19 July 2014

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PRESS RELEASE
19 July 2014

I declare full support for the call by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for an emergency parliamentary
sitting on the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

We in Pakatan are totally committed to any resolution to categorically condemn the mass murder committed by the perpetrators. In this regard, the Prime Minister must be unequivocal in naming the party or parties responsible, whoever they may be.

We also fully support the demand that the culprits of this crime be brought to justice and that all necessary measures be taken to facilitate a swift, effective and independent investigation.

This is indeed a time of grief and sadness for all Malaysians as it is too for others and we urge all parties to refrain from making statements or remarks that are insensitive to the feelings of the
families and loved ones of the innocent victims.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

19 July 2014

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Al Jazeera

Palestinians as a diverse society are neither reducible to Hamas nor can they be denied the right to resist occupation.

In much of the North American and western European media reporting on the current Israeli carnage of Palestinians, a common refrain is that Hamas has also shot some rockets towards Israel. Given the sophisticated defence system Israel possesses, courtesy of US taxpayers, none of these rockets hit any targets and fortunately no Israeli man, woman, or child has lost any life or limb because of them. This fact has scarcely bothered BBC, CNN, or any other shamelessly pro-Israeli outlet that always seeks to “balance” their reporting on Gaza by mentioning the fact that Hamas has also shot some rockets towards the Jewish state.

In one particularly nefarious example, Diane Sawyer of ABC showed a picture of Palestinians enduring Israeli bombing but told her American audience these were the pictures of Israelis under attack by Hamas rockets.

Be that as it may, the fact remains that Hamas does shoot some rockets towards Israel, and though these rockets scarcely harm anyone does not diminish their intent, which is to hit somewhere or harm someone. So the Hamas operation intends to harm people but they cannot do as they wish for their military wherewithal is not outsourced to the United States.

Thanks to AIPAC and other Israeli lobbies and pro-Israeli billionaires, among them those who encourage US President Barack Obama to nuke Iran on behalf of Israel, Israel enjoys a special relationship with the most deadly military machinery on the planet and partakes in that deadly force at will. Hamas in this regard has lost the bid to its Israeli counterparts and any outside military help they might receive is from countries like Iran that can hardly be compared to that gargantuan deadly machine called the US.

Erratic rockets

Useless as they are, why is Hamas firing these erratic rockets, and why would they not stop them anyway? Why bother? They are hardly any match for the Israeli army. After all, Hamas is David and Israel is Goliath in this contest. Wouldn’t Palestinians be better off without Hamas trying to defend them in Gaza?

Here we need to ask the question in a slightly larger context. Is Hamas not a legitimate Palestinian organisation, with enough grassroots support that itwon a major parliamentary election in Gaza back in 2006? I have known, and I still know, many Palestinians who do not like Hamas, disagree with their ideology, and oppose their ways. But these Palestinians of diverse political opinions are as much part of the Palestinian resistance to occupation and theft of their homeland as Hamas is.

Like any other richly diversified society, Palestinians are composed of followers of many religions, politics, and ideologies. Palestinians are Christian, Muslim, atheists, and agnostic. They are nationalist and/or socialists. They are secularists, Islamists, post-Islamists, and post-secularists. They are feminists, modernists, post-modernists, deconstructionists, and they are nativists at times, cosmopolitan at others, unionists, pacifists, militants, you name it. One of them was a founding figure of a school of critical thinking called post-colonial studies.

By far the most consistent and the most definitive aspect of Palestinian resistance to the occupation and theft of their homeland over the decades has been non-violent civil disobedience. Resistance for Palestinians is definitive of who and what they are. They might be a poet like Mahmoud Darwish, a novelist like Ghassan Kanafani, a film-maker like Michel Khleifi, an artist like Mona Hatoum, a feminist like Lila Abu Lughod – but in doing what they do, whatever they do, they oppose and defy the armed robbery of their homeland.

But there are also those Palestinians who have taken arms and opposed villainy by violence. As part of this resistance, Hamas is integral to the Palestinian national liberation movement, but like any other forms of resistance, Hamas is not definitive to Palestine.

Israeli propaganda machinery

What the Israeli propaganda machinery does is to reduce the entirety of Palestine, the rich and diversified tapestry of Palestinian resistance, to Hamas, then demonise Hamas. The strategy works, especially aided and abetted by major state-sponsored or corporate media like BBC, ABC, or CNN. Execute this strategy, and go on a rampage against Palestinians, maim and murder them with impunity.

Now for the sake of argument: Suppose we wake up tomorrow morning and there is no Hamas to shoot off any useless rockets towards Israel. Then what? The magnificent Israeli benevolence will move into operation and return the stolen Palestine to their rightful owners? Of course not. Suppose Hamas did not even exist since its founding in 1987. Then what? Israel would have by now returned Palestine to its rightful owners? Of course not.

Palestinians are varied and Palestinians are entirely entitled to resist and oppose the occupation and theft of their homeland by any means they deem necessary – whether it is by a beautiful song by Muhammad Assaf, a magnificent poem by Mahmoud Darwish, a film by Elia Suleiman, a novel by Ghassan Kanafani, a book on Palestinian costumes by Widad Kawar, or another on Palestinian cuisine by Rawia Bishara or by the militant Marxist organisation PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), or indeed through the Islamist ideology of Hamas.

One may not agree with Hamas, may not join them, but one cannot reduce the entire tapestry of Palestinian resistance to Hamas, or tell Hamas to disband, for Israelis are about to return Palestine to its rightful owners.

So the bogus proposition that Hamas provokes Israel to attack Gaza is not only narratively false because Israeli military operations in Palestine always predate any Hamas operation, but also because Palestinians in their entirety are neither reducible to Hamas nor can they be denied the right to resist occupation in whatever form they deem necessary. Dividing these forms of resistance into “moderate” and “militant” will also lead nowhere but the pestiferous Washington think tanks.

A film by Annemarie Jacir, an art installation by Emily Jacir, a poem by Rafeef Ziadah or Dana Dajani, or a moving song by Rim Banna is infinitely more radical than any flimsy rocket that Hamas might fire. The Israeli propaganda machinery does not want the world to know these radically defiant forms of Palestinian resistance that have grabbed Zionism by the throat for generations and do not allow it to swallow Palestine. But they magnify Hamas as the face of Palestine.

Military atrocities

In a future free and democratic Palestine, who knows how many votes Hamas would garner in a given election. But we are nowhere near that moment yet – and Israel and its criminal military atrocities are the principle obstacle why we are nowhere near that point. Until then, Palestinians are perfectly entitled to resist the robbery of their homeland by any means they deem necessary, including, but never limited to, Hamas.

Hamas does not provoke Israel to attack Gaza. Palestinians do. The very name of Palestine, the very fact and phenomenon of being a Palestinian, being a witness to the moral bankruptcy of the very idea of Zionism provokes Israel. The mere existence of Palestinians is the denial of Israel and its dominant Zionist ideology. That is the reason that Golda Meir famously said there are no Palestinians, for if there were any Palestinians, she would be a joke. So she had to say there are no Palestinians in order to be an Israeli prime minister.

So anytime you hear an Israeli propagandist mention the word “Hamas”, substitute for it “Palestinians” and the replaced signifier is far closer and truer to what they mean. They want to level that land from one end to another, continue to ethnically cleanse it, and call it Israel, and wash, as one young Israeli put it bluntly, Palestinians into the sea.

Zionism as a murderous machinery of colonial conquest will not stop until the very last inch of Palestine is taken – and yet the Palestinians persist in their homeland, resist occupation, procreate, sing, dance, compose music and poetry, make films, stage drama, organise acts of civil disobedience, mobilise for BDS … and yes, of course, some of them also pick up a few flimsy arms against the most sophisticated armed robbery of a homeland in history.

18 July 2014

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Bloomberg View

There’s nothing funny about Malaysia Airlines losing two Boeing 777s and more than 500 lives in the space of four months. That hasn’t kept the humor mills from churning out dark humor and lighting up cyberspace.

Actor Jason Biggs, for example, got in trouble for tweeting: “Anyone wanna buy my Malaysia Airlines frequent flier miles?” A passenger supposedly among the 298 people aboard Flight 17 that was shot down over eastern Ukraine yesterday uploaded a photo of the doomed plane on Facebook just before takeoff in Amsterdam, captioning it: “Should it disappear, this is what it looks like.”

That reference, by a man reportedly named Cor Pan, was to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, whose disappearance in March continues to provide fodder for satirists, conspiracy theorists and average airplane passengers with a taste for the absurd. On my own Malaysia Air flight last month, I was struck by all the fatalistic quips around me — conversations I overheard and in those with my fellow passengers. One guy deadpanned: “First time I ever bought flight insurance.”

There is, of course, no room for humor after this disaster or the prospect that the money-losing airline might not survive — at least not without a government rescue. This company had already become a macabre punch line, something no business can afford in the Internet and social-media age. It’s one thing to have a perception problem; it’s quite another to have folks around the world swearing never to fly Malaysia Air.

Nor is no margin for mistakes by Malaysia or the airline this time, even though all signs indicate that there is no fault on the part of the carrier. The same can’t be said for the bumbling and opacity that surrounded the unexplained loss of Flight 370. Even if there was no negligence on the part of Malaysia Air this week, the credibility of the probe and the willingness of Prime Minister Najib Razak‘s government to cooperate with outside investigators — tests it failed with Flight 370 — will be enormously important.

As I have written before, the botched response to Flight 370 was a case study in government incompetence and insularity. After six decades in power, Najib’s party isn’t used to being held accountable by voters, never mind foreign reporters demanding answers. Rather than understand that transparency would enhance its credibility, Malaysia’s government chose to blame the international press for impugning the country’s good name.

The world needs to be patient, of course. If Flight 370′s loss was puzzling, even surreal, Flight 17 is just plain tragic. It’s doubtful Najib ever expected to be thrown into the middle of Russian-Ukraine-European politics. Although there are still so many unanswered questions — who exactly did the shooting and why? — it’s depressing to feel like we’re revisiting the Cold War of the early 1980s, when Korean Air Flight 007 was shot down by a Soviet fighter jet.

More frightening is how vulnerable civilian aviation has become. Even if this is the work of pro-Russian rebels, yesterday’s attack comes a month after a deadly assault on a commercial jetliner in Pakistan. One passenger was killed and two flight attendants were injured as at least 12 gunshots hit Pakistan International Airlines Flight PK-756 as it landed in the northwestern city of Peshawar. It was the first known attack of its kind and raises the risk of copycats. The low-tech nature of such assaults — available to anyone with a gripe, a high-powered rifle and decent marksmanship — is reason for the entire world to worry.

The days ahead will be filled with postmortems and assigning blame. That includes aviation experts questioning why Malaysia Air took a route over a war zone being avoided by Qantas, Cathay Pacific and several other carriers. The key is for Malaysian authorities to be open, competent and expeditious as the investigation gains momentum. Anything less probably won’t pass muster.

18 July 2014

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Kenyataan Media

Pihak pejabat  ingin memaklumkan bahawa tweet di bawah bukanlah daripada akaun twitter Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim (@anwaribrahim). Kami kesal dengan tindakan sesetengah pihak yang cuba mengambil kesempatan untuk memburuk-burukkan beliau tanpa mengambil kira perasaan keluarga mangsa dan sensitiviti seluruh rakyat Malaysia.

Pejabat Ketua Pembangkang Parlimen Malaysia

18 Julai 2014

Twit palsu :

BszecYYCYAAWpNF

Twit sebenar Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim berkenaan #MH17

twit dsai yg btl

 

18 July 2014

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PRESS RELEASE
18 July 2014

We are shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic news of the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people on board.

Our deepest condolences go to the relatives and loved ones of the passengers and crew who perished in this horrific mid-air disaster. In particular to the families of our 43 Malaysians who have lost their lives, we share their sorrow and bereavement and pray for strength to get through this tragedy.

While it has been reported that the Boeing 777-200ER MAS jetliner was shot down by a surface to air missile over the conflict zone in Ukraine, it has not been established who is responsible.

Regardless of that, we condemn this act of terrorism and urge the international authorities to conduct a full and independent investigation and to bring to justice the perpetrators of this mass murder.

Meanwhile, we call on MAS and our Malaysian authorities to do their utmost in handling the disaster and in particular to be utterly sensitive to the feelings and totally responsive to the needs of the families and loved ones.

This is yet another national tragedy and our moment of deep grief and sorrow.

Anwar Ibrahim
Opposition Leader, Malaysian Parliament
Ketua Umum, Parti Keadilan Rakyat

——-
Kami merasa terkejut dan dukacita dengan perkhabaran tragis tentang nahas Malaysian Airlines MH17 daripada Amsterdam ke Kuala Lumpur yang membawa 298 penumpang.

Ucapan takziah kami buat ahli keluarga para penumpang dan krew penerbangan yang terlibat dalam nahas udara ini. Khusus buat ahli keluarga 43 rakyat Malaysia yang dilaporkan terkorban, kami turut berkongsi kesedihan yang dirasai dan terus berdoa agar mereka tabah untuk menghadapi tragedi ini.

Sementara pesawat Boeing 777-200ER MAS berkenaan dilaporkan telah ditembak dengan peluru berpandu di zon konflik di Ukraine, pihak yang bertanggungjawab masih belum dikenalpasti.

Rentetan itu, kami mengecam sekeras-kerasnya tindakan keganasan seumpama ini dan menggesa pihak berwajib antarabangsa untuk mengendalikan siasatan bebas dan memyeluruh serta membawa anasir yanh bertanggungjawab ke atas insiden ini.

Dalam masa yang sama, kami menyeru agar MAS dan pihak berkuasa Malaysia dapat melakukan yang terbaik dalam mengendalikan bencana ini demi menjaga sensitiviti serta responsif sepenuhnya ke atas keperluan keluarga mangsa yang terlibat.

Nyata sekali, ini sebuah lagi tragedi nasional yang mengundang kesedihan kita seluruhnya.

Anwar Ibrahim
Ketua Pembangkang, Parlimen Malaysia
Ketua Umum, Parti Keadilan Rakyat

17 July 2014

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Shah Alam. 16/7/2014

17 July 2014

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Speech by Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the Economic Agenda Forum & Iftar on July 16, 2014 at the Mentri Besar Selangor’s Official Residence

Versi Bahasa Melayu

English Version

17 July 2014

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Speech by Anwar Ibrahim at the Economic Agenda Forum & Iftar on July 16, 2014 at the Menteri Besar Selangor’s Official Residence

Introduction
In the run up to the last general elections, the rakyat were treated to a barrage of proposed economic reforms that looked good on paper and even more impressive through media campaigns which cost millions of ringgit of the tax payers’ money. All kinds of promises and pledges were made.

However, among the first actions taken by the government immediately after the general elections was to raise the price of petrol and sugar. Since then, it’s been one after another round of price increases while the promised reforms turned out to be mere sound bites.

In our case, despite winning the popular vote of 52%, we were denied our legitimate right to rule. But our conviction for change has not dissipated, our hope still very much alive and our will still firm and resolute.

Today, let me share with you our road map to a new economic agenda for Malaysia as we go forward towards 2018.

Rising cost of living, mounting household debt
The problem of inflation causes hardship to the people. When the rate of growth in monthly incomes for the working people lags behind the rate of inflation, hardship follows.

Many are finding it hard to make ends meet. Many have to look for other sources of income. Even more have to resort to borrowing. Household debt builds up. At 86.6% percent of the GDP, our household debt is one of the highest in the world.There is indeed a clear and present danger of the rising tide of household debt inundating us.

Widening gap between rich and poor
The gap between the rich and the poor is getting bigger. At a high Gini coefficient of around 0.46, the top 20% of households own more than half of the Gross National Income while the bottom 40% own less than one sixth.

Just two days ago, the nation was presented with a set of numbers that purported to show how well we are doing in terms of our overall economy: as compared to last year, it seems, our growth is more robust, foreign investment is doing well, we are more competitive at the international level and the process towards a high income economy is on track.

But let us set the record straight.

Foreign owned debt and overheating
Our GDP for 2013 stood at USD 312.44 billion or close to RM 1trillion (RM 999.8bn). According to BNM, as at November, 2013, almost 45% of our local sovereign bond market is foreign held.

Our economy is exhibiting classic signs of overheating, including credit growth that is racing ahead of GDP growth and incomes and a currency that has seen sustained appreciation notwithstanding recent volatility.

Govt debt to GDP ratio is at 54.8%, inching closer to the 55% ceiling, household debt is at an all time high of around 86.6% GDP and corporate debt is approaching 96% of GDP.

The reality is that many workers may have jobs and incomes today but may lose them all in a year or two or even a few months. We do not have a comprehensive social safety net. This breeds unrest and an overall lack of economic confidence.

We saw how such a situation blew up in the face of unbridled American free market capitalism in the wake of the 2007 sub-prime crisis. We have witnessed the riots in Greece and Spain and other European cities essentially as a result of the hardship of workers losing their jobs. And do not forget that it happened in spite of a better social safety net than ours.

KIDEX
Detractors have said that we should not complain about highway projects such as KIDEX if we want better transport. But they are missing the point. KIDEX is not the best answer to the people’s need for good and cheap public transport. There is moral culpability here in both the Federal and State governments when in the face of a rising chorus of opposition from the people, they choose not to hear but instead ride roughshod over their pleas.

To further promote a pro-Rakyat administration, we will fix a time line for government bodies that own highway concessions to transfer them to the government so that tolls will be abolished.
There must be public consultation on major development projects before giving concessions or conditional approvals or exercising powers under the Land Acquisition Act.

There must be transparency in the process and documents should be allowed for public viewing.
There must be a proper balance between development needs and the intrinsic needs of the people. For example, failure to respect Native Customary Rights would only stir conflict and lead to injustice as we have witnessed in several major instances in Sarawak. Nevertheless, we laud the recent landmark court decisions in favour of the people.

Prescription for going forward

Inclusive growth
We will pursue a growth strategy coupled with equality of opportunity, supported by three policy pillars:

1. Sustained growth to create productive jobs for a wide section of the population;
2. Social inclusion to equalize access to opportunity; and
3. Social safety nets to mitigate vulnerability and risks and prevent extreme poverty.

Labour market reforms
To address the time bomb of the rising household debt, we must raise the incomes of the labouring poor through a mix of measures centering on labour market reforms, allowing legitimate unions to rise, changing the public-private sector mix in the provision of social goods and services, improvements in the quality of education and good governance.

We are locked in at the low value-added, high volume and low wage stage of the value-added chain in manufacturing and services. The dependence on migrant workers discourages entrepreneurs to shift to more capital and knowledge-intensive methods of production. This has to stop.

A minimum wage that provides for a decent living standard for the workers must be enforced. During the transition, assistance in the form of financial grants and productivity boosting measures may have to be given to small firms that have difficulty in implementing the minimum wage.

GST a weapon of injustice
Regressive tax measures such as GST are morally wrong. The greatest negative impact of the GST is not that it will be taxing all consumers as such but in doing so, the greatest burden of the rise in prices will fall on the middle 40%. On the other hand, the top 20% of income earners will experience the least impact as a proportion of their income.

Without effective creation of employment opportunities that improve both productivity and take-home incomes, the bottom 40% will struggle to graduate to the middle, and the heavily-squeezed middle will struggle to foot the new tax bill.

Crony capitalism and subsidy rationalisation
Subsidy rationalisation is not morally wrong in itself, but if subsidies are cut whilst cronies are awarded with overvalued highway concessions, allowed to monopolise key industries, or given fat contracts without competitive tender – then it is unjust and oppressive.

Why should the poor and the middle class have to tighten their belts while the rich loosen theirs? Occcasional BR1M payments are not enough to help families escape the low-income trap. It only perpetuates the rakyat in a state of economic vulnerability and dependency on government handouts.

In our strategy, however, this injustice and oppression will be removed for we will maintain subsidies for the poor and ensure that those for the rich and powerful will be withdrawn.

Promote inclusive growth
To promote inclusive growth, sectors currently under crony domination need to be opened up. This should be a managed process that allows new entrepreneurs to introduce greater competition while being fair to the employees of existing industries.

Secondly, emphasis should be given to opportunities for low-income households to take up job opportunities. Re-skilling programmes can be further implemented. There should be better guarantee of employee rights and women, in particular, should not be penalised in terms of wages.

Thirdly, collective bargaining should be protected. Government, employers and employees all have to work together to reduce inequality at a pace acceptable to all. Fair and transparent dialogue within a clear framework is the basis for this.

Fourthly, to support inclusive growth,BNM should introduce a counter-cyclical monetary policy that would reduce volatility and increase the ability of poor households to accumulate productive assets.

Social justice agenda

Health care
In our social justice agenda, our humane economy will place priorty on better and more accessible health care. We see the mushrooming of private hospitals particularly in the urban areas while the needs of the poor are often neglected.

Privatization of health care must be stopped. Instead there should be good and better state provision of health care services. A universal health care program encompassing all aspects such as public access, palliative and curative medicine and the infrastructure development of public hospitals and clinics must be introduced.

Housing for the poor
In the case of housing, a National Housing Development Board should be set up. Build affordable houses for workers and even executives in the industrial and services sub-sectors. Given the scarcity of land in many urban areas, this board should consider constructing affordable houses and to provide free transport to the central business districts.

Democratisation of access to education
The mushrooming of private schools and international schools catering mostly only to the rich is a trend that runs counter to the democratization of access to quality education. It is contrary to the basic principles of social mobility. There must be funding for educational institutions at all levels and for academic, technical and vocational streams in order to expand access to Malaysians of all walks of life. Free and quality education is a fundamental liberty.

Strengthening domestic economic resilience
We need to implement more small-scale public infrastructural projects that can be outsourced to small time contractors. Their technical and financial capacities can be enhanced. Such small-scale projects have a larger multiplier effect as they are less dependent on imports for their supplies of inputs.

Women and youth
There is a need for support systems to retain women in the work force and greater efforts to increase their participation. This includes better, possibly subsidised childcare and elderly care services, flexible work arrangements, and family friendly employment policies.

The youth make up about 60 per cent of the total unemployed, with those in the 20-24 age group being the largest proportion at 40%. What we need urgently are social programmes and skills training for their empowerment to reduce their sense of marginalisation and alienation.

Conclusion
In the coming years, we will enhance our pro-rakyat approach as outlined above while pursuing the best practices in governance with specific growth oriented and pro-rakyat steps to be introduced at all levels.

Thank you.

16 July 2014

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The Nation

By demonizing the Palestinian leadership, the Israeli prime minister raised expectations for a decisive victory and opened the door for attacks from the right.

Launching military campaigns in Israel is easy: the public idolizes the army and tends to support whatever measures it takes, and the parliamentary opposition rallies behind the government at such moments. Indeed, Benjamin Netanyahu’s second campaign in Gaza as prime minister—and the third the country has launched in less than five years—was true to form, enjoying nearly unanimous support in Israel, despite heavy civilian casualties on the Palestinian side and the disruption to daily life caused by hundreds of rockets launched by Hamas, including at Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Israel’s international airport.

As the military campaign enters its second week, with more than 1,500 tons of explosives already dropped on the heavily populated Strip, an end game in Gaza is nowhere in sight. Egypt has offered a cease-fire similar to the one reached after the November 2012 military campaign, and a fragile truce might indeed emerge, but none of the core issues in Gaza will be addressed—leading most observers to conclude that the clock is already ticking toward the next escalation.

Unlike operation Cast Lead in 2008–09, Operation Protective Edge didn’t open with a “shock and awe” strike, which took the lives of hundreds in just the first few days, but rather escalated gradually, giving the sense that Israel would have rather avoided this round, if only Hamas ceased to fire rockets on Israeli towns.

Yet there is a wider context that should be considered: following the kidnapping of three Israeli teens on June 12, the government arrested hundreds of Hamas members in the West Bank, most of them from the political leadership who had nothing to do with the attack (which in all likelihood was carried out by rogue freelancers). Dozens of prisoners who had been released in the prisoner exchange deal for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit were detained again, as a purely punitive measure and without any evidence that they had returned to militant activities.

Since the accord between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, Israel has also prevented the transfer of funds that pay the salaries of public officials in Gaza. In fact, when UN envoy Robert Serry sought an arrangement with Israeli officials that would allow the salaries to be transferred, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened to expel Serry for “aiding Hamas.” And, not least, Israel had stepped up its own military activities in Gaza before the latest escalation, claiming the lives of several militants and at least one boy, who was injured on June 11 and died three days later.

The denial of funds, along with the closing of the tunnels from Egypt to Gaza by the new regime in Cairo, which is overtly hostile to Hamas, has caused a political and economic crisis in the Strip, and thus left Hamas—whose main political currency is its image of “resistance”—with little reason to avoid escalation.

These facts, which have been largely ignored by the Israeli media, do not justify Hamas’s tactics, which deliberately target civilians in clear violation of international law. They suggest, however, the existence of alternative courses of action that Israel could have taken in the weeks preceding the current crisis. But the Israeli government has refused for years to address the fundamental problems in Gaza—the siege and its separation from the rest of the Palestinian population in Israel and the West Bank being the most obvious ones. The Hamas-PA accord actually presented Jerusalem with an opportunity to deal with Hamas politically; instead, Israel decided to cut ties with the newly formed government and even demanded that the international community follow suit.

Hamas entered this round of violence considerably weakened, having lost its allies in Cairo and having seen many of the tunnels under the Egyptian border destroyed, and its rocket attacks allowed Israel to portray its military campaign to the West as a legitimate self-defense measure. This very same freedom of maneuver, however, reveals the limits of Israeli strategy—or, some would argue, the lack of a strategy at all. Israeli could easily conquer Gaza, but it doesn’t want to hold it, and what might seem like the ultimate Israeli goal—the destruction of Hamas—doesn’t make much sense, since it’s pretty clear that the ensuing anarchy would not serve Israel’s interests. Far more extreme groups are waiting at the gate.

If Israel does end the war now, Prime Minister Netanyahu will face attacks from his political base on the right and among the settlers. The hard right, with its echo chamber in the media, already senses an opportunity. Amos Regev, the editor of the pro-Netanyahu daily Yisrael Hayom, called in an editorial for bombing Gaza “back to the stone age.” Avigdor Lieberman went as far as saying that Israel should seize direct control of the Strip again, and on the eve of the military operation he broke his political pact with Netanyahu and the Likud, though he remains a part of the government. In a cabinet vote on Tuesday morning, settler leader Naftali Bennett opposed the Egyptian offer, and so did Lieberman. “The assumption is that whatever happens in this war, Netanyahu loses ground,” an adviser to a senior Israeli politician told me this week, before details of the cease-fire offer were known.

Netanyahu can only blame himself for his political troubles. By demonizing the Palestinian leadership—Abbas just the same as Hamas—he raised expectations in the Israeli public for a decisive victory and opened the door for attacks from the right. His refusal to commit to a meaningful political process with the Palestinians, along with his insistence on maintaining the status quo through military superiority alone, will pretty much guarantee that this cycle of violent escalations continues in years to come.

16 July 2014

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Haaretz

Our media ingrains warped terminology that bolsters the effort to portray Israel as a victim. Here are a few examples.

“Gaza is an independent state.”
It is not. It and the West Bank are a single territorial unit composed of two parts. According to the international community’s decisions, a state shall be established in these two parts, which are still under Israeli occupation, as are the Palestinians who live there.

Gaza and the West Bank have the same international area code — 970. (The separate code is an empty gesture left over from the Oslo period. The Palestinian phone system is a branch of the Israeli one. When the Shin Bet security service calls a house in Gaza to announce that the air force is going to bomb that house, the Shin Bet doesn’t have to dial 970).

With his colonialist guile and skills he acquired from Mapai, the precursor to Labor, Ariel Sharon removed the settlers from the Gaza Strip. Via another form of domination, he tried to cut the enclave off for good from the West Bank. The effective control of the sea, air, borders and much of Gaza remains in Israel’s hands.

And yes, Hamas and Fatah, motivated by their factional struggle, have significantly contributed to the disconnect between the two parts. With its propaganda, Hamas has bolstered the illusion of Gaza’s “independence.”

Meanwhile, Israel still controls the population registry for Gaza and the West Bank. Every Palestinian newborn in Gaza or the West Bank must be registered with the Israeli Interior Ministry (via the Coordination and Liaison Administration) to be able to obtain an ID card at age 16.

The information typed into the cards is also in Hebrew. Have you ever heard of an independent state whose people must register in the “neighboring” (occupying and attacking) state — otherwise they won’t have documents and won’t officially exist?

When experts like Giora Eiland, a retired general who helped plan the Gaza disengagement, say Gaza is an independent state that’s attacking us, they’re trying to expunge the context of this round of bloodshed. That’s a pretty easy task. Israelis have already done this.

“Self-defense”
Both sides (Hamas and Israel) say they are firing in self-defense. We know that war is a continuation of politics by other means. Israel’s policy is clear (if not to consumers of Israeli media): Cut Gaza off even more, thwart any possibility of Palestinian unity and divert attention from the accelerating colonialist drive in the West Bank.

And Hamas? It wants to boost its standing as a resistance movement after the blows it took as a governing movement. Maybe it really thinks it can change the Palestinian leadership’s entire strategy vis-a-vis the Israeli occupation. Maybe it wants the world (and the Arab states) to awaken from its slumber.

Still, with all due respect to Clausewitz, rational calculations are not the only explanation. Let’s not forget the missile envy — whose is bigger, longer, more impressive and reaches farther? The boys play with their toys and we’ve gotten used to calling it policy.

“Israel has shown restraint.”
Where does one begin to calculate restraint? Why not start with the fishermen who have been shot at, wounded and sometimes killed by the Israeli navy, even though the 2012 understandings talked about expanding the fishing zone?

Why not with the farmers and metal scavengers near the separation barrier who have no other income and are shot at and sometimes wounded and killed by soldiers? Or the demolition of Palestinian houses supposedly for administrative reasons in the West Bank and Jerusalem?

Don’t we call this restraint because this is violence that the Israeli media arrogantly overlooks? And why don’t we hear about the Palestinian restraint after Nadim Nawara and Mohammed Abu Dhaher were killed by Israeli soldiers at the Ofer checkpoint? “Restraint” is another term that expunges contexts and bolsters the sense of victimhood of the world’s fourth-mightiest military power.

“Israel supplies water, electricity, food and medicine to Gaza.”
It does not. It sells 120 megawatts of electricity at full price, at most a third of demand. The bill is deducted from the customs fees that Israel collects for goods passing through its ports destined for the occupied territories. Food and medicine that Palestinian traders buy at full price enter Gaza through the crossings under Israel’s control.

According to the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, in 2012, 1.3 billion shekels ($379 million) worth of Israeli products were purchased in the Gaza Strip. So Gaza is also a captive market for Israel.

As for water, Israel has imposed an autarchic water economy on Gaza; that is, Gazans must make do with rainwater and groundwater that collects in its territory. Israel, which imposes a water quota on the Palestinians, does not let them share the West Bank’s water sources with Gaza.

As a result, demand outstrips supply and there is over-pumping. Seawater seeps into the groundwater, as does sewage from decrepit pipelines. Ninety-five percent of Gaza’s water is not fit for drinking. And based on past agreements, Israel sells 5 million cubic meters of water to Gaza (a drop in the ocean).

“Israel only pinpoints legitimate targets.”
The houses of junior and senior Hamas members are being bombed — with and without children there — and the army says these are legitimate targets? Is there a Jewish home in Israel that does not shelter a commander who has helped plan or wage an offensive? Or a soldier who hasn’t shot at or will shoot at a Palestinian?

“Hamas uses the population as human shields.”
If I’m not mistaken, the Defense Ministry is in the heart of Tel Aviv, as is the army’s main “war room.” And what about the military training base at Glilot, near the big mall? And the Shin Bet headquarters in Jerusalem, on the edge of a residential neighborhood?

And how far is our “sewing factory” in Dimona from residential areas? Why is it all right for us and not for them? Just because they don’t have the phallic ability to bomb these places?

16 July 2014

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

The Independent

There are moral red lines. Why do we keep crossing them?

I only knew Gaza from the stories.  It was the military zone for which the Givate Brigade was responsible, but we all knew the stories about how they managed to kill several militants in one ambush. Honestly, we were a bit jealous. I was drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) at the end of the Second Intifada into a special operations unit of the paratrooper brigade. From the start of my service I knew that Nablus and Jenin would be the areas for which we were responsible. Child’s play, seemingly, compared to the stories that came out of Gaza – but my child’s play. I’ll never forget the first time that I was shot at, the first Palestinian corpse I ever saw, and the fear and adrenaline during my first military operation.

My first mission involved the seizure of a Palestinian home. I had never before had the opportunity to be inside a Palestinian home, and my squad was surprised for a moment by the fact that within the home lived an entire family – spanning three generations. We woke everyone up, and took over the house. We put everyone in one room – women, men, children, and the elderly. One of the guys was stationed at the door to ensure that they didn’t get out. In the meantime, we took care of our business. I remember asking myself: what do they think about all of this? What would I do if soldiers broke into my home? But I immediately repressed these questions and carried on with the mission. As time passed, fear turned into boredom, adrenaline stabilized, and my doubts about the extent of the operational logic and its justification would return to gnaw at me. But the next day there were already new operations. This was our daily routine, and as a result, the next time I didn’t really think about how the family whose home we entered felt. My personal red moral line blurred very quickly. Every time I would tell myself – this is still okay. But it’s in the nature of red lines to move along an imaginary scale. I wasn’t bothered when we destroyed entire homes during search operations, and when my squad accidentally shot an innocent woman, and we quickly buried the incident and moved on. Today I know that my ability to distinguish whether a particular action crosses the line, didn’t really exist back then.

What happened to me is happening to the IDF and to Israeli society at large. During Operation Cast Lead I had been a civilian active with Breaking the Silence for over a year, but I was still shocked by the incidents I heard had occurred there. I remember a friend who had taken part in Cast Lead. He returned shaken by the fact that homes of “Hamas members” were deemed legitimate targets for bombing without any relation to the risk they posed to our soldiers in the field. That was the first time he had encountered such orders during his military service. This is what he testified:

“In the morning we identified four men, aged 25 – 40, with keffiyehs, standing outside the house talking. It was suspect. We reported it to intelligence, specifying the house they were about to enter. Intelligence passed this on to the Shabak (Israeli Security Agency) who reported that this was known as a Hamas activist’s house. This is automatically acted upon. I don’t remember what we used – whether it was a helicopter or something else, but the house was bombed while these guys were inside. A woman ran out of the house holding a child, and escaped southward. That is to say, there had been innocent people inside.”

The same red line that was crossed during Operation Cast Lead has become the starting line for Operation Protective Edge. Homes of “Hamas members” were added to the IDF’s long list of potential targets in the Gaza Strip.

The politicians that send us to perform these tasks don’t even pretend to promise hope for a better future. Just further use of force and violence. Our doubts about logic and justice don’t even interest us anymore, as our red moral lines are constantly moving in the face of our reality – much like mine during my military service. 150 killed in Gaza in the first six days of the operation, the vast majority of whom were civilians, and a quarter of whom were children. Millions of Israeli and Palestinian people live in existential fear that a rocket or a missile will fall on their heads. The end of one bout of violence merely sets an alarm for the next.

The red line at which we stopped during Operation Cast Lead (2009), is the same line from which we commenced Operation Pillar of Defense (2011). The point at which we stopped during Pillar of Defense is the same place from which we’ve started Protective Edge. What will our next red line be? And when will we cross that one too? Only we can answer that question. It depends on us, and what we allow others to do in our name.

Avner Gvaryahu served in the IDF as a sergeant in special forces from November 2004-November, 2007

14 July 2014

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

Abby Martin remarks on the latest violence in Palestine, including Israeli airstrikes on civilian targets in Gaza.

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