electronic intifada for dec 1

EU covers up for Israel after Iran scientist’s slaying
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, Nov 30 2020

A protester in Tehran shows the words “Harsh Revenge” written on her hand, the day after scientist
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated near the Iranian capital, Nov 28. Photo: Arash Khamooshi/Polaris

The brazen slaying of senior Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh near Tehran on Friday is a crucial test of whether the European Union can stand up to the extremist forces of chaos and war in Israel and the US and rescue the 2015 nuclear deal. So far, the EU is failing. Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif quickly pointed to “serious indications of [an] Israeli role” in Fakhrizadeh’s slaying. Zarif tweeted on Friday:

Iran has good reason to consider Israel the prime suspect. Yossi Melman, a veteran Israeli intelligence analyst, tweeted:

The killing on Friday was also reminiscent of the murders of four Iranian scientists between 2010 and 2012. Evidence in those crimes pointed to Israel acting in collusion with MEK, a cultish, formerly US-designated terrorist group that has paid large amounts of money to buy the support of various senior US politicians. And in 2018, Israeli media claimed:

Israel fears that the incoming Biden administration will rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal – known as the JCPOA – which Israel worked to sabotage before and after its conclusion. Netanyahu personally took credit for persuading Trump to pull the US out of the deal in 2018. Now the Israeli prime minister is laying down the law for Biden. Netanyahu declaredThere can be no going back to the previous nuclear agreement. Trump is very much on the same page. For one thing, he retweeted Yossi Melman’s tweet on the killing, very likely a sign of approval. Earlier this month, the outgoing US president reportedly wanted to launch a military attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear energy program during his final weeks in office, but was dissuaded by senior officials.

Trump almost started a regional shooting war when he ordered the killing of senior Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in January. But even though such a calamity was avoided, due no doubt to Iran’s restraint, the country has faced a relentless economic war in the form of American sanctions calculated to cause as much harm as possible to Iran’s civilian population. Yet there is little reason to think that Biden will simply rejoin the JCPOA on day one, despite it being one of the few real achievements of the Obama administration in which he was vice president.

Biden himself has shown a lifelong commitment to provide Israel with unconditional support. He will also be under intense pressure not to rejoin the JCPOA, both from Israel’s formidable US lobby as well as other Israeli allies such as Saudi Arabia. The longer Biden delays, the more time and space such forces will have to sow further mischief and sabotage. It will therefore take an immense amount of effort from third parties, particularly the EU, to rescue the nuclear deal. In December, the EU is chairing a meeting of the remaining parties to the agreement to discuss how to “preserve the JCPOA.”

So how did the EU respond to Zarif’s challenge to end its double standards and condemn state terror? On Saturday, the bloc called Fakhrizadeh’s slaying “a criminal act” that “runs counter to the principle of respect for human rights the EU stands for.” It also offered its condolences for Fakhrizadeh and his bodyguard, who was also reported to have been killed. At first glance these might seem like strong words. But what is even more significant than what is in the EU statement is what is absent.

First, the statement itself, as opposed to the tweet above, does not even name Fakhrizadeh, a minimum sign of respect that the EU could not muster. Second, it does not point to any suspect and, most glaringly, it does not call for any sort of investigation. It’s not hard to guess why: The EU is well aware that Israel is the likely culprit and the last thing Brussels wants is for that to be confirmed. An instructive comparison for this weak, bad faith response is how the EU reacted to the alleged poisoning of xenophobic, right-wing nationalist Russian politician Alexei Navalny last August. Navalny is on his way to a full recovery from what was supposedly an attack with a deadly weapons-grade nerve agent. At the time, the EU declared that it “condemns in the strongest possible terms the assassination attempt on Alexei Navalny.” It also demanded that Russia “fully cooperate” with an international investigation. The EU then went on to announce sanctions against six Russian officials despite there still being no evidence of Russian government involvement. It’s a pattern we’ve seen before:

Far from abandoning its double standards, the EU continues to shield Israel from investigation and accountability, even when it touches on a matter like the Iran deal which Brussels considers to be in its own highest interest. This is not surprising given the EU’s unconditional support for Israel and the considerable influence in Brussels of Israel lobby groups like the AJC Transatlantic Institute that lust for wardid precious little to keep its promises to Iran to uphold the deal, which would have seen Iran gain access to international markets in exchange for monitoring of its nuclear energy facilities. EU leaders are now so relieved to have Biden coming into the White House, an American leader they hope will restore the transatlantic neoliberal consensus they yearn for, that they are not likely to pick a fight with him. Based on its record, then, there’s little reason to expect the EU to stand up to Israel over its crimes against Iran and efforts to sabotage the JCPOA, any more than it does to Israel’s crimes against Palestinians.

20 years on still no justice for Muhammad al-Dura
Amjad Ayman Yaghi, Electronic Intifada, Nov 30 2020

Jamal al-Dura still vividly remembers the day his son was killed by the Israeli military.
Photo: Mohammed Al-Hajjar

Somewhere, in the heart of Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, Jamal al-Dura looks at a picture of his son, Muhammad. Like other bereaved parents, the 55-year-old former construction worker will never get over the loss of his child. Unlike other bereaved parents, Jamal also has to live with constant reminders in the media or from strangers. It is now 20 years since the killing of Muhammad al-Dura was caught on camera. And the footage of the 12-year-old boy, crouching behind his father’s desperate but ultimately futile attempts to protect him, provided some of the defining images of the second intifada. The images still resonate today, not least in Gaza, isolated and besieged as it. Those pictures serve as painful symbolic reminders that even as the UN calls yet again for an end to an Israeli blockade on Gaza that has seen over half the population there fall below the poverty line, Palestinians are without protection against an Israeli occupation that is brutal and relentless.

Jamal still vividly remembers that fateful last day of Sep 2000. He and his son, who loved cars, had gone to look at used cars at a market east of Gaza City. The plan had been for Muhammad to choose a car he liked for the family, Jamal told The Electronic Intifada. But neither could find anything appealing so they made their way back via the Netzarim junction, a military checkpoint in Gaza, then serving the Netzarim settlement of some 60 Israeli families, that cut Gaza’s north from the rest. There were demonstrations at the junction that day. This was just a few days after then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon had decided to take a highly provocative walk on al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem. Sharon’s aggressive conduct sparked an intifada that had been brewing as the failure of the Oslo accords to deliver a genuine peace was becoming clearer. Jamal and Muhammad’s taxi driver decided that he couldn’t go further, and father and son began to walk a short distance to catch a cab to take them home to Bureij camp, which was on the other side of the checkpoint. But as they were walking, the shooting came closer. Jamal said:

I grabbed Muhammad and hid behind a barrel.

His intention was to stay out of the way until the shooting ended. But the shooting caught up with them. The rest was caught on camera by journalist Talal Abu Rahma, who was working with Charles Enderlin of France 2, a state-run TV channel.

Jamal al-Dura still carries on his phone the pictures that went global of the day his son was killed behind him.
Photo: Mohammed Al-Hajjar

The graphic and tragic scene of a boy shot dead behind his unconscious father made global headlines. The Israeli military did not contest its authenticity, in fact issued a qualified apology. But five years later, after pro-Israeli conspiracy buffs had muddied the waters by suggesting either that the shooting had been staged by Palestinians or that the boy had died of Palestinian gunfire, the military retracted that apology. No evidence has ever been presented that suggests anything other than that the boy was killed exactly as originally understood, and neither Abu Rahma nor Enderlin, himself the grandson of Austrian Jews who fled ahead of the Nazi invasion in 1938, ever expressed any doubts about what they broadcast. Indeed, in 2013, after several rounds in court and an appeal was quashed, a French court ruled that one such conspiracy buff, Phillipe Karsenty, chief of the pro-Israel organization Media Ratings, was guilty of defamation for accusing Enderlin and France 2 of staging the shooting. To Jamal, all of this simply added to his pain. Not only was his son killed right behind him, he also had to deal with “skeptics” who only opened wounds when they attempted to sow doubt around what had happened. And finally, of course, there has been no justice for his son. No one has ever been held to account.

Jamal wants to go to France to fight his own court case against Karsenty, he told The Electronic Intifada, as part of an attempt to reignite interest in his son’s killing internationally. He also wants the Palestinian Authority to take Israel to the International Criminal Court over his son. Unemployed now, and relying on social security from the PA, he is still receiving physical therapy for the injuries he suffered that day. But, he said, the PA has not been helpful toward his ongoing endeavors to keep the case alive. It puzzles him. He says:

The murder of my son may not be the most heinous crime committed by the occupation, but it is fully documented. It demonstrates the most horrible side of humanity, where no mercy is shown to a child, and a father trying to protect him.

The family, like all families in Gaza, have had other hardships to contend with. Since Muhammad was killed, Gaza has been the scene of three devastating Israeli military assaults in 2008-09, 2012 and 2014. In the first of those, the Dura home was bombed. Jamal remembers getting a call in the middle of the night, and someone telling him to evacuate the house in five minutes. Jamal told The Electronic Intifada:

I told them, “Are you crazy, in five minutes? I have kids at home!”

He tried to stall as long as possible while his wife, Amal, got the children out of the house. Finally, the person at the other end of the line lost his patience and yelled at him to get out in no more than 15 minutes. Jamal said:

I was told: “This is the IDF! We’ll bomb the house over your head!” We went out to a house near us and warned the neighbors. Then we heard a warning missile dropped by a plane, and then the house was bombed.

The family of 10 rebuilt the home. But in the 2014 assault, the house was also damaged, this time strafed by tank shells. Again, the family had to rebuild. Amal, Muhammad’s mother, says she cannot understand how it is that Israeli mothers keep sending their children to fight in Gaza. Amal said, addressing Israeli mothers:

Your country is democratic. How do they force your children to go to Gaza to start wars and to establish barriers around Gaza and the West Bank? If you really love your children, let them stay home. Every war kills many like Muhammad.

Muhammad should have been in his thirties now. Despite his son’s death, Jamal once again took out Muhammad’s pictures on his birthday this year, as he has done every year since 2001. Jamal imagined another world in which his son was alive and married with his own children.

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