[Marxism] Demolition, Extinction, and the New Antisemitism

Richard Menec menecraj at shaw.ca
Mon May 17 20:28:40 MDT 2004

(Thanks to Sid S. for these reports...)

1) B'Tselem complete data on scope of the Rafah demolitions
2) Israel's top court approves razing Palestinian homes
3) Gazans pile up their belongings and flee
4) Sharansky and 'the New Antisemitism'

(Israeli human rights organization)

B'Tselem complete data on scope of the Rafah demolitions

198 Families Homeless

B'Tselem's detailed investigation into the IDF action in Rafah this weekend
reveals the following:

 116 houses were destroyed

 198 families have lost their homes

 1,160 people were made homeless

Altogether since the beginning of 2004, the IDF has demolished 284 homes in
Rafah, leaving 2,185 Palestinians homeless. Over the past three and a half
years, the IDF has demolished some 1,800 homes in the Rafah Refugee Camp.

Such massive destructions of civilian property are illegal under
international humanitarian law. The death of IDF soldiers cannot justify the
severe harm to civilians, who were not involved in the hostilities.

B'Tselem calls on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to order an immediate halt to
plans for further demolitions. The organization also calls on the Israeli
government to compensate families who lost their homes and to provide them
with alternative housing.


Globe and Mail    Monday, May 17, 2004 - Page A1

Israel's top court approves razing Palestinian homes

By Mark MacKinnon

Tel Aviv -- Despite the opposition of the White House and thousands of peace
demonstrators, Israel said yesterday that it will intensify its operations
in the Gaza Strip and demolish "hundreds" more Palestinian homes in an
effort to stop arms smuggling and attacks against its troops.

Yesterday, Israel's Supreme Court gave its approval to the plan, which is
expected to leave thousands of people homeless, by lifting a temporary
injunction on the demolition of homes in the Rafah refugee camp.

The court rejected an appeal by Palestinian families, ruling that the
demolitions could be justified as a self-defence measure.

"Hundreds of houses have been marked for destruction," aides quoted Moshe
Yaalon, Israeli army chief of staff, as telling a weekly cabinet meeting.

No time frame was given for the demolition, but Israel's Channel One
television reported that troops and vehicles were massing outside Rafah last
night after the Supreme Court's decision.

A late-night missile strike in Gaza City knocked out power to 40,000 people
while targeting an office of Palestinian president Yasser Arafat's Fatah

During the cabinet meeting, Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz reportedly said
that he will step up military activity. "We started continuous air strikes.
We will deepen the fighting," news agency reports quoted him as saying.

Last week, over objections from the United Nations and European Union,
Israeli bulldozers destroyed dozens of homes after a rocket attack on an
Israeli armoured personnel carrier in Rafah that killed five soldiers. The
rocket was apparently fired from the row of buildings that is now being

The UN says 88 homes were demolished last week in Rafah, leaving 1,100
people homeless. According to UN figures, which the Israeli army says are
exaggerated, more than 12,000 Rafah residents have been made homeless since
the start of the Palestinian uprising in September, 2000.

Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia accused the Israeli court of
"ethnic-cleansing crimes and collective punishment of innocent civilians."
The Palestinian Authority was expected to seek a UN Security Council
resolution to stop the demolitions.

The plan to bulldoze yet more homes also came in the face of criticism from
Washington, Israel's staunchest ally. Speaking at a gathering of world
leaders at the World Economic Forum in neighbouring Jordan, U.S. Secretary
of State Colin Powell said the White House could not support home
demolitions as a military tactic.

"We know Israel has a right for self-defence, but the kind of actions that
they're taking in Rafah with the destruction of Palestinian homes we
oppose," Mr. Powell said.

Mr. Powell also slammed Mr. Arafat for a weekend speech in which the
president, quoting the Koran, urged his followers to "find what strength you
have to terrorize your enemy, and the enemy of God."

While Mr. Arafat also said "if they want peace, then let us have peace," Mr.
Powell said such comments make it "exceptionally difficult" to continue the
peace process.

The apparent aim of Israel's home-demolition plan in Rafah is to widen
what's known as the Philadelphi route, a thin stretch of land running
between the Gaza Strip and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Israel plans to hold on
to the route even in the event of a pullout from Gaza, saying it needs to
maintain a military presence there in order to halt arms smuggling across
the border.

Last night, dozens of Palestinians began evacuating their homes after
hearing news of the Supreme Court's decision. "I don't know what to take. I
will start with clothes or the refrigerator or the television," 52-year-old
Abed al-Majid Abu Shamala said as he prepared to leave a four-storey
building in Rafah.

News of Mr. Yaalon's plan came a day after a massive peace rally in Tel Aviv
called for a withdrawal of Israeli soldiers and settlers from Gaza. In one
of the largest demonstrations in recent years, an estimated 120,000 people
rallied in Rabin Square.

Many protesters said they were motivated by a week that saw 13 Israeli
soldiers die sustaining what they see as a needless occupation. Thirty-two
Palestinians were also killed in last week's fighting.

Dovish demonstrators found themselves in the odd position of supporting an
old enemy, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has sworn to go ahead with a
Gaza pullout despite the rejection of his plan by his own Likud Party in a
referendum earlier this month that saw 60,000 members overwhelmingly vote it

Labour leader Shimon Peres fired up the crowd by telling them momentum was
building for a withdrawal from Gaza after 37 years of occupation. "This is a
rally bearing the wish of five million Israelis, versus the 60,000 voting
Likud members. Some 80 per cent of our people want peace; 1 per cent are
trying to block it," the veteran peacemaker said to prolonged applause. "We
will say goodbye to Gaza."


Haaretz     May 17, 2004

Gazans pile up their belongings and flee

By Amira Hass

Rafah residents expect IDF to close in for unrestrained demolition of homes

Rafah - The streets of Rafah were filled yesterday evening with horse-drawn
carts, trucks and pick-ups, all laden to the brim with any and every item
that the town's residents could remove from their homes - mattresses, water
tanks taken down from roofs, clothes, blankets, doors and windows removed
from their hinges, dismantled beds and closets, school books, tin and
asbestos sheeting, baby carriages, refrigerators, gas canisters and more.

Everyone living up to 300 meters from the border with Egypt and the Israel
Defense Forces positions and machine guns; everyone who saw IDF bulldozers
raze the homes of his neighbors; everyone who could and had not yet cleared
his home of its contents; everyone living close to the site where an IDF
armored personnel carrier was blown up last Wednesday - all hastily packed
up their belongings. And when the loading was completed, the women sat at
the entrances to the homes, on concrete blocks or plastic chairs, and
watched the vehicles roll north, to neighborhoods far from the bulldozers.

The families who petitioned the High Court of Justice this weekend against
the house demolitions also emptied their homes yesterday. On Saturday, after
the High Court issued a "qualified temporary injunction" that stopped the
IDF "from carrying out planned demolitions of any of the homes of the
petitioners," there were those who felt a sense of reprieve. One of the
petitioners, a big man, burst into tears unashamedly in public on hearing
the High Court order. But yesterday morning, after the High Court hastily
rejected the petitions, the petitioners understood that they had better try
to at least save the contents of their homes.

Such was the understanding, for example, of Massad and Ahlam Kishta, and
Fauzi a-Sha'ar - two of the petitioners. They live on Abu Jamal Street,
between Salah a-Din Street and Harakevet Street, under the eyes of the IDF's
Termit outpost. Yesterday at 6 P.M., their homes were practically empty.

The Kishta and a-Sha'ar families are two of the original clans of the area,
not refugee families. Their homes were built on their privately owned land,
where some 40-50 years ago they cultivated vegetables and watermelons. The
Kishta family father moved to the area in 1956; and in the 1980s, the
Kishtas began gradually building a concrete home for the expanding family.

The Kishta family has stopped counting the number of times IDF bulldozers,
supported by tanks, APCs and helicopters, have demolished homes in the area
- maybe five, or six. On one occasion, a bulldozer destroyed their bedroom,
from where they now look out onto the steel wall the army is erecting along
the border, the Termit outpost, bare concrete houses, and piles of rubble
between the sand dunes. Last Thursday, bullets and shells left holes in the
walls of their son Abed's home.

On Thursday and Friday, more homes belonging to members of the Kishta clan
were demolished, when APCs, tanks and helicopters raided the area. A missile
was fired at a group of women; seven people were killed. Rafah residents
vehemently deny IDF claims that the army was targeting armed Palestinians.
Human rights organizations in the town said all those killed were civilians.

"Two years ago, they tore down my first house on top of me," says one of the
daughters of the a-Sha'ar family. "Now, the moment I heard them approaching,
I fled."

Another a-Sha'ar family member notes, "The IDF says it only demolishes empty
homes. First they chase us out the home with heavy fire, and then they can
demolish it because it's empty. Do they want us to remain in the house while
they are shelling it so that they won't destroy it?"

According to a rumor that began to spread last night, the IDF is planning to
close off the road between Gaza City and Rafah over the next three days. A
number of people see this a sign that the demolition work will be renewed -
under the cover of a blackout from the entire world.


[The following article is extracted from the April-May 2004 issue of The
Other Israel.]

Sharansky and 'the New Antisemitism'

by Adam Keller

Nathan Sharansky - former Soviet dissident and "Minister for The Jewish
Diaspora" in the Sharon cabinet, has been touring U.S. campuses and European
capitals, busily waging the "Campaign Against The New Antisemitism."

One of his arguments deserves special attention. Sharansky claims that even
when criticism of Israel's policies is shown to be factually correct,
voicing it may still be branded as antisemitic unless the critics can show
that they devote an equal amount of time and energy to criticizing and
condemning each and everyone else in the world who also deserves to be
criticized. In short, "singling Israel out is antisemitism."

Neat and simple. But is it so?

It is unquestionably true that Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians

and the Arab World are getting a disproportionate global attention. In fact,
it quite often works in Israel's favor: the killing of twenty Israelis would
definitely get far more international attention, a far bigger volume of
worldwide sympathy for the victims and condemnation of the perpetrators,
than the killing of twenty Africans - often, far more than the killing of
200 or 2000 or even 20,000 Africans. A positive move on the side of Israel
would get far more international attention than a similar move by another
country, an Israeli leader signing a peace agreement would be more likely to
get the Nobel Peace Prize than a leader from a less well-known war-torn
country, and so on.

Still, in times like the present, the dominant fact is that official Israeli
policies do come under intensive fire in many countries around the world,
and that many critics do indeed devote far more attention to Israeli acts of
oppression and violations of human rights than to similar acts by other
regimes around the globe. Are they all antisemites?

Not necessarily. Several other, plausible explanations could be found to fit
the phenomenon:

. Not every state that resorts to oppression claims to be a Western
democracy, indeed "the only democracy" in its region, and asks for
international support on that basis. Isn't it natural for citizens of other
Western democracies to look more closely at the behavior of a family member?

. Not every state that resorts to oppression has been founded by
people who were themselves the victims of very cruel oppression, who asked
the world for its sympathy and support on that basis, and who often declared
that the state they would found would be no ordinary state but "a light unto
the nations". Isn't it natural for outsiders to judge the actual Israel by
the criteria set by Israel's own Founding Fathers?

. Not every state that resorts to oppression has been founded by an
ethnic group which claimed the unique privilege of taking back a land where
its ancestors lived 2000 years before and got this enterprise recognized and
approved by the League of Nations and later by the United Nations - but with
the specific reservation that this enterprise not be at the expense of the
people then living in the land. Isn't it natural for outsiders to scrutinize
closely whether this stipulation had been adhered to?

. Not every state that resorts to oppression had been founded by
people who came from Europe and settled in an already inhabited land. Isn't
it natural for people in countries that put such behavior behind them to
inquire into the behavior of those who still act in such a manner?

. Not every state that resorts to oppression is the recipient of three
billion dollar a year in US aid, or the beneficiary of an almost automatic
US veto in the Un Security Council. Nor do other states resorting to
oppression enjoy the kind of influence in internal US politics that Israel
has. Isn't it natural for US citizens to inquire more closely into the
affairs of such a state - and for that matter, the citizens of other
countries in a world so dominated by the US?

. Not every state that resorts to oppression is the possessor of a
considerable arsenal of nuclear warheads and missiles, which it refuses to
submit to any international inspection. Isn't it natural for outsiders to
look more closely into the doings of such a country?

Still, given all these legitimate reasons, there might well be people and
groups who are not motivated by any of them in singling out Israel and its
policies, people whose main or only motive is that Israel is a Jewish state,
and who would care nothing about its doings were most of its citizens other
than Jews. Such people and groups are indeed Antisemites and deserve to be
castigated as such. But you need to work at providing a clear proof, Mr.


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