Tuesday, July 15, 2014

07-15-14 The Truth About Gaza

July 15, 2014, Issue 204
1.   Israel Bombs Gaza Civilians, Again
2.   Gaza: Misleading Headlines, Phony ‘Cease-Fire’ Offer
3.   Did Israel Spark Gaza Violence?
4.   Obama, Israel and Liberal Capitulation
5.   White House Backs Illegal Gaza War
6.   Gaza Bombing Protest in Upstate New York
7.   More Protests Set in the Mid-Hudson Region



We recommend a documentary video titled “Stone Cold Justice” to all our readers who care about the treatment of children, no matter where they stand on the question of Israel and Palestine. It is 46 minutes long and worth every eye-opening minute. The video was produced by a collaboration between The Australian, a respected daily newspaper, and the Australian Broadcasting Company. They sent a reporting and TV team to Israel recently to investigate how the Israeli military and police were treating Palestinian children.  This video, which has been shown on Australian TV, is available at http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2014/02/10/3939266.htm.

Pro-Palestinine picket line in Woodstock, N.Y., one
of hundreds worldwide. (See items 6 & 7  below
for local actions).  Photo by Donna Goodman

By the Activist Newsletter

Once again, Israel has found a pretext to viciously bomb Gaza. The UN wants the bombing to end, deploring that 80% of the 200 Palestinians who have been killed so far have been civilian women, children and men.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who leads the right wing settler government, claims Israel acted in “self-defense” after three Israeli young men were murdered by Hamas, the elected government in Gaza. He then declared Hamas launched an unprovoked rocket barrage. Israel therefor had no choice.

We have heard this before, most recently in late 2008 and early 2009 when Israel virtually crushed the tiny territory and its 1.7 million inhabitants, killing 1,400 Palestinians. Ten Israeli soldiers died, half from friendly fire. The same story was told in 2012. There are many good reasons to question Israel’s justifications for its current violence in Gaza, just as there were in its earlier episodes.

1.     First, there has been no evidence as to who killed the three Israelis. The Hamas government may not have been involved. Some other group or an individual acting without any authorization from Hamas may have committed this crime.

2.     Second, between the three deaths and the rocket firing several days later, there was Israeli violence, mass imprisonments, house burnings and other outrageous repression. These are the reasons Hamas says it fired rockets two years after a 2012 cease-fire agreement with Israel. Hamas also argues Israel has reneged on several other earlier commitments, such as allowing the territory’s inhabitants the freedom to trade, travel and rebuild a shattered infrastructure.

3.     Third, the principal motive for launching an illegal war mainly against civilians was neither the deaths nor the rockets. The Israeli regime’s main purpose was to destroy the impact of the extremely important new unity between the political leaderships of the occupied Palestinian territories of West Bank and Gaza.  Such unity, after years of separation, would have generated a more formidable Palestinian and international opposition to Netanyahu, the leading antagonist to a two-state solution.

There is much more to say — and it will be said in the articles that follow.

ANSWER Coalition contingent in lively pro-Palestine protest in Washington last week.
By Ben Becker, Liberation News, July 15, 2014

All the major media this morning are in sync about the latest developments in Gaza: “Hamas rejects, Israel accepts Gaza truce proposal” (CBS); “Israel accepts truce plan; Hamas balks” (Washington Post); “Israel’s Security Cabinet Accepts Proposal for Cease-Fire” (NY Times). And so on.

Millions of people will glance at these headlines and go about their days thinking, “Israel wants peace, Hamas wants war.” It is a completely false picture — a deception in fact — about what is really happening. But it will help Israel get off the hook as it resumes bombing this afternoon, pledging to make the people of Gaza “pay the price” for rejecting the one-sided Egyptian peace plan.

The problem is that Hamas, the elected leadership and political authority in Gaza, was not even consulted about the terms of the cease-fire. It is clear why. The proposed “cease-fire” maintains the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, a deliberate attempt to cripple and starve the Palestinians, until “the security situation becomes stable.”

This “cease-fire” says to Hamas, in other words, “You stop shooting back, and we will indefinitely impose devastating economic war on your people — until we decide to stop it. If you continue to resist, we will unleash greater airstrikes and you will be to blame for it.”

This is not a “cease-fire.” It is a demand for surrender, which would achieve Israel’s strategic objectives. Hamas’ military wing quickly responded to the sham proposal with a statement that “it is not worth the ink that wrote it.”

Israel and Egypt knew Hamas would reject such a “cease-fire.” This was a public relations stunt from the beginning, designed to create the very headlines we are seeing this morning.

Egypt’s military rulers, which this week repressed pro-Palestinian demonstrations and recently banned Hamas activity as part of its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, clearly coordinated the stunt with the Israeli rulers and the U.S. government. They are not the neutral third party they claim to be.

As the images continue to come out of the horrific Israeli massacres of Palestinians — at least 185 confirmed dead, including 38 children, 1,390 wounded — the media is now directing the public to blame these atrocities not on those who perpetrated them, but on Hamas for abstaining from peace.

Only one Israeli has been killed so far been killed so far. The people of Gaza have been subjected to a one-sided war, enduring constant airstrikes in the most densely populated city on the planet. The demand for peace must be directed not at those under bombardment, but at the war criminals in Tel Aviv, and their backers in Washington.

There have been demonstrations against the Israeli assault in dozens of cities across the United States, and throughout the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Africa. Worldwide, people are seeing through the propaganda, and identifying with the Palestinian struggle as the front-line battle against colonialism and racism.

Israel, the most powerful military force in the Middle East, "defends itself" against Hamas.
By Democracy Now, July 15, 2014

It is widely thought that the flare-up in Israel and the Occupied Territories began with the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the West Bank just more than a month ago. But our guests — Norman Finkelstein, author and scholar, and Mouin Rabbani, senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies  — argue that such a narrative ignores the broader context of decades of occupation and recent events highlighting the expansionist goals of the Israeli government in the Palestinian land under its control.

"Whenever the Palestinians seem like they are trying to reach a settlement of the conflict — which the [Fatah-Hamas] unity government was — at that point Israel does everything it can to provoke a violent reaction, in this case from Hamas, to break up the unity government,” Finkelstein says. Rabbani and Finkelstein are co-authors of the forthcoming book, "How to Solve the Israel-Palestine Conflict."

Family members at Gaza funeral July 15.
Following is a rush transcript. Amy Goodman is the anchor of Democracy Now, the best mass circulation progressive radio/TV/ Internet program (Monday to Friday) in America. Aaron Maté is a reporter and associate announcer.

AARON MATÉ: We turn now to the roots of the latest crisis and what can be done to avoid another in the future. It is widely thought the flare-up began with the kidnappings of three Israeli teens in the West Bank just over a month ago.  But our next guests argue the narrative ignores the broader context of decades of occupation and recent events highlighting the expansionist goals of the Israeli government in the Palestinian land under its control.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re joined by Norman Finkelstein, author and scholar. His most recent books are “Old Wine, Broken Bottle: Ari Shavit’s Promised Land” and “Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End.” And we’re joined by Mouin Rabbani, a Palestinian political analyst, formerly with the International Crisis Group. Today, both Norman Finkelstein and Mouin Rabbani have co-authored a forthcoming book, How to Solve the Israel-Palestine Conflict.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Mouin Rabbani, we’re speaking to you over at The Hague. Can you respond to this latest news of the Egyptian ceasefire, Israel accepting and Hamas weighing this [and rejection an hour later]?

MOUIN RABBANI: Well, I think Amira explained it quite well. [A reference to Amira Hass, Ha’aretz correspondent for the occupied Palestinian territories, who appeared earlier in the program. Her points are also expressed this interview.] So far as we can tell, Hamas has been neither directly nor indirectly consulted on a proposal that basically the Egyptians have concocted together with Tony Blair and the Israelis and some other parties, the purpose of which appears to be something that Hamas cannot accept and that can then be used to legitimize an intensification of the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.

The problem for Hamas is twofold. On the one hand, as Amira explained, it basically restores an acceptable status quo, while, on the other hand, it has been endorsed by the Arab League, by the PA in Ramallah, by most of the Western powers and so on. So it will be difficult for them to either accept or reject it, so to speak, while at the same time I think the parties that are proposing this ceasefire are making it clear that they’re not really interested in any further negotiation of its terms.

AARON MATÉ: Norman Finkelstein, give us a sketch of the broader context for how this latest flare-up began.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, before I do, I’m going to just briefly comment on the ceasefire. The ceasefire, first of all, says nothing about the rampages by Israel against Hamas in the West Bank. And it was those rampages which caused the current conflict to escalate. It gives Israel a green light to continue arresting Hamas members, blowing up homes in the West Bank, ransacking homes and killing Palestinians, which was the prelude to the current fighting.

Secondly, if you look at the ceasefire, it’s exactly what was agreed on in June—excuse me, June 2008 and the same ceasefire that was agreed to in November 2012. Namely, in both cases, it was said that there would be a relaxing of the illegal blockade of Gaza. In both cases, after the ceasefire was signed, the blockade was maintained, and in fact the blockade was escalated. So now, in the current version of the ceasefire, it said the blockade will be lifted after there has been calm restored and the security situation has been established. But if Israel says Hamas is a terrorist organization, then the security situation can never be calm in the Gaza, and therefore there will be never a lifting of the blockade of Gaza. So we’re right back to where we were in June 2008, November 2012. Of course Hamas is going to reject that kind of agreement. It means it legalizes, it legitimizes the brutal, merciless, heartless, illegal blockade of Gaza.

Israeli jet bombing civilian housing in Gaza.
As to how we got to where we are, the general context is perfectly obvious for anyone who wants tosee it. A unity government was formed between the PA and Hamas. Netanyahu was enraged at this unity government. It called on the U.S., it called on the EU, to break relations with the Palestinian Authority. Surprisingly, the United States said, "No, we’re going to give this unity government time. We’ll see whether it works or not." Then the EU came in and said it will also give the unity government time. "Let’s see. Let’s see what happens."

At this point, Netanyahu virtually went berserk, and he was determined to break up the unity government. When there was the abduction of the three Israeli teenagers, he found his pretext. There isn’t a scratch of evidence, not a jot of evidence, that Hamas had anything to do with the kidnappings and the killings. Nobody even knows what the motive was, to this point. Even if you look at the July 3rd report of Human Rights Watch, they said nobody knows who was behind the abductions. Even the U.S. State Department, on July 7th, there was a news conference, and the U.S. State Department said, "We don’t have hard evidence about who was responsible." But that had nothing to do with it. It was just a pretext. The pretext was to go into the West Bank, attack Hamas, arrest 700 members of Hamas, blow up two homes, carry on these rampages, these ransackings, and to try to evoke a reaction from Hamas.

This is what Israel always does. Anybody who knows the history, it’s what the Israeli political scientist, the mainstream political scientist—name was Avner Yaniv—he said it’s these Palestinian "peace offensives." Whenever the Palestinians seem like they are trying to reach a settlement of the conflict, which the unity government was, at that point Israel does everything it can to provoke a violent reaction—in this case, from Hamas—break up the unity government, and Israel has its pretext. "We can’t negotiate with the Palestinian Authority because they only represent some of the Palestinian people; they don’t represent all of the Palestinian people." And so Netanyahu does what he always does—excuse me, what Israeli governments always do: You keep pounding the Palestinians, in this case pounding Hamas, pounding Hamas, trying to evoke a reaction, and when the reaction comes—well, when the reaction comes, he said, "We can’t deal with these people. They’re terrorists."

AMY GOODMAN: Mouin Rabbani, on this issue of the Israeli teens who were kidnapped and then killed, when did the Israeli government understand that they had been murdered, as they carried out the siege to try to find them?

MOUIN RABBANI: Well, what we know is that one of these youths called the police emergency line immediately after they were abducted and that gunshots can be clearly heard on the recording of that telephone conversation. On that basis, the Israeli security establishment concluded that the three youths had been killed almost as soon as they were abducted. And this information was, of course, known to the Israeli government. Nevertheless, Netanyahu deliberately suppressed this information, using the broad censorship powers that the Israeli government has, and during this period launched into this organized rampage—

AMY GOODMAN: Put a gag order on reporters from reporting this?

MOUIN RABBANI: Basically, yes, that, you know, this was treated as sensitive security information subject to military censorship. And there were only allusions to it, and only days after, by some Israeli journalists, and then only referring to some elliptical statements that were being made by Israeli military commanders suggesting that, you know, this is not a hostage rescue situation, as Netanyahu was presenting it, but is more likely to be a search for bodies, which is of course how it turned out. And the reason that Netanyahu suppressed this information is because it gave him the opportunity to launch this organized rampage throughout the West Bank, to start re-arresting prisoners who had been released in 2011 in the prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel, to intensify the bombing of the Gaza Strip, and generally to whip up mass hysteria within Israel, which of course resulted in the burning death of the 16-year-old Palestinian from Jerusalem several days later.

AARON MATÉ: Mouin, you’ve interviewed Hamas leaders. The response from the Israeli government is always that Hamas is committed to Israel’s destruction, so therefore how can we possibly negotiate with a unity government that includes them? What’s your sense of Hamas’s willingness over a long term to reach some sort of agreement or a long-term truce with Israel?

MOUIN RABBANI: I think Hamas, or at least the organization and not necessarily all of its members, but its key leaders, have long since reconciled themselves with a two-state settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I think what’s been surprising in the past several months has been that the Hamas leadership has gone well beyond that, in the context of the reconciliation agreement signed on 23 April between Fatah and Hamas. In that agreement, they agreed to the formation of a new government, in which neither Hamas nor Fatah would enter the Cabinet, but that the political program of that government would be the political program of the PA president—at the moment, Mahmoud Abbas. And what you basically had was Abbas stating publicly that he not only accepts the so-called Quartet conditions, but that in addition he would continue security coordination with Israel and, you know, was making these statements almost on a daily basis. And Hamas, more or less, looked the other way and didn’t withdraw from the government. [The Middle East Quartet, with Tony Blair as special envoy, consists of the UN, U.S., EU and Russia.]

Gaza victim and her doll share hospital bed.
And this, I think, reflects, in some respects, the increasing difficulty Hamas was experiencing in governing the Gaza Strip and funding its government there, because of its—because of the increasing hostility or the exceptional [inaudible] the regime in Egypt, the deterioration in its relations with Iran, the inability to replace those with funding from Qatar or other sources. So you effectively had a government that was not only amenable to a two-state settlement with the support of Hamas, but it went significantly further and effectively accepted the Quartet conditions, which most [inaudible] view as illegitimate, and additionally was continuing security coordination with Israel that was largely directed at Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank. I think—you know, and this is—as Norman was explaining, this is a key reason why Netanyahu sought to undermine this agreement and the resulting government.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, why do you think Israel has hesitated to launch the invasion? Their, you know, thousands of soldiers are lined up along the Gaza border.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, it’s interesting, because all the—there are a large number of theories that are being spun, in particular in the Israeli press. The answer, I think, to that question is pretty obvious. The Israeli domestic population won’t tolerate a large number of Israeli combatant casualties. That’s out. Israel likes to fight—not unlike President Obama, Israel likes to fight high-tech—likes to commit high-tech massacres, and it doesn’t want to fight a real war. And in 2008, Israel carried out, executed the big high-tech massacre in Gaza, killed about 1,400 Palestinians, up to 1,200 of whom were civilians, left behind 600,000 tons of rubble, dropped the white phosphorus and so forth. And for the first time, the international community reacted very harshly to it. The climax, of course, was the Goldstone Report.

And at that point, Israel was placed in a very difficult position, because on the one hand, it can’t stop the rocket attacks unless it conducts a ground invasion, which is exactly the situation it faced in Lebanon in 2006 also. The air force can’t knock out these rockets. They’re short-range rockets, mostly. They’re not even rockets, but we’ll call them that. The air force can’t knock them out. The only way to get rid of them—exactly as in Lebanon in 2006, the only way to get rid of them is by launching a ground invasion. However, the domestic population won’t accept a large number of casualties. And the only way you don’t have a large number of casualties is if you blast everything in sight within a mile’s radius, which is what Israel did in 2008, '09. There were only 10 Israeli military casualties; of those 10, half of them were friendly fire, Israelis accidentally killing Israelis. But after the Goldstone Report and after 2008, ’09, they can't do that again. They can’t carry out that kind of massive destruction, the 22 days of death and destruction, as Amnesty International called it. They can’t do that again. A new constraint has been placed on Israel’s political and military echelon.

So, that’s the dilemma for them. Domestically, they can’t tolerate large numbers of combatant casualties, but the only way to prevent that is blasting everything in sight. The international community says you can’t do that. You kill 150, even kill 200, Human Rights Watch said killing 200 Palestinians in Gaza, that’s not a war crime, they said. That’s just collective punishment. Only Hamas commits war crimes, because one woman apparently died of a heart attack while—Israeli woman apparently died of a heart attack while trying to enter a shelter, so that’s horrible, awful: That’s a war crime. But when you kill 200 Palestinians, 80 percent of whom are civilians, about 20 percent of whom are children, according to Human Rights Watch, that’s not a war crime. But the international community will accept that much, 200. But even Human Rights Watch won’t accept if you go in and you do 2008, '09, again. And so, the Israeli government is faced with a real dilemma. And that's the problem for Netanyahu. Domestically, he loses if there are large number of casualties, combatant casualties; internationally, he loses if he tries to do 2008, ’09, all over again.

A home stood here hours earlier. 
AMY GOODMAN: Which resulted in how many deaths?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: 2008, '09, as I said, was about 1,400, of whom about up to 1,200 were civilians, I say 600,000 tons of rubble. They just left nothing there. And by the way, that was demanded by Tzipi Livni. On June 8th—excuse me, on January 18th, Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister then, the justice minister now, the person who's called a moderate by J Street, Tzipi Livni boasted—she went on TV and boasted, "We demanded hooliganism in Gaza. That’s what I demanded," she said, "and we got it." According to J Street, she’s the moderate.

AARON MATÉ: Norman, as we wrap, what needs to be done?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: What needs to be done is perfectly obvious. Amnesty International, which is a real human rights organization, unlike Human Rights Watch—Amnesty International issued a statement. It said, number one, there has to be a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel and Palestine—perfectly reasonable because, under international law, it’s illegal to transfer weapons to countries which are major violators of human rights. So, comprehensive arms embargo on Israel and Palestine. Number two, international investigation of war crimes on both sides.

And I’m saying number three. Number three has to be—there has to be the imposition of sanctions on Israel, until and unless it negotiates an end to the occupation according to international law. Now, that’s not my suggestion. I’m basing it on the International Court of Justice. South Africa occupied Namibia. The International Court of Justice said in 1971, if South Africa does not engage in good-faith negotiations to end its occupation of Namibia, that occupation is illegal under international law. Israel has refused to engage in good-faith negotiations to end the occupation of Palestine, just like in the case of Namibia. It is now an illegal occupier of Palestine, and there should be a comprehensive sanctions imposed on Israel, until and unless it ends the occupation of Palestine under the terms of international law.

— The one-hour Democracy Now program airs at 8 a.m. EST. It may be heard on selected radio stations throughout the day or any time at democracynow.org. It streams online about an hour after its live broadcast ends at 9 a.m. It is also available in video and text soon after.


Israeli Warlord confurs with his Enabler-in-Chief.
By Joshua Frank, CounterPunch, July 14, 2014

We’ve been waiting now for nearly seven years to uncover that streak hidden deep in the heart of President Barack Obama. But one drone strike after another, one dead child piled upon another and any glimmer of hope that Obama would put the breaks on U.S. extremism has finally come to an end.

Not only has Obama refused to alter the bloody foreign policy of his predecessors, he has vowed to continue its most extreme elements. In no other instance has this been more true than with the case of Israel and Palestine.

This reality has likely come as a surprise to many who placed their aspirations in our first black president, a man who at one point early in his career believed Palestinians had a right to not only exist, but to reside in their own country. Yet, time and again President Obama has put his foot down when the global community was ready to honor a Palestinian state, as he did at the UN Security Council in 2011 and again when the US vetoed a UN resolution that would have condemned Israel’s illegal settlement building. Now, as bombs fall on innocent Palestinians, Obama reasserts the US role in defending Israel.
Last week in an op-ed for Haaretz, Israel’s oldest [and most liberal] newspaper, Obama wrote that while “restraint” was needed on both sides, the U.S. would continue to provide assistance to Israeli defense, unconditionally. Just as Obama’s piece appeared, the U.S and Israel were working hard behind the scenes to prevent the UN Security Council from condemning Israel’s air-strikes.

“As I’ve said time and again, neither I nor the United States will ever waver in our commitment to the security of Israel and the Israeli people, and our support for peace will always remain a bedrock foundation of that commitment,” wrote Obama in Haaretz. “Budgets in Washington are tight, but our commitment to Israel’s security remains ironclad. The United States is committed to providing more than $3 billion each year to help finance Israel’s security through 2018.”

Not one dollar for Detroit, but billions for Israel. And what about Palestine’s right to security and peace, which is certainly in far more peril than Israel’s? One need not be an expert on the Middle East to understand Palestinians live in a land prison, surrounded and occupied by Israel. Electricity, water and healthcare essentials are controlled by their oppressor. Indeed, Palestinians are a people without a country, simply fighting to survive.

Living under brutal occupation, decade after decade, has produced elements of extremism, as was the case of the kidnapped and murdered Israeli teens. But what of Israel, a so-called beacon of democracy (even as Israel kills and forces Palestinians off their ancestral homeland), where a Palestinian boy was burned alive in spiteful revenge? Such acts only empower and serve as recruitment tools for Hamas.

The same can be said for the indiscriminate missiles Israel launches into Gaza: the bombing of a Mosque, countless homes destroyed, hundreds injured, nearly two hundred killed – many of whom have been children. And what for? How many deaths will it take for Israel to stop its bombardment? How many lost lives before Obama tells Israel to stop its assault? Perhaps more importantly, when will the American people say ‘enough is enough’? Sure, Obama has offered up the United States to broker a cease-fire, but how can a true cease-fire be brokered when the mediator supports the military of one side over the civilians of another?

It’s all a farce of course. Obama doesn’t really care to see the violence end – if he did he would pay more than lip-service to Palestinian statehood and support the matter when it counts – on the global stage in front of the UN.

We live in a sad and desperate time in the United States, yet fair-minded folks, many who oppose Israeli and U.S. aggression, refuse to break from the strangle of the Democratic Party because Republicans are more blatant in their repulsiveness. It is this cowardly embrace that lets Democrats off the hook (next up Hillary Clinton) and allows Israel to operate and murder with impunity.

— Joshua Frank is managing editor of CounterPunch. He is author of “Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush." (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of “Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland,” and “Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion,” both published by AK Press. He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com.

By the Activist Newsletter (sources below)

While the rest of the international community is aghast at the deaths of some 200 Palestinians, the White House is cheering the ongoing conflict, saying Israel’s killing of large numbers of civilians is not “disproportionate” to the one Israeli killed in the fighting in Gaza.

With the UN and other international groups pushing for a settlement of the conflict, the Obama Administration maintains Israel has every right to continue attacking the long oppressed tiny strip of ancient land called Gaza,

According to an article in The Hill July 14: “The White House said there was no evidence Israel is acting disproportionately as it carries out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip despite criticism over civilian casualties. Israel has launched military operations allegedly to stem Hamas rocket attacks. ‘No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians, and that's the reason that we support Israel's right to defend itself,’ White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.”

The U.S. perspective hasn’t changed an iota since the 2012 onslaught against Gaza's Palestinian population. At the time President Obama declared, “No country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders” — as though these mainly symbolic  weapons trumped decades of colonial degradation, settler land theft, continual violence and daily humiliation.  

In an echo of Israeli officials, Obama sought to frame Israel's aerial missile strikes against the 139-square mile Gaza Strip as the just use of armed force against a foreign country. Israel's ability to frame its assault against territory it occupies as a right of self-defense turns international law on its head. 

An article in Jadaliyya has pointed out, however, "A state cannot simultaneously exercise control over territory it occupies and militarily attack that territory on the claim that it is 'foreign' and poses an exogenous national security threat. In doing precisely that, Israel is asserting rights that may be consistent with colonial domination but simply do not exist under international law. 

"Admittedly, the enforceability of international law largely depends on voluntary state consent and compliance. Absent the political will to make state behavior comport with the law, violations are the norm rather than the exception. Nevertheless, examining what international law says with regard to an occupant’s right to use force is worthwhile in light of Israel's deliberate attempts since 1967 to reinterpret and transform the laws applicable to occupied territory.

"These efforts have expanded significantly since the eruption of the Palestinian uprising in 2000, and if successful, Israel’s reinterpretation would cast the law as an instrument that protects colonial authority at the expense of the rights of civilian non-combatants."

— This information is based on reports in Jadaliyya, The Hill, and Antiwar.com.

By the Activist Newsletter

Nearly 60 pro-Palestine activists demonstrated in Woodstock, N.Y., July 13 against the Israeli bombing of Gaza and the occupation of Palestinian territories. Sponsors of the action were Middle East Crisis Response (MECR) and Hudson Valley BDS. The Activist Newsletter is in solidarity with these two local groups.

Woodstock protest, July 13. (Photo Donna Goodman)
The event was one of hundreds of protests in the U.S. and around the world condemning the Israeli government’s brutal air campaign mainly against the civilian population of the smaller of two remaining Palestinian swaths of land. About 200 Palestinians have been killed so far, with many more wounded. The right wing Netanyahu government claims the bombings were in response to rocket attacks on Israel that have  resulted in one death.

The Woodstock demonstration took place at the Village Green — a busy center of this bustling tourist town in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Protesters held such signs as “Free Gaza,” “ Stop Genocide in Gaza,” and “End U.S. Aid to Israel” —handing out leaflets to passersby. The public response was positive, reflecting a growth in support for the Palestinian cause in this community.

Village Green is also opposite the town's single bus stop, and people waiting for buses joined the line for the duration of their wait. One woman who was headed to an event to break the Ramadan fast, spotted the vigil and quickly joined with her children. The occasional vulgar gestures and charges of "anti-Semite" were greatly outnumbered by peace signs, thumbs-up gestures and shouts of "thank you."

Sponsored by the Middle East Crisis Response.
Information, http://www.mideastcrisis.org, (845) 876-7906.

Wednesday, July 16, WOODSTOCK: Vigil to End the Genocide in Gaza will be held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Village Green in Woodstock. This is a call to all residents of the Hudson Valley to stand in opposition to the U.S. involvement in the slaughter of Palestinian civilians. No more funding the Israeli war machine. No more protection of Israel in the UN.

Sunday, July 20, RHINEBECK: Vigil to End the Genocide in Gaza will beheld from 11 a.m.–12 noon in front of the CVS in Rhinebeck