Umm al-Hiran on the morning before the bulldozers moved in for a spot of ethnic cleansing
Racism and Zionism are like Siamese Twins
Shami Chakrabarti, who was enlisted by Jeremy Corbyn
to write a report on racism and anti-Semitism spouted a load of nonsense about Zionism,
the racist ideology and movement that gave birth to the State of Israel.
She talked of ‘some people personally
redefining their Zionism in ways that appear to grant less support to the State
of Israel and more solidarity to fellow Jewish people the world over.’
It’s like saying that some people redefined
their fascism to be less racist.
She then went on to say that ‘My advice to critics of the Israeli State
and/or Government is to use the term “Zionist” advisedly,
carefully and never euphemistically or as part of personal abuse.’ This was in response to the attempt of the Zionists
and the Jewish Labour Movement to outlaw the use of the term ‘Zionist’ as being
a term of abuse. My response is simply
that Zionism is abusive so of course it will be perceived by some as being
Joint Arab-Jewish demonstration in Tel-Aviv
But what has happened this week at the
Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran is a classic example of Zionism in action. As Moshe Dayan once said:
‘During the last 100
years our people have been in a process of building up the country and the
nation, of expansion, of getting additional Jews and additional settlements in
order to expand the borders here. Let no Jew say that the process has ended.
Let no Jew say that we are near the end of the road
Women weep outside the demolished home of Yaqub Musa Abu al-Qian, who was shot dead by police. The Israeli authorities claim that Qian deliberately ran over a police officer with his car, killing him, while eyewitnesses say that police opened fire on the car before it sped up — a version that appears to be supported by police aerial footage of the incident. Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills)
Umm al-Hiran, with the JNF bulldozers, was a classic
example of Zionism, which has always meant the dispossession of the indigenous
Arab to make way for the Jewish settler.
Those, like the Jewish Labour Movement who pretend that Zionism is some
kind of national liberation movement are no different from those who held that
Nazism was the genuine national expression of the German people.
Umm el-Hiran before and after Israeli bulldozers carried out demolitions, January 18, 2017. (Keren Manor/Activestills)
There isn’t a single occasion when there has been a
conflict between the testimony of the Israeli Police and their victims that the
former have been proven, when video evidence has emerged, to be telling the
truth. It was no different in Umm
lying police tweet
The Police alleged that the attack on the leader of
the Arab opposition in the Knesset, Ayman Odeh, was a stray stone that was
thrown. It is obvious to anyone that his
injuries weren’t caused by a solitary
stone. What is also evident is that if
he had been the leader of a Jewish/Zionist party then he would not have been
Police began violently dispersing those present, using shock grenades, pepper spray and sponge-tipped bullets. Among those injured by the latter was Joint List head Ayman Odeh, who was allegedly struck in the head and back. Police assert that Odeh was struck with a stone thrown by protesters, but eyewitnesses dispute this claim. Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Keren Manor/Activestills)
Aymen Odeh lying on the floor
But on the basis of Police lies Aymen is already
being attacked as a terrorist supporter in the Knesset. Already one of the Joint List MKs, Basel
Ghattas of Balad is set
to be expelled from the Knesset after the passage 3 months ago of an
Expulsion Bill. Although of course its
text was neutral it was obvious that its intended target were the Arab
MKs. Disgracefully the Israeli Labour
Party is supporting or not opposing it.
Whereas the vilest of Jewish racists in the Knesset like Bezalel
Smotrich of Jewish Home remain untouched.
police guard car
Yesterday a Palestinian was shot dead in his
car. By good fortune the car then went
out of control and killed one of his murderers, an Israeli policeman. Immediately the Police echoed by Netanyahu and
also the President Reuben Rivlin, took up the theme that the Arab was a member
of ISIS. Not a shred of evidence was
produced or will be produced. This is
another racist meme which basically says that opposition to the demolition of
an Arab village to make way for a Jewish town is the work of ‘terrorists’. If you oppose the demolition of your home and
demonstrate against it then you will be classified as a ‘terrorist.’
What is also disgraceful is the silence of British politicians
who are quick to condemn the death of Israeli military. Last week the killing of 4 Israeli soldiers
in Jerusalem by a lorry was condemned in the Western media and by western
politicians but the demolition of an Arab village and the attack on the leader
of the Arab opposition merits no comment.
Below is a quite detailed video of the murder of the
Palestinian which leaves no doubt that the Israeli Police were lying. There is also a story about a radio host who expressed sympathy with the dead Bedouin driver being sacked. Being sympathetic to an Arab in Israel today is a risky business.
Hundreds of Israeli police officers arrived in Umm el-Hiran at around 5.30am, running towards the mosque where residents and activists had gathered, ahead of planned demolitions in the unrecognized village. Shortly after a few rounds of live fire were heard, followed by a burst of shots and shouts that people had been killed. (Keren Manor/Activestills)
all evidence points to wounds from sponge-tipped bullets, police claim
Joint List head Ayman Odeh was hit by stones thrown by Bedouin protesters
in Umm el-Hiran. If the police are proven wrong, it means they shot the
leader of the third-largest party in Israel in the face without any justification.
This post was updated with a photo of Ayman Odeh’s back showing his injury to
be consistent with that of a wound from a sponge-tipped bullet, and that he is
filing a complaint with the Department of Internal Police
MK Ayman Odeh holding the sponge bullet he says was shot at him by Israeli forces in Umm el-Hiran. (Photo: Joint List)
Where Aymen Odeh had been shot – that was clearly no stone
debate continues to rage over the killing
of an Israeli police officer and a Bedouin man in Umm el-Hiran on
Wednesday, when Israeli forces turned up to begin demolishing the Bedouin
village in order for it to be replaced with a Jewish town. Police and much
of the media have the incident down as a car-ramming attack, while
residents and eyewitnesses say that police opened fire at the car before it
sped up and hit officers — a version that appears to be supported by police
aerial footage. But another contested event, involving the injuring of Joint
List head and Knesset member Ayman Odeh, flew largely under the radar.
claim that Odeh was hit by rocks thrown by the Bedouin residents he
was with, and police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld insisted to +972 that
Odeh’s injuries were caused by stones. Yet Odeh and the people who
were beside him all say he was shot by black
sponge-tipped bullets. A report in the Ma’ariv newspaper on
Thursday morning cited police as saying that Odeh’s injuries could not have
been caused by these projectiles as they aren’t in possession of such
weapons. But police use of black-sponged tipped bullets against
Palestinian youth is widely
documented — particularly in East Jerusalem, where they have resulted
in at least one death. On the other hand, the injuries Odeh suffered were
relatively minor, which is unusual for this kind of bullet, but it also depends
on the exact distance and angle it was shot from, which is unclear.
Odeh with blood dripping down his face from what he claims is a sponge-tipped
bullet wound and police claim is a stone. (Photo: Joint List)
were no firsthand reports of any rocks being thrown when Odeh was allegedly
attacked by police, and none of the injuries at the scene were reported as
having been caused by stones. You can hear bullets being fired in the video shot
by Activestills that was broadcast all over the Israeli media. There are
photos of Odeh holding the bullet that he says hit him and plenty more of the
bullets lying around at the scene. All the people I spoke with who were
there deny that any stones were thrown at the time that Odeh was
apparently shot. The only mention of stones at all in Israeli media reports are
from the police account about Odeh specifically.
were no rocks. None. Zero. The police are liars,” Odeh told +972, adding that
the police first sprayed his face with pepper spray and after that fired at
him, hitting his head and his back. “Who sprayed me? Was that the protesters
too?” Odeh said. “The security forces are hostile towards Arabs, that is what
they are programmed to do. They are liars.”
Soroka Medical Center report of his treatment does not determine what
caused the injury and only states that the patient, Odeh, claims it was caused
by bullets. This is standard, as hospital policies are to not get involved
in the cause of injury. According to a few doctors I consulted there is no
way, medically-speaking, for the physicians who treated Odeh to definitively
differentiate between a wound from a stone and a wound from a bullet.
The only way to start to uncover the cause of injury is to do a forensics
exam. So for now, it’s the police’s word against that of Odeh and at least half
a dozen witnesses.
Thursday, 8:30PM: Ayman
Odeh underwent a forensic exam today, as part of a complaint he is filing
with the Department of Internal Police Investigations, accusing the police
of aggravated assault and unlawful use of weapon. The findings of the exam are
still not out, however Odeh provided +972 with this photo of the wound on his
back, whose round shape and bruising is consistent with wounds from
sponge-tipped bullets. The complaint is being filed by attorneys with Adalah
and the Public Committee Against Torture.
List MK Ayman Odeh’s back, showing round bruising that is consistent with an
injury caused by a sponge-tipped bullet. (Joint List)
find the police version credible, to say the least, but I cannot disprove it at
this time. However, the recent allegations by police, government and media of
intifada” by Arab citizens following the fires in Haifa, despite there
being no evidence or a single charge made, are a good reflection of their
way, this is an incident of critical importance. If, as suspected, Odeh
was in fact shot in the face and back by police, it means the head of Israel’s
third-largest party was shot by his own police force for absolutely no reason.
One of the videos from the scene shows Odeh talking with police and
explaining that he is a Knesset member and is of course not armed.
the last time (if ever) that a Knesset member was shot by security forces? In
2006, rightwing Knesset members Effie Eitam and Aryeh Eldad were wounded by
border police officers during the evacuation of
Amona. But having a gun pointed at you is substantially different, and
while Odeh is fighting for the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel, Eitam
and Eldad were fighting for the rights of illegal settlers in occupied
police shoot Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem with the same
potentially-lethal black sponge-tipped bullets — and in the West Bank with
rubber bullets — on a regular basis with impunity, but what could
possibly be their excuse for shooting a public servant who posed no
threat? They have to stick to the stone story, otherwise they’d have a lot more
explaining to do.
driver, the police can at least claim there was the threat of a ramming attack.
But with Odeh I don’t believe they have any excuse. Which is why the
Israeli authorities and media are pushing hard the line that Odeh and
other members of the Joint List are inciting the Arab public. They are
victimizing and vilifying him.
+972 that negotiations between the Bedouin residents of Umm el-Hiran and
authorities to settle their relocation had reached a breakthrough Tuesday night
and they were close to reaching an agreement, when things suddenly changed at
midnight, and a decision was clearly made by someone in the government to scrap
the agreement and instead go in full force to demolish the village. According
to Odeh, “It was possible to prevent the spilling of blood…Prime Minister
Netanyahu is responsible for the blood spilled.”
Henin and Issawi Freij: “The deeper the corruption investigation of
Netanyahu – the wider his inflammatory incitement the Arab citizens of Israel”
Member Dov Khenin of Hadash charged Prime Minister Netanyahu with deliberately
inciting against the country’s Arab citizens and setting the police to brutal
raids – with the deliberate intention of distracting attention from the ongoing
police investigation into charges of corruption against the PM. “The deeper the
police investigation of Netanyahu, the wider the flames of his incitement”.
speaking at a protest rally held on King George Street in Tel Aviv, in the
aftermath of widespread police violence, bloodshed and demolition of
homes at the Bedouin village of Um al-Hiran in the Negev. Khenin noted that
there was a visible direct relation between
the intensification of the PM’s investigation on charges of corruption and the
intensification of home demolitions and police violence against Arab residents
in such places as Qalansawa and Umm al-Hiran.
Freij of Meretz spoke in a similar vein and said,
“Today there was a
completely unwarranted police offensive against the residents of Umm al-Hiran.
Two people paid with their lives, a civilian and a police officer. Two people
paid with their lives, two families became bereaved, two sets of children were
orphaned. Two people were killed needlessly, with no justification and no
reason for their deaths. It happened only and solely because the Prime Minister
wants to distract attention from the steady supply of expensive cigars and
champagne which he allegedly got from an American billionaire. The Prime
Minister wants to mark out an enemy on whom his voters can vent their anger.
This enemy which the PM has targeted and marked out is me – an Arab
citizen of the State of Israel and a Member of Israel’s Parliament, along with
all my Arab fellow citizens, a full twenty percent of Israel’s citizen body. We
are to be the scapegoats! I declare it loud and clear: we who stand here and at
other protests around the country, Jews and Arabs united in voicing our
protest, will not let Netanyahu succeed in this filthy design!”
hundreds of demonstrators, who listened to the speeches on King George Street
in downtown Tel Aviv, responded by chanting: “Netanyahu is dangerous –
both corrupt and a racist!” and “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies!”
demonstrations took place at Jaffa’s Clock Square, in front of the Prime
Minister’s residence in Jerusalem, in Haifa, at intersections near Acre,
Shfaram, Umm al-Fahm and Klaonsooh – as well as by Jewish and Arab students at
the universities of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba.
“The direct responsibility for today’s
dangerous escalation and bloodshed at the village of Um al-Hiran in the
Negev rests upon those who took the decision to destroy a Bedouin village which
had existed for decades, completely raze and wipe it off the face of the earth,
to expel the residents and establish a Jewish ‘community’ in its place.
In recent days, government officials arrived at the village, bluntly threatened
its residents, and demanded that they move immediately to the town of Hura
where there is no residence available to them. Those who initiated and
implemented such brutal measures against Bedouin villagers (who happen to
be citizens of Israel) are directly responsible for the terrible events that
took place today in the village” say the organizers of the demonstrations,
peace and civil rights groups such as the Negev Coexistence and Civil
Equality Forum, Coaltion of Women for Peace and the Recognition Forum (i.e.,
recognition of the so-called “unrecognized villages” of which Um al-Hiran
call for a comprehensive and impartial investigation of the circumstances which
led to the death of a of Umm al-Hiran resident Yacoub Musa Abu Alkian and
police officer Erez Levy. They call upon the communications media not to
repeat uncritical the highly tendentious and inflammatory accounts disseminated
by police and government speakers – which are contrary to the eyewitness
testimonies of Jews and Arabs present on the scene.
bloodshed was the culmination of a day of violence which began in the
morning when massive demolition crews arrived at the village, accompanied by
large forces of the Yoav unit of the police (created specifically for such
anti-Bedouin actions). They had specifically declared intention of
expelling the residents and demolishing their homes, in order
to make place for construction of the purely Jewish “community” of Hiran. The
police used live ammunition and well as rubber bullets and tear gas.
Villagers – men, women and children – were injured in the police shooting, as
were many of the Jewish and Arab supporters who came to offer solidarity with
tendentious media reports, couched in inciting and inflammatory tones –
refusing to recognize that the residents were protesting the
destruction of their village and homes, and labeling them as “terrorists ”
– are a direct continuation of the police violence on the ground.