- Despite his own cross to bear, Turkey's Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan got it right calling Israel responsible for "state
- In fact, it's official policy, ongoing for decades against
non-Jews, especially Palestinians without letup.
- According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights
(PCHR), from August 18 - 24 alone, Israel launched 41 air strikes against
Gaza, killing 17 Palestinians, including two children and a doctor, wounding
20 others, and destroying or damaging a number of facilities attacked.
- During the same period, Israeli forces conducted at least
27 military incursions into Palestinian West Bank communities, arresting
- On September 5, Press TV said Israeli settlers torched
a mosque in Qusra village near Nablus "when they threw burning tires
- As a result, fire damaged the walls and ceiling. They
also broke windows, threw rocks at Palestinian vehicles, wrote insulting
graffiti about the Prophet Mohammed and Israeli social justice protestors,
and drew the Star of David on thewall of Ayman Tayseer Omran's house, located
near the mosque.
- Condemning the incident, PCHR this and others "are
carried out in the context of incitement practiced by the Israeli government
against the Palestinian people, which encourages settlers to continue their
- It's not the first time mosques have been attacked and
for sure not the last, nor many other ways extremist settlers vandalize
Palestinian property with impunity, and commit acts of violence, including
- None of this gets reported by Western media, especially
America's, or when done, one-sided bias for Israel is expressed, and/or
reports are sanitized, omitting key facts.
- For example, New York Times writer Fares Akram headlined
his September 6 article, "Gaza: Israelis Kill Militant," saying:
- An Israeli attack helicopter killed Khaled Sahmoud "after
(its) forces carried out an incursion into Gaza....and clashed with members
of a small militant group, shooting at them and receiving mortar fire back,
according to the Israeli military and officials of....the Popular Resistance
- Israel accused him and other militants of "carr(ying)
out the terrorist attack from the Sinai region of Egypt on southern Israel
last month that killed eight Israelis."
- Akram's article was little more than a propaganda piece,
a virtual IDF press handout, presenting its version of events as fact.
- A previous article contradicted the official account,
accessed through the following link:
- It cited compelling reasons to hold Israel responsible
for killing its own citizens to incite fear, ahead of the September General
Assembly vote on Palestinian statehood and full UN membership, as well
as because of weeks of social justice protests Netanyahu very much wants
diffused and ended. What better way than to change the subject.
- Like America, Israel doesn't hesitate killing Jews as
well as enemies when its purpose is served. That's one definition of terrorism.
Webster's Collegiate Dictionary calls it "an intense, overpowering
fear....the use of terrorizing methods of governing or resisting a government."
- The US Code defines it as involving:
- (A) "violent acts or acts dangerous to human life
that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any
State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction
of the United States or of any State;"
- (B) are intended to -
- (i) "intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
- (ii) influence the policy of a government by intimidation
or coercion; or
- (iii) affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction,
assassination, or kidnapping; and
- (C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction
of the United States...."
- The US Army Operational Concept for Terrorism (TRADOC
Pamphlet No. 525-37, 1984) shortens the above definition to be "the
calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are
political, religious, or ideological in nature....through intimidation,
coercion, or instilling fear."
- It's state terrorism when committed by nations against
anyone - other states, groups or individuals, including state-sponsored
- It's also illegal violence to influence behavior, inflict
punishment, take revenge, or accomplish other illegal aims. Israel commits
it regularly - terrorism, in one form or other, against Palestinian civilians.
- Last April, a masked gunman killed General Director of
Jenin's (2006-founded) Freedom Theater, Juliano Mer-Khamis, inside his
car after leaving the building. A woman with him was wounded. Whether or
not Israel was responsible isn't known.
- Haaretz writer Avi Issacharoff quoted former resistance
leader/now co-theater manager Zakarya Zubeidi calling it a "well-planned
assassination. There is one organization or body, central, big, behind
this act. This was not a simple operation. There is a big hand" behind
- Two previous times, the theater was torched because of
the type drama it produces.
- In remembering a man he admired, Gideon Levy called his
documentary "Arna's Children" the best film about the occupation
he ever saw. Nothing "approaches its emotional impact or captures
the way in which the trasher of the occupation methodically destroys the
lives of everyone in its path - and (yet) those in its way resist it no
- Levy called it a work of genius, as well as representing
the inspirational courage of Mer-Khamis' mother and the humanity of Jenin's
- Whether or not Israel killed him or ordered his death,
it certainly had motive to silence a powerful voice against occupation
- Despite his death, the theater remains threatened. In
late July, Israeli forces targeted it. A press release recounted what happened,
- The sound of "heavy blocks of stone" hurled
at the building's entrance woke night guard/technician student Ahmad Nasser
Matahen. "As he opened the door, he found masked and heavily armed
Israeli Special Forces around the theater."
- He thought they'd kill him. Location manager Adnan Naghnaghiye
"was arrested and taken away to an unknown location together with
Bilal Saadi," a theater board member.
- When its general manager, Jacob Gough, and co-founder,
Jonatan Stanczak "arrived on the scene, they were forced to squat
next to a family of four small children surrounded by about 50 heavily
armed Israeli soldiers."
- When Stanzak and others tried explaining they were attacking
a cultural venue and arresting its members, they were told to shut up and
were threatened. When they later tried contacting Israel's civil administration,
the person answering hung up. No explanation of why this happened was gotten.
- On August 25, Israeli forces again surrounded the theater
around 2:00AM, beat the security guard, ransacked his home, then abducted
him and two others.
- Stanczak called Israel's behavior "systematical
harassment (and) scandalous. This proves that the Israeli army and security
apparatus is either lost in their investigation or that they have the actual
intention of damaging the theater. It also seems that after the murder
of (Mer Khamis, the theater) is no longer exempted from the kind of oppression
(Palestinians are) subjected to in general."
- Twice earlier, the theater was torched. On April 16,
2009, a press release headlined, "The Freedom Theatre Under Attack!"
- "In the morning of April 15, 2009, an unknown individual
set fire to The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, Occupied Palestine.
The main door of the theatre was completely burned, but the fire did not
spread inside the building and the theatre remains largely unharmed."
- "This was the second (arson) attempt....On the night
when Al Kamandjati Music Centre in Jenin was devastatingly set on fire
three weeks ago, there was also a failed attempt to destroy The Freedom
- In addition, for weeks, Israeli security forces have
systematically harassed and raided The Freedom Theater on the pretext of
investigating Mer-Khamis' assassination.
- General manager Gough called it "tactics to damage
- "An investigation into murder should be done in
certain ways, not kidnapping people, torturing them and trying to make
- It suggests something more sinister is involved. Perhaps
Israel wants Palestinians blamed for its own crime. It wouldn't be the
- Access the theater's web site through the following link:
- Calling itself "the only professional venue for
theatre and multimedia in the north of the West Bank, (it) offers children,
youth and young adults in the Jenin area a safe space (to) express themselves,
to explore their creativity and emotions through culture and arts."
- "It provides them with opportunities to develop
the skills, self-knowledge and confidence which can empower them to challenge
present realities and to speak out in their own society and beyond."
- For these and other reasons, Israel wants documentaries
like "Arna's Children" and other productions silenced. It wants
militarized occupation continued, land theft through settlement expansions
unchallenged, voices for liberation suppressed, and others resisting occupation
imprisoned or killed.
- It wants no opposition to its worst crimes, including
terrorizing and virtually imprisoning an entire population for the crime
of not being Jews. It wants the myth of its victimhood believed, to be
able to commit crimes of war and against humanity with impunity. It wants
the right to do any damn thing it pleases and get away with it, within
or outside the law.
- It wants the power of creative expression eliminated
to remove a motivating voice for popular resistance. As a result, The Freedom
Theatre threatens what no longer is tolerable to allow - preventing freedom
for all Palestinians on their own land in their own unoccupied sovereign
- It's an idea whose time has come. It's a threat Israel
will use any means to stop. It's the obligation of everyone to stand for
what's right over wrong. It's time 44 years of occupation ended so Palestinians
again can be free.
- It's what everyone everywhere deserves in peace under
governments representing all their people, not just the privileged few.
It's an idea worth fighting for. It's why all popular struggles exist and
deserve universal support because nothing is more important.
- A Final Comment
- Mer-Khamis' mother, Arna, the inspiration for his "Arna's
Children" documentary, founded the original theater in 1988 after
witnessing the first Intifada's devastation.
- On February 24, 2006, Maureen Clare Murphy's Electronic
Intifada article headlined, "Photostory: Freedom Theatre in Jenin
aims to plant the seeds of dignity," saying:
- The theater's opening the previous week showed "(t)he
spirit of resistance has not been beaten out of Jenin..."
- "Calls by speakers for the Palestinians to stand
firm despite Israeli and American pressure resonated with the crowd, men
on one side of the hall and women and children on the other."
- Adorning the theater's walls were photos of the original
theater Arna Mer-Khamis created, a Jew from a Zionist family, married to
a Palestinian. Her picture is displayed inspirationally in the middle of
the arranged montage.
- In 1993, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award,
called the Alternative Nobel Prize presented annually "for outstanding
vision and work on behalf of our planet and its people."
- She donated her $50,000 award to the original Jenin camp
Stone theater she founded.
- In 2002, it was destroyed during Israel's attack on Jenin,
killing dozens, cutting it off from outside help, destroying hundreds of
buildings (many with people buried inside under rubble), cutting off power
and availability of food and water from the outside, and refusing to let
help come in (including medical aid).
- Despite the recurrent threat of Israeli violence, "the
forces behind The Freedom Theatre are undeterred" in their mission
to use "(c)culture (to plant) the seed of human dignity" and
inspiration to resist.
- Why else would Israel want Theater principals silenced
and their vision stopped by whatever means it takes.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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