Did members of the British Army’s ‘Jewish Brigade’ go on to become terrorists?

08/10/2015
Jewish Brigade 'terrorists'

Jewish Brigade ‘terrorists’ (image stolen from http://www.israelnationalnews.com)

On 25 September the Imperial War Museum apologized for an exhibit that allegedly portrayed Jewish soldiers who fought the Nazis during World War Two as ‘terrorists’.

The exhibit featured a display on the Jewish Brigade of the British Army that was described as ‘terrorist activities‘.

According to www.israelnationalnews.com,

A poster of Jewish warriors was captioned: “Terrorist activities: Men of the First Battalion Jewish Brigade during a march past”; adding, “The Jewish Brigade was formed in September 1944 and fought in Italy under the British Eighth Army. Many of its members went on to join the Hagana and other illegal formations.”

The Hagana was the largest of several Jewish paramilitary groups which operated during the British occupation of Israel, known at the time as British Mandatory Palestine.

It took a less active role than more radical resistance groups such as the Irgun and Lehi in fighting the British occupation, focusing primarily on defending existing Jewish communities – though its more elite strike-force, the Palmach, did at times carry out offensive operations against Arab militias and British occupation forces. As the precursor to the IDF it played a central role in fending off the combined Arab invasion during the War of Independence.

I have reproduced the offensive picture above.  The poster was captioned:

‘Terrorist activities: Men of the First Battalion Jewish Brigade during a march past’; adding, ‘The Jewish Brigade was formed in September 1944 and fought in Italy under the British Eighth Army. Many of its members went on to join the Hagana and other illegal formations.

The Hagana’s elite strike-force, the Palmach, did at times carry out offensive operations against Arab militias and British occupation forces. As the precursor to the IDF it played a central role in fending off the combined Arab invasion during the War of Independence.  In other words, the Palmach (and, by association, the Hagana) was a terrorist organization, as were the Irgun and Lehi.  I fail to understand what the problem is in saying this: apart from that dead horse ‘One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.’  Yawn, pass me a comfy duvet.

As “Emmanuel Goldstein” has written:

Without Menachem Begin’s Irgun terrorists’ King David Hotel bombing, the Officer’s Club Bombing, the “Night of the Beatings”, the Acre Prison Break, the Sergeant’s Affair, and the many other attacks on the British military, the Union Jack would still be flying over the Holy Land today.

A case can even be made that Begin’s terrorists were responsible for hastening the end of the British Empire. When in India, Malaya, Burma, Ceylon, Cyprus, Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Jamaica, etc they saw how a few Jews in Palestine had forced the withdrawl of the British, they were emboldened to follow likewise.

Bearing mind all the current talk about apologizing for slavery and even paying reparations [link][another link], wouldn’t now be a good time for Israel to say sorry about their terrorist atrocities (King David Hotel, Officer’s Club Bombing, Night of Beatings’, etc etc ad nauseum)?  Let’s not forget that Irgun, after some extremely deadly teething troubles, integrated into the Israeli Defence Force we all know and love; and that in 1980 the Israeli state instituted the ‘Lehi Ribbon‘, basically a medal for Lehi terrorists, making Lehi respectable and a source of pride.  The latter part of the Wikipedia article about the Lehi group enumerates some of its acts of terror and violence, and there is a whole article about attacks and atrocities by Irgun.  Will the Israeli state make an apology, even a mealy-mouthed conditional ‘sorry’?  I doubt it.


Protest at Israeli drone factory in Birmingham planned for July 2015 – everyone welcome!

24/06/2015

Activists standing in solidarity with Palestinians will attempt to shut down an Israeli arms
factory in England next month, on the anniversary of Israel’s military operation ‘Protective Edge’, which caused massive  destruction and loss of life in the Gaza strip last summer.  And to counteract the violent nature of the factory, the protest will take the form of “a creative and positive space that meets the needs of justice and solidarity, and not the needs of Israeli multinational corporations that export death for profit.”

Last year, news of the Israeli attacks on Gaza led to demonstrations such as nine activists who occupied the roof of he UAV Engines Ltd factory in Shenstone, near Birminham, which is owned by the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. They shut down the drone engine factory for two days costing the company more than £180,000.

Rooftop protest at Elbit Systems last year.  This year's planned even will be far more peaceful and suitable for all the family.

Rooftop protest at Elbit Systems last year. This year’s planned even will be far more peaceful and suitable for all the family.

This year, on 6 July (the anniversary of the start of the onslaught on Gaza), a more organized demonstration  at Shenstone is planned.  “Block the Factory” will “be transforming the space around the arms factory, converting it from a site of destruction into a fun, creative and child-friendly environment”.

Elbit Systems makes engines for drones, surveillance equipment for the militarized USA/Mexico border and the Israeli Separation Wall, which breaches international law and stretches for hundreds of miles, dividing families and confiscating large swathes of fertile Palestinian land as it goes.  Elbit Systems is just one part of the massive arms industry that makes Israel  the largest per capita arms exporter in the world. Israel is the world’s second largest exporter of military drones, selling thousands all over the world.  And who makes the engines for the drones?  UAV Engines Ltd, whose factory is in Shenstone, near Birmingham.

From Mondoweiss.net:

‘Block the factory’ aims to turn the space around the factory into a fun, creative and inspiring place, rather than one associated with death, destruction, and injustice. Whether it’s by telling stories or holding workshops, making art or flying kites (not drones), playing music or sharing food together, it will be a space for activists to build support networks, find new allies and make new friends.

This mass action is part of the wider Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions  campaign (BDS) and the Stop Arming Israel Campaign, which call on the UK to end its extensive collaboration with the Israeli weapons industry and to institute a two-way arms embargo.  Many groups are involved in the day so far, including:

Boycott Israel Network, NUS Black Students’ Campaign, West Midlands PSC, Drone Campaign Network, Coventry Friends of Palestine, Smash EDO, Manchester Palestine Action, Glasgow Palestine Action, Campaign Against Arms Trade, Stop The Arms Faircoalition, War on Want, and London Palestine Action

The organisers want to make this an inclusive and family friendly affair, believing that diversity makes us better and stronger. So, whether you have never been on a protest before or are a seasoned activist, whether you are disabled, an older person, a younger person, whether you have five children or none, you are encouraged to come and help make this the biggest, most beautiful action yet at an arms factory in the UK.

Better still, there are ways to get yourself or your group actively involved. That could be running a workshop or a creative space, playing music or organising food, or even creating an activity session for children. The organisers stress that the action is what people make it, and welcome ideas and input.

Getting to the demo

Shenstone is a small village outside Birmingham, accessible by National Rail trains. If you are coming from outside Birmingham, this generally means travelling to Birmingham New Street and changing there.

Trains run roughly every 20 minutes from Birmingham New Street, and tickets cost around £4.50. Earliest trains are at 06:01 and the last train returning to Birmingham is at 23:32.

More info at www.blockthefactory.org.

blockthefactory.org


Palestinian “Day of Rage” sees violence and deaths spread to West Bank

25/07/2014

Today, Friday 25 July 2014, has been dubbed a “day of rage” by Palestinian factions. And at time of writing this (15:30 GMT), up to 6 Palestinians have been reported killed and scores injured by Israeli soldiers and settlers. The violence and killings have spread to the West Bank, where previously it was mostly concentrated in the Gaza Strip (a captive war zone, where Israeli and Egyptian border blockade allows Gazan militants nowhere they can retreat to other than their homes – then the Israelis pummel the residential areas with airstrikes and artillery fire, and blame the Gaza fighters for any civilian casualties that ensue – a disgusting “justification” for deliberately targetting homes, hospitals and schools).

46-year-old Hashem Abu Marieh was killed in the Palestinian village of Beit Ummar near the flashpoint southern city of Hebron by Israeli soldiers.

A 26-year-old man was also reported to have died in Hebron from gunshot wounds.

A group of settlers opened fire on protesting Palestinians after they threw stones at their car near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, Palestinian security sources said. An 18-year-old Palestinian named as Khaled Oudeh was killed.

Shortly afterwards, Israeli troops arrived at the scene and clashed with the Palestinians, firing live bullets and tear gas. The Israeli army fire killed a second Palestinian, 22-year-old Tayyib Oudeh, the security sources said, adding that three other Palestinians were injured by live fire.

Friday’s violence followed major clashes on Thursday, when 20,000 people took part in a march from Ramallah towards East Jerusalem in protest over the bloodshed in Gaza. Two Palestinians were killed and several hundred injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers, with 120 treated for gunshot wounds. [all from the Guardian]

And in Gaza the violence has continued. Israeli air force jets struck 30 homes in the Gaza Strip on Friday morning, killing a leader of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad and his two sons. There were heavy firefights between IDF ground troops and Hamas fighters. Israel confirmed that one of their soldiers was killed, and reported that 35 rockets were fired from Gaza, 10 of which were intercepted by its Iron Dome missile defence system.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, has called for a ceasefire, after several meetings with the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and Egyptian officials in Cairo aimed at ending the 18-day conflict that has killed more than 845 people, most of them Palestinian civilians. His office released a statement saying: “On this, the last Friday of Ramadan, I call for an immediate, unconditional humanitarian pause in the fighting in Gaza and Israel. This pause would last through the Eid al-Fitr holiday period.”

French lawyer Gilles Devers announced he had lodged a complaint at the International Criminal Court on behalf of the Palestinian justice minister accusing the Israeli army of war crimes. “Israel, the occupying power, is carrying out a military operation which in principle and form violates the basis of international law,” he said.

The Israeli security cabinet is review the ceasefire proposal and to discuss the option of expanding its eight-day-old ground operation in Gaza.

The Israeli airstrike on the home of a leader of Islamic Jihad and is 2 sons will no doubt be defended by Israel on the basis that it was a legitimate attack on the militant leader and it is that militant’s own fault that he was using his family as a “human shield”. I wonder: if the Palestians in Gaza had more accurate rockets, and destroyed the homes of Israeli commanders and politicians, killing those targets’ families in the process, would Israel accept the attacks as legitimate war actions? Or would they denounce the killing of the families as “terrorism”? Don’t worry, that was a rhetorical question. I know damn well what Israel would say. Their position is: if Palestinian civilians are killed by Israeli attacks, Israel says it’s Hamas’ own fault for hiding amongst civilians; if Palestinians kill Israeli civilians, it’s a terrorist attack.

Here’s a map, showing how Israel has devoured and settled Palestinian territories between 1946 and 2000. It misses out changes since 2000, but I think you’ll get the idea:

Fragmentation of Palestinian territory 1946-2000

Fragmentation of Palestinian territory 1946-2000. Map from here.

Will UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon’s call for a ceasefire over Eid be listened to? I doubt it. This is going from bad to worse to even worse, inexorably approaching “worst”. Israel, look at yourselves. Is it right for the IDF to fire live rounds at stone-throwing youths and men? Is it right for Jewish civilian settlers on traditionally Palestinian land to kill stone-throwing demonstrators? If Palestinian militants are in civilian areas, is it right to shell those areas indiscriminately? Is it right to attack UN schools and hospitals containing thousands of civilians? Hundreds or even thousands of Palestinian civilian deaths, tens of Israeli deaths. I’m not saying this should be balanced with more Israeli deaths; what’s needed is less Palestinian deaths. Is this really too much to ask?

UPDATE 18:20 GMT
Israel’s cabinet on has unanimously rejected a US-backed proposal for a week-long “humanitarian pause” in the offensive on Gaza after 18 days of fighting that has claimed more than 800 Palestinian lives.

So, why the rejection? Judging from earlier rejections of ceasefire proposals, Israel probably will claim that any cessation of hostilities would give Hamas time to regroup and consolidate. This, despite the fact that the Kerry/Ban Ki-Moon proposal would have allowed Israeli troops to remain behind to to continue destroying cross-border tunnels.

The ceasefire would probably have been a non-starter anyway, as Hamas had already signalled its opposition to the terms of the US plan, which it deemed too favourable to Israel. It signals to the rest of the world that neither Israel nor Hamas are ready to stop the senseless slaughter. But that isn’t much of a surprise. And it shows that the USA (via Kerry) and the UN (via Ban) are running out of working ideas.

A ceasefire will come, eventually. But it will leave the situation in a worse position than ever before the Israel-Fatah agreement. Today’s protests, violence, and deaths in the West Bank show that Palestinian opinion is swinging towards a stronger stance against Israel, which Fatah will ignore at its peril. And then what? Back to intifadas? Full-scale occupations? Suicide bombings in Tel Aviv?

Bunch of idiots. The region will ignite into flames again if both sides (Israel especially) don’t move positions. Israel whines that Hamas refuses to recognize Israel as a legitimate state. But so what? Does Israel recognize Hamas as a legitimate political entity? No. They’re all “terrorists”, on both sides. And I would be quite happy to see them “terrorize” each other to extinction, if not for the innocents trapped between them. Irrational, insane bastards with guns and bombs. Like most governments, when I come to think of it…

Oh yeah, interesting piece in the Guardian: “In Gaza, Hamas fighters are among civilians. There is nowhere else for them to go.” Read it. And stop whining about “human shields”. Remember: Israel say how they have to attack residential areas, hospitals etc, because that’s where Hamas is holed out. But that’s bullshit. Israel don’t have to bomb the civilian areas. They choose to.


Bloody Israeli terrorists

20/07/2014

As Israel’s “anti-terrorist” actions in Gaza enter their second week, I’ve decided to point out (again) that Israel is a terrorist state.

Back in the day of the British Palestine Mandate, one of the major anti-British, pro-Israeli state terrorist organizations was Irgun (aka Etzel), who wanted a Jewish Israeli state to be formed, laying territorial claim to Mandatory Palestine and the Emirate of Transjordan. One of their later leaders was Menachem Begin. a terrorist who later became a “respectable politician”.

Menachem Begin

Menachem Begin

From Wikipedia:

The Irgun has been viewed as a terrorist organization or organization which carried out terrorist acts.[3][4] In particular the Irgun was branded a terrorist organisation by Britain,[5] the 1946 Zionist Congress[6] and the Jewish Agency.[7] The Irgun believed that any means necessary to establish the Jewish State of Israel, including terrorism, was justifiable.[8]

The Irgun was a political predecessor to Israel’s right-wing Herut (or “Freedom”) party, which led to today’s Likud party.[9] Likud has led or been part of most Israeli governments since 1977.

And who is the leader of Likud? Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu

Also, Wikipedia points out that Irgun members were absorbed into the Israel Defense Forces at the start of the 1948 Arab–Israeli war. So, if Irgun was a terrorist organization, surely the IDF is also a terrorist organization. The “soldiers” who are killing Palestinians (including civilians, women and children who have never engaged in anti-Israeli actions) – surely these IDF “soldiers” are terrorists. A fact which is borne out by the IDF’s indiscriminate slaughter of those who live in Gaza.

Please please please do not think I am anti-semitic because I point out these facts. I know that some people think that any criticism of Israel is anti-semitism. but anti-semitism is (according to many sources including the US Department of State) as “hatred toward Jews—individually and as a group—that can be attributed to the Jewish religion and/or ethnicity.” I have absolutely no problem with Jews. I don’t even have a problem with “terrorists” per se (“one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” etc). I have a problem with people who lay claim to land because “God gave it to them” and who slaughter non-combatants in defence of that “claim”.

Sorry if I’m harping on tiresomely about this. But Israel’s actions in Gaza are really pissing me off; and my dog is sick and tired of me moaning at her about it all the time.

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UN votes to recognize Palestine as an “independent state”… and?

01/12/2012

So, the United Nations voted to recognize Palestine as an “independent state”. The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of the motion. As the Guardian says:

The 193-member assembly voted 138 in favour of the plan, with only nine against and 41 abstentions. The scale of the defeat represented a strong and public repudiation for Israel and the US, who find themselves out of step with the rest of the world

But this is very much just a symbolic gesture. Palestine still isn’t a full member state of the UN with voting privileges. It is now a “non-member observer state”, on a par with the Vatican; but its new status gives Palestine more rights, such as acceding to the International Criminal Court. And the word “state” means a lot to the Palestinians, who see this as support from all round the world for its ambitions to become a fully independent nation.

Of course, the vote has not led to any changes on the ground. Israel is still right in the face of the Palestinian authority, and authorising the illegal building of settlements in occupied territory. In fact, Israel just authorised the building of new housing for Jews in occupied East Jerusalem, where Europe and the US have long called on Israel not to build, and where Israel wants to diminish the Palestinian percentage of population. “New housing for Jews”… that phrase makes my blood run cold. This is bare-faced apartheid, for which most of the world shunned South Africa for many years. How can anyone support such a fascist Israel? Yes, Israel has genuine security issues – but so does the rest of the world. That can’t be used as a just reason for such belligerence.

And it gets worse. Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, told the BBC that the Palestinian move was a “massive violation” of the Oslo peace accords, and that if the Palestinian Authority attempted to use the new status to declare an independent state then Israel would have to act and may go so far as “annexing territory” – ie invasion and waging war. It’s obvious that Israel has no wish to make peace with the Palestinian people; it wants to wipe them out, like a gardener might destroy a troublesome ants nest. When will the US stop supporting this belligerent, fascistic Israel?

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Israeli authorities have told lies? Well whoopy-sh*t, whoever would have thought such a thing possible?

05/06/2010

So it would seem that Israeli commandos did not shoot activists on the Gaza aid flotilla ships only in self-defence. Autopsies on nine Turkish men killed on board the Mavi Marmara aid freighter show that victims had been shot from behind, and some had been shot repeatedly in the back of the head. The Guardian reports:

The results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, said Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of forensic medicine.

The autopsy reports have heightened the pressure on Israel to allow a full, independent inquiry into what happened. Andrew Slaughter MP, a member of the British government’s all-party group on Britain and the Palestine said: “”Given the very disturbing evidence which contradicts the line from the Israeli media and suggests that Israelis have been very selective in the way they have addressed this, there is now an overwhelming need for an international inquiry.”

Israel is trying to downplay the significance of the autopsy results. An embassy spokesman in London claimed that the number of bullets found in the bodies did not alter the fact that the soldiers were acting in self defence. “The only situation when a soldier shot was when it was a clearly a life-threatening situation. Pulling the trigger quickly can result in a few bullets being in the same body, but does not change the fact they were in a life-threatening situation.” This explanation is nearly compelling… if you ignore the details of the autopsies. For instance a 19-year-old man, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. All but one of the bodies examined had been shot multiple times. And these were all direct shots, not ricochets. Dr Haluk Ince, the chairman of the council of forensic medicine in Istanbul, said: “All [the bullets] were intact. This is important in a forensic context. When a bullet strikes another place it comes into the body deformed. If it directly comes into the body, the bullet is all intact.”

Israeli sources are trying to portray the flotilla activists as terrorists. But that is a ridiculous notion. Check out this account from one of the activists – are these the words of a terrorist?

As the controversy rages on, another freighter carrying aid is approaching Gaza. Israeli authorities have said that if the Rachel Corrie changes its course and goes to the Israeli port of Ashdod, Israel will take the aid material and deliver it to Gaza for them. But the aid workers don’t trust Israel, and they are continuing direct to Gaza. So, another confrontation is going to happen. I wonder how many innocent men and women will be murdered by Israeli soldiers this time?

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Is Hamas a terrorist organization? Funnily enough: no.

31/03/2010

My recent post on the documentary film “Children of Gaza” has provoked a couple of comments from someone calling him/herself “Facts First” (both to the post referred to above and an earlier one also about the Israel-Palestine conflict). While “Facts First” is most eloquent in his/her support for Israel and dismissal of Hamas, he/she has basically restated the US and Israeli position that Hamas is a terrorist organization and has no legitimacy as a government. This has persuaded me that I need to state the truth about Hamas’ legitimacy both in the Palestinian territories and the wider world.

In 2006, Hamas beat its opposition party Fatah in a free and fair election. This resulted in Hamas forming a government with Fatah. Unfortunately, supporters of both parties continued to fight each other.

As well as this factional conflict, Hamas’ position as a legitimate government partner was undermined by the USA and EU’s refusal to recognize a government that contained Hamas – their view is that Hamas is a terrorist organization and therefore unqualified to govern.

Matters came to a head when Fatah seized control of the West Bank territory and Hamas did the same in the Gaza Strip. Israel and Egypt, with US and EU support, then imposed a political, economic and humanitarian blockade on the Gaza Strip, again because Hamas is a terrorist organization.

Many critics of Hamas, including the US, the EU and “Facts First” make much of Hamas’ terrorist status. They tend to claim that Hamas’ status as a terrorist organization is a fact.

They are wrong. It is simply their opinion that Hamas are terrorists. There is an equal argument that Hamas is a legitimate political party qualified to govern the Palestinian territories.

For instance the Council on Foreign Relations says of Hamas:

Is Hamas only a terrorist group?

No. In addition to its military wing, the so-called Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade, Hamas devotes much of its estimated $70-million annual budget to an extensive social services network. Indeed, the extensive social and political work done by Hamas – and its reputation among Palestinians as averse to corruption – partly explain its defeat of the Fatah old guard in the 2006 legislative vote. Hamas funds schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues. “Approximately 90 percent of its work is in social, welfare, cultural, and educational activities,” writes the Israeli scholar Reuven Paz. The Palestinian Authority often fails to provide such services, and Hamas’s efforts in this area—as well as a reputation for honesty, in contrast to the many Fatah officials accused of corruption—help to explain the broad popularity it summoned to defeat Fatah in the PA’s recent elections.

Although the USA, the EU, Israel, Canada, Japan and others call Hamas a terrorist organization, there is not an international consensus on this matter. The United Kingdom and Australia consider Hamas’ independent military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, to be terroristic, but accept that Hamas does have legitimacy. Norway is resolute in its position of recognizing Hamas as a legitimate party, and Russia also refuse to regard Hamas as terroristic because Hamas was elected democratically.

Considering the above facts, one has to wonder what exactly Israel was trying to achieve when it attacked Gaza in Operation Cast Lead, and with its ongoing blockade on the region. Israel claims its goal is to remove Hamas’ ability to operate as a terrorist organization. But this has involved the destruction of civil infrastructure in Gaza, including police stations, prisons, power and water supplies, roads, communications, commerce – and hospitals, schools and residential buildings have also been attacked. This all looks like an attempt to destroy Hamas’ ability to provide the services mentioned by the Council on Foreign Relations in the passage quoted earlier – and as no one else can provide those services, this means Israel is trying to destroy Gaza as a functional territory. Exactly who are the terrorists in this scenario?

“Facts First” has criticized my use of Wikipedia as a source of information on this subject. And I’m well aware of Wikipedia’s problems. But I think the article on Hamas is well researched, with a large and diverse number of references, and is very balanced in its presentation of the facts. In fact, I believe it is the article’s thoroughness and neutrality that makes “Facts First” dislike it so much – he/she would prefer to use US or even Israeli sources of information instead as they are more likely to present the “facts” the way he/she likes to see them. But don’t take my word on the Wikipedia’s Hamas article’s balance and thoroughness – read it and decide for yourself. And please, feel free to comment here on what has been said (and also what has not been said). All I ask is that you take “Facts First’s” pseudonym as advice: let’s stick to the facts rather than deal in opinion. And I contend that one simple fact is: Hamas is not a terrorist organization just because some governments think that’s so.


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