Briefing Paper September 2004

Palestine’s War of Independence

Human life holds less value for us Israelis than it used to, simply because we’ve grown accustomed to violent death happening in our midst. Naturally, inevitably, we’ve grown fairly callous to it.. ..Once the collateral damage killing of a Palestinian infant by the IDF was shocking, front-page stuff; now we can kill two or three in a day that way and nobody here pays any attention.                                                    

The Jerusalem Post 15.07.04 Press Release, International Solidarity Movement, 15 September 2004

At 1:00am the Israeli Army attacked homes on Old Najav Street in Nablus, West of the old city. Five young men were killed and one eleven year-old girl. Medical examination evidence suggests the five men were executed. These are war crimes.

International Solidarity activists, who are presently accompanying UPMRC medical teams in the area, interviewed the Director of Rafidia Hospital, Dr. Samir Abu Srour, where the five men and the young girl were taken. According to Dr. Srour, four of the five men were shot in the head at close range. The bullets did not pass through their skulls and instead exploded the young men’s heads, indicating that they were shot at close range.

One man had a boot print on his chest, further suggesting that he was restrained before being shot. In addition, one man had a bullet entering in his neck and exploding upwards, leaving blood stains high up on the wall. This angle and evidence strongly suggests he was shot after being detained, also at close range. Another man had knife cuts on his arm. All five were found in close proximity of each other.

The eleven-year-old girl was shot in the cheek while in her home by a soldier occupying a near-by house. Another eleven-year-old boy is in critical condition after being shot in the head with a rubber bullet at close range, dislodging part of his brain. One thirty-five-year-old, mentally challenged man, was shot in the head and a thirty-three-year-old man was shot in the femur. Both are in the intensive care unit.

According to eyewitness reports the Israeli army also occupied several homes and a church. They detained members of the church, including 13 disabled children and elderly men and women who are living in the centers belonging to the church. When the priest attempted to enter the church to check on the condition of the people, an Israeli soldier pointed his machine gun at his head and threatened to shoot him. They were forced to remain in one room without food or water until 12:00pm.

The Israeli Minister of Internal Security Tzachi Hanegbi openly declared on Friday, August 13, 2004,

“The prisoners can strike for a day, a month, even starve to death, as far as I am concerned.”

On Sunday, August 15, 2004, almost half of the Palestinian political prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails began an open-ended hunger strike to protest the deterioration of prison conditions and the gross violations of their rights under which they are detained. There are around 7000 political prisoners, not including criminals, currently incarcerated, and approximately 3000 of those took part in the hunger strike. The hunger strike began with 1500 inmates and grew steadily in number.

A partial list of complaints presented by the prisoners included:

-Arbitrary and indiscriminate beating of prisoners in their cells, in prison courtyards and during transportation to and from prisons.

-Arbitrary and indiscriminate firing of tear gas into prisoners’ cells.

-Humiliating strip searches of prisoners in full view of other prisoners and guards every time they enter or exit their cells.

-Conducting strip searches of visiting family members even though they are usually separated from the prisoners by a solid glass barrier as well as a wire mesh barrier.

-Subjecting prisoners to solitary confinement for excessive periods of time (months or sometimes years.)

-Confining children with adult prisoners, and confining political prisoners with criminals.

-Maintaining prisoners on near starvation diets that are insufficient to sustain health.

Breakdown of prisoner/detainee population at 31 July 2004:

Central Prisons: 3421 prisoners

Detention Centers: 3659 prisoners

Interrogation & Holding Centers: 328 prisoners including 325 juveniles & 106 women & 510 Administrative Detentions

Some of the prisoners demands:

-Immediate end to all forms of collective punishment.

-Cessation of imposition of fines.

-Cessation of the policies of confiscation of personal effects and the restriction of family visits.

-Limiting the disciplinary punishment of solitary confinement to one week.

-Improve conditions under which Palestinian juveniles are incarcerated.

-Reinstatement of weekly clean-up.

-Permission to allow Muslim clerics to move within sections on Fridays.

-Permission to allow prisoners’ representatives and prison committee members to visit prisoner sections without the visits being subject to the whims of the officer on duty.

-Allow prisoner representatives to be present during visits.

-Permission to prisoners’ representatives to contact lawyers, human rights organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, and the Palestinian Ministry for the Prisoners.

-Improvement of prison clinics in order to attend to emergency cases and assign a doctor for duty every day of the week. Carry out prescribed surgeries immediately.

-Carry out surgeries to those who have been waiting for years.

-Regulation of prisoner count process.

-Return of inmates placed in isolation or solitary confinement for prolonged periods to regular holding cells.

-End all humiliation and aggressive policies by the prison authority.

-Increase visits from 30 minutes to one hour (Note: Many family members must spend long hours or even days traveling and standing in lines at checkpoints.)

-Restore family visits on Fridays (holy day).

The hunger strike ended at the beginning of September with limited success

Allowing the delivery of your D9 and D10 Caterpillar bulldozers to the Israeli army through the government of the United States in the certain knowledge that they are being used for such actions might involve complicity or acceptance on the part of your company to actual and potential violations of human rights, including the right to food

Paul Ziegler, appointee to the UN Commission on Human Rights. Quoted from his first letter following a new resolution passed by the Commission extending responsibility for protecting rights to “non-state actors.”     (The Jerusalem Times 25/6/04)

Death in a cemetery

Gidon Levy Ha’aretz

How many of us can imagine the night of horror that the Salah family endured? To lie on the floor of the living room for what seemed an eternity, embracing as one being, trembling with fear as the house was blasted with bullets and missiles; to watch the sniper’s laser ray doing its dance of death across the apartment, searching out its victims; to see the missiles slamming into the walls of the house, missile after missile, as though an earthquake had struck; to get to their feet in the dark following the order to evacuate the building before it was demolished; to try to open the front door and discover that it had been twisted out of shape by the gunfire and couldn’t be opened; to open a window and try to shout to the snipers, in the dark of the night, that the door was jammed; to see the father of the family collapse from a bullet fired into his neck by a sniper; to see the son collapse a few minutes later from a bullet in his cheek fired by a sniper; to watch, helpless, as your son lies on the floor, the life ebbing out of him, next to his dead father, and to cry for help, but to find that the soldiers will not allow anyone to enter; then to undergo an interrogation and humiliation; and to discover that the entire contents of the house had been destroyed.

That was the night of horror of the Salah family: the father, Prof. Khaled Salah, 51 at his death, founder of the Department of Electrical Engineering at An-Najah University in Nablus; his wife, Salam, and their three children, Diana, 23, Mohammed, 16, and Ali, 11, all of whom were at home that night. Fortunately for the firstborn, Amer, he was in Boston, where he is an engineering student. It was a night of horror on which the father, possessor of a Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis, and a member of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Committee at An-Najah, was killed, along with his son, Mohammed, a boy who loved soccer and dreamed of becoming a pharmacist, who lay dying on the floor for lack of medical treatment, which the soldiers denied him.

Maybe you saw them. Two years ago, during the Mondial (the World Cup of soccer), Channel 2 News correspondent Itai Engel broadcast a report of his impressions from a house in Nablus where he had watched the game between Brazil and Turkey as a guest of the Salah family. Engel was flabbergasted this week when told what had happened to the family that hosted him. The boy too? The boy, too. He said he had been charmed by them, by the father and his son, both of them avid soccer fans. When asked about the possibility of a game between Israel and Palestine, Khaled consulted with Mohammed and then replied, “We’re better, but it’ll be best if you win, because we’ll be in for it if we beat you.” They talked about peace and about soccer.

Salam, the widow and bereaved mother, a survivor of that night, found it difficult this week to remember the television piece and her loved ones’ remarks about peace. It’s important for her that the Israelis know that Khaled was a man of peace. Between fits of crying, still in shock, it’s important for her to tell the Israelis in detail what happened in the pre-dawn hours of July 6 in her home on Saka Street, in Nablus.

Salam Salah got home from a wedding in the city a little before midnight. Only she and Diana had attended the family wedding. Mohammed stayed home with his father, watching television and waiting for the candies his mother would bring from the party. Mohammed was very fond of the white and pink wedding sweets stuffed with walnuts. No one could have imagined that those would be the last candies he would ever eat. Diana, who, like her brother Amer, was born in California – both are American citizens – holds a degree in business administration from An-Najah. She, too, was getting ready for her own wedding, a large-scale affair that was set for next month.

They soon went to sleep. Mohammed was an anxiety-ridden boy. Born into the first intifada in the tough city of Nablus, reaching adolescence as the second intifada erupted, he was a habitual nail-biter. He sometimes got nosebleeds, when the tension in Nablus rose. Salam says it might have been because they overprotected the boy. At a quarter to two they woke up in a fright to the sound of a powerful blast. Salam and Khaled leaped out of bed and looked out the window of their bedroom. They saw nothing. From the window of Diana’s room they spotted dark forms of soldiers surrounding the building. It was only from the kitchen window that the full picture became clear. “It’s like hell,” Khaled whispered to his wife. The whole area was swarming with snipers, tanks, helicopters and other army forces that had come to apprehend or liquidate wanted individuals who were probably hiding in the ground-floor apartment.

Their building is situated high on Saka Street, wedged on the hillside, with Nablus spread out below. The residences in the building are spacious. Two neighbors are physicians, and Sami Aaker, the owner of a sewing factory that produces garments for Israeli fashion houses is another neighbor. Aaker’s home now lies in ruins, like that of the Salah family.

Khaled herded the children into the living room and they lay on the floor, folded into one another, five members of a family like one body. From time to time, another missile or shell hit the apartment and exploded, casting a lurid light, like fireworks. Occasionally searchlights or the snipers’ red laser rays lit up the darkened living room. The electricity came and went. The door of the refrigerator, damaged along with everything else in the house, opened wide and the yellow light supplied a bit of illumination. Salam and Khaled called everyone they could think of on Mohammed’s mobile phone, trying to find out what was happening. The shooting didn’t stop for a second, and their home was being gradually destroyed. They called relatives, asking them to do something, fast.

One relative called the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, but even the long arm of all-powerful America, whose nationals were in the besieged apartment, was of no avail. One missile had already slashed into the bedroom, another into the kitchen. Khaled’s mobile phone rang in the bedroom, but no one could get to it. They cried, prayed, shouted, fell silent. And embraced one another. They had a Koran and they read verses from it in loud voices, so people would hear.

“It was a nightmare. I will never recover from it. No horror movie I have seen can compare to it,” says Salam, who wears black mourning clothes. Five missiles had already struck the house. Khaled tried to calm them: “It’s only property damage, no one has been hurt.” Salam says he was strong and knew no fear. They just didn’t want him to move and risk being hurt.

They heard the windows shattering, the water streaming from pipes that had burst and the perfumes flowing out of bottles that broke one after the other, their scents wafting through the apartment. From above they heard the sound of a helicopter. The battle for the house was at its height. “We phoned and phoned but everyone was helpless. It was war, and my feeling was that none of us would survive it.” It went on that way for an hour and a quarter, until 3 am.

When quiet fell, Salam shouted, “Please, please, we are a family of peace. My name is Salam, shalom.” The quiet continued for a bit, and then the shooting resumed. Immediately afterward, the Israeli force ordered everyone to leave the building, because it was going to be blown up. The order was given through a loudspeaker, in Arabic.

“Anyone who doesn’t come out will have the building blown up with him inside,” the soldiers threatened.

Khaled got up first. “We’re all right, everyone is all right,” he whispered. He walked toward the corridor and turned on a light. Salam told the children to wait until he could see what was happening. But the shooting started again and Khaled hurried back to the living room. When the shooting died down he again made his way toward the front door and tried to open it. However, the door had been bent out of shape by the gunfire and the key didn’t work.

Unable to open the door, and taking seriously the soldiers’ threat to blow up the house with them inside, Khaled went to the bedroom, opened the window, raised his hands and shouted to the soldiers, in English, “Sir, sir, we need help. Please come and open the door. I am a professor, we are people of peace. We have American passports.” There was no response. Khaled tried again, this time in Arabic: “Help, help, we need help.” A split second later, Salam heard three shots. Khaled fell silent. She would never hear his voice again. Inside the room, the terrifying red laser ray pranced across the walls.

Salam crawled over to her husband and found him lying on the floor, between the bed and the window. At first she saw no blood, but he was no longer breathing. Then she saw the hole in his neck. “Diana, Diana,” she screamed, “they have killed your father.”

Then she noticed Mohammed lying on the carpet next to Diana. “What happened, Diana?” she cried. Diana said nothing. Salam quickly moved her son, revealing his mouth. Blood was flowing from his mouth and his cheek was split open. She tried to stanch the blood coming out of his cheek using paper towels. At first, she says, she thought it was a superficial wound. The boy groaned. His eyes were wide open and he emitted strange noises. His eyes pleaded for help, but his mother had only the paper towels. She opened the screen window in the room and shouted hysterically to the soldiers, “You killed my husband and my son.” She says she heard a soldier laugh.

“Shut up, woman,” the soldier commanded her, in Arabic. And again a red laser beam skitted around the room.

“I will never understand how Mohammed was killed. Maybe one day I will know. Khaled raised his hands, so he was a convenient target for them. Him they killed in cold blood. They let him finish speaking and then they killed him. But how Mohammed was killed I don’t understand. I shouted like a madwoman: `Help, my son is alive, we have to save him.’ They laughed and told me to shut up. The soldier who was laughing was standing below, on the street. I sat on the floor and kept on shouting like a crazy person. I pounded on the door until my hands were injured. I don’t know how those curses came out of me. I called for help, Diana and Ali were crying hysterically, and the soldiers threatened to blow up the building with us inside.”

Mohammed was still alive. Diana also shouted to the soldiers that they had two neighbours who are physicians, let them at least send over one of them or let an ambulance get through. Salam says that every time their shouting rose in pitch the soldiers threatened to shoot them unless they shut up. Finally the soldiers said they would send someone. They sent a human shield, using the outlawed “neighbor procedure,” in this case the neighbours’ 15-year-old son. The lean boy pushed the door from outside, Salam pulled from inside, and at last the door opened.

“We went out in our pyjamas with our hands raised,” said Salam. “The soldiers spoke to us humiliatingly. I shouted that my son and my husband are killed and they laughed at us, imitating my shouts. They took us to the neighbours’ apartment. Diana asked where she should sit and a soldier said, sit on your bottom. When I asked to see the commanding officer, they laughed at me. When I said I wanted to be with Mohammed they imitated me. This is the most criminal and most cruel army in the world. It was murder in the first degree.”

At 6:15 am, four and a half hours after the attack began, the soldiers allowed a Palestinian ambulance to drive up to the building. The father and the son were dead. Salam was taken for interrogation by “Captain Razel” from the Shin Bet security service, who questioned her about the wanted men who had hidden in the apartment below. She had no idea, she says, what was going on outside.

And that wasn’t the end of it. “After all that they went into the house and shot at everything they found. Everything. There isn’t a dress, there isn’t a towel they didn’t shoot at. At the computer, the refrigerator, all our belongings, they destroyed everything. They didn’t leave us so much as a pair of socks. They destroyed everything. A home of 20 years, all our memories, all our dreams, our whole history. Imagine to yourself what’s in a home of 20 years. They destroyed it all. My husband’s books. I don’t understand why. They just wanted to show us how strong they are and how cruel.”

What do the soldiers who were involved think now? The sniper who shot a father and his son to death, and those who denied the dying boy medical assistance? The army issued a statement the next day: “Dr. Salah and his son Mohammed were apparently killed by IDF gunfire, but there was no intention to do them harm. Because of the shooting of the wanted man from the building, the soldiers were compelled to shoot in different stages at every floor and at the roof of the building, and it’s possible that in one of the instances the soldiers didn’t identify the sources of fire correctly or were forced to open fire at suspicious movements. Because of the continuation of the event and the lack of information about whether there were additional wanted individuals in the building, it was not possible to send medical teams into the building.”

Sirens wail in the main streets of Nablus. Another funeral procession – Yasser Tantawi, 21. His brother, Khaled, 19, was killed two months ago. Both are from the city’s Balata refugee camp. A Swedish volunteer, Henryk Larsen, a medical student from Uppsala University, who joined an ambulance of the Medical Relief Organization, was an eyewitness to Yasser’s killing last Saturday night.

Youngsters threw stones at Jeeps, the soldiers opened fire, Yasser was wounded in the leg and fell to the ground. The event took place in the camp’s cemetery. Larsen tried to treat the wounded man, but came under fire and had to retreat. He saw Yasser’s body jolted back and forth as the soldiers kept shooting at him. They shot him, he says, after he had already been wounded in the leg.Dr. Rasan Hamadan, from the Medical Relief Organization, says that about 10 bullets were found lodged in Yasser’s body and that the medical team reported that he was unarmed. Larsen, too, says he saw no weapon.

The response of the IDF Spokesperson’s Office: “During operational activity by an IDF force in Balata refugee camp the force came under fire and a number of explosive devices were thrown at it. The soldiers opened fire at a terrorist armed with a Kalashnikov rifle who was advancing toward them, and killed him. In the complex reality in which the IDF operates, maximum efforts are made to avoid injury to the innocent. At the same time, in the case of armed individuals who are endangering IDF soldiers and those around them, it is the soldiers’ obligation to prevent them from acting.”

Two days later, on Monday of this week, soldiers killed another stone-thrower in the Balata camp cemetery. His name was Husam Abu Zeitouna. He was 14.

If it were the reverse

Gideon Levy (Haaretz July 18th 2004)

Last Monday, Israel Defense Forces bulldozers in Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip, demolished the home of Ibrahim Halfalla, a 75-year-old disabled man and father of seven, and buried him alive. Umm-Basel, his wife, says she tried to stop the driver of the heavy machine by shouting, but he paid her no heed. The IDF termed the act “a mistake that shouldn’t have happened,” and the incident was noted in passing in Israel. The country’s largest-circulation paper, Yedioth Ahronoth, didn’t bother to run the story at all. The blood libel in France – a woman’s tale of being subjected to an anti-Semitic attack, which later turned out to be fiction – proved a great deal more upsetting to people

What would happen if a Palestinian terrorist were to detonate a bomb at the entrance to an apartment building in Israel and cause the death of an elderly man in a wheelchair, who would later be found buried under the rubble of the building? The country would be profoundly shocked. Everyone would talk about the sickening cruelty of the act and its perpetrators. The shock would be even greater if it then turned out that the dead man’s wife had tried to dissuade the terrorist from blowing up the house, telling him that there were people inside, but to no avail. The tabloids would come out with the usual screaming headline: “Buried alive in his wheelchair.” The terrorists would be branded “animals.” Last Monday, Israel Defense Forces bulldozers in Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip, demolished the home of Ibrahim Halfalla, a 75-year-old disabled man and father of seven, and buried him alive. Umm-Basel, his wife, says she tried to stop the driver of the heavy machine by shouting, but he paid her no heed. The IDF termed the act “a mistake that shouldn’t have happened,” and the incident was noted in passing in Israel. The country’s largest-circulation paper, Yedioth Ahronoth, didn’t bother to run the story at all. The blood libel in France – a woman’s tale of being subjected to an anti-Semitic attack, which later turned out to be fiction – proved a great deal more upsetting to people. There we thought the assault was aimed against our people. But when the IDF bulldozes a disabled Palestinian to death? Not a story. Just like the killing, under the rubble of her home, of Noha Maqadama, a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy, before the eyes of her husband and children, in El Boureij refugee camp a few months earlier.

And what would happen if a Palestinian were to shoot an Israeli university lecturer and his son in front of his wife and their young son? That’s what happened 10 days ago in the case of Dr. Salem Khaled, from Nablus, who called to the soldiers from the window of his house because he was a man of peace and the front door had jammed, so he couldn’t get out. The soldiers shot him to death and then killed his 16-year-old son before the eyes of his mother and his 11-year-old brother. It’s not hard to imagine how we would react to the story if the victims were ours.

But when we’re implicated and the victims are Palestinians, we prefer to avert our eyes, not to know, not to take an interest and certainly not to be shocked. Palestinian victims – and their numbers, as everyone knows, are far greater than ours – don’t even merit newspaper reports, not even when the chain of events is particularly brutal, as in the examples above. This is not an intellectual exercise but an attempt to demonstrate the concealment of information, the double morality and the hypocrisy. The indifference to these two very recent incidents proved again that in our eyes there is only one victim and all the others will never be considered victims.

If a European cabinet minister were to declare, “I don’t want these long-nosed Jews to serve me in restaurants,” all of Europe would be up in arms and this would be the minister’s last comment as a minister. Three years ago, our former labor and social affairs minister, Shlomo Benizri, from Shas, stated: “I can’t understand why slanty-eyed types should be the ones to serve me in restaurants.” Nothing happened. We are allowed to be racists. And if a European government were to announce that Jews are not permitted to attend Christian schools? The Jewish world would rise up in protest. But when our Education Ministry announces that it will not permit Arabs to attend Jewish schools in Haifa, it’s not considered racism. Only in Israel could this not be labeled racist. The heritage of Golda Meir – it was she who said that after what the Nazis did to us, we can do whatever we want – is now having a late and unfortunate revival.

What would happen if a certain country were to enact legislation forbidding members of a particular nation to become citizens there, no matter what the circumstances, including mixed couples who married and raised families? No country anywhere enacts laws like these nowadays. Apart from Israel. If the cabinet extends the validity of the new Citizenship Law today, Palestinians will not be able to undergo naturalization here, even if they are married to Israelis.

We have the right, you see. And if the illegal Israeli immigrants in the United States were hunted down like animals in the dark of night, the way the Immigration Police do here, would we have a better understanding of the injustice we are doing to a community that wants nothing other than to work here?

What would we say if the parents of Israeli emigrants were separated from their children and deported, without having available any avenue of naturalization, no matter what the circumstances? And how would we classify a country that interrogates visitors about their political opinions as soon as they disembark from the plane at the airport and bars them from entering it the security authorities look askance at the opinions they express? What would happen if antiSemites in France were to poison the drinking water of a Jewish neighborhood? Last week settlers poisoned a well at Atawana, in the southern Mount Hebron region, and the police are investigating.

And we still haven’t said anything about a country that would imprison another nation, or about a regime that would prevent access to medical treatment for some of its subjects, according to its national identity, about roads that would be open only to the members of one nation or about an airport that would be closed to the other nation. All this is happening in Israel and is pulling from under us the moral ground that makes it possible for us to complain about racism and anti-Semitism abroad, even when they actually erupt.

International Court of Justice, The Hague, 9th July 2004

The “advisory opinion” from the Court with regard to Israel’s Wall turned out to be a sweeping and authoratative statement of international law fully supportive of the legal position taken by the Palestinians when, during the Oslo Accords negotiations, the Americans and Israelis attempted to exclude international law from the negotiating process.

The judges voted 14 – 1 (an American judge dissented) that

The construction of the wall in occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime, are contrary to international law,

Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the construction of the wall in the Occupied Territories, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated, and to repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto . . .

Israel is under an obligation to make reparation for all the damage caused by the construction of the wall in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem,

The United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and the Security Council, should consider what further action is required to bring an end to the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall . . .

The judges voted 13 – 2 (America and Holland)

All states are under an obligation not to recognise the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by

such construction; allStates party to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 have in addition to the obligation, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to ensure compliance by Israel with international humnitarian law as embodied in that Convention.

The Court, noting that over 80% of the Wall’s route has been drawn to include settlements, ruled that the settlements are illegal, a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Interestingly, the reason for American judge’s dissent lay in the fact that Israel (which chose to have no representation at the Court’s hearings) was not represented at the Court. His comments were as equally devastating (for Israel) as the judgement delivered by the ICJ.

Kerry’s Right to Return   Ahmed Amr (9 August 2004 Media Monitors Network)

If he is deranged enough to believe he is half Semitic, than we have the historical and hysterical precedent of two mental cases contesting the highest office in the land.

If John Kerry becomes the next president of the United States, he will be the first leader of the free world to instantly qualify for Israeli citizenship. Under the Law of Return, any individual with one Jewish grandparent can land in Tel Aviv and inform the immigration authorities that he intends to settle in the Holy Land for the rest of his life. Because both his paternal grandparents were Jewish, Kerry qualifies for the privilege twice over. His brother, Cameron Kerry, doesn’t even have to depend on his ancestry. As a convert to Judaism, he can automatically become an Israeli national.

Both Kerry brothers can actually declare themselves candidates for the position of Israeli Prime Minister. We can only hope that Cameron would be an improvement on Ariel ‘Qibya’ Sharon.

Now, you would think that Kerry would be happy enough to have the right of return to a land that his grand parents never set foot on. But the Democratic candidate wants more. He wants to deny the same privilege to Palestinian refugees, including Palestinian Americans. In Kerry’s estimate, the idea of honoring the internationally recognized Palestinian right to return is a ‘non-starter’. Since he is so generous in dispensing with other people’s rights, perhaps the Democratic nominee should set an example by renouncing his own entitlement to ‘return’ to Israel.

As a presidential candidate, Kerry has used his bully pulpit to declare that the Palestinian right of return should not be ‘open-ended’. He makes a point of noting that, after 56 years of exile, the forced expulsion of the Palestinians cannot be reversed. No matter that his brother’s right of ‘repatriation’ was open-ended for two thousand years – on account of his conversion.

Kerry, ever the elitist, doesn’t give a damn about the rights of other Americans. How else can we explain his bizarre belief that he is more entitled than a Palestinian-American to settle in Jerusalem or Haifa or the West Bank. What makes his brother deserve such a privilege? This is ultimately an issue about the genetic rights of American Jews versus the legal rights of Palestinian-Americans.

Kerry’s claim to Israeli citizenship is based on the genes he inherited from his father, a German-American who converted from Judaism to Catholicism. In Zionist mythology, Kerry’s paternal grandparents can claim ancestry from the ancient people of the Holy Land based on their faith tradition. A little DNA testing would probably prove his father was as European as his maternal ancestors. Who doubts for a second that Kerry is one hundred percent European-American of the Catholic persuasion. If he is deranged enough to believe he is half Semitic, than we have the historical and hysterical precedent of two mental cases contesting the highest office in the land. Contrast Kerry’s eugenic claims to a right of return against those of Palestinian-Americans. Palestinian refugees can actually document the exact towns and villages they called home prior to their expulsion in 1948. It is quite conceivable that Kerry is unaware that the rights of refugees to repatriation are guaranteed by international law. After all, as a Navy officer, he was ignorant of the Geneva Convention until after he committed his war crimes in Vietnam.

Besides, if Kerry is so keen on denying Palestinian exiles their legal rights, he should expound on whether other refugees should also be deprived of their entitlement. Why single out the Palestinians for such a dubious honor? Let him provide the American public with a list of which refugees should remain in exile so we can compare it with the Republican list.

John Kerry is not George Bush. Kerry can quote obscure Zionist theologians and knows exactly what he is doing. While Dumbya has Armageddon visions based on a literal interpretation of the bible, Kerry is just an oldfashioned ethnic cleanser who believes it was quite alright to displace millions of native Palestinians to make room for a land as Jewish as England is English. Bush believes that every injustice inflicted on the Palestinians is pre-ordained by a higher power. But Kerry thinks he is that higher power. By virtue of ancestry, he insists on the right to exile Palestinians to make room for his brother. Bush is motivated by his faith, while Kerry is acting out his tribal loyalties. Both men know that they can enhance their political fortunes by applauding Sharon’s efforts to smash Palestinian skulls and bones. In that sense, they really do belong to one secret society with an alien agenda

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