Tag Archives: Israel

Shulamit Aloni: Sadly, Israel is no longer democratic

Source: Haaretz

 

Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin and philosopher Asa Kasher, two respected men around here, published an article entitled: “A just war of a democratic state,” (Haaretz, April 24, Hebrew). 

A remark about the first part: There are wars that are necessary for self-defense or to fight injustice and evil. But the expression “just” is problematic when speaking of war itself – which involves killing and destruction and leaves women, children and old people homeless, and sometimes even kills them. 

Our sages have said: “Don’t be overly righteous.” And there is absolutely no question that dropping cluster bombs in an area populated by civilians, as we did in the Second Lebanon War, does not testify to great righteousness. The same thing can be said of using phosphorus bombs against a civilian population. Apparently, according to the Yadlin and Kasher definition of justice, in order to eliminate terrorists it is just to destroy, kill, expel and starve a civilian population that has no connection to the acts of terror and no responsibility for them. Perhaps had they adopted a more decent and less arrogant approach they would have tried to explain the reasons for the fury and intensity that brought about the shocking killing and destruction, and even apologized for the fact that these exceeded any reasonable necessity. 

But after all, we are always right; moreover, these things were done by “the most moral army in the world,” sent by the “democratic” Jewish state – and here is the meeting point of the two concepts in the title of Yadlin and Kasher’s article. 

As for the army’s morality, it would have been better had they remained silent and thereby been considered wise. This is because the statistics on the destruction and harm to civilians in the Gaza Strip are familiar to everyone, and not divorced from the oh-so-moral behavior of our army in the occupied territories. In the context of this behavior, for example, the army operates with great efficiency against farmers who demonstrate against the theft of their lands, even when the demonstrations are not violent. 

The long-term evidence of abuse by soldiers against civilians at the checkpoints – including repeated instances of expectant mothers who are forced to give birth in the middle of the road, surrounded by armed soldiers who laugh wickedly – is no secret either. Day after day, year after year, the most moral army in the world helps to steal lands, uproot trees, steal water, close roads – in the service of the righteous “Jewish and democratic” state and with its support. It’s heartbreaking, but the State of Israel is no longer democratic. We are living in an ethnocracy under “Jewish and democratic” rule. 

In 1970 it was decided that in Israel religion and nationality are one and the same (that is why we are not listed in the Population Registry as Israelis, but as Jews). In 1992 it was determined in the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty that Israel is a “Jewish state.” There is no mention in this law of the promise that appears in the state’s formative document, the Declaration of Independence, to the effect that “The State of Israel will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race or sex.” The Knesset ratified the law nonetheless. 

And so there is a “Jewish state” and no “equality of rights.” Therefore some observers emphasize that the Jewish state is not “a state of all its citizens.” Is there really a democracy that is not a state of all its citizens? After all, Jews living today in democratic countries enjoy the full rights of citizenship. 

Democracy exists in the State of Israel today only in the formal sense: There are parties and elections and a good judicial system. But there is also an omnipotent army that ignores legal decisions that restrict the theft of land owned and held by people who have been living under occupation for the past 42 years. And since 1992, as we mentioned, we also have the definition “Jewish state,” which means an ethnocracy – the rule of an ethnic religious community that strictly determines the ethnic origin of its citizens according to maternal lineage. And as far as other religions are concerned, disrespect for them is already a tradition, since we have learned: “Only you are considered human beings, whereas the gentiles are like donkeys.” 

From here it is clear that we and our moral army are exempt from concerns for the Palestinians living in Israel, and this is even more true of those living under occupation. On the other hand, it is perfectly all right to steal their land because these are “state lands” that belong to the State of Israel and its Jews. 

That is the case even though we have not annexed the West Bank and have not granted citizenship to its inhabitants, who under Jordanian rule were Jordanian citizens. The State of Israel has penned them in, which makes it easy to confiscate their land for the benefit of its settlers. 

And important and respected rabbis, who are educating an entire generation, have ruled that the whole country is ours and the Palestinians should share the fate of Amalek, the ancient tribe the Israelites were commanded to eradicate. At a time when a “just war” is taking place, racism is rife and robbery is called “return of property.” 

We are currently celebrating the 61st anniversary of the State of Israel. We fought in the War of Independence out of a great hope that we would build a “model society” here, that we would make peace with our neighbors, work the land and develop the Jewish genius for the benefit of science, culture and the value of man – every man. But when a major general and a philosopher justify – out of a sense of moral superiority – our acts of injustice toward the other in such a way, they cast a very heavy shadow on all those hopes. 

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IDF T-Shirt – Pregnant Palestinian Woman – 1 shot, 2 kills

 

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The Israeli army is at the centre of a second controversy over the moral conduct of its soldiers in as many days.

 

IDF T-shirts awarded on completion of training

The printed t-shirts were discovered by an Israeli newspaper (Pic: courtesy of Yanai Yechiel)

 

The revelations centre on t-shirt designs made for soldiers that make light of shooting pregnant Palestinian mothers and children and include images of dead babies and destroyed mosques.

The t-shirts were printed for Israeli soldiers at the end of periods of deployment or training courses and were discovered by Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

One, printed for a platoon of Israeli snipers depicts an armed Palestinian pregnant women caught in the crosshairs of a rifle, with the disturbing caption in English: “1 shot 2 kills”.

Another depicts a child carrying a gun also in the centre of a target.

“The smaller, the harder,” read the words on the t-shirt.

According to a soldier interviewed by the newspaper, the message has a double meaning: “It’s a kid, so you’ve got a little more of a problem, morally and also the target is smaller.”

Another shows an Israeli soldier blowing up a mosque and reads “Only God forgives”.

 

Israeli Army T-Shirt Furore red chevron

T-shirts printed for Israeli soldiers mocking the shooting of Palestinian women and children are revealed by an Israeli newspaper.

 

Above a ninja figure, yet another shirt bears the slogan “Won’t chill until I confirm a kill”.

The revelations, coming so soon after Israel’s offensive in Gazain which hundreds of civilians were killed – many of them women and children – are causing outrage.

Perhaps the most shocking design shows a Palestinian mother weeping next to her dead baby’s grave, also in the crosshairs of a rifle.

It suggests it would have been better if the child had never been born, with the slogan “Better use Durex”.

The controversy follows more revelations by other soldiers about abuses and the shooting of civilians during Israel’s offensive during the Gaza offensive.

Ex-soldier and campaigner with Breaking The Silence, Michael Maniken, told Sky News Online this week’s revelations suggest a pattern of immoral conduct in the army.

“The army keeps on saying we’re talking about a few rotten apples but it seems the army doesn’t understand there’s a norm in this kind of action,” he explained.

“We’re hearing about this time and time again and the army seems disconnected from reality.”

A spokesman for the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) told Sky News Online, the t-shirts were printed on the private initiative of the soldiers and their designs “are not in accordance with IDF values and are simply tasteless. This type of humour is unacceptable and should be condemned”.

 

 

15245919Arguably the most shocking design design shows a Palestinian mother weeping next to her dead baby’s grave, also in the crosshairs of a rifle.

It suggests it would have been better if the child had never been born, with the slogan “Better use Durex”. (Pic: courtesy of Haaretz Weekend magazine)

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Israeli Soldiers Allege Indiscriminate Killing in Gaza

Yahoo!  TIME

Whenever concerns are expressed over civilian casualties inflicted in Israeli military operations, the country’s generals and political leaders are quick to insist that theirs is the “world’s most moral army.” That claim was challenged by human rights observers over Israel’s recent offensive in Gaza, although such criticism is reflexively dismissed by Israel as driven by pro-Palestinian bias. But when the allegations of abuses come from Israeli soldiers involved in the fighting, they can’t be as easily dismissed.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak was forced to repeat the “world’s most moral army” mantra on Thursday, this time to reassure his own countrymen shocked by allegations published in the Israeli media from six veterans of the Gaza operation. The six soldiers, whose identity is being kept confidential, made their claims in an address last month to cadets of the Yitzhak Rabin military academy, of which they are graduates. Among other claims, the soldiers alleged that an Israeli sniper had shot a woman and her two children who walked in the wrong direction after being ordered out of their home by Israeli troops. In a second incident, a sniper supposedly killed an unarmed elderly woman who posed no apparent threat to Israeli troops. And the soldiers ascribed these incidents to overly permissive rules of engagement. See pictures of Israel’s Gaza offensive)

“I simply felt it was murder in cold blood, said the soldier who witnessed the scene, quoted in the daily Haaretz. He went on to explain sarcastically, “That’s what is so nice, supposedly about Gaza. You see a person waking on a road� He doesn’t have to be with a weapon, you don’t have to identify him with anything and you can just shoot him. With us it was an old woman on whom I didn’t see any weapon. The order was to take that woman out, the moment you see her.”

After the anonymous soldiers’ testimony was splashed across the media in Israel and abroad, the military police on Thursday said it would investigate the alleged killings. Their allegations renewed an ongoing debate between Israelis who defend the Gaza assault and those who say it failed to accomplish its goal of crippling Hamas, but stained Israel’s reputation. On Friday, an Israeli Defense Forces spokesman dismissed claims of the gunning down of the mother and her two children as “heresay”, but said that the account of the elderly woman’s death was still being probed. But those were just two of the incidents alleged by the six soldiers.

Human rights investigators suggest that what the soldiers’ allegations and eyewitness accounts from Gaza residents suggest is that, in an effort to maximize the safety of their own soldiers entering Gaza, Israeli commanders may have let their ethical standards slide. Retired general and former security chief Ami Ayalon concurs. The Gaza operation, says Ayalon, “compromised the I.D.F.’s ethos, which was once built on ethics, sacrifice. And today, after the Gaza offensive, it is based on force alone.”

A soldier identified as Aviv from the Givati Brigade, one of Israel’s elite combat units, reportedly described to the military cadets his inner conflict over obeying orders to use indiscriminate firepower while clearing out an eight-story apartment building. “We were supposed to � burst through the lower door, start shooting inside and then � I call this murder� in effect, we were supposed to go up floor by floor, and any person we identified, we were supposed to shoot. I initially asked myself: Where is the logic in this?”

Aviv explained that his commanders had blurred the boundaries between combatants and civilians: “From [the officers] above, they said it was permissible, because anyone who remained �inside Gaza City was, in effect, incriminated, a terrorist, because they hadn’t fled,” Aviv alleged. “On one hand, they really don’t have anywhere to flee to, but on the other hand [the officers] are telling us they hadn’t fled so it’s their fault.” Faced with having to slay the 40 families cowering in the building, he was able to persuade his superiors to let him warn the tenants, giving them five minutes to leave or “get killed.”

In the Israeli military offensive, 1,434 Palestinians, including 960 civilians, were killed, according to the Palestinian Human Rights Center in Gaza. Three Israeli civilians were killed in the course of the same operation, and 10 soldiers, four of them by friendly fire. The lopsided death toll, and the fact that so many civilians were killed, has drawn fierce criticism of Israel’s by human rights agencies in Israel and abroad. And the consequences could extend from the political to the legal realm.

U.N. human rights envoy Falk said that Israel’s apparent failure to distinguish between military targets and civilians could “constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law.” He also said that rocket fire by Palestinian militants that indiscriminately targeted Israeli towns could also constitute a war crime, and urged the establishment of an independent commission to investigate the actions of both sides during the recent conflict. With mounting pressure at home and abroad to account for the high Palestinian civilian death toll in Gaza, Israel’s claim to have “the world’s most moral army” is likely to be subjected to the test of evidence in the months ahead.

With reporting by Aaron J. Klein/Tel Aviv

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The Palestinian Perspective: What the World Looks Like from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

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“More than a Holocaust”

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78 Palestinians killed since Wednesday attacks on Gaza by Israeli forces.

The Palestinian leader said the Israeli raids were “more than a holocaust”. Mahmoud Abbas was apparently alluding to controversial remarks made on Friday by Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai, who said Palestinians risked a “shoah” – the Hebrew word for a big disaster as well as for the Nazi Holocaust.

 Click for articles by BBC and CNN about the situation.

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