USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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Amira Hass: “On a Scale of 1 to Horror: Ranking Atrocities in the Middle East”

Posted by uscsjp on August 27, 2013

As the horror stories coming out of Syria and Egypt increase, why should anyone be concerned with the plight of a Palestinian widow and mother of six children (all minors and all Israeli residents) who faces the prospect of deportation, although she has lived in East Jerusalem for nearly 20 years? Someone who read my report last week on Nahil Rajbi, 38, who was born in Hebron and has been living in East Jerusalem since 1995, told me, “You spend too much time on trifles” (“Court grants East Jerusalem widow last-minute reprieve from deportation,” Haaretz, Aug. 22, 2013). The remark was not hostile or scornful; it was simply an expression of surprise.

Rajbi’s case went beyond the letter of the law, as they say. A Border Police officer did not deport her immediately even though a senior official at the Population Registry had given him a green light. Instead, he took into consideration that Rajbi has six children, ages 5 to 17, and gave her a grace period of three days to give her time to fight the deportation order. An Israeli human rights group, Hamoked: The Center for the Defense of the Individual — where people naturally turn in such instances — filed an urgent petition to the High Court of Justice on her behalf. It asked that the deportation order be rescinded. Justice Yoram Danziger did not issue a temporary injunction against the deportation, but the Justice Ministry’s High Court Petitions Department understood from the wording of his ruling that he was effectively instructing the authorities to suspend the deportation order; the spirit of his decision also influenced the guidelines given to the police and Population Registry.

There are those who say Rajbi’s fear of being deported from her home in the Old City of Jerusalem is dwarfed by the suffering of the million Syrian children who have become refugees. Some would even go so far as to say that the history of Israeli domination over the Palestinians is dwarfed by the incomprehensible slaughter taking place in the region. According to that logic, men can tell the women in Israel and Italy not to complain about gender discrimination because their sisters in Africa still suffer the practice of female genital mutilation, while in India, the selective abortion of female fetuses is still widespread. Westernized Jews can tell Arab-Jews and Sephardi Jews that they should stop complaining because they’re doing far better than residents of favelas in Brazil.

Ranking injustices, atrocities and discrimination on a scale of horrors is just one more technique employed by those in power to retain their power, to justify their excessive privileges and to belittle any public or civil struggle for equality.

The issue, therefore, is not whether Rajbi’s case is overshadowed by something more horrendous, but rather what laws and procedures established by Israeli jurists have made her a criminal. The question is not whether the situation in Syria is terrifying, but rather why thousands more Palestinian men and women are in Rajbi’s situation, facing the threat of deportation and of being cut off from their families in Jerusalem…

–Amira Hass, 27 August, 2013

Complete Article at:

See Also:

Egypt, Syria and the Sordid Legacy of UK and US in the Middle East

The Battle for Iran. That’s the title given to the CIA operation that oversaw a coup that toppled Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadeq, 60 years ago.

The CIA has now admitted its involvement in the overthrow, and published documents which reveal not only US but also British secret services were involved (in the aptly named MI6 Operation Boot).

The news will come as little surprise to most Iranians, or to many others who have studied the CIA’s role over the years.

Those in Latin America, from Guatemala in 1954 to Chile in 1973, are familiar with US involvement in coups that have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and decades of dictatorship and denial of democracy.

Even today, the threat of hostile US intervention is a real fear across the continent.

Britain was the US’s junior partner, but instigation for the coup may have come from Britain. Mossadeq had had the temerity to nationalise the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (later BP). British Tory prime minister Anthony Eden regarded Mossadeq as a serious threat to British interests and MI6 went ahead with planning the coup.

Eden tried the same trick three years later in 1956 when the British invaded Egypt following the nationalisation of the Suez Canal by its president Gamal Abdul Nasser.

That fiasco was resisted by the Egyptians and crucially not backed by the US. Eden left office in ignominy.

The sordid legacy of this Tory prime minister is a small but important reminder of the role of Britain and the US in the Middle East. It has been a damaging, dishonest and destructive one. Unfortunately that role continues.

We don’t have to go back to the First World War, the Sykes Picot Agreement or the many battles fought on Middle East soil that helped redraw boundaries and protect British and other western interests.

We don’t even have to go back to the post Second World War settlement that saw the displacement of the Palestinians and the creation of the state of Israel, although all of these events have real pertinence for politics today.

Let’s just consider the last 12 years of the ‘war on terror’, focussed on the Middle East and south Asia.

The grievances were already there in the Middle East, most noticeably the situation of the Palestinians and the existence of deadly sanctions on the people of Iraq.

Yet those grievances were exacerbated following the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003.

More than a decade of war, occupation, injustice, killing, displacement and support for dictators has led to greater anti-US and anti-British feeling in the region than at any time.

Just as with Eden in the 1950s, western economic interests are paramount.

While the masses of the Middle East have struggled heroically against these western backed dictators, they have received little support from the western rulers. These rulers preach democracy, but increasingly suggest that the Middle East is not ready for it, seeking stability at any price.

Prospects in the region are once again looking grim, with the coup and repression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the continued civil war in Syria, sectarian conflict in Iraq and western sanctions and threats against Iran.

It may be that we are seeing a remaking of the Middle East on a much greater scale than we have done since the two world wars.

In 60 years time, how will the conflict appear?

As a brutal and lengthy war for strategic power and raw materials? As a cynical move to exacerbate tensions within the region to advance western interests? As a war which fostered Islamophobia and attacks on civil liberties in the west? As a move to recolonise some of the old empires, especially of Britain and France?

In the battle for democracy and freedom, and economic justice, the people of the Middle East will find no friends among the western powers.

That is why military intervention, economic sanctions and arms sales must be opposed. They have fuelled the problems, not solved them.

–Lindsey German, Znet, 23 August, 2013

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