Israel acts to blunt criticism of the occupation as its grip tightens

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(RINF) – Israel has just emerged from its three-week high holidays, a period that in recent years has been marked by extremist religious Jews making provocative visits to Al Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

Many go to pray, in violation of Israel’s international obligations. Most of them belong to groups that seek to replace the mosque with a Jewish temple. They now enjoy increasing parliamentary support, some of it from within prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party.

A rash of such visits last autumn outraged Palestinians and triggered a wave of so-called lone-wolf attacks on Israelis. The attacks have recently abated.

Taking advantage of the renewed quiet, Israel allowed a record number of ultranationalists to visit the mosque, figures released last week showed. Parties of Israeli soldiers are also entering the site.

The police, whose recently appointed commander is himself from the extremist settler community, have recommended that restrictions be ended on visits by Jewish legislators who demand Israel’s sovereignty over the mosque.

For Palestinians, Israel’s treatment of this supremely important Islamic holy site symbolises their powerlessness, oppression and routine humiliation. Conversely, a sense of impunity has left Israel greedy for even more control over the Palestinians.

The gaping power imbalance was movingly detailed last month at a special hearing of the UN security council. Hagai El-Ad, head of B’tselem, which monitors the occupation, termed Israel’s abuses as “invisible, bureaucratic, daily violence” against Palestinians exercised from “cradle to grave”.

He appealed to the international community to end its five decades of inaction. “We need your help. … The occupation must end. The UN Security Council must act. And the time is now,” he said.

Israeli politicians were incensed. Mr El-Ad had broken one of Israel’s cardinal rules: you do not wash the country’s dirty linen abroad. Most Israelis consider the occupation and Palestinian suffering as an internal matter, to be decided by them alone.

Mr Netanyahu accused B’tselem’s director of conspiring with outsiders to subject Israel to “international coercion”.

With the US limply defending Mr El-Ad’s freedom of speech, Mr Netanyahu found a proxy to relaunch the attack. David Bitan, chair of his party, demanded that Mr El-Ad be stripped of his citizenship and proposed legislation to ban calls in global forums for sanctions against Israel. Unsurprisingly, Mr El-Ad has faced a flood of death threats.

Meanwhile, another UN forum has been considering Israel’s occupation. Its educational, scientific and cultural body, Unesco, passed a resolution last month condemning Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian holy sites, especially Al Aqsa.

Again, Israelis were enraged at this brief disturbance of their well-oiled machinery of oppression. The abuses documented by Unesco were overshadowed by Israeli protests that its own narrative was not the focus.

While Israel exercises ever more physical power over Palestinians, its moral credit is running out with foreign audiences, who have come to understand that the occupation is neither benign nor temporary. The rise of social media has accelerated that awakening, which in turn has bolstered grassroots reactions such as the boycott (BDS) movement.

Aware of the dangers, Israel has been aggressively targeting all forms of popular activism. Facebook and YouTube are under relentless pressure to censor sites critical of Israel.

Western governments – which joined the chorus of “Je suis Charlie” after ISIL’s lethal attack on the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo magazine last year – have cracked down on the boycott movement. Paradoxically, France has led the way by banning such activism, echoing Israeli claims that it constitutes “incitement”.

And left-wing social movements emerging in Europe face loud accusations that any criticism of Israel is tantamount to an attack on all Jews. Notably, a British parliamentary committee last month characterised as anti-semitic parts of the opposition Labour party under its new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, a champion of Palestinian rights.

In these ways, European governments have been trying to hold in check popular anger at a belligerent and unrepentant Israel.

Illustrating that caution, Uneso was forced last week to vote a second time on its resolution, this time removing the word “occupation” and, against normal practice, giving equal status to the occupier’s names for the sites under threat from its occupation.

Even with the resolution neutered, Unesco’s usual consensus could not be reached. The resolution passed by a wafer-thin majority, with European and other governments abstaining.

Israel and its enablers have successfully engineered a hollowing out of official discourse about Israel to blunt even the mildest criticism. Gradually, western powers are adopting Mr Netanyahu’s doubly illogical premises: that criticising the occupation is anti-Israel, and criticising Israel is anti-semitic.

Incrementally, western leaders are conceding that any criticism of Mr Netanyahu’s policies – even as he tries to ensure that the occupation becomes permanent – is off-limits. Mr El-Ad called for courage from the western powers that dominate the security council. But the signs are his words have fallen on deaf ears.

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, since 2001.Visit his blog.

  • Zaphod Braden

    Today we witness the SECOND Israeli HOLOCAUST of Palestinians.
    The Canaanites/Amorites/Philistines/Midianites/PALESTINIANS were in PALESTINE long before ABRAHAM passed through from Babylon/Ur ……Israel’s “claim” to Palestine is based entirely on War Crimes and GENOCIDE.

    Their monotheistic ONE & ONLY god is a WAR god.
    The Jews BRAG about and SELF DOCUMENT THEIR “holocausting” others and then “PLACE A YOKE” on Gentiles for SUPPOSEDLY doing the exact same thing to them.
    FUNNY that everything they claim the nazis did is an EXACT COPY of their own book..
    Deuteronomy 7:16, 20:16 “And thou shalt consume all the peoples which the Lord thy God shall deliver unto thee; thine eye shall not pity them…thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth.”

    KILL THE SICK and CRIPPLED
    Numbers c.5 v.2-4
    KILL HOMOSEXUALS & UNDESIRABLES
    Leviticus c.20 v.13 well, really the whole chapter
    KILL ALL DISSIDENTS:
    Exodus c.32 v.27
    Numbers c.11 v.1-2
    Numbers c.16 all
    Numbers c.21 v.5-6
    Numbers v.26 v.10
    KILL anyone who engages in “DIVERSITY” or “INTEGRATION”
    Numbers v25 v.4-8
    Deuteronomy c.14 v.2
    DEHUMANIZE and then EXTERMINATE ALL NON-MEMBERS:
    SEXUALLY ENSLAVE any females “who have not KNOWN a man”
    a very brief selection, many more in THEIR book.
    Numbers c.21 v.03 Canaanites
    Numbers c.21 v.24 Amorites
    Numbers c.21 v.33-35 Bashan
    Numbers c.31 all Midianites
    Numbers c.32 v. more Amorites
    Deuteronomy c.2 v.34 People of Heshbon
    Deuteronomy c.3 v.6 really the whole chapter. threescore cities
    Joshua c.12 A list of victims of Israeli GENOCIDE
    OCCUPY YOUR VICTIM’S DWELLINGS/LAND
    Numbers c.21 v.25
    Numbers c.32 v.39
    Numbers c.33 v.53
    (just to name a FEW)
    GENOCIDE CODIFIED IN THEIR RELIGION
    Numbers c.33 v.31-34
    Deuteronomy c.7 v.2
    Deuteronomy c.12 v.28-30
    Deuteronomy c.20 v.11-16
    TERRORISM CODIFIED IN THEIR RELIGION
    Deuteronomy c.2 v.2
    Deuteronomy c.7 v.1
    Jews SELF-anointed “The CHOSEN People of GOD”
    Nazis SELF-anointed “The CHOSEN People of GENETICS”.
    TODAY Israel states that it is creating “A PURE Jewish State”
    YESTERDAY the Nazis were creating “A PURE German State”
    And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword . . . (Joshua 6:21)
    For modern day reinforcement of these “rules” research/google “the KINGS TORAH”

    • RenegadeProphet

      The USA is the Mountains of Israel and Zion and Armageddon! Half the Bible is all about this war:

      The entire government are evil treasonous criminals! The day of the next
      false flag using the nuke the evil government stole in 2007 and blamed
      on Iran, America will be annihilated by Russia, China and the SCO. This
      is the war of Armageddon and you can know it is now because of Planet X
      and the toxic chemtrails that hide it every day globally for the past
      decade. Planet X will end the war when it rips the earth apart again but
      by then 90% of Americans will be dead already. All planned by your evil
      government!

      Fuck you, you god damn criminal bastard moderator for deleting my comment thousands of times! You deserve to be at the
      end of a rope for treason and accessory to genocide you evil bastard
      piece of government shit!

    • RenegadeProphet

      The USA is the Mountains of Israel and Zion and Armageddon! Half the Bible is all about this war:

      The entire government are evil treasonous criminals! The day of the next
      false flag using the nuke the evil government stole in 2007 and blamed
      on Iran, America will be annihilated by Russia, China and the SCO. This
      is the war of Armageddon and you can know it is now because of Planet X
      and the toxic chemtrails that hide it every day globally for the past
      decade. Planet X will end the war when it rips the earth apart again but
      by then 90% of Americans will be dead already. All planned by your evil
      government!

      Fuck you, you god damn criminal bastard moderator for deleting my comment thousands of times! You deserve to be at the
      end of a rope for treason and accessory to genocide you evil bastard
      piece of government shit!

  • BARBQPIG

    The death of the modern world started in 1948, remember when Lebanon was known as the Riviera of the middle east, a center of both travel and banking. That is, until the jews moved next door. Talk about block busting. It’s time to right the wrongs, Get rid of both the UN and Israel, they are both run by the same bigoted Talmud cartel. Don’t think so? Look who got the beach front property and who got the desert.