Via Press TV.
Bolivia is seeking to take Tel Aviv to International Criminal Court over the brutal atrocities the Israeli forces have committed in Gaza.
The Andean state says it is intended to make regional allies take a unified stance against “the Israeli political and military leaders responsible for the offensive on the Gaza Strip” and make it to stand trial at the international body in the Hague, said Sacha Llorenti, whose portfolio covers civil society.
Moves to begin the legal process will begin “probably next week,” Bolivia’s deputy justice and human rights minister Wilfredo Chavez told journalists during the visit to Geneva, AFP reported on Friday.
Bolivia followed in the steps of its ally Venezuela and severed diplomatic ties with Israel over its massacre of the Gazans and snubbing the international calls for an ‘immediate’ and ‘durable’ truce, said the Latin American governments.
The Bolivian president Evo Morales told a group of diplomats in the administrative capital of La Paz that he will request the International Criminal Court (ICC) to file genocide charges against Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
The ICC is competent to adjudicate war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed after 2002.
Israel and its closest ally, the United States, are not among the 108 signatories of the Rome Statute creating the Hague-based court in 2000 to investigate and prosecute war crimes.
After 21 days of non-stop bombardment and aggression, the Israeli invasion of Gaza has left 1,133 Palestinians killed and more than 5,200 wounded.
The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) resolutely condemns Israel’s despicable and cowardly military onslaught against the people of Gaza, and it reaffirms its unreserved solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Israeli brutality and arrogance
Since the start of Israel’s bombing campaign, on 23 December 2008, several hundred Palestinians – including many children – have been killed, and thousands more have sustained critical injuries. Israel claims that its targets have been exclusively military, but this is manifestly false. For example, more than 50 people (including an entire family of seven young children) were killed when, on 7 January, Israel bombed a UN school being used as a refugee centre.
In the past few weeks, Israel has clamped down even further on supplies of medicines, food and electricity, further exacerbating the already vast humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. This is not ‘targeted action’; it is collective punishment. Israel has rejected international calls for a truce, and refuses even to let foreign journalists into Gaza. It wants to hide its brutal Nazi aggression from the rest of the world. Having for so long painted itself as a little jewish David in a sea of Arab Goliaths, Israel does not want the world to see the true nature of its “struggle for existence” – that is, murder and criminal occupation.
Israel to blame for breakdown of the ceasefire
Predictably, Israel has claimed that its actions are a legitimate response to Palestinian rocket attacks since the collapse of the ceasefire in late December. This sentiment has been implicitly (and in some cases explicitly) backed by the self-appointed ‘international community’, which has long relied on Israel as its policeman in the Middle East. As hi-tech bombs were raining down on Palestinian civilians, George Bush thought it appropriate to say: “I understand Israel’s desire to protect itself and that the situation now taking place in Gaza was caused by Hamas”. His successor, Barack Obama, stated on a recent visit to Sderot (an Israeli town near Gaza): “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”
As we have said before, one cannot equate the violence of the oppressed with the violence of the oppressors. Israel is not under siege; it is not an occupied country; its citizens (at least its jewish citizens) are not denied their basic human rights; its water, electricity and medical supplies have not been cut off; it is not in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. Meanwhile, Gaza has over the last two years been effectively turned into a giant concentration camp. Gazans cannot move in or out of their country; the supply of food, electricity, water and medicines has been cut off; frequent Israeli bombing raids take place; the unemployment rate exceeds 80 percent and the people are living a miserable existence well below the poverty line. Are the Palestinian people expected to simply give up their right to existence? The right to resist occupation is enshrined in international law, and the Palestinian military resistance to Israeli occupation is legitimate and laudable.
Still, one does not need to accept the legitimacy of the Palestinian rocket attacks in order to condemn the massacre that is taking place in Gaza. According to detailed information released by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a grand total of 15 Israelis have died as a result of Qassam rocket attacks since these were first fired over seven years ago (in October 2001). Meanwhile, over 500 Gazans have been killed by the Israeli military in the last two weeks alone. These lopsided figures alone are enough to give lie to Israel’s claim that it is simply protecting its citizens from rocket attacks.
If Israel genuinely wanted to stop the Qassam rocket attacks, it could have done so very easily by complying with the terms of the ceasefire, under which it was supposed to lift the blockade against Gaza in order to end the humanitarian crisis there. However, deliveries from aid agencies have been all but completely blocked for several months. Observers from the Red Cross have noted the spread malnutrition across Gaza. Israel completely failed to respect the ceasefire terms, and therefore should not be surprised that the ceasefire has collapsed. As has happened many times before, Israel has violated the terms of a ceasefire and used the Palestinian response to ‘justify’ the unjustifiable.
Israel’s real agenda is clear enough: not happy with the democratic choice of the Palestinian people, it is seeking regime change in Gaza (having already effected regime change in the West Bank). Recently, Foreign Minister Livni stated: “The state of Israel, and a government under me, will make it a strategic objective to topple the Hamas regime in Gaza. The means for doing this should be military, economic and diplomatic.” It would be difficult to be clearer than that. Israel and its imperialist backers (including Britain) want to see a Palestinian administration that is willing to squash the struggle for an independent Palestine and that will accept a Palestinian ‘state’ composed of multiple disconnected Bantustans whose borders are controlled by Israel.
From the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free
With its military attacks and its continued settlement activity in the West Bank, Israel has made the two-state solution unachievable. In so doing, it has created the conditions for a one-state solution, and with it the end to the whole racist idea of an ethnically cleansed jewish state.
We reiterate the call of Khaled Meshaal, leader of Hamas, for a renewed intifada against Israel. Only through the intensification of the Palestinian resistance will Israel be forced to recognise the right of the Palestinians to freedom from colonial occupation. We have full confidence in the ability of the Palestinian resistance to deal a heavy blow to the Israeli military. As the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine put it in a recent statement: “We will get out from underneath the rubble and fight until the last breath.” As Marx once wrote, “the nation that oppresses another nation forges its own chains”. The British working class must do everything within its power to support the cause of Palestinian liberation.
Via The Guardian.
A new word emerged from the carnage in Gaza this week: “scholasticide” – the systematic destruction by Israeli forces of centres of education dear to Palestinian society, as the ministry of education was bombed, the infrastructure of teaching destroyed, and schools across the Gaza strip targeted for attack by the air, sea and ground offensives.
“Learn, baby, learn” was a slogan of the black rights movement in America’s ghettoes a generation ago, but it also epitomises the idea of education as the central pillar of Palestinian identity – a traditional premium on schooling steeled by occupation, and something the Israelis “cannot abide… and seek to destroy”, according to Dr Karma Nabulsi, who teaches politics at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. “We knew before, and see more clearly now than ever, that Israel is seeking to annihilate an educated Palestine,” she says.
The Palestinians are among the most thoroughly educated people in the world. For decades, Palestinian society – both at home in the West Bank and Gaza, and scattered in the diaspora – has put a singular emphasis on learning. After the expulsions of 1948 and after the 1967 occupation, waves of refugees created an influential Palestinian intelligentsia and a marked presence in the disciplines of medicine and engineering across the Arab world, Europe and the Americas.
“Education is the most important thing – it is part of the family life, part of your identity and part of the rebellion,” says Nabulsi. “Everyone knows this, and in a refugee camp like Gaza, every child knows that in those same schooldesks sat your parents and your grandparents, whose tradition they carry on.”
Schooling and university studies are the fabric of life despite, not because of, circumstances: every university in the occupied territories has been closed down at some point by Israeli forces, many of them regularly. However, the closures and arrests of students (more than 300 at Birzeit university in Ramallah, says Nabulsi) only strengthens the desire to become educated.
In the current offensive, Israel began attacking Gaza’s educational institutions immediately. On only the second and third day of air attacks last week, Israeli planes wreaked severe damage in direct strikes on Gaza’s Islamic University. The main buildings were devastated, destroying administrative records, and, of course, ending studies. The Ministry of Education has been hit twice by direct hits from the air.
The Saturday of the ground invasion was the day on which most students in Gaza sit their end-of-year examinations. In the majority of cases, these had to be abandoned, and it remains unclear whether they can or will be sat again. Other schools were also attacked – most notoriously the UN establishment in the Jabaliya refugee camp where at least 40 people were massacred on Tuesday.
On Sunday, another Israeli air strike destroyed the pinnacle of Palestinian schooling, the elite and private American International School, to which the children of business and other leaders went, among them Fulbright scholars unable to take up their places in the United States because of the Israeli blockade. Ironically, the same school was attacked last year by a group called the Holy Jihad Brigades, and has been repeatedly vandalised for its association with western-style education.
The school was founded in 2000 to offer a “progressive” (and fully co-educational) American-style curriculum, taught in English, from kindergarten to sixth form, and was said by the Israelis to have been the site, or near the site, from which a rocket was fired. A night watchman was killed in the destruction of the building.
The chairman of its board of trustees, Iyad Saraj, says: “This is the most distinguished and advanced school in Gaza, if not in Gaza and the West Bank. I cannot swear there was no rocket fired, but if there was, you don’t destroy a whole school.” He adds: “This is the destruction of civilisation.”
The school has no connection to the US government, Saraj says, and many of the 250 who graduate from it each year go on to US universities. “They are very good, highly educated open-minded students who can really be future leaders of Palestine.”
Young Palestinians playing in Daniel Barenboim’s celebrated East-West Divan Orchestra – which this week again brings Palestinian and Israeli musicians together to play a prestigious concert in Vienna – say that music schools in their communities and refugee camps are “not just educating young people, but helping them understand their identity”, as Nabeel Abboud Ashkar, a violinist based in Nazareth, puts it, adding: “And the Israelis are not necessarily happy with that.”
Ramzi Aburedwan, who runs the Al-Kamandjati classical music school in Ramallah, argues: “What the Israelis are doing is killing the lives of the people. Bring music, and you bring life. The children who played here were suddenly interested in their future”.
In a recent lecture, Nabulsi at St Edmund Hall recalled the tradition of learning in Palestinian history, and the recurrent character of the teacher as an icon in Palestinian literature. “The role and power of education in an occupied society is enormous. Education posits possibilities, opens horizons. Freedom of thought contrasts sharply with the apartheid wall, the shackling checkpoints, the choking prisons,” she said.
This week, following the bombing of schools in Gaza, she says: “The systematic destruction of Palestinian education by Israel has countered that tradition since the occupation of 1967,” citing “the calculated, wholesale looting of the Palestinian Research Centre in Beirut during the 1982 war and the destruction of all those manuscripts and archived history.”
“Now in Gaza,” she says, “we see the policy more clearly than ever – this ’scholasticide’. The Israelis know nothing about who we really are, while we study and study them. But deep down they know how important education is to the Palestinian tradition and the Palestinian revolution. They cannot abide it and have to destroy it.”