April 21, 2008

Palestinian holocaust museum?

Wow, the hasbara parrots seem to have flown the nest at the Independent. On Saturday Donald Macintyre wrote a front page piece about the brutality inflicted on the natives of Hebron by Israeli soldiers. Now I would have expected them to follow up with all sorts of irrelevances and lies from the hasbara legion in the letters page but not so.

Here are today's responses to Saturday's article:
Israel's reign of terror in Hebron

Sir: Your front page describing the criminal activities of Israeli Defence Force soldiers in Hebron ("Our reign of terror", 19 April), as reported by the courageous group, Breaking the Silence, is no surprise to anyone like myself, who has actually been to Hebron.

But let there be no doubt that such activities are spread right across the whole of the West Bank. Military "incursions", night-time arrests, insulting behaviour at checkpoints, detention without charge, house demolitions, and theft of water and land by expanding settlements, the Wall and roads for Israeli use only are everyday events.

It is true that Israel does from time to time prosecute soldiers for particularly gross violations, but it is not true that these actions are just the unfortunate result of young men and women being given unlimited power over powerless Palestinians, as the military authorities would have us believe.

What is really happening in Palestine is the terrorising of an occupied civilian population by state and settlers with the objective of taking over as much of the West Bank ("Samaria and Judea") as possible by further ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land and villages. What I don't understand is why US and European politicians shut their eyes to all this; surely they can't really be unaware of it?

And I don't understand why Israel is treated as part of the civilised western world.

Mike Barnes


Sir: While world leaders rightly excoriate the brutal occupation of Tibet and oppression of its people, the siege and suffering of the Palestinians continues to be largely ignored. These same politicians have turned a blind eye to Israel's crimes of conducting one of the most brutal occupations in recent times.

Israel continues to violate international law and numerous UN resolutions with complete impunity. It has received more US tax money than any other nation on earth. While our nation has plunged into a deep recession, and more and more Americans are thrown out of work and their homes, we continue to send Israel massive amounts of money (or euros at Israel's insistence), at present a rates of $7m a day. US tax money is also sent to Egypt and Jordon to purchase their co-operation with Israel and serve as our torture rendition sites.

Unless we can raise humanitarian awareness of the plight of the Palestinians, more will surely die of starvation and despair. Perhaps, years from now, we will be building a Palestinian holocaust museum to mourn the human tragedy that could easily have been avoided.

Americans should demand that we stop giving billions of dollars to fund Israel's war of terror, money desperately needed for our domestic programmes.

Jagjit Singh

Los Altos, California USA

Sir: I visited Hebron last November and witnessed some of the appalling repression described by Donald Macintyre. I also heard testimony from a former soldier,now a member of Breaking the Silence, who made it clear that the events described were not, as the IDF claims "highly unusual", but commonplace.

If the Israelis wish to refute this why don't they set up an international commission of inquiry to investigate, with an independent chairman, say, the former US president, Jimmy Carter?

Sadly, Israel's policy seems to be one of continued denial in the hope that world opinion will look away. Please continue to publicise abuses in Palestine, which are such a shameful stain on the character of the Israeli state.

Mike Gwilliam

Norton-on-Derwent, North Yorkshire

Sir: There is growing concern in Israel of the effects this widespread "brutalisation" of their young men and women on military or border police service throughout the Occupied Territories is having on Israeli society when they return to civilian life.

When our 62-year-old Jewish director in Jerusalem, Professor Jeff Halper, was arrested on 2 April, as he unsuccessfully tried to prevent the demolition of yet another Palestinian home by Israeli bulldozers (more than 18,000 since 1967, leaving more than 100,000 Palestinians homeless), one of the border policemen man-handling him boasted, "I was born to demolish Palestinian homes. I love demolishing homes. I wake up in the morning hungry to demolish homes".

Linda Ramsden

UK Director, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, London NW1

Sir: I cannot understand how the Jews who suffered so much in the Second World War have absolutely no empathy with the Arab population. Obviously, there will never ever be peace, while America sends vast amounts of arms etc and billions of dollars to these barbarians.

I am pleased that Tibet and other situations are being made public, but I rarely see mention of Gaza and what these poor souls suffer.

I visited the Holy Land twice in the 1990s and was disgusted to see how Israel's soldiers treated civilians in Jerusalem. Of course, I do not condone the rockets fired by Hamas, but that is no comparison with the Jewish attacks.

Kay Sharp

Greenhithe, Kent

Now I might have missed all those if it wasn't for ej in the comments who had this to say:
The Hasbara team have let down the side badly. No doubt the Independent will be up on a bias charge and the deniers demanding right of reply, etc. etc.
Or is defending the indefensible getting just too damned difficult?
I think he might be right. I just had a little look at Engage and even they haven't stooped to accusing Donald Macintyre of antisemitism....yet.


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