Israel Steps Up Police State Crackdowns – by Stephen Lendman
Israel never embraced democratic values. More than ever today that’s true. Many Jews understand. As a result, they’re voting with their feet and leaving.
Gideon Levy remarked that “(i)t’s really an irony of history, because Israel was established to become a shelter to the Jewish people. Now Europe becomes a shelter for the Jews living in Israel.”
So does America. New millennium exodus has a whole new meaning. Last year, Haaretz writer Bradley Burston headlined, “I envy the people who hate Israel,” saying:
“….this is not the same country I moved to, so long ago. I learned when I first came that Israel was not the country I’d thought I was moving to.”
Now it’s worse than ever because “Israel at its highest level has taken an executive decision. Unable to beat the forces who want to see Israel as one of the world’s primary pariah states, it has resolved to join them” and succeeded.
With its paymaster/partner America, it’s out in front leading. Growing numbers know it, Jews and non-Jews alike. A 2008 Menachem Begin Heritage Center survey showed 59% of Israelis consider leaving by inquiring about foreign citizenship and second passports. Growing numbers hold them.
In 2005, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics said 650,000 Israelis away for over a year haven’t returned. Most were Jews.
Moreover, as greater numbers leave, most remaining are ideologically committed. Many of them are fanatics. Others are indifferent, aging, unable to leave, or aren’t sure where to go. Emigrating abroad isn’t simple. Cost is a factor. Uprooting takes a toll. So does adjusting.
Nonetheless, growing numbers leave because social injustice is official policy. So is state terror. Israel’s a regional menace, a belligerent modern-day Sparta, a rogue pariah endangering its own people like others. As a result, many Israelis fear living in the eye of the storm. Daily examples show why.
Targeting Free Expression and Silencing Dissent
On November 20, the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) headlined, “Joint Palestinian-Israeli ‘peace radio’ station shut down by Israeli authorities,” saying:
On November 19, Israel shut Palestinian-Israeli broadcaster Kol Hashalom (Whole Peace), claiming it operated without proper licensing – “despite the fact that the station broadcasts from the West Bank and is not under Israeli jurisdiction.”
Founded in 2004 by Israeli and Palestinian peace groups, it’s now closed unless efforts to resume operations succeed.
Israel’s Communications Ministry said:
“The Ministry carried out wireless supervisory activities in cooperation with the Israel Police against a pirate radio station, just as it carries them out against all other illegal stations.”
MK Deputy Speaker Danny Danon demanded the station’s shutdown. He’s one of growing numbers of Knesset hard-liners. He also advocates annexing the West Bank to punish PA officials for pursuing full UN membership.
Last summer, he invited Glenn Beck to appear before his Knesset committee and was involved in his “Restoring Courage” Jerusalem tour that spread the same kind of demagogic hate-mongering he does in America.
Shutting down Kol Hashalom is lawless. Palestine’s Communication Ministry licensed it. At issue is silencing peace advocacy. Israel won’t tolerate it. It never embraced peace and doesn’t now.
The entire process was stillborn from inception. Israel thrives on conflict. Enemies are needed to pursue it. None exist so Israel invents them. Palestinians and regional neighbors are targeted.
Kol Hashalom station manager Mossi Raz (a former MK) will appeal what he calls Israel’s lawless shutdown.
On November 19, the Palestine News & Information Agency headlined, “Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Concerned About Arrests of Journalists,” saying:
Concern was raised about more Palestinian journalist arrests in Jerusalem and the West Bank. RSF said Israel is taking “a tougher line….toward the Palestinian media.”
On November 16, Al-Quds TV presenter Isra Salhab was arrested. No explanation was given. A “closed-door” military court proceeding followed. It’s ruling was postponed several days.
On November 14, Israeli soldiers arrested Radio Marah presenter Raed Sharif in Hebron. No further information is available.
In the past week alone, Israel arrested and detained five Palestinian journalists in prison for doing their job.
On May 8, journalist Walid Khaled, editor of the Gaza-based Filisteen newspaper, was arrested and detained six months. In early November, a Salfit Israeli military court ordered a six-month extension. Earlier, he spent four years imprisoned.
The latest arrests came less than two weeks after Israeli commandos abducted five Freedom Waves to Gaza journalists, covering its mission to breach Israel’s siege and deliver humanitarian aid.
Last summer, RSF condemned Israel’s policy of arbitrarily arresting Palestinian journalists. They follow a troublesome pattern to silence dissent. It’s now more virulent than ever.
Punishing Palestinians for Being Arabs
On November 19, IMEMC headlined, “Report: ‘Palestinian Village Condemned To Live in Darkness,” saying:
After Amenzil village had solar panels installed, its residents had electricity for the first time. Nonetheless, “Israel issued a military injunction” to remove them.
Cooperatively with Nablus-based An-Najah University, the Spanish NGO Seeba installed them. Villagers finally enjoyed what most people take for granted. Israel claims construction permits weren’t issued.
Located in Area C, construction in all forms is subject to Civil Administration Authority approval. Israeli military commanders have final say. Several Israeli NGOs and the UN want the ruling voided. Spain’s using diplomatic channels to help.
Village council head Ali Hreizat said:
“(T)hese solar panels were the ray of hope to residents. We have been living here since 1948, and have nowhere to go.”
Amenzil is one of many so-called unrecognized villages. Israel denies them basic services, including electricity, water, roads, transport, sanitation, education, healthcare, postal and telephone service, refuse removal and more because under its Planning and Construction Law their illegal even though Bedouin Arabs are Israeli citizens.
They’re internal refugees, forced from their homes during Israel’s “War of Independence” and prevented from returning. They’re also repressively mistreated, including by dubious zoning restrictions, prohibiting construction, agriculture, and other legal rights.
Moreover, many villages are destroyed, their residents displaced to make way for Jewish only development.
A Spanish official in charge of the solar panel installation said permission was requested to proceed. Israeli authorities never responded. The Israeli Civil Administration said Seeba may appeal, but “refused to present its case in front of the Appeals Committee.”
However, Israel’s military authority may reconsider the ruling, saying approvals “must be directed through legal channels.”
Given Israeli repression and protracted bureaucratic process, most likely months or years of trying will end up fruitless.
Hints of Possible War
Ahead expect Israel’s appetite for conflict perhaps to be satisfied. Attacking Iran repeatedly is suggested. In mid-November, Israeli Chief of Staff General Benny Gantz told a Knesset committee about possible “offensive action” if Gaza rocket fire continues.
In fact, Gazans respond defensively to repeated Israeli attacks and provocations. Inverting truth, Israel calls it terrorism. Israeli media suggested a possible major offensive. Perhaps Cast Lead II is planned. Israel’s been itching for more war. It could happen anytime.
Targeting Human Rights Groups
In response to Israel’s Knesset attempts to silence dissent, limit free expression, and wage war on civil society organizations, B’Tselem published a joint statement issued by 19 of them affected.
B’Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights/Israel, Adalah, Yesh Din, Rabbis for Human Rights, and others expressed solidarity with activists and organizations “subjected to threats and acts of violence” by a state claiming to be democratic. “These acts are intended to intimidate us all and silence our voices.”
Authorities committing daily repression won’t “refrain from inflicting bodily, even life-threatening harm on Palestinians and Israelis whose views and actions they consider objectionable.”
In fact, doing so is longstanding official policy. Today, it’s more ruthless and unrestrained than ever.
Democrats, anti-war activists, social justice advocates, and civil libertarians have no place in Israeli society.
No wonder so many Jews vote with their feet and leave.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.