I’ve just seen a very carefully balanced piece of reporting from Wyre Davis on the BBC news.
Reporting from Tripoli in Libya, he and other reporters were taken to a hospital where they were presented with the sight of a baby girl in a serious condition.
The ‘uncle’ of the girl told reporters, with some clumsy prompting, that the girl’s injuries were as a result of enemy bombing and this was an example of how Nato protects civilians.
Wyre produced a scrap of paper from a hospital employee telling them that the girl was the victim of a road traffic accident.
Davis then continued with a report from the scene from the alleged bombing where the only visible ‘casualties’ were a dead dog and some domestic animals.
Then the girl’s uncle turned up and under pressure from reporters revealed he was a government employee.
So the whole sorry story was an amateurish attempt to lie about the effect of Nato bombing. Wyre Davis told us that this was a trumped up attempt at propaganda.
Now compare to the never-ending pictures from Gaza, in 2009, of the dead bodies of children, the reports from hospitals, the ‘eye-witness accounts’ the escorting of western journalists by Hamas through rubble, the stories of deliberate targeting of civilians, UN sites, schools, hospitals, mosques.
Do you remember how the likes of Jeremy Bowen believed everything that Hamas and Hamas-controlled citizens said to him. Do you ever recall a scintilla of scepticism about reports from a terrorist organisation and a terrorist-controlled entity?
Yet, in Libya, because the UK and its allies are involved, scepticism and journalistic instinct suddenly are to the fore. When Israel is involved, and we just saw this in reports from the Syrian border, dictaorships, terrorists and shadowy individuals are believed, and it is up to Israel to try to rebut lies and baseless accusations and blatant propaganda.
The post, written in March, tells us about how in February 1982 the Syrian army enter the city of Hama in central Syria to hunt down anti-Ba’athists.
The anti-Ba’athists were in fact mainly what we would now call ‘Islamists’, some affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood. This group had already revolted in the past in order to bring down the government of Hafez Assad, the father of the current President of Syria.
These rebel insurgents in Hama were Sunni Muslims. When they attacked and killed Syrian soldiers hunting down the regimes political enemies, what followed was a true massacre of medieval proportions and brutality.
The Syrian army went on a killing spree not just against insurgents but the whole city. In scenes reminiscent of the Nazis who razed whole towns in the Second World War, government forces killed between 10,000 and 40,000 people, men women and children. Exact figures are hard to come by but most commentators now believe that 40,000 is nearer the mark than 10,000.
The city was surrounded and shelled for three weeks. Scenes of unspeakable acts of mutilation and mass executions were reported.
The world did nothing. The Syrian regime remained. The uprising was limited to Hama, and the Muslim Brotherhood was eliminated in Syria, either going to ground or scattering to neighbouring countries, the USA and Great Britain.
Over the past few weeks we have seen that Hafez Assad taught his son, Bashar, well.
A generation later the insurgents have returned. This time they are not necessarily Islamists but from a wide spectrum of Syrian society determined to put an end to decades of the Assad dynasty. What these latterday insurgents want is not always clear, but political rights and greater freedoms are on their agenda. One assumes.
The reaction of the current President Assad is to behave like his father. He, too, is prepared to use tanks and bombs against his own citizens, indiscriminately, to fire on unarmed demonstrators, arrest and detain thousands.
This time it is not just the residents of Hama who are rising up, but also Deraa, Baiyas, Aleppo and Homs. Even the Damascus region has tanks on the streets of its towns.
Not 40,000 dead this time but, according to best estimates about 800. So far, but it could get a loss worse and probably will.
There is a striking comparison to be made between the siege of Deraa where its people have no-one to protect them and Misrata in Libya.
For weeks the Libyan army has pounded the people of Misrata, the front line of the rebel advance. Yet these insurgents are armed and are protected by the most sophisticated air force in the world – that of Nato aided by a few Qataris representing the Arab League.
So what is the difference between Libya and Syria?
According to pundits, the Arabs agreed via the UN Security Council and Resolution 1973 to ‘invite’ Nato to protect Arabs from other Arabs because even this roll-call of oppressive regimes could not stomach the spectacle of Gaddafi killing his own people.
Yet when it comes to Syria not one of them has so much as whispered disapproval. Not the Saudis, not the Egyptians who are now supposed to be paragons of democracy, not the Jordanians and not Assad’s good friends the Turks (until today) and the Iranians (“no need for intervention”).
No international intervention has materialised because the Arabs appear to value the blood of Libyans above that of Syrians, and the UN can just issue its usual mumbled toothless condemnations.
The EU, meanwhile, proclaims sanctions. Big deal.
Apparently, it’s a different situation to Libya because Assad still has the support of his people. Did anyone take a poll in Libya and Syria to determine which regime had most popular support?
The simple truth is that Syria is a ‘player’ a regional power which bestrides the geographic and political ground between Turkey and Iran. Libya, on the other hand, apart from a bit of oil, is of little strategic importance and Gaddafi’s heyday of state terrorism, WMD, assassinations, racism and islamisation are largely in the past.
The recent Arab Spring has shown to what lengths the regimes in the region are prepared to go to preserve power and hegemony; whether it is the racist pragmatist Gaddafi or the Bahraini sheiks, the Ba’athists in Syria or the Shi’ites in Yemen.
Let’s not forget the hundreds who died in Egypt before we proclaim this was a bloodless ‘revolution’.
Despite the West’s wishful thinking that all these Arab uprisings will lead to democracy and the New Millenium, due to the very nature of the regimes in these countries, we have no idea of the motivations, political leanings or any future political outcomes resulting from these uprisings. The West assumes that if you through the pack in the air it will land as a perfect House of Cards, but revolutions and seismic political events leave vacuums into which other dark forces can come which are even more inimical to West and western values.
And in this maelstrom, at the eye of this storm, is Israel being encouraged to make a deal with a Fatah-Hamas coalition to introduce another murderous, undemocratic, Islamist, Jew-hating regime in the region.
An opportunity not to be missed.
The Jerusalem Post reports that Turkey plans to send five ships and a submarine to join a naval operation to enforce an arms embargo off Libya.
You couldn’t make it up, as they say.
This is the same Turkey that condemned Israel for intercepting the so-called ‘humanitarian’ flotilla last year which resulted in the death of 9 IHH Islamist activists.
This UN blockade is OK because NATO is enforcing UN resolution 1973.
Israel’s blockade is deemed illegal by all those for whom it is convenient to believe this fantasy.
Israel has about as much chance of having a UN Resolution in its favour to protect it from murderous rocket fire as Ahmadinejad converting to Judaism
So Libya is to be prevented from receiving arms.
Israel is criticised and demonised for trying to prevent Hamas from receiving arms by, inter alia, stopping ships such as the Mavi Marmara and, more recently, the Victoria.
I now keenly await the IHH and other humanitarian organisations that are so keen on breaking the Gaza blockade to send a flotilla with humanitarian aid to Tripoli and refuse to comply with orders to stop and be searched. And should they attack and attempt to kill the Turkish or other coalition naval personnel who try to board their boats?
Won’t happen will it.
The BBC recorded various opinions on whether Gaddafi is a target and whether it would be legal to target him.
Let’s make this clear: ‘Target’ means a cruise missile aimed at his compound with all the collateral damage that may entail.
This is the protracted experts’ opinion. You know, the people we trust to risk British and Libyan lives,
19.00 UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox
Asked by the BBC’s John Pienaar if it was possible to hit Colonel Gaddafi “without unacceptable civilian casualties, would you try to do that?”, Dr Fox said: “Well that would potentially be a possibility”.
22.50 Pentagon spokesman Vice-Admiral William Gortney
“We are not going after Gaddafi. At this particular point I can guarantee he is not on the target list.”
08.18 UK Foreign Secretary William Hague
“I’m not going to get drawn the detail or who might be targeted because I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think in a conflict and the enforcement of a UN resolution to give people all the details of what might or might not be targeted is wise.” Pressed on whether the resolution could be interpreted as allowing Gaddafi to be targeted, he told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “All the things that are allowed depends on how people behave.”
11.27 Chief of the Defence General Sir David Richards
Gaddafi is “absolutely not” a target. “It is not something that is allowed under the UN resolution and it is not something that I want to discuss any further.”
12.48 Downing Street sources
Government sources say it is legal under the UN resolution to target Colonel Gaddafi. Sources say under the UN resolution 1973 the Coalition have the power to target Gaddafi if he is a threat to the civilian population of Libya. The source added that Gen Sir David Richards was wrong to say it is not allowed under the UN resolution. However sources declined to say whether this meant Gaddafi was a target.
15.30 Prime Minister David Cameron
“The UN Security Council resolution is very clear about the fact that we are able to take action, including military action, to put in place a no-fly zone that prevents air attacks on Libyan people, and to take all necessary measures to stop the attacks on civilians. We must be clear what our role is, and our role is to enforce that UN Security Council resolution. Many people will ask questions—I am sure, today—about regime change, Gaddafi and the rest of it. I have been clear: I think Libya needs to get rid of Gaddafi. But, in the end, we are responsible for trying to enforce that Security Council resolution; the Libyans must choose their own future.”
“The UN resolution is limited in its scope. It explicitly does not provide legal authority for action to bring about Gaddafi’s removal from power by military means. As I have said, we will help to fulfil the UN Security Council’s resolution. It is for the Libyan people to determine their government and their destiny, but our view is clear: there is no decent future for Libya with Colonel Gaddafi remaining in power.”
17.54 US Defence Secretary Robert Gates
“I think it’s pretty clear to everybody that Libya would be better off without Gaddafi. But that is a matter for the Libyans themselves to decide. And I think, given the opportunity and the absence of repression, they may well do that. But I think it is a mistake for us to set that (targeting Gaddafi) as a goal of our military operation.”
22.40 UK Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt
“Firstly it’s an operational matter what’s targeted, but any operation that takes place will be fully in accordance with the UN resolution – which is to protect civilians or to take action that will establish a no-fly zone. That’s the operational parameters.” Pressed on whether that entitled the UK to target Gaddafi, he said: “I believe that what it entitles the government to do is act in accordance with the resolution and, acting with our partners, is to take the steps that will protect the Libyans or establish a no-fly zone.”
One thing is absolutely clear and it’s this.
When Israel wants to take out terrorists who are dedicated to the destruction of that country and who spend their entire waking lives planning how to kill Jews, the law, the UN and every leader in Europe are completely crystal clear – extra-judicial killings are not allowed.
When an arms dealer in a hotel in Dubai dies mysteriously it’s illegal.
But when the person involved has no direct impact or threat to the countries targeting him, then that might be OK.
Of course, if the UN says it’s legal then nasty people can be taken out. Only Israelis are disallowed from taking out nasty people to protect civilians.
Yesterday on The Big Questions on BBC 1 and this evening on Newsnight on BBC 2, Nicky Campbell and Jeremy Paxman, the two BBC frontmen for these programmes asked more or less the question, and I paraphrase:
‘why are the western nations so keen to protect Libyan citizens from a monster like Gaddafi when they sat on their hands when Israel was bombing Gaza?’
On the Big Questions, Campbell clearly asked it to draw out a distinction without endorsing the moral equivalence, nevertheless, the fact the question was asked at all is significant in that not everyone would see it that way, and would be nodding sagely that Livni was somehow like Gaddafi.
On Newsnight, Paxaman had Bernard-Henri Lévy, a renowned French journalist and philosopher, born in Algeria and a Jew. He had been to Benghazi and as a result had called President Sarkozy to encourage him to endorse and support the no-fly zone and stop a massacre.
In the studio was Abd al-Bari Atwan, a rabidly anti-Zionist Palestinian journalist and editor of Al-Quds Al-Arabi in London who has said “If the Iranian missiles strike Israel, by Allah, I will go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight.”
So we know where Atwan is coming from.
However, it was Paxman, who, before asking Atwan for a response, posed the same question Campbell had done, albeit, with more conviction on the moral equivalence front.
Atwan needed no encouragement. He accused the UN and the West of being selective – well I agree as I wrote yesterday. But rather than laying into Bahrain or Yemen, instead, having had the proverbial red-rag waved by Paxman, he had his horns well and truly sharpened and gored Israel.
He compared Israel’s bombing and ‘massacre’ of 1400 Palestinians in Gaza and Israel’s bombing of Lebanon with Gaddafi. Why did the West not intervene then, he asked.
I’ll not go into the charming way Henri-Lévy stepped aside as Atwan’s horns approached his crotch and how he administered the coup-de-grâce with a well-placed rapier thrust.
The important thing is that Israel’s retaliation against two murderous opponents bent on Israel’s destruction are seen as aggression and deliberately targetting civilians.
Instead, the fact that Hizbollah and Hamas had been firing rockets and abducting Israeli soldiers and were being armed by Atwan’s beloved Iran and that both Hamas and Hizbollah were implacably committed to the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews, was turned into an aggression equivalent to a tyrant targetting his own people in an attempt to hold on to power.
Surely the real equivalence here is that the UN should have seen Israel as the force for democracy fighting a maniacal fascist enemy and the UN should have been protecting and should now be protecting Israel from assault by Hamas and Hizbollah.
BBC presenters do not view Israel as a beleaguered democracy fighting for its existence against murderous tyrannical regimes which surround it. Instead it is Israel who is at least worthy to be considered seriously as part of the tyrant versus freedom-fighter paradigm.
It takes the Jewish North African Henri-Lévy to put the case for the defence and support of Muslim Arabs whilst all Atwan can do is attack Israel and say the West should tell the Arabs to defend their own people.
In some part, I agree with Atwan: the Arab League should be sorting this out, not the former colonial nations.
What is the aim of this strategy? To stop innocent civilians being killed?
Does it seem to be working? No. We have reports of dozens being killed in Misrata and Benghazi. Gadaffi’s men, dressed as civilians are indistinguishable from rebels and opponents of the regime.
How long can the No-fly Zone be maintained? Er… not sure.
Why have the usual suspects – the US, Britain and France – led the coalition?
What have the Arab League contributed? Money, support – now, apparently in doubt, – anything else? Er – not much.
So, no ground troops, no regime change, no arming the rebels. How will this work, then?
Why is the UN so exercised about Libya, but never considered intervention in other countries (Sudan, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, China, Russia, Lebanon, Yemen, yada yada…) where a regime was killing its own people? It’ s not as if the rebels were not armed. Shouldn’t the Arab League do something for a change? Ah, I forget, they believe the Sudanese President Omar al Bashir is a paragon of virtue.
Isn’t this confusing? The Arab League and Iran effectively support the rebels. Yet in their own countries they are suppressing them.
Now Amr Moussa, Head of the Arab League and Egyptian presidential hopeful, is concerned that the Coalition is killing civilians by taking out air defences and is going beyond what he thought the League had agreed to when supporting the UN Resolution. How did he think they were going to impose a No-fly Zone? Does he believe that such a policy is going to be victim-free?
Here we are again, engaged in military intervention that has nothing to do with national security and is a kind of moral intervention. Bosnia I can understand getting involved with. But Libya? Is it that the West is feeling just a tad guilty about letting the monster Gadaffi free rein for 40 years whilst he terrorised the West and then, when he convinced them that he was a reformed character, forswearing nuclear weapons and WMD, it was all kissy-kissy and releasing a murderer and, oh, signing oil deals and supplying arms.
Hmm. Seems the West is good at supporting and arming dictators and then trying to get rid of them or prevent them from being monsters.
And now I hear that there is to be a blockade of Libyan ports so that arms cannot get in.
The irony is beautiful.
Here is the West condemning the Israeli blockade of Gazan ports and stopping ships to search for arms and now, what are they doing? They are blockading a Mediterranean port or two themselves for the very same reason.
And when Israel tries to stop the firing of rockets from Gaza by taking out military targets using air power, it is condemned for killing civilians. And what is the Coalition doing?
Maybe President Chavez of Venezuela is sending a humanitarian flotilla to Tripoli as we speak.
The Stop the War Coalition who don’t like non-Muslims killing Muslims have come out against the UN Coalition as they want to avoid civilian bloodshed. So they are quite sanguine about allowing Muslims to kill Muslims; let Gadaffi do his worst, it seems.
Such a terrible moral dilemma for the West and the UN. 40 years of inaction, and when a few thousand Cyrenaicans take up arms and begin a civil war inspired by uprisings in other Arab countries, and then get battered by a professional army and air force, suddenly Gadaffi is evil personified.
What the hell has a civil war in Libya got to do with us? Do we know what the rebels believe in? Are these rebels western-style democrats who have emerged suddenly ex nihilo? Is that why the West sort-of supports them? We want to see democracy in Libya? Now, after 40 years? What’s going on?
Will any new Libyan regime be any better? Will the Tripolitanians forgive the Cyrenaicans and vice-versa? Who will reconcile them?
It’s a mess, and on balance either the Libyans should have been left to sort it out themselves or the Arab League should have armed the rebels. Why do we sell arms and sophisticated weapon systems to the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia so they can have impressive military parades but never actually sort out their own back yard?
And when WILL we see a democratic Arab state?
The West is so pleased about what they see as the Arab yearning for democracy that they haven’t actually realised that so far the number of democracies still equals zero. Unless you count Lebanon where Hizbollah now holds sway and Gaza where Hamas was voted in. Is this what our airmen and airwomen are fighting for?
Are our leaders so naive?
Anglo-Jewry should either be relieved at Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent paean of praise for Jewry and Israel when he addressed the Community Security Trust recently in London, or be confused. I subscribe to the latter opinion.
With me you have a prime minister whose belief in Israel is indestructible. And you have a prime minister who wants to build a strong and productive relationship with Israel….
I will always be a strong defender of the Jewish people. I will always be an advocate for the State of Israel
An advocate ofr the State of Israel is he?
This is the same Mr Cameron who, as I reported last year, said the following to a receptive Turkish audience:
“Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza can not and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp,” he said.
By characterising Gaza as a prison camp Cameron was not being an ‘advocate for the State of Israel’; in fact, quite the opposite because he was using the very same language that Israel’s vilifiers and demonisers use.
By misrepresenting the situation and accusing Israel of stopping humanitarian goods entering the Gaza Strip, not only was he sucking up to the Turkish regime that approved of the infamous IHH-led Mavi Marmara, he was also maligning Israel in an international forum and appeasing a dangerous Islamising state at the heart of NATO. A state which wants to join the EU even though it has an appalling human rights record in Kurdistan and Northern Iraq and an alliance with Iran.
This same Mr Cameron, when leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition was not an ‘advocate for the State of Israel’ when he said:
“The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable,”
Instead of depicting Turkey as a heroic modernising Islamic state, which it certainly no longer is, and laying the groundwork for its entry into the EU, he should have been chastising them for their role in the Gaza flotilla and their subsequent lies about what happened. Cameron should have been asking them why they were imperilling an important friendship with Israel.
Yet, at the very same CST conference he had this to say:
…[Israel is] within its rights to search vessels bringing cargo into Gaza…
But, does he realise that to search ships they have to be persuaded to stop first.
During the investigations into the alleged use of British passports by Mossad he called for Israel’s ambassador to the UK to be asked “some pretty tough questions”.
The then Shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague “later said Israel should issue a ‘robust statement’ ensuring its government would not sanction the cloning of British passports”.
Yet, yesterday it was revealed that these same two politicians, now in power, saw fit to issue SAS and MI6 agents with fake passports.
Melanie Phillips remarks:
Today we learn that the six SAS soldiers detained (and now released) in Libya
were held after going to an agricultural compound when Libyan security guards found they were carrying arms, ammunition, explosives, maps and passports from at least four different nationalities (MP’s emphasis).
We trust most earnestly that none of those was an Israeli one.
And she also notes a previous ‘hostility’ towards Israel.
Like just about everyone else, Cameron and Hague have been pushing at the open door of Israel and demanding concessions and the easing of the blockade whilst not even fumbling at the firmly locked gate of Palestinian rejectionism.
So, as Melanie also asks, has there been “A Change of Direction”
I don’t think so. It’s platitudinous claptrap.
Unless, when Cameron has the clear evidence before his eyes of what real war crimes are and he sees Middle East democratisation stalled, just maybe he suddenly can see Israel in a new light.
Oh yes, HMG has a right to criticise, but it also has an obligation to treat its ‘friends’ as just that.
Maybe the new political realities of the Middle East have shown him where Britain’s interests really lie and the true nature of the threat that Arab revolts might pose to the West.
Don’t hold your breath.
Last week I accused the UNHRC of double-standards for not calling for an enquiry into Gadaffi’s attack on his own citizens.
Today, at last, they have listened to me.
See the UN News centre report here.
The United Nations Human Rights Council today strongly condemned the recent violence in Libya and ordered an international inquiry into alleged abuses, while also recommending that the country’s membership in the UN’s top human rights body be suspended.
I’m sure Judge Richard Goldstone is packing his bags for Tripoli as I write. He can be joined by Hosni Mubarak who needs the work.
The question here is not why Libya has been suspended from the UNHRC but why it was ever elected.
The UNHRC seems to have been embarrassed into this as 2000 people at least have been killed and the vast majority of these are civilians. If Israel is condemned for disproportionate behaviour when1300 are killed, mostly combatants, then the UNHRC has to act to protect its ability to continue with its obsession with Israel in the future by showing it can still spot a despot when it sees one – eventually.
Gadaffi is so bad that even other despots in the region have disowned him.
You could say that Gadaffi is giving despots, tyrants and dictators a bad name. Some achievement.
According to the latest reports there was what has been characterised as a ‘massacre’ by the BBC in Benghazi. At least 200 protesters have been killed.
But not just killed but executed by snipers with deliberately lethal shots to the head and heart.
As we know, the UN was very keen to demand a rapid enquiry into Israel’s interception of a so-called humanitarian flotilla intent on breaking Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip. Nine ‘activists’ were killed, eight of whom were associated with the IHH, an Islamist organisation with close links to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In this incident Israeli commandos boarded the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara, where they were subject to a prepared attack by a mob wielding iron bars, knives, and, apparently, at least one firearm. In an act of self-defence the Israelis shot and killed 9 activists at close quarters. Several were reported to have been shot in the head.
The world was up in arms that such ‘unarmed’ humanitarians were ‘attacked’ by Israeli soldiers.
I have already written about this incident and a recent report by the Israeli Turkel commission exonerated the IDF. A Turkish report was also produced which came to a completely opposite conclusion that the deaths were deliberate; an absurdity quite happily accepted by the Muslim world.
Israel faced worldwide condemnation, and pressure was brought to ease the embargo of goods entering Gaza.
Let’s remind ourselves that even if you take the worst view of this incident, Israel killed 9 activists protesting against Israel’s policy in Gaza.
Yet, in Libya, we already have at least 300 casualties, killed for protesting about the policies of their own government, killed deliberately, not in a physical struggle, but at distance by snipers. Killed by their own government for having the audacity to want freedom and democracy.
How much worse is the action of the Libyans in Benghazi and elsewhere than the actions of Israel even interpreted at its worst?
By any system of logic and fairness or consistency the UN must require that Libya immediately investigate these killings. And while they are at it, maybe they can ask the Egyptians to investigate more than 300 deaths or the Bahrainis to investigate the live ammunition used against its citizens, killing several.
The test of a UN that is not biased and is not obsessed with demonising Israel, initiating resolutions and investigations into every state action, would be for there to be equal treatment of the egregious actions of Arab governments.
The UN Human Rights Council has condemned Libya, Bahrain and Yemen, but what actions will they actually take?
In the UK and elsewhere, will academics break of contact with their counterparts in Arab countries whose governments suppress their people with such ruthlessness?
Will Trades Unions vote to divest from these same countries and to cut off co-operation with their fellow unionists?
Those who tell us Israel is not treated differently from other countries and is not held to higher standards, now have their chance to prove it.
UPDATE The speed of events in Libya may well mean that there is nothing left of the Gadaffi regime before too long. (22.00 20 Feb 11)
If those who organise humanitarian aid to Gaza via flotillas and other blockade-breaking adventures really are about the plight of the Palestinians, I have some news for them about Arabs and even other Palestinians persecuting their own.
True humanitarians would not ignore the behaviour of Lebanon, Jordan and Libya whilst highlighting the actions of Israel.
(H/T to Elder of Ziyon for all these stories)
The first story is about Libya.
Libya has implemented a program of taxing all of its Palestinian Arab residents.According to Al Jazeera (Arabic), Palestinian Arabs in Libya are now forced to pay an annual fee of up to $1550, and they have to endure a host of new humiliations as well.
PalArabs have been banned from working in various jobs, including education. Relatives cannot visit them. Those who own cars are being taxed for more money than their monthly salaries. Travel documents are expiring and not being renewed, yet the Arab League does not allow Palestinian Arabs from obtaining passports from the countries they have lived in all their lives.
Residents note bitterly that all this is happening while Libya made a big show of sending a ship of aid to Gaza.All of this is in contradiction with Libyan Law #10 of 1998 which was supposed to grant somewhat equal rights to Palestinian Arabs in that country.
This is from a country which egregiously sits on the UN Human Rights Council.
Next in the hall of infamy is Lebanon:
According to the Elder there are “well over 100,000 Gazans in Jordan with limited rights – and no easy way to get out”.
Yes, Gazans. Gazans in a Jordanian open-air prison, Mr Cameron.
The Elder then quotes an Arab researcher called Oroub El Abed who has been documenting the plight of Palestinians:
Gazans in Jordan are doubly displaced refugees. Forced to move to Gaza as a result of the 1948 war, they fled once more when Israel occupied the Gaza Strip in 1967. Guesstimates of the number of Gazans in Jordan range between 118,000 and 150,000. A small number have entered the Jordanian citizenship scheme via naturalisation or have had the financial resources to acquire citizenship.
On arrival in Jordan, the ex-residents of Gaza were granted temporary Jordanian passports valid for two years but were not granted citizenship rights. The so-called ‘passport’ serves two purposes: it indicates to the Jordanian authorities that the Gazans and their dependents are temporary residents in Jordan and provides them with an international travel document (‘laissez-passer’) potentially enabling access to countries other than Jordan.
The ‘passport’ – which is expensive – has value as an international travel document only if receiving states permit the entry of temporary passport holders. Few countries admit them, because they have no official proof of citizenship. Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and some Gulf States are among those who refuse to honour the document. Any delay in renewing the temporary passport or in applying for one puts an individual at risk of becoming undocumented.
Since 1986 it has been harder for Gazans to compete for places in Jordanian universities as they must secure places within the 5% quota reserved for Arab foreigners. Entry to professions is blocked as Gazans are not allowed to register with professional societies/unions or to establish their own offices, firms or clinics. Only those with security clearance can gain private sector employment. Those who work in the informal sector are vulnerable to being exploited. Many Gazans are keen to leave Jordan to seek employment elsewhere but are constrained from doing so. Some have attempted to leave clandestinely.
Rami was brought up in Jordan, studied law and worked for over two years for a law firm in the West Bank city of Hebron. Lacking a West Bank Israeli-issued ID, he was forced to return to Jordan every three months to renew his visitor’s visa. Due to the high cost of living he returned to Jordan in 1999 only to find himself stripped of his Jordanian temporary passport. Now without any form of identity, he notes that “being Gazan in Jordan is like being guilty.”
In Jordan, as in most other Middle-Eastern countries, women cannot pass on their citizenship to their children. Neither is citizenship granted to a child born on the territory of a state from a foreign father. Married women are forced to depend on their fathers or husbands to process documents related to their children. Because of this patriarchal conception of citizenship, children of Jordanian women married to Gazans are at risk of being left without a legal existence.
Heba, a Jordanian national, married Ahmad, a Gazan with an Egyptian travel document. A year after their marriage, Ahmad was arrested for being in Jordan without a residence permit. Deported from Jordan, he was refused re-entry to Egypt and ended up in Sudan. Heba had a child but has been unable to register the birth due to the absence of her husband. She cannot afford to go to Sudan to be with him.
(emphasis by the Elder)
But there is more on Lebanon:
Hot on the heels of the slight easing of restrictions on professions that Arabs of Palestinian descent in Lebanon can practice, the Lebanese Forces (which are mostly Christian) are trying to ensure that PalArabs cannot live in Lebanese-owned homes:
The Lebanese Forces urged the government on Saturday to find a solution to Palestinian occupants of homes owned by Lebanese in villages east of the southern port city of Sidon.
While hailing parliament’s decision to grant Palestinians working rights, an LF statement said “the Lebanese government is urged to find a quick solution to the issue which has become an unacceptable burden.”
It said homes in Miyeh Miyeh, Darb al-Sim and other areas are occupied by Palestinians.
The government should adopt an effective solution to find alternative housing to them, the LF said.
The bigotry in Lebanon against Palestinian Arabs is so entrenched that it is not newsworthy. This isn’t about the PalArabs owning land – this is saying that they cannot even live outside camps, even if they are (apparently) paying for it!
Depending upon whose estimate you read, there are some twenty or thirty thousand “refugees” in the Balata refugee camp outside of Nablus. Balata is simultaneously the most populous and smallest of the Palestinian refugee camps — its growing population is confined to one square kilometer, making it one of the most densely populated and miserable places on the planet.
Any regime with an ounce of compassion would have shut Balata down and integrated its people into the surrounding community. Balata is a place without hope, a quagmire of despair, where the day-to-day misery of its inhabitants is partially ameliorated by Western charities and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), while inadvertently building a culture of dependence.
Balata’s creation could ostensibly be laid at Israel’s doorstep, but its perpetuation cannot. The current residents of Balata are only refugees by a crude reworking of the meaning of the term. They themselves have fled from nothing, and sought refuge from nothing. They are the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the people who fled or were expelled during the 1948 war.
If you want to use the term “apartheid” to characterize some aspect of Middle East politics, then Balata is a good place to apply it. It is the Palestinian Authority’s answer to Soweto.
The PA does not permit the children of Balata to go to local schools. It does not permit the people of Balata to build outside the one square kilometer. The people of Balata are prevented from voting in local elections, and the PA provides none of the funds for the necessary infrastructure of the camp — including sewers and roads.
Balata and the other refugee camps are showcases of contrived misery. They are Potemkin villages in reverse. Naïve peace activists and unsophisticated Western clergy are led through such camps to witness the refugee drama, with Israel conveniently and prominently cast in the role of villain.
Yet we always hear the media and Palestinian huggers everywhere banging on about Israeli apartheid.
And let’s not forget the Egyptians who, of course, are the forgotten jailers of the Gazans, after all, if you are complaining about freedom of movement of Gazans, then why don’t the Egyptians open the Rafah crossing for them?
Oroub El Abed writes that ‘Some 50,000 Palestinian refugees live in Egypt without UN assistance or protection and burdened by many restrictive laws and regulations. Little is known about their plight and their unique status’.
El Abed believes in the mythical Right of Return but she pulls no punches about how Palestinians are treated by fellow Arabs.
The continuing plight of the Palestinians is not all down to history or the Israelis; the Arabs and the Palestinians themselves bear huge responsibility for perpetuating refugee-hood as a weapon against Israeli in total disregard of the lives and livelihood of millions of Palestinians.
And when the UN agency set up specifically and uniquely to deal with Palestinian ‘refugees’ tries to improve their lives in Gaza, they have to face Hamas’ interpretation of Islam which condemns the very people that are there to help them. The Elder lists complaints in the Palestine Times, a Hamas-run newspaper:
- The creation of a UNRWA Women’s Committee meant to foster equal rights between men and women is really meant to end chastity and purity.
- UNRWA sometimes sponsors trips for students where they are in danger of meeting Jews and Zionists.
- UNRWA schools were rumored to have taught about the Holocaust which teaches students to sympathize with Jews
- Some schools have more females than males, causing them to have more female teachers than male teachers
- UNRWA salaries are too high
- UNRWA’s services have decreased as their budget gets stretched.
And it is into the arms of these people that the flotillas and convoys are running. They don’t even seem to have their story right. Are they going to bring humanitarian aid (which they can take to an Israeli port without confrontation) or are they just intent on confrontation and provocation?
Their real motivation is to destroy Israel first, help Gazans a poor second. Indeed, each flotilla and convoy is an exercise in hypocrisy and exploitation of the very people they claim to want to help.