Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Murdered for sport: Israel’s collective psychosis versus hasbara PR

Khaled Amayreh takes aim at the Israeli apartheid state’s collective psychosis in chilling but required reading, contrasting its PR campaign against the “evil other” with its own deplorable record on human rights and the killing of children. “Seeking to cope with Hezbullah’s success in getting Israel to release all Lebanese prisoners …“, he writes, Israeli leaders, media and shapers of public opinion have been indulging in sanctimonious self-glorification while denouncing the other side as ‘hateful, uncivilized and representing an inferior culture.'” See extended excerpt below.

Haaretz has recently reported that the Israeli state has launched an international media campaign against Hezbollah, using unproven allegations against recently released Lebanese prisoner Samir Kuntar: “The Prime Minister’s Office’s public relations unit is handling the information, which includes an Internet film for YouTube about Samir Kuntar, portraying him as a murderer who crushed a four-year-old girl’s skull. Israeli envoys abroad and the Foreign Ministry are telling international and Arab media that Kuntar is “no freedom fighter but an abominable murderer.” The campaign, which emphasizes Israel’s moral values compared with its enemies, is also intended to prevent the possibility of international recognition and legitimization of Hezbollah.

Kuntar, held for 30 years since the age of 16 in an Israeli jail and recently released in a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah, has always maintained that the 4 year old girl was killed by Israeli soldiers and the allegations against him have never been proven.

While the Israeli state’s PR machine has been busy propagating the line about Kuntar ad nauseum, Khaled Amayreh—recalling Chris Hedges and Shulamit Aloni—examines this claim of putative “moral values” in Israel’s appalling record on children (excerpted with editorial emphasis, read in full here):

Let us remember some of the  “glorious expressions” of the Zionist culture of love and self-abnegation in recent years.

Chris Hedges is a prominent journalist and author specialized in American and Middle Eastern politics. He worked for a number of publications including the Christian Science Monitor, the Dallas Morning News and the New York Times where he spent 15 years.

In his recent book, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, Hedges tells a chilling story from his trip to the Gaza Strip in  the heydays of the intifada, or the second Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation.

Hedges watched, ten- and eleven-year-old Palestinian children being lured to their neighborhood’s perimeter fence by taunts from a loudspeaker on the Israeli side. “Where are all the dogs of Khan Younis? Come! Come! The Israeli voice barked insults at the boys’ mothers. The boys responded  by hurling their rocks at the jeep with the loudspeaker. The Israelis shot at them with M-16s fitted with silencers.  Hedges found the victims in the hospital, children with their stomachs ripped out, and with gaping holes in their limbs.

Writing for Harper’s Magazine

, Hedges wrote: “Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered. Death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights in Sarajevo, but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.

Here is another “expression of love”: In November, 2001, an undercover unit of the Israeli army buried a landmine in the sand that flows around Abdullah Siyam Primary School in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

A few hours later, as Palestinian children headed to school, the mine exploded. Five school kids were instantly reduced to broken flesh. The youngest was six. All the victims came from the same extended family: Akram Naim Astal, 6, and his brother Mohammed, 13; Omar Idris Astal, 12, and his brother Anis, 10; and their cousin Muhamemd Sultan Astal, 12.  Their young bodies were mutilated beyond recognition. The limbs of one child were found 50 meters away. Some of the kids could only be identified by their school bags, brightly colored and spattered with blood, still dangling from their butchered bodies.

[…] In 2001, the noted Israeli award-wining journalist Amira Hass interviewed an Israeli sniper in which the soldier described the commands he received from his superiors:

“Twelve and up, you are allowed to shoot. That is what they tell us,” the soldier said. “So,” responded the reporter, “according to the IDF, the appropriate minimum age group at which to shoot is 12.” The soldier replied: “this is according to what the IDF says to its soldiers. I don’t know if this is what the IDF says to the media.”

A further “expression of love and humanity of Israeli culture” manifested itself, also in Gaza, in 2004, when an Israeli occupation army soldier, dubbed Captain-R, shot a Palestinian girl, Iman al Hums, who was on her way to school. However, the soldier was not sure whether the 13-year-girl died or not. Hence, he walked to the bleeding child, and instead of trying to save her life, he shot here 25 times, emptying his entire magazine of bullets into her tender body. He did what he did in order  “to verify the kill,” a standard Israeli army practice in such circumstances.

Now, the reader might be prompted to think that the bloodthirsty murderer was arrested and made to stand trial for his hair-raising crime. Well, the opposite happened. The soldier not only was innocent of any wrongdoing but was also awarded tens of thousands of dollars for being “hurt and libeled  by unfavorable media coverage.”

In truth, it is not only Israeli army soldiers and officers who willfully indulge in such Nazi behavior. Zionist rabbis routinely issue religious edicts that would allow Israeli troops to murder non-Jewish children knowingly and deliberately without having to worry about any ramifications, moral or otherwise.

In May 2007, shortly before Israeli occupation soldiers murdered two Gaza children who apparently were searching for scrap metal to sell for a few cents in order help feed their impoverished families, the former Israeli Chief rabbi, Mordechai Elyahu, petitioned the Israeli government to carry out a series of carpet bombing of Gaza population centers.

Elyahu argued that a ground invasion of the world’s most crowded spot would endanger Israeli soldiers. He said “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand. And if they do not stop after 1,000, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000, even a million, whatever it takes to make them stop.”

Earlier, Elyahu, a prominent Talmudic sage, called on the Israeli occupation army not to refrain from killing Palestinian children if that means saving the lives of Israeli soldiers.

The above-mentioned are only sporadic examples of the barbarian spirit inculcated in Israelis, especially soldiers dispatched to the occupied Palestinian territories to guard the occupation and enforce apartheid.

It is this barbarian mindset that makes Israeli soldiers abduct Palestinian school children and take them to nearby Jewish settlements where they are used as “training objects” by Jewish youngsters. It is this barbarian mentality that makes Jewish soldiers force helpless Palestinian laborers do certain depraved acts such as drinking soldiers’ urine  and singing, individually or in unison, “wahad Hommas, wahad fool, Allah Iyhay-yee Mishmar Gvul” (one ‘dish’ hummus, one broad beans, may Allah greet the Border Police)!!!

There are of course thousands, even tens of thousands, of examples which one could easily and readily cite to underscore Israeli barbarianism.

To be sure, this disgraceful reality is known to many Israelis. In 2001, Shulamit Aloni, a former minister of education, wrote in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv that “we have become a barbarian people.”

Back to Samir Kuntar. If Kuntar is in fact guilty of the crime that he is accused of committing as a 16 year old, that does justify a life sentence. But the facts cast a great deal of doubt on his never-proven guilt.

Kuntar has always maintained he did not kill either of his two alleged victims, both for the record and in private to a fellow prisoner.  Kuntar has insisted that his mission was to take hostages, not to kill people.

This is credible not only because it was the stated strategy and modus operandi of the Palestinian guerillas who sought to enact prisoner swaps at the time, but if Kuntar had in fact been so consumed with so much hatred as to smash the skull of a child, why would he then care to deny it? He clearly had nothing to gain from his denial. He had not denied killing a police officer, and had nothing to gain from denying the other charge if it wasn’t true. Yet he was convicted in an Israeli kangaroo court on the say so of the police who had botched the mission to rescue the hostages, who obviously did have a rather large motive to lie.

And the Israeli record? The whole trial, even after 30 years, has been sealed as “top secret”. Only now have parts of the file have been made public. Perhaps Israel could apply the same standards and stop the legalised killing of Palestinian children that numbers 948 Palestinian children in the last eight years alone, not to mention Lebanese youngsters.

All up, there are still 11 000 Palestinians being held in Israeli jails, often without charge or trial.

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This entry was posted on 22 July, 2008 by in Children, Israel, Palestine, Violence and tagged , , .

Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"