intifada for saturday

Why is AOC honoring an Israeli war criminal?
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, Sep 25 2020

Rabin & army chief Lt-Gen Dan Shomron tour the occupied West Bank’s Jalazone refugee camp
on Jan 19 1988. Palestinians threw stones at Rabin from behind a building.
Photo: Anat Givon/AP

Update added – see below

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is helping a liberal Zionist group whitewash a war criminal responsible for atrocities against Palestinians. Next month the progressive standard-bearer will be speaking at an Americans for Peace Now event commemorating the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. “Rabin’s legacy inspires us all,” Americans for Peace Now stated in their announcement of the event. The lobby group urged people to register to hear Ocasio-Cortez “reflect on fulfilling the courageous Israeli leader’s mission for peace and justice today in the US and Israel.” The only feeling this pack of lies should inspire is disgust, especially at Ocasio-Cortez’s willing participation.

Ever since his assassination by an Israeli Jewish extremist, there has been an effort by liberal Zionists to paint Rabin as a martyr for peace. For Palestinians, Rabin can only be remembered for his personal role in the 1948 Lydda Death March, and for ordering Israeli soldiers to brutalize and kill Palestinians protesting the Israeli occupation during the first intifada of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The enduring myth of the “peace process” is that Rabin’s assassination derailed the 1993 Oslo accords and led to the current impasse. Yet the notion that had Rabin lived he would have pursued a “mission for peace and justice” is grotesque revisionism. Rabin’s crimes spanned the period from the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, to his death. It suffices to mention only a few of Rabin’s more notorious crimes to demonstrate how outrageous it is for anyone purporting to be a champion of the downtrodden and marginalized to glorify him. During the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that began in 1947, some 800,000 Palestinians fled or were deliberately expelled from their homes by Zionist militias. They were never allowed to return home because they are not Jewish. Rabin played a key part in these crimes. He personally signed off on Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion’s order to expel some 70k Palestinians from the cities of Lydda and nearby Ramle in what is now central Israel. Rabin issued a written order to the Yiftach Brigade, a Zionist militia: “The inhabitants of Lydda must be expelled quickly, without regard to age.” As Rabin’s thugs worked to carry out that order, Palestinian civilians took refuge in Lydda’s Dahmash mosque, where Zionists massacred some 120 people. In 2013, Yerachmiel Kahanovich, a fighter in the Palmach Zionist militia, described to an Israeli interviewer some of what he and his comrades perpetrated. Kahanovich said:

Sometimes we had to shoot one or two, and then the rest got the message and left on their own. You need to understand: if you didn’t destroy the Arab’s home, he will always want to come back. When there is no home, no village, there is nowhere to return.

They didn’t stop at that. Kahanovich said:

I don’t like to remember this so much. We shot shells into a mosque where many people were hiding. The dead were all scattered on the walls. I don’t know how many. I didn’t count. I opened the door, saw what I saw, and closed it.

The Israeli organization Zochrot has collected more harrowing testimonies of the crimes committed in Lydda, both from perpetrators and survivors. Audeh Rantisi was 11 years old when Israeli soldiers ordered his family out of their home in Lydda on Jul 13 1948. He described the terror people felt as they began streaming toward the mountains, not knowing that they were leaving their homes forever. He wrote in 2000:

By this time the number of people had grown and panic began to set in. Word had spread about the mosque. Women in black abbahs and heavily embroidered Palestinian dresses hysterically clutched their infants as they stumbled forward to avoid the expected spray of machine gun fire.

Over three days without food, water and in the heat, many would die, until finally trucks came to transport the survivors to Ramallah. Rantisi wrote:

Our death march was over. Our life as refugees had begun.

That is Yitzhak Rabin’s legacy. Two decades after the Lydda Death March, in Jun 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, completing the Zionist takeover of Palestine. Twenty more years would pass until in Dec 1987 an unarmed popular uprising broke out in the West Bank and Gaza against Israel’s brutal military occupation. As defense minister and effective military dictator over millions of Palestinians, Rabin embraced his task of crushing the intifada. He publicly ordered Israel’s army to use “force, might and beatings,” as well as live ammunition that took the lives of young Palestinians almost daily for years. This video from Al Jazeera includes one of the most notorious scenes from the first intifada, broadcast all over the world at the time:

It shows Israeli soldiers methodically beating two Palestinian youths using rocks, trying to break their bones. The two boys, both 17, were cousins Wael and Osama Jawdeh. Recall that this was before cell phones and widespread ownership of video cameras, so Israel’s abuses were even less visible than they are now. The video caused global outrage, but sadly not enough to bring any real accountability or pressure on Israel to end the occupation. Rabin denied accusations that he directly ordered soldiers to break bones and Israel’s parliament declined to investigate him. Despite this, damning evidence emerged about how Rabin and his senior officers ordered extreme violence. As the NYT reported in 1990, Israeli army Lt Eldad Ben-Moshe testified that his commander Colonel Yehuda Meir told him to “break the arms and legs” of Palestinians “because the detention camps are full.” Another officer, identified as Lieutenant Colonel Zvi, testified that Rabin himself “told me to lash into them forcefully and beat them” without restraint in 1988. The myth that is supposed to redeem Rabin is that he became albeit reluctantly a “peacemaker” whose courage would one day lead to the creation of a Palestinian state. More than a year after the White House lawn handshake when the Oslo accords were signed in 1993, Rabin still staunchly opposed a Palestinian state. A few years ago, Israeli media revealed that in December 1994, Rabin’s bureau issued a formal letter stating:

The prime minister is of the opinion that there is no room for a Palestinian state.

However, his position was always clear to anyone paying attention. The most that Rabin ever thought Palestinians would get from Oslo was a “state-minus,” according to Shlomo Ben-Ami, a former Israeli negotiator and foreign minister. “This was Rabin’s expression,” Ben-Ami told Democracy Now in 2006. “He never thought this will end in a full-fledged Palestinian state.” Ben-Ami conceded that the Oslo accords had always been an “exercise in make-believe.” Those who still lionize Rabin as a “peacemaker” perpetuate that fiction today. Rabin was not assassinated because he embraced peace, nor for being too forthcoming to Palestinians. He was assassinated for not being anti-Palestinian enough. In his life, Rabin never expressed regret for his crimes, let alone faced justice. At the very least, we must ensure that his record is not whitewashed and the lives of his victims are not devalued and erased. For Ocasio-Cortez to participate in an event honoring a monstrous war criminal shows utter contempt for Palestinians and deserves the strongest condemnation.

Update, Sep 26: AOC withdraws

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has reportedly withdrawn from the Americans for Peace Now event honoring Yitzhak Rabin, a perpetrator of atrocities and war crimes against Palestinians. The Times of Israel reported early Saturday that the decision, “which came after backlash from pro-Palestinian activists, was confirmed by a spox for the congresswoman.” Al Jazeera also reported Friday it had received a “brief email” from the congresswoman’s spox confirming her withdrawal. Even after her withdrawal was originally reported Friday afternoon, the JTA reported that “the decision was not yet final” amid last-ditch efforts to save her participation.

However, the later reports seem to suggest such efforts failed. Earlier on Friday, Ocasio-Cortez had tweeted:

That prompted Haaretz to report that Ocasio-Cortez was “reconsidering her scheduled participation” after a “backlash from pro-Palestinian activists.”“ The report cited many tweets criticizing Ocasio-Cortez, including this one, from this writer a day earlier when her participation in the Rabin memorial was announced:

Though her spoxes have confirmed her withdrawal to media, as of Saturday morning, Ocasio-Cortez had not tweeted about her withdrawal and her name remained listed as a speaker on the Americans for Peace Now website.

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