SINCE 1964, THE NEWS WHILE THERE'S STILL TIME TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT
Israel & Palestine Undernews
Tikun Olam - 43 reserve members of the IDFs prestigious intelligence group, Unit 8200, signed a letter refusing to take part in operations targeting Palestinians or in furthering the military Occupation. Activists whove paid attention to Israeli military affairs over the past decade or more know that hundreds of soldiers and inductees have similarly refused military service in the West Bank. But this group is different. Unit 8200 is the equivalent of the NSA. It is one of the most critical weapons in the IDF arsenal to defend the nations security. It participates in myriad ways supporting, and even initiating IDF operations. It is the biggest intelligence unit in the Israeli army. This is the first time any such officers have publicly protested.
These refusers are not Edward Snowden. They are not spilling secrets or naming names. But their motivation for protesting against Israeli intelligence operations is almost the same as Snowdens. They claim that there is virtually no oversight or restraint against spying on Palestinians. That there is no distinction made between innocent and guilty Palestinians. That their goal as intelligence operatives was to subvert Palestinian society from within.
... Unfortunately, in one sense the refusers are on shaky legal footing regarding their claims. Not because theyre not correct in substancethey are. But because, similar to the NSA (which has virtual carte blanche regarding foreign citizens), Palestinians have no standing under Israeli law. They are not citizens and therefore are not afforded even the minimal protections offered to Israelis. One can argue that Unit 8200, like the NSA should have constraints on its operations against non-citizens. But thats not the case.
... In terms of how the intelligence personnels participation in this letter will be seen by the populace, they will be treated as the Justice Department has treated Snowden. They will be seen as oddballs and in certain circles as traitors.
... I cant exaggerate how brave these officers have been. As those who read this blog regularly know, service in Unit 8200 is a steppingstone into Israeli high tech. It offers a wide array of professional opportunities that are not available to those who dont serve there. Veterans network amongst each other and its like a Good Old Boys club, only more so. The signers will be blackballed. They will lose privileges, friendships, promotions. This is a big step for them.
The names of the signatories have so far been shielded from public knowledge. Though clearly the IDF knows who they are since the did sign their names to the original letter. I predict that the prime minister will find a way to leak the names
Tikum Olam - Israels Channel 2 published a poll which found that in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, one-third of Israelis are considering emigration. 56% would not emigrate were they given the opportunity. Unlike in the past, only 36% would think badly of anyone who did emigrate.
... A major pop hit these days is this song, Berlin, which treats the notion of yeridah (a pejorative reference to emigration) as jolly, fun, hip and cool. This jarring, ironic treatment of emigration is something that is new to Israel, which traditionally views leaving as a traitorous act of abandonment.
... The truth is that a huge number of young, well-educated, professional Israelis have already decamped, or are making plans to do so, to more hospitable climes in Europe or elsewhere. They do so for many reasons: some are economic, seeking greater financial, professional or educational opportunities. Some are security-related: they simply dont want their own children facing the same burden of war and danger that theyve faced. And some find the climate in Israel to be stifling either culturally or politically.
... Israel will increasingly become a poorer, more ultra-Orthodox, more settler, Mizrahi society (though of course Mizrahim will be emigrating as well). With this will come a rising tide of hatred, intolerance, ethnic division, and religious extremism. The IDF, already dominated by Orthodox-settler commanders, will become more so. If you think present-day Israel is extreme, the future promises even worse.
Young people with ambition, and their lives and families ahead of them, understand that there is little hope that things can change for the better. Foreign cities beckon and offer the pluralism, opportunity, freedom, tolerance and democracy that Israel lacks.
... To be clear, Im not celebrating this development. I dont want to see Israel become a backwater, a dysfunctional state. In fact, Id prefer to see Israel as a thriving, vibrant multi-cultural oasis with opportunities for all and welcoming to all. But I must describe what I see, not what I wished Id see. Thats the difference between me and liberal Zionists. They see what they think is there or what should be there. Not what is.
Ma'an News Agency - A Palestinian media watchdog said that July was the bloodiest month on record in the history of the Palestinian press, as nine journalists were killed and eight media outlets shelled during the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza.
The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms said in a statement that the targeting of Palestinian media had continued into August, with at least six more journalists killed in the last three weeks as well.
General director of MADA Mousa Rimawi said in the statement that the attacks on journalists were widespread and focused in Gaza, where the homes of 16 journalists were also destroyed and transmission to a number of different TV, radio, and media websites was cut by the Israeli military.
"MADA believes that they would not have died if (Israeli forces) had been hold accountable for its previous crimes against journalists, which are considered war crimes according to the Geneva Conventions which protect all civilians in case of war." The report said that seven journalists were killed in Israeli assaults on Gaza in 2009 and 2012, and "so far nobody has been held accountable."
The statement said that in July, Israeli occupation forces had committed 73 violations of media freedom throughout the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, while three were committed by Palestinian parties in the West Bank.
The report stressed that the the 15 journalists killed in the last six weeks "were killed in civilian sites which are supposed to be safe for civilians, including news workers."
The report also said that while some were killed in their homes or while covering the aftermath of Israeli operations in residential neighborhoods, others were "deliberately targeted."
Carter criicizes Netanyahu, Obama
Israeli police torture handcuffed Palestinian
Road to Apartheid: a new documentary by a South African and a Jewish Israeli
Budrus is an award-winning documentary film about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israels Separation Barrier.
END THE OCCUPATION
God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America's Middle Eastern policy and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and d) a terrorist." - John le Carr, London Times, 2003