Saturday, February 25

Elor Azaria is Sentenced to 18 Months Imprisonment for Manslaughter

The balance of deterrence. Eran Wolkowski Haaretz

It makes no sense, despite what many think (including many right-wing politicians in the Knesset, who exploit this tragedy for their own political gain) and feels, that Azaria committed a brave act by shooting a dying or prone terrorist that posed no danger to anybody around him. Shooting a dying terrorist, when he poses no danger to anybody, is not an act of bravery, it is manslaughter as the Court had ruled. Had he shot the terrorist in self-defense or defending others from death or severe injury is bravery and deserving of citation.  This is not the case here. Ruling politicians are doing a great disservice not only to Azaria, who did not express remorse for what he did but also to the IDF and to Elor Azaria's family. Even the defence lawyers are concerned about scoring points by appealing the sentence which is very lenient by all standards for their reputation and personal egos.

Baruch Marzel.
Baruch Marzel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The right wing extremists under Bayit Hayehudi and other extremists (many of whom have neo-fascist ideology) are becoming very powerful. This is also evident in the recent selection of conservative judges in the High Court. This was a heydey for the right wing, who are concerned with getting more votes in the next elections by unanimously requesting a pardon for Elor.

After Azaria was convicted of manslaughter in the case, several right-wing lawmakers, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had called for him to be pardoned.1.

UN Human Rights Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani compares Elor Azaria's 18-month sentence for killing 'a wounded Palestinian' with three-year sentences given to Palestinian children for throwing stones; she declares that the case reinforces a 'culture of impunity.' This statement may be viewed as outrageous when we see that that the UN exhibits apathy to the genocide and slaughter going on in Syria and other Arab countries and condemns Israel for human rights abuses. However, this does not alter the fact that the sentence for manslaughter that Elor Azaria received was lenient.

We must also bear in mind that the relationship between the settlers in Hebron and the IDF is not in the best interests of the soldiers serving in that very explosive area. The right wing extremist settlers are over familiar with the soldiers and invite them over to their homes when they are off duty. Kahanist and Lehava extremists seem to rule the roost there and brainwash many off-duty soldiers in their ideology of hate for Palestinians. There seem to be two laws dominating the IDF soldiers serving in Hebron. There are IDF Protocol and the “very unofficial Hebron Settler Protocol” dominated by Kahanist and Lehava racists. It is significant to note that after Elior Azaria shot the prone terrorist, Baruch Marzel, the leader of the Kach Fascists came out of nowhere to shake Elor’s hand to congratulate him for his “heroic” act. Apparently, Elior and Marzel are good friends. What was Marzel doing in the area where the incident occurred?

“It's time to understand who's really in control in the occupied territories. Decades of occupation have transformed IDF units in the West Bank into an army that not only defends settlers but is also subject to their orders and instructions. Soldiers' testimonies in this report describe the close relations between settlers and the IDF in the West Bank along with settlers' involvement in, and influence on, military operations” according to a report by “Breaking the Silence” - an NGO maligned by the right wing Government Coalition and is forbidden to give lectures on their activities at educational institutions subsidized by the Education [Fabrication] Ministry in the hands of the extremist right-wing Bayit Hayehudi that has a right wing, religious settler-oriented agenda. It is viewed as “Fake News” (to use the President Donald Trump description of news and reports he does not want to hear or read). When an NGO devoted to human rights and truth reporting is maligned by the ruling government or administration as in the case of the US today, we must take their reports seriously.

There is a background promulgated by settler leaders that influenced the thinking of many soldiers serving in Hebron and dehumanised Elior to take the law into his own hands by carrying out the death sentence of the neutralised Palestinian terrorist 11 minutes after he was rendered harmless by the soldiers authorised to do so. There is no denying that this was the case.

Amnon Abramovich, the well-known Channel 2 commentator, wrote that the settler leaders should be put on trial and not Azaria.   

The desire to score points with the right wing Israeli Electorate by high-ranking politicians in the Knesset to demand that Elior Azaria gets pardoned. This homicide has been turned into a hot potato political charade by the ruling right-wing coalition. The Chief-of-Staff of the IDF, Gadi Eizenkott, bravely stated that the IDF responsible bodies will make the decision on Elior Azaria and not the right-wing MKs.

Putting aside all the statements condemning Israel's Military Court leniency and the political capital made by the right wing political parties, the fact remains that Elor Azaria was convicted of homicide by shooting a prone terrorist, who was lying neutralized by the Israeli Security Forces for 11 minutes until Elor Azaria decided to add his shekel worth of bullets or bullet that killed him. This act, leaving politics aside (it is NOT a political matter), is a criminal offence and went against the army protocol of indiscriminate firing of weapons and the lenient sentence he received was probably because of powerful right-wing pressure on the judge behind the scenes that obviously affected her decision. The judge admitted that the offence was very serious. The punishment was light rather than fitting the crime committed. The right wing extremists under Bayit Hayehudi and other extremists many of whom have neo-fascist ideology are becoming very powerful. This is also evident in the recent selection of conservative judges in the High Court. This was a heydey for the right wing, who are more concerned with getting more votes in the next elections by unanimously requesting a pardon for Elor.

Thursday, February 16

Trump and Netanyahu Meeting - Friendly Futility!

US President Donald Trump (R) welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint press conference at the White House in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)
After watching the Trump-Netanyahu Joint Press Conference before the meeting between the two leaders, it became obvious that the conference was an exercise of “friendly futility”. The words of both PM Netanyahu and President Trump were a back-slapping exercise of a “budding friendship” and chemistry between the two leaders. There was no hint of any substance whatsoever apart from vague statements open to interpretation by a hungry bunch of press reporters seeking a scoop. A scoop -  it certainly was not apart from photo opportunities and lavish praise uttered between the two leaders for each other and Trump’s praise of Sarah Netanyahu for her “graciousness”.

President Donald Trump hinted to Netanyahu that he should “hold back” on settlements. Netanyahu promised to “examine” that issue. There was no commitment on either side, just vague, meaningless statements. Netanyahu was obviously minding his p’s and queues. He did not wish to say anything that would antagonize his extremist right wing flank led by Naftali Bennett, Leader of the extremist right wing party, Habayit Hayehudi, back home. No mention was made of the Two-State Solution. Trump somehow saved the day by saying that he will go with any solution, one-state or two-state depending on what the parties to the conflict want. Trump has no knowledge of the conflict at all or at best, a very superficial knowledge. Maybe it is better that way. President Trump is very unpredictable in any case and even if he would “close a deal” he may change his mind later because of a personal whim or fancy.

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump rejected the long-established US framework for Middle East peacemaking at a White House visit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday as he announced his desire to reach "the ultimate deal." 1

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters at a press briefing on Wednesday that he asked U.S. President Donald Trump in their meeting to have the U.S. recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel. 2

What was significant in this Joint Press Conference was what was not even mentioned. There was no mention of the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who had misled the White House over his phone calls with the Russian ambassador to Washington. According to press reports, it was Flynn that helped organize the Trump-Netanyahu meeting. The cozy and admiring relationship between Trump and Putin also raises questions. Is it possible that Putin knows something about Trump that if revealed could result in Trump’s downfall? Time will tell. Putin of Russia is a wily and ruthless leader. He has well honed skills from his experience in the KGB.  

President Donald Trump said he would support the peace agreement Israel and Palestinians "like the best" in a joint press conference during which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu railed against Palestinian efforts to reach a deal. 3

In the biggest blow to Mr. Trump's nascent presidency, his National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned after it emerged he held secret talks with Russia before entering the White House. 4

General Flynn's resignation also raises further questions about the Trump administration's intentions towards Vladimir Putin's Russia, including statements by the president suggesting moral equivalence between the United States and Russia,” Arizona Sen. John McCain said in a statement Tuesday. 5

The whole Trump-Netanyahu meeting appears to be a shallow show of meaningless platitudes uttered between the two leaders in order to satisfy those whose ears are tuned to what they wanted to hear.

An Israeli press reporter asked a question about the increase of anti-Semitic incidents on President Trump’s watch so far. While Trump did not deny the racism issue, he did not make any mention of anti-Semitism. Was he skirting the anti-Semitic issue because he did not wish to antagonize his anti-Semitic supporters, some of whom are in his administration? He skirted the issue in a way that satisfied everybody by making statements that the American people are very divided and under his watch and that “we will see a lot of love”.  

President Trump is a successful businessman and tycoon. He views the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict as nothing more his desire to reach “the ultimate deal” in which his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will be a partner (mediator). A One-State or Two-State Solution makes no difference to him. As long as it is the “Art of the Deal”, it looks as if we have no room for any form of optimism even with improvement of Israel’s relationship with the Arab States as Netanyahu claims.

It appears that the Trump-Netanyahu meeting is nothing but a back-slapping, supercilious charade with no substance that can raise our hopes for peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbours.

2.15 Feb. 2017, Accessed 16 Feb. 2017.

Friday, February 10

The Knesset Fascists pass the "The Theft Bill"

The third and final reading of the “Theft Bill” was passed by 60 - 52 votes in the Knesset. This odorous bill is now on its way of legalizing theft of privately owned Palestinian lands for the establishment of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. In other words, there will be no more evacuations of settlements and outposts by Supreme Court order if a Palestinian landowner has proof that the outposts and settlements were built on privately owned land as in the case of recently evacuated Amona.
Israeli parliament members vote during a Constitution, Law, and Justice,
Committee meeting

The Regulation Law:The law legalizes and protects thousands of Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria which were built with government backing and lacked absentee land claims, but against which there are now property claims.

Under the Regulation Law, homes built on such properties will be allowed to remain, and owners with proven claims to the land will be given a choice of receiving an alternate plot of land or monetary compensation for 125% of their land's value”.

The amazing situation is that Israel has the power of jurisdiction over the Palestinian land owner in the occupied territories according to this law.

There is another viewpoint that claims that the Regulation Law does not contravene International or Israeli Law. According to several leading legal scholars, the “Regulation Law” does not contradict Israeli law, and precedents both inside and outside Israel can be invoked to justify its passage within the context of international law.

This is an extremist right wing Bayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home Party) attempt to weaken the Supreme Court and strengthen the settler movement as well as destroying any attempt to reach a peace agreement based on the Two-State Solution (which is moribund).

This very controversial Regulation Law has been condemned not only by the Israeli left of center political parties, but also by many members of the Likud Party. Even PM Benjamin Netanyahu is aware of the dangers that this law presents to Israel in International World forums including the Secretary General of the UN. Even the Attorney-General, Avichai Mandelblit, has stated that the law is illegal and he will not support it.

This move to pass the Regulation Law was a political move from the right and PM Netanyahu was sucked in by Bayit Hayehudi leader, Naftali Bennett, (who Netanyahu dislikes and fears) on his extremist right wing flank to put his weight behind this law. Netanyahu did not participate in this vote as he was on a plane returning to Israel from London.

The French statement came shortly after the United Kingdom issued a condemnation of the law; a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London, saying that the legislation damages Israel's international standing.1

If ICC prosecutors take their duties seriously, the legalization law significantly raises the pressure on them to put Israeli officials – even Mr. Netanyahu – on trial for complicity in the war crime of establishing and nurturing the settlements.2

If members of the Likud Party as well as the official opposition express opposition to this odious law then it is obvious that this law is against the interests of Israel. With the “theft law,” to quote Likud Knesset member Benny Begin, about to be voted on in Jerusalem, Netanyahu did not dare divulge the contents of his talk with British PM Theresa May about the UN resolution condemning the occupation in general and the land-grabbing settlement enterprise in particular.3

Many Knesset members in the ruling government coalition are not really as patriotic as they appear to be on the surface. They are interested in remaining in power even if it means being tools in the passing of laws that are populist in order to gain support from the various settler movements in the occupied territories. Netanyahu views Bennett and his gang as a threat to his power base and he will do what he can to prevent his support base from moving towards the Bayit HaYehudi Party.

It is hoped that the Supreme Court will examine this odious piece of legislation and annul it. This is the only hope that we in Israel have of getting this law out of the statute book.

A Foreign Ministry document approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and obtained by The Jerusalem Post tells foreign capitals: “The [settlement regulation] law will be reviewed by the Supreme Court.”4

There is no doubt that this right wing Government Coalition is the most polarizing government since Israel’s establishment. Most of its members pander to the most basic racist mentality in Israeli society in its widest context. The hatred for Arabs, prejudice towards those who do not believe in the official government line is viewed as traitors and as potential Fifth Column that needs to kept under observation. Even culture is moving towards strait jacketing under Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev. She “punishes” cultural activity if it is avante garde politically by threatening to remove financial subsidies for their activities on a personal basis.

Democracy in Israel is about to be subjected to a very rough ride and the definition of traitor will be a very wide definition indeed. Beware! “Trumpism” is on the rise!

  1.  7 Feb. 2017, Accessed 10 Feb. 2017.
  2.  7 Feb. 2017, Accessed 10 Feb. 2017.
  3. 9 Feb. 2017, Accessed 10 Feb. 2017.
  4. 9 Feb. 2017, Accessed 10 Feb. 2017.

Saturday, February 4

The Evacuation of Amona

“Thou shalt Not Steal” Exodus 20:15

The evacuation of Amona has been achieved over the past few days. Most of the 41 families, who lived on this outpost, were evacuated by the police without any violent resistance. The police carried out a High Court order for the evacuation of this outpost on legal grounds that it was built on stolen Palestinian land. It may not be a happy day for those illegal settlers, who were evicted, but certainly a happy day for Israel that still holds the decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court as legally binding, beyond ruling party coalition government desires.

In a ruling that caused outrage in Israel, in 2014 the Supreme Court found that Amona, a settlement built on private Palestinian land, was illegally constructed, and ordered its demolition.1

The resistance and violence against the police, who carried out their duties was committed by skull capped, earlocked(peyot)
Violence against evacuation
and fringes (tzitziit)-wearing hooligans also known as the “hilltop youth”, who do not live in Amona, only arrived to cause violence and destruction. This is the same rabble that carried out attacks against Palestinians and their property as well as setting fire to mosques and churches.

They injured dozens of police members with stones, bars and chains. These “religious” hooligans were treated with kid gloves and this explains the high amount of injuries suffered by members of the police force in carrying out the court order for the evacuation of Amona. These hooligans were bussed away to neighboring Ofrah, where they smashed bus windows and jumped out of the bus creating havoc. These hoodlums should have been taken into custody and brought to justice. Can you imagine what the police would do to Palestinians, who behaved in this manner?

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said some 3,000 police officers were operating “carefully and slowly” to evacuate the Amona settlement ahead of its court-ordered demolition — in stark contrast to their heavy-handed approach to knocking down Palestinian homes.2

Those responsible for the Amona debacle were not the settlers, but Likud coalitions, present and past, who gave carte blanche to settle on Palestinian owned land in order to strengthen the settler enterprise in the occupied territories, rendering the two-state solution not viable. They had stopped short of giving official permission to build on Palestinian land.The settlers, imbued with right wing ideology over Greater Israel, have been living in Amona for more than twenty years. It boggles the mind how the government of Israel had turned a blind eye to building this outpost and many others for so many years. This should never have happened.
Israeli policemen clash with protesters during the evacuation of Amona, on Wednesday. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In desperation, the government wishes to pass a law preventing the further evacuation of outposts built on Palestinian-owned land called the Regulation Bill that basically legalizes theft of Palestinian land for building outposts for Israeli settlement. This Bill is about to have its final third reading before being passed into law. The Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has expressed his opposition to this bill on the grounds that it is illegal.

It appears that Amona was evacuated before this contentious Regulation Bill was made into law. If the the bill is passed, it will weaken the High Court and the rule of law in Israel. This will be a threat to Israel’s democracy and will open the door for further bills to be enacted in order to suit the ideology of the right wing government and to weaken opposition to bills destined to erode democracy in order to suit the political platform of the ruling Likud Coalition.

"There is a use of the Amona issue to hide the Israeli decision to build another 3,000 new housing units, [part of a plan] to divide the West Bank in two, surround Jerusalem, and prevent any opportunity for a Palestinian state and the option of two state solution."3

Al-Ayyam said in this regard Israeli occupation authorities evacuated settlers from 40 caravans in Amona outpost, noting that the evacuation served as a smokescreen for Israel's plan to construct 3,000 new units in settlements across the West Bank.4

Now with the new Trump Administration in place, it remains to be seen if the present right wing Government Coalition will get support from the new administration for the settler enterprise in the occupied territories. To date the issue has been treated with “soft-serve” by the new Trump Administration. To date their attitude towards the settlement enterprise in the occupied territories is that it is not an obstacle for peace, but continuing to build new settlements or enlarging existing ones may be an obstacle to peace in which case it is not encouraged even by the new Trump Administration.   

  1. 1. 2 Feb. 2017, Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.
  2. Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.
  3. 2 Feb. 2017, Accessed 4 Feb. 2017.
  4. 2 Feb. 2017, Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.