusalem 


This is the kind of news you will never hear about in your mainstream paper:


IDF furious after settlers fabricate kidnapping

I wonder how many children were shocked into fear or revenge for the rest of their life because of the house to house searches?!!  My daughter still vividly remembers the two searches of our house, and that was over 6 yeas ago!


Book Review

Palestine Inside Out - An Everyday Occupation
By Jim Miles
Jun 11, 2008, 04:06

Palestine Inside Out – An Everyday Occupation
By Saree Makdisi
W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 2008

This has been one of the most difficult books that I have ever read.  It removed me from my academic detachment with which I read the majority of books and took me into emotions ranging from frustration, sadness, melancholy through to anger and belligerence.  A compelling read, yet at the same time I had to put it down every so many pages in order to contemplate, digest, or simply escape what in sum could be called the constant inhuman brutality of one human against another.  It is a brutality that is as much psychological as physical, as much emotional as bodily.  While the media presents a relatively constant stream of news violence from Israel-Palestine, with the Israelis purportedly “responding” to Palestinian “terrorists”, the truth of life for the average Palestinian is not just this asymmetrical violence, but the daily violence perpetrated by the occupation, a collective punishment on the Palestinian population that “because the destruction is routine, it generally takes place out of the view of the global media.”  It is death, destruction, eviction, genocide by a million cuts, applied over and over and over with full control of the geographical and               
cultural landscapes under the rule of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).


Ilana Hammerman’s letter to an Israeli soldier who responded to a report that she wrote after a tour in Hebron

Hebrew original of Ilana’s letter to the soldier: 

Ilana Hammerman original report (Hebrew): 

A letter from the soldier Yair Tzur 

Date: 28 April 2008 


Subject: Response to report that you wrote in Hebron, Monday 21 April 2008 in the afternoon 

Reply to Ilana Hammerman regarding and incident written up in report from Hebron on 21 April 08 (Roni H, Vivi Z., Hagit S and Ilana H.) 

Regarding the incident with the 14-year-old boy: 

“… their weapons were slung.” – Soldiers’ weapons have straps and they are always slung. There is no other way to carry them. These are not small weapons like pistols that can be tucked away. I think it is better that the guns are hanging that way than if the soldiers were always holding them in their hands. 

“… some of the soldiers went off to stand with pointed weapons in front of a woman who apparently wanted to free the boy they were holding …” – the guns of the soldiers were not pointed. It is a blatant error to write such a thing in order to create a harsh image. You are shamelessly trying to draw a picture that is completely different from what is happening on the ground. The guns of the soldiers were hanging from straps on their shoulders because if it were not that way their lives and yours would be in danger. Moreover, the woman does not have the right to liberate the boy who had committed a serious crime, and for which he had been arrested. 

“Meanwhile, jeeps had already had been summoned to the scene of the security incident also Jeeps on one of the many communications devices that were dangling in various ways from their uniforms.” – The Jeeps that were at the scene of the incident had not been summoned and nothing occurred as it was described. You arrived at the pharmacy checkpoint when there were many soldiers on the scene, without any connection to the incident. The Jeeps and the soldiers you described had nothing to do with the boy. 

“Not only because of their age but mainly because of the many gadgets that swelled them up and bulked up their bodies, bodies that, when their owners (of the bodies) are in their other world, the private one, the intimate one, are maybe even skinny” – you write in a way that is intended to humiliate the soldiers. I am sure that you would not want similar things to be written about you on the Internet to be seen by everybody. In my opinion such writing is scornful and humiliating, and it is inappropriate. 

Moreover, curses and replies like those you gave to the soldiers who were present at the scene shame your position. You are showing weakness and abase yourselves when you curse soldiers. There is no place for a group of people like you for the purpose of observation. 

The boy was taken to the police precisely as should have been done, when a boy throws stones (or more accuratly, rocks) at an infantry patrol. This is not an armoured vehicle but people, flesh and blood, at whom rocks were thrown, contrary to what you wrote in the report. 

I have nothing to add, except that you know very well how to see one side and to write everything from your point of view, without at all seeing the other sides, and you describe; then you draw the pictures in a distorted way, much worse than what actually happened. I will be happy if you reply, 



Hello Yair: 

I am the one who wrote the report of Machsom Watch that you replied to and I want, and it is important to me, to reply to you. I was glad that you took the trouble to write to us, and not with curses, but rather on the substance of the matter. It is clear from your letter that you are a person who cares. The most important thing to me is to reply to concerns – this concern surely indeed impels you sometimes to look around you, and not only from the point of view of a soldier but rather from the point of view of a human being. From that point of view it is impossible not to see the situation in Hebron in a comprehensive way: the centre of the city that has become a ghetto for thousands of its thousands of Palestinian residents (after over twenty thousand of them were forced to leave their homes), and has become the exclusive domain of the Jewish residents. The checkpoints that you guard are a part of that whole system, and there is nothing worse in all the Occupied Territories. There the army has become, nearly like the Palestinians, subject to the whims of a few hundred Jewish residents, of whom the vast majority are zealots, nationalists and racists. I heard their words more than once and I have read the words that they write. More than that: many of them, including small children, are also violent – sometimes very violent. 

These are facts – and not utterances that stem from my personal outlook. There is abundant evidence for these facts, and it is unlikely that you have not seen with your own eyes when you serve there and not read them in the newspapers and in other sources of information. Just recently (in the newspaper Haaretz, the weekly supplement 18 April 2008) the senior journalist Zvi Barel described in depth and in detail the sequence of events since the creation of the Jewish settlement, that very rapidly led to a situation in which the Israeli soldiers stationed in Hebron became servants at the beck and call of the settlers, which has led more than once to extensive humiliation and even abuse of soldiers. Barel’s article is based also on the writer’s personal experience: he was the deputy military governor of Hebron, no less! And he writes: “teeming Hebron became a ghost town under the protection of the army”. And he gives a very long series of precise examples of the way in which, since then to this very day, soldiers have been subject to the will of the settlers, and if they do not submit to them, then they are punished at their hands in various ways, and in the end they obey them: “the IDF” he writes, “cannot take pride in the legacy of its battle with the settlers”. Those words were also told to me by many soldiers in Hebron – soldiers who only waited for a moment in which they could finally get away from that place that they see as accursed. And those facts have also been documented in writing in various places, in testimony of soldiers of various political views, not just people of the Left, not at all. 

And please, don’t tell me that you are defending my life. Soldiers like you who serve there did not defend me when I stood near the “House of Contention” in Hebron, with one other woman from Machsom Watch, the two of us alone, mature women: we stood and watched, we did not say a word and we did not do a thing and we made no provocation. And suddenly eggs were thrown at us from the roof and the children that were there surrounded me and began – with the vocal encouragement of their parents – to kick me and to hurl a large ball at me. Four soldiers were standing there, two beside a checkpoint that was beside the house and two by the entrance to the house. I asked them to get my attackers away from me and to catch the egg-throwers that were standing on the roof. The soldiers sniggered, they didn’t move from where they were standing and they didn’t lift a finger. And regarding the eggs, they said: how do we know that it was not Palestinians who threw the eggs at you? Not long ago there was a much more serious scene with members of the German parliament, official guests of the government of Israel, whom the settlers abused and the army did not defend, and they were forced to flee from there. But those matters are so well known and documented, that it is unlikely that you do not know. And as one who serves there – maybe you were even one of those soldiers who did not defend those who were attacked? I ask you this question in all seriousness; not to provoke you. 

More than once the army claimed on such occasions that it does not have enough manpower to deal with the settlers: I have also heard that pretext with my own ears, because I have been to Hebron on many occasions. However, this army that is too frail to deal with kicking toddlers and their parents who incite them, this army saw fit to surround with about fifteen soldiers, a skinny boy of about fifteen [in June he will turn fifteen]. That is the incident that I documented, among others, and to which you replied [and why do you not respond about the blockaded house I described in my report?]. Maybe that boy threw stones at you or even rocks (afterwards the soldiers showed me some stones that they claimed had been thrown at them on the street: I did not see there a single rock, just small stones) – were so many armed soldiers necessary against a youth, a boy, whose hands were already cuffed and who was blindfolded? And don’t say that it was not fifteen soldiers who surrounded him: true, you were not summoned to the scene, you gathered from nearby streets. And you surrounded him. I saw that scene, and I also photographed it, and what I recorded in the report was correct in every detail. A few moments before that only three or four soldiers were standing at the checkpoint, and when the handcuffed boy was brought there many surrounded him. After a few moments they dispersed and the boy was taken away. Regarding the jeeps: there was only one jeep on the scene, and afterwards one more came along, and that’s the one that took the boy. Is it really all that important whether it was specially summoned or not? Two jeeps, many soldiers and one boy and one woman – that was the picture. You moved us aside and demanded that we stand on the other side of the barrier. True, we were angry at what we saw [we yelled; we did not curse], and I also wrote that, frankly and honestly. Believe me, that scene would be infuriating to anyone whose senses have not yet been dulled. 

Yes, I described you with precision: why don’t you try to describe yourself under those circumstances, you who did not respond to me when settler families attacked me, how you looked when you stood around a single boy and separated him from his aunt, who at any rate could not have rescued him from you. And maybe you can explain to me why you blindfolded that boy? Did you ask yourself why that humiliation was necessary? Were there military secrets to be seen there? Does that boy not see, every day, the checkpoint and you and the whole terrible environment to which his home has been converted for the sake of the few hundred Jews who settled there in the first place in complete violation of every law and afterwards compelled the governments of Israel to authorize their residence there and to send massive military forces to defend them? Military forces that have become more and more harsh the more depressing the conditions there have become. They are humiliating to the soldiers themselves, to put it mildly. 

And maybe it would even be worthwhile for you to put yourself just once in the place of that boy? And not only in Hebron, although that place, as has been said, is the worst of all. Put yourself in his place and in the place of his aunt and his father and many others to whom you serve in close proximity as a policeman according to laws that were not intended for policemen in a normal state. Have you asked yourself once how millions of civilians in the Territories have been living for decades now, behind enclosures and encirclement and roadblocks? And it is not a matter of one’s political perspective on the conflict: there is no other place in a democratic country in the world in which civilians have been living like that for such a long time, decades under occupation. There is no army in the world that has the right to fight that way against civilians for such a long time, which has become a permanent arrangement, not a temporary situation. 

It is not just and not wise, especially not wise: by no means will we be able to live like this in peace and security in the long run. Not only are you not defending my life, you are even endangering it with the actions that you are ordered to carry out against civilians, men, women and children – under the cover of “war on terror”, as if all of them were terrorists. You are endangering me and us with the hatred that you and your comrades are sowing in the neighbourhoods and houses every day and every night. Indeed with my own eyes I see again and again the actions that you carry out, and I am not exaggerating: the destruction that soldiers leave behind them in houses [I saw!], the humiliations at the checkpoints and on the streets and the highways [I saw and heard and read them!]. Have you once put yourself in the place of those people that you are supposedly defending me against? I have put myself in their place in my thoughts and I travel every week to see their situation in the villages and in the cities and I am well-received by them [as a Jew and an Israeli, not as someone who identifies with terror], and I do not need you to defend me at all when I’m there. In their houses they even take extraordinary care of me, according to the code of hospitality that is sacred to them. I fear you more than I fear them. Because the moment you or your comrades appear in some civilian area, for example at the gates of a school, and the trouble begins, then I am liable to be in danger. Believe me: these things I have seen with my own eyes, I am not spouting slogans to you. And if behind all this I have my own outlook, it is not a “leftist” outlook, but the outlook that was bequeathed to me by my parents, who were persecuted in Europe, and it was they who taught me not to be silent when human rights are violated so; and I am not silent and I will not be silent. 

Against that background, of what importance is it why your rifles were slung over your shoulders and if all the rifles were pointed and if it is possible to hold rifles in a way different to the way you were holding them in front of the boy and his aunt? You simply have nothing to seek from them there in the middle of the city, at that asinine checkpoint, with all your weapons and communications devices. You have become heroes facing down women and old people and children – if once you look a little bit beyond the end of the barrel of your rifle, it is impossible that you will not see and feel that. Many soldiers have already gone off the rails because of that, and we, we care about you too and about what happens to you, our sons and the sons of our friends. And we, all of us, feel that Israeli society too, not only in the Territories – has become more and more violent and corrupt. Many studies have been conducted on this matter. I can’t believe that you never think about these things! They’re humiliating you more than the Palestinians when they send you to do that kind of service. 

But for all that, as long as I can, I and my friends will come to these places where you are serving and we’ll watch you and document you, and we will publish what we see as much as we can: and we can. It is not from weakness that we are doing this, but from the strong depth of our humanity and also of our Jewishness – yes! 

In your reply you wrote: “I have nothing to add, except that you know very well how to see one side and to write everything from your point of view, without at all seeing the other sides, and you draw an image that is much worse and more distorted than what is happening in reality.” 

Then maybe this letter of mine to you, which was written out of concern and pain, as you can recognize, will convince you that it is nearly certain that it is none other than you who does not see the other sides, not those of the Palestinians and not those of Israelis like me, who are worthy citizens of this state at least as much as you are – and we have an absolute right and even a duty to struggle for its humanity and sanity and also for the security of the society that we live in. 

And another thing I wanted to write to you in reply to your letter: I did not mean to humiliate you when I wrote how you might look without your uniforms and without all your military gear. Exactly the contrary: I intended to say that without them maybe you are nice good-looking youths and not the thuggish louts that you look like at the checkpoints and when you are patrolling there in the streets of Hebron in front of the closed shops and the fences and the people who are confined behind them and when you are peering into the miserable shops that remain there and arbitrarily detain people for no reason as they are walking to their homes or to their work or to other places they have to go to. 

I will be gratified if you read everything I have written, and before you get angry, take a little time to think. 

And in conclusion, here is the testimony of a soldier who served recently in Hebron and who evidently looked around him: 

“If I stand at a checkpoint that prevents people from going to places that they clearly have to go to, that is to say, sometimes they cannot go between the grocery store and their home because I am standing there, it makes no difference how polite I am. I do not need to be cruel to them for it to be wrong. I can be the politest person and it will still not be OK, because from their point of view it is not that I am being nice to them – I am still not letting them go to their home – what’s the difference if I try to be polite? What’s the difference, if I am humiliating them at the same time? The checkpoint itself is a humiliation. As long as I fulfil my role according to the regulations, according to all the laws, doing something completely legal, I am still doing something that harms people, and harms them in a gratuitous way. I am guarding, or ensuring the existence, of 500 settlers at the expense of 15,000 people in a direct occupation in Area H2 and another 140,000-160,000 in Hebron around it. And it makes no difference how decent I try to be, it makes no difference how decent my commander tries to be, it just … it will not be OK. I will still be their enemy. There will still be a conflict between us, and sometimes when I’m nice to them that makes problems for me because then they have somebody to argue with and somebody to appeal to. But I have nothing to answer to them – they can’t pass because they can’t pass and that’s that! Because it is an order, and due to security considerations, as long as you want to guard those 500 people, that’s what you have to do. As long as we want to keep those guys in Hebron alive, and want to ensure that they can have normal lives, it will be necessary to destroy the routine of all the others. There is no other alternative. For the most part they are genuine security considerations. They are not contrived considerations – in order that they cannot shoot at them from above, we have to hold the hills above them. People live on those hills. We have to occupy people, we have to hold people, we have to harm those people sometimes, but as long as the government sticks to its decision that the settlement in Hebron must remain, even without gratuitous cruelty, all the cruelty will be there and it will make no difference if people are nice or not.” 


Ilana Hammerman 


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