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December 3, 2016 / 3 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Palestinians’

The Palestinians’ Unsporting and Illegal ‘Football War’ Against Israel

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Washington Post website}

Human Rights Watch published a long, graphics-rich report on Sunday denouncing Israeli semi-pro soccer (football) clubs in towns in the West Bank. A few weeks ago, a group of European Parliament members sent a letter along similar lines to FIFA, the international soccer governing body. The parliament members argue the clubs violate international law, and for good measure, the FIFA constitution, and call for the expulsion of the teams, or Israel itself, from world soccer.

These efforts are all part of a broad Palestinian push to pressure Israeli in international forums. The legal arguments raised in these documents are entirely contrived. They contradict longstanding FIFA practice and create a double standard for Israel. And that’s just not sporting.

The human rights claims in the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report are tendentious — they assert that the local soccer leagues (all quite small-time) are “making the settlements more sustainable, thus propping up” the system. Most of the communities in question are just a few kilometers from the 1949 Jordanian-Israeli armistice line and would remain in Israel in all the major two-state proposals; their residents typically commute to work in bigger nearby cities. It is laughable to think anyone would leave them if the football league moved a few kilometers down the road. In any case, contrary to the HRW’s claims, there is simply no support in international law for prohibiting business in occupied territories, as British and French courts have recently affirmed.

Indeed, Morocco maintains a team, part of its national football federation, in occupied Western Sahara. Yet the HRW completely fails to mention this fact in its report. The human rights abuses in Western Sahara — where the majority of the population are Moroccan settlers and the indigenous population has been heavily displaced — are too vast to recount. No one — including the HRW and the Parliament members — has suggested expelling Morocco on account of its team, based deep in land taken from the Sahrawi.

The football-as-human rights-violation arguments against Israel are tendentious and prove too much. So those campaigning against Israel rely principally on a lawyerly claim about FIFA’s rules: The clubs “clearly violate FIFA’s statutes, according to which clubs from one member association cannot play on the territory of another member association without its and FIFA’s consent,” the members claim.

The problem is nothing in the FIFA statutes that equates “territory” with sovereign territory. Indeed, that would be impossible, since many FIFA members are not sovereign states at all. Instead, territory, as is often the case in international texts, means jurisdiction.

This is because the FIFA is not a border demarcation body. That is why FIFA clearly separates any question of sovereign statehood and territory from FIFA membership by not requiring that member federations be recognized states (i.e. Hong Kong, American Samoa, Faroe Islands, Northern Ireland, etc.). The claim that the acceptance of the Palestinian soccer federation into FIFA constituted a recognition of Palestine as a state and a recognition of its maximal border claims is unsupportable. FIFA membership does not imply statehood, nor has FIFA ever taken a position on preexisting border disputes.

Indeed, FIFA practice makes clear that it never gets involved when teams of one federation play on territory that is the subject of sovereign claims by the state of another member. As often happens, Israel’s critics attempt to portray it as a unique situation. It is far from it.

For example, British Gibraltar’s soccer federation is a member of the international soccer system despite being entirely located on what Spain claims as its sovereign territory. Indeed, Spain protested Gibraltar’s membership vigorously on these grounds. Similarly, the Taiwanese (Taipei) federation is recognized — but that hardly means FIFA has decided to reject China’s claim to the island.

Member states have territorial disputes. FIFA’s recognition of teams has never been understood as taking any position on the status of the territory where the team plays. Indeed, if it does, it would be big trouble for FIFA, and big news. Does this mean FIFA rejects Spain’s claim to Gibraltar, or China’s to Taiwan, and accepts Morocco’s annexation of Western Sahara? No one has ever suggested that any of this is the case. Conversely, the South American regional football association has refused to admit the Falklands Island Football federation, which prevents it from joining FIFA. But this hardly means the Falklands is occupied territory. This probably explains why only 66 MEPs signed the letter when anti-Israel resolutions routinely command vast majorities of the 751-member body.

Moreover, the Palestinian Federation has been a FIFA member for 20 years. When the Palestinian Federation was recognized in 1998, the event barely made news, because everyone understood that it was neither a recognition of Palestinian statehood (this was well before even the nod from the U.N. General Assembly) or a denial of Israeli teams’ rights to play where they had been playing. Indeed, the Israelis did not even protest Palestinian membership, as no one had yet invented the spin that the membership had anything to do with settlement teams. The Palestinians also failed to complain until a couple of years ago, when they began to use FIFA as part of their overall effort to “internationalize” their dispute with Israel. (The head of the Palestinian football association, Jibril Rajoub, has been accused of mixing football with celebrations of terrorism.)

The longstanding acceptance of the Israeli teams is further evidence that no one really thinks FIFA rules mean what they are now said to mean.

Much reliance is placed on FIFA not recognizing the teams taken over and reorganized by Russia after its 2014 invasion of Crimea. Of course, in that situation, Russia invaded its neighbor and assimilated its teams. In other words, the teams in question were ones that Russia had actually taken over. Here, no Palestinian team has been taken over by Israel — indeed, every single one of them has been created during Israel’s supposed occupation. Nor has Israel invaded and overrun the Palestinian Authority, which was established in 1994 — in short, there has been no change in the status quo.

Moreover, FIFA’s 2014 action was not its last word. It has since allowed the creation of a separate Crimean federation separate from the Russian one — and the Ukrainian one. Does that mean that FIFA recognizes that the area is no longer part of Ukraine? Hardly. It means that it realizes that the football pitch is not the Peace Palace.

Eugene Kontorovich

The ‘Altruistic Evil’ of Social Justice for the Palestinians

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

As yet another indication that the university campus has become “an island of repression in a sea of freedom,” last March a pro-Israel group, Hasbara Fellowships Canada, was barred from participating in a “Social Justice Week” event organized by the Student Association of Durham College and University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT).

The stated reason for the exclusion? The student association (which, not coincidentally, had just approved a pro-BDS resolution against Israel) declared that since the “organization seems closely tied to the state of Israel . . . it would be against the motion to provide any type of resources to [the] organization.”

While the term “social justice” has a seemingly benign and positive connotation, the reality is that, as columnist Jonah Goldberg observed in his book The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, social justice is actually “an empty vessel to be filled with any and all leftist ideals, and then promptly wielded as a political bludgeon against any and all dissenters…”

That has meant that students, and left-leaning faculty as well, are urged to advocate for social and economic goals described in decidedly liberal intellectual formulations such as “social and economic justice,” “distributive justice,” and “the global interconnections of oppression,” this latter view ideal for conflating, at least in liberal imaginations, the shared complicity of America and Israel in their long-term oppression of the indigenous people of the fictive nation of Palestine and the alleged “occupation” of their land.

So while social justice warriors on campus are quick to welcome a collection of perceived victim groups into their tent – Muslims, African-Americans, gays, Hispanics, women – they have been decidedly more hostile when dealing with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, with the result that pro-Israel groups (such as the Hasbara Fellowships in Ontario) are regularly excluded for allegedly being part of the oppressor class.

What are the defining characteristics of those well meaning but often misguided individuals who promiscuously proclaim their commitment to social justice? A number of tactics and behaviors are common to their efforts:

* Social justice warriors are commonly infatuated with their own virtue, which manifests itself in very public “virtue signaling,” a way that self-described activists indicate that they have taken the high moral ground, that they stand for racial equality and the aspirations of the oppressed, and that they single-mindedly fight for the rights of, and make excuses for, the oppressed state in which their victims find themselves.

* Economist Thorsten Veblen identified an emerging social phenomenon in which an increasingly more affluent middle class used spending and material acquisition as a way of signaling their economic—and social—status. Social justice warriors use the same psychological device of announcing to others their self-righteous ideology through what could be called “conspicuous moral consumption,” part and parcel of their virtue signaling.

* The rectitude of students and faculty enthralled by social justice and pushing for condemnations of Israel manifests itself as what has been termed “moral narcissism,” the tendency of members of the educated elite to align with causes and ideological positions that are based not on the actual viability or worthiness of a cause but on how the moral narcissist feels about himself by committing to a particular campaign or movement.

Like other members of the academic left, who believe their worldview is correct because it seeks to create a world in which social equanimity will be realized by the downtrodden, members of victims’ rights grievance groups and movements are content to support such intellectually dishonest campaigns as the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement because it enables them to denounce Israelis as imperialistic, colonial, racist, militaristic oppressors of wholly innocent “brown” Palestinians dispossessed and victimized by the Jewish state’s very existence. The moral narcissist’s reasoning may defective, ahistorical, counter-intuitive, or just wrong, but he still feels good about himself. In this worldview there can be only one enemy of justice, and Israel is that enemy.

* In debating the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, social justice activists, of course, demonstrate their hypocrisy by endlessly dwelling on the many evils of Israel without bothering to examine or measure the Palestinians’ own central role in contributing to the many pathologies endemic to their civil society and institutions. Like many Western elites do when choosing sides, social justice warriors infantilize the Palestinian victim and assume he has no agency to ameliorate his own conditions. In reality, pro-Palestinian activists seem to care very little about the actual self-determination and state building of the hapless Palestinians.

As is frequently the case when speaking about the Israeli/Arab conflict, the discussion often glosses over the real problems of Palestinian culture, politics, and society (including its cult of death, terrorism, and martyrdom), and targets all criticism on Israel, Zionism, and Jewish power. All of the blame for the conflict is placed on the so-called occupation, the “apartheid wall,” Jewish “racism,” the oppression and militarism of the “Zionist regime,” and the brutal humiliation, collective punishment, and even “slow-moving” genocide Israel is said to mete out on a daily basis upon the wholly innocent Palestinians. This is a clear example of another underlying factor in the social justice effort, the soft bigotry of low Palestinian expectations.

* Many academics in the humanities and social sciences, including activists in groups as disparate as Black Lives Matter, Students for Justice in Palestine, and the National Association of Women’s Studies, increasingly find a linkage as they seek to affirm the rights of the victimized and name the villains responsible for this oppression. The more that seemingly unrelated instances of oppression can be conflated, it is thought, the greater the ability to confront these oppressors and dilute the negative effect they have on their specific victims and on society at large.

This trend has been called “intersectionality” and it has meant that someone who is a gender studies professor or American studies expert can, with no actual knowledge or expertise about the Middle East, readily pontificate on the many social pathologies of which he accuses Israel, based on its perceived role as a racist, imperialist, colonial oppressor of an innocent indigenous population of Arab victims.

For social justice warriors, to know one victim group is to know any victim group – with Israel being a tempting and habitual target of their opprobrium. Thus, for instance, supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement have often linked racism and police violence “from Ferguson to Palestine,” as their placards have announced, making Israel somehow complicit in American racism and police brutality, and even recently proclaimed in its recent platform that Israel is practicing “apartheid” and is engaged in “genocide” against the Palestinians.

* Social justice warriors are intent on using “weaponized intolerance,” the willingness to abridge speech and human rights of opposing groups in the campaign to seek social justice for the victim. Moreover, so sure are they of their moral uprightness in denouncing white privilege and conservative thought, that the social justice warriors will not even deign to collaborate, negotiate, or even tolerate the views of those groups and individuals they have decided are essentially unworthy of having their options heard. New York’s Students for Justice in Palestine, for example, announced proudly that “We reject any and all collaboration, dialogue and coalition work with Zionist organizations through a strict policy of anti-normalization (anti-engagement) and encourage our comrades in other organizations to do the same.”

Similarly, a leaked memorandum from the Binghamton University Students for Justice in Palestine chapter revealed that members would never be required to even engage in dialogue with pro-Israel groups on their campus, they would be prohibited from “engaging in any form of official collaboration, cooperation, or event co-sponsorship with [pro-Israel] student organizations and groups,” and members “shall in no manner engage in any form of official collaboration with any student group which actively opposes the cause of Palestinian liberation nor with groups which have aided and abetted Zionist student organizations,” meaning, of course, that the so-called intellectual debate that universities purport to promote in exactly this type of discussion will never take place when SJP is involved.

* Proponents of social justice apologize for and enable grievance-based violence by abandoning moral precepts and applying a double standard by which they support murder, violence, “resistance,” and terror in the name of self-determination—but only that perpetrated by the favored victim. Anti-Israel campus events regularly include protesters ghoulishly chanting “long live the Intifada” and “’resistance’ is justified when people are occupied,” in other words, extolling the ongoing homicidal rampage in Israel in which psychopathic terrorists have used knives, guns, stones, and vehicles to randomly murder Jewish civilians. In fact, the use of the word “Intifada” is a grotesque and murderous reference to the Second Intifada that began in 2000, during which Arab terrorists murdered some 1,000 Israelis and wounded more than 14,000 others.

The fact that pro-Palestinian student activists, those who purport to be motivated by a desire to bring “justice” to the Middle East and who, presumably, care about all human lives, could publicly call for the renewed slaughter of Jews in the name of Palestinian self-determination demonstrates quite clearly how ideologically debased the human rights movement has become.

* Those purportedly seeking social justice for the Palestinians regularly exhibit a willful blindness to the quest for social justice for actual Middle East victims of egregious oppression, while obsessing, to the exclusion of all other examples, over the perceived perfidy of Israel. For example, this year the National Association of Women’s Studies (NWSA) voted to approve an academic boycott against Israeli scholars. It had evidently escaped the notice of the NWSA experts on gender and sexuality issues that if one wanted to punish any Middle Eastern country for its subjugation and abuse of women, Israel would probably not be the first nation to come under reasonable or justifiable scrutiny for a group dedicated “to principles of human rights, justice and freedom for all, including academic freedom.”

Totalitarian and despotic regimes throughout the region have created an oppressive group of social pathologies that negatively affect women, including genital mutilation, stoning of adulteresses, “honor” killings by fathers and brothers who have been shamed, cultures of gender apartheid in which women are seen as property with no emotional or physical autonomy, ubiquitous sexual assault, and a general subjugation of women, complete with regulations governing behavior, movement, speech, and even requirements that women be covered by burqa or hijab.

Like other members of the academic Left who believe their worldview is correct and virtuous because it seeks to create a world in which social equanimity will be realized by the downtrodden, members of the NWSA, similar to their fellow travelers in other academic associations and student groups, are content to support such intellectually dishonest campaigns as academic boycotts because doing so enables them to denounce Israel as an imperialistic, racist, militaristic oppressor of innocent victims.

* * * * * *

This nearly total rejection by those seeking justice for the oppressed of any recognition of goodness on the part of Western countries (and particularly Israel), favoring without hard judgments severely flawed societies of the Third World is, according to commentator Melanie Phillips, symptomatic of activists’ belief in their own moral superiority, a feature which, at least in their own minds, gives them a more genuine, principled, and valuable worldview. “In the grip of a group-think that causes them to genuflect to victim-culture and the deconstruction of western morality and the concept of truth,” Phillips wrote, “a dismaying number of our supposedly finest minds have been transformed from people who spread enlightenment to those who cast darkness before them.”

Richard L. Cravatts

Palestinians are a Thorn [video]

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

It’s interesting how unintentionally our enemies often manage to fit themselves right into interesting phrases from the Torah.

For instance, in this video from the Palestinian Authority, the singer describes the “Palestinians” as a thorn in the throat of Zionism.

Which parallels the pasuk (sentence) in Bamidbar (Numbers) 33:55 where it says, “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell.” Yup.

Singer: “We are not afraid of the enemy – a thorn in the throat of Zionism! Palestinians – We are! We are! The people of Jerusalem – We are! We are! The people of Jenin – We are! We are! … The people of Gaza… The people of Jaffa – We are! We are! The people of Haifa – We are! We are! The people of Lod – We are! We are! The people of Ramle The people of Acre – We are! We are! The people of Nazareth – We are! We are! … We swear in the name of the prisoners In place of one [prisoner], here are ten We have given them [Israelis] a taste of grief We have given them a taste of grief – a thorn in the throat of Zionism!” [Official PA TV, July 30 and Aug. 6, 2016]

Following are all the places in Israel mentioned throughout the song: Jaffa, Haifa, Lod, Ramle, Acre, Nazareth, Galilee, Beer Sheva, Tiberias, Safed, Beit Shean and Jerusalem.

Following are the places in the PA: Jenin, Hebron, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Nablus, Gaza, Jericho, Ramallah

Video of the Day

Google under Attack for Deleting Palestine from Maps App

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

Internet giant Google has been under fierce attacks from around the world this week, after replacing the name of Palestine on its maps application with Israel.

The Palestinian Journalists Front slammed Google for the move, stating that the removal of Palestine’s name from the maps was an attempt by the “Israeli scheme to establish its name as a legitimate state for generations to come” while obliterating Palestine forever.

PJF claimed the move was part of an effort to distort history and geography “as well as the Palestinian people’s right to their homeland,” and “a failed attempt to tamper with the memory of Palestinians and Arabs.”

PJF demanded that Google reverse the changes made in the maps application, since the move was “contrary to all international norms and conventions.”

The fact that there is no such entity as the State of Palestine did not come up in the attack.

A search for “Palestine” in Google Maps does yield a proper reference to the entity, but with a blank map of Israel, with the areas of Gaza, Judea and Samaria marked with a broken borderline but not mentioned by name. The information provided on the left under the title “Palestine” is:

Quick facts

The State of Palestine, also known simply as Palestine, is a de jure sovereign state in the Middle East that is recognized by 136 UN members and since 2012 has a status of a non-member observer state.

President: Mahmoud Abbas

Capital: Ramallah

Prime minister: Rami Hamdallah

For comparison, the data regarding “Israel” is:

Quick facts

Israel, a Middle Eastern country on the Mediterranean Sea, is regarded by Jews, Christians and Muslims as the biblical Holy Land. Its most sacred sites are in Jerusalem. Within its Old City, the Temple Mount complex includes the Dome of the Rock shrine, the historic Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque and Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Its financial hub, Tel Aviv, is known for Bauhaus architecture, beaches and nightlife.

Founded: May 14, 1948

Prime minister: Benjamin Netanyahu

President: Reuven Rivlin

JNi.Media

Report: Accelerated Arab Emigration from Judea and Samaria

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

The Arab daily Al Quds last week published an extensive report on the scope of youth emigration from Judea and Samaria, suggesting that as many as 400 thousand young Arabs have emigrated abroad over the past few decades. The report describes entire villages, such as the majority Christian village of Dir Dabuan, which are full of deserted mansions, with a smattering of elderly residents still living in the area.

A resident of Ramun village said that, out of his 44 classmates in the local school, 40 are living in the US, and the rest are inundated with offers to emigrate, because life in the US is much more comfortable for Arabs than life in Judea and Samaria. Apparently, an office in Ramallah coordinates Arab immigration applications and interviews at the American consulate in eastern Jerusalem. According to Al Quds, a survey of Gaza Strip residents found that 45% would like to emigrate if they could.

Demographer Jacob Feitelson said earlier this year that the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, as well as the US census, hide or modify the data regarding the high emigration figures of Judea and Samaria Arabs, which he claims reach 10,000 a year. He says the PCBS keeps Arabs listed as living in the PA for seven years after they emigrate.

A 2006 study titled “The Million Person Gap: A Critical Look at Palestinian Demography,” by Bennett Zimmerman, Roberta Seid and Michael L. Wise, suggested that population statistics and predictions of the PCBS are unreliable. A Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) study that subjects Palestinian demography to rigorous analysis shows that the 2004 Palestinian population of Judea, Samaria and Gaza stood at 2.5 million; not the 3.8 million claimed by the Palestinians. The 1997 PCBS population survey — which has been widely used as the basis for subsequent studies — inflated numbers by including more than 300 thousand Palestinians living abroad and double-counting more than 200 thousand Jerusalem Arabs included in Israel’s population survey. Later PCBS broadcasts echoed the forecasts of the 1997 study, reporting unrealized birth forecasts, including assumptions of a mass Palestinian return that never happened, and disregarding significant Palestinian emigration from the territories to Israel and neighboring Arab countries. The resulting PCBS report for 2004 inflated the size of the Arab population in Judea, Samaria and Gaza by more than 50%. The BESA study and further demographic research indicate that Israeli concerns about demographic pressure from Judea, Samaria and Gaza have been exaggerated.

It should be noted, in this context, that Louie Shabanah, a former Head of the PCBS, stated during a June 8, 2005 debate at Haifa’s Technion, trying to explain the inconsistencies between the figures offered by the PCBS and other Palestinian departments: “The Palestinian Health Department accounts for fewer births because – unlike the PCBS – it excludes overseas births….”

According to former ambassador Yoram Ettinger, the misuse of statistics by the Palestinian Authority has afflicted Israel and its supporters with an unwarranted mix of pessimism and fatalism. The aim has been to cajole Israeli policy-makers into a false assumption that conceding the Jewish geography of Judea and Samaria is a prerequisite to securing Jewish demography.

Ettinger insists that “in spite of Palestinian statistics, and the display of gross negligence by the international establishment — which accepts the PCBS and all other central bureaus of statistics at face-value without proper auditing – in July, 2016, there is a solid, long-term, 66% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel, benefiting from an unprecedented robust tailwind of Jewish fertility and migration. Moreover, in July, 2016, there is a gap of 1.15 million people between the PCBS contended number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria (2.9 million) and the well-documented number (1.75 million).

JNi.Media

Why Palestinians Prefer to Work for Israeli Employers

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

{Originally posted to the PMW website}

Conditions for Palestinians working in Israel and the settlements are much better than in the Palestinian Authority, according to an Israeli Arab labor lawyer and a Palestinian laborer in two interviews on the PA TV program Workers’ Affairs. The laborer explained that conditions are so much better that many Palestinian workers prefer or are “forced” to choose to work for Israeli employers.
Israeli Arab labor lawyer Khaled Dukhi, who works with the Israeli NGO Workers’ Hotline, stated on the PA TV program that Israeli labor law is “very good” because it does not differentiate between men and women or between Israelis and Palestinians. However, he explained that Palestinian workers who work in Israel or in the settlements still suffer because Palestinian middlemen “steal” part of their salary:
“The Palestinian female workers in the [Israeli] agricultural sector enjoy many rights, like any Israeli worker in the agricultural sector: The salary is higher than the minimum wage, 14 vacation days a year in the first four years, 2,000 shekels convalescence pay [yearly]… payment for holidays, whether Islamic or Jewish. It is a matter of choice… [But] in reality, Palestinian workers – and especially the female Palestinian workers – do not receive these things. Why? You [PA TV host] said: ‘The Palestinian middleman deducts from her [pay].’ No, he does not deduct, he shares her salary. In practice, he takes 50%, 60%, and even 70% of her salary. If her daily salary is 180 shekels, in the end she receives 60 shekels. The middleman steals two thirds of her salary. Excuse the word [“steals”], but that is the exact word.” [Official PA TV, Workers’ Affairs, March 16, 2016]
On a different episode of Workers’ Affairs, Qassem Abu Hadwan, a laborer from Hebron, stated that Palestinian workers are “forced” to work in Israel because Palestinian employers exploit them and pay less than half:
“The lack of monitoring of [Palestinian] owners of companies and factories and their exploitation of workers is what has forced people to Israel… If only [the salary in the PA] was at least half of the salary [in Israel]… no one would work in Israel. However, workers have to go to Israel, because no one [in the PA] gives them what they deserve for their work.” [Official PA TV, Feb. 4, 16, 2016
Abu Hadwan stated that although Israeli employers “exploit” Palestinian workers too, “they give them what they are entitled to.” He explained that Palestinians would not work in Israel if the conditions in the PA were better, but since “a month’s work here [in the PA] equals a week’s work there [in Israel],” people are driven to seek employment in Israel or in the settlements.
The program’s host concluded that exploitation and low salaries are the reason for Palestinian workers preferring to work in Israel and the settlements, and she suggested how the PA should change that:
 
PA TV host: “We need investments and for workers’ rights to be honored. What motivates the workers, as we said, to go [to work in] the interior (i.e., Israel) or to the settlements is the exploitation that takes place [in the PA] and the low income.”
[Official PA TV, Feb. 4 and 16, 2016]

The fact that Palestinians are paid double in Israel and by Israeli employers in the West Bank is corroborated by the PA’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Palestinian Media Watch reported on the bureau’s findings for 2014, which showed that Palestinians working for Israeli employers were paid twice what Palestinian employers paid them in the West Bank, and triple of what they received in the Gaza Strip. In February 2016, the bureau publicized similar findings for 2015:

“The average [daily] wage for employees in the West Bank was 94.1 shekels, and 61.9 shekels in the Gaza Strip, while the average for employees in Israel and the settlements was 198.9 shekels.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 26, 2016]
PMW has documented similar statements by Palestinians testifying to the fact that Palestinian workers’ conditions are far better in Israel than in the PA.
Director of Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center Hassan Al-Barghouti stated on PA TV in May 2016 that “120,000 [Palestinians] work in Israel and the settlements.” [Official PA TV, May 11, 2016] The PA’s Central Bureau of Statistics has stated that “the number of workers from the West Bank [that work] in Israel and the settlements reached 112,300 in 2015… and the number of workers in Israeli settlements reached 22,400.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 26, 2016]

Palestinian Media Watch

The Palestinians: Refugee Camps or Terrorist Bases?

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Gatestone Institute website}

ISIS is on the mind of the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership. Top PA officials have expressed concern that jihadi groups, including ISIS, have managed to infiltrate Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

Lebanese authorities are also worried — so worried that they have issued a stiff warning to the Palestinians: Stop the terrorists or else we will take security into our own hands.

According to Lebanese security sources, more and more Palestinians in Lebanon have joined ISIS and the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front, a Sunni Islamist militia fighting against Syrian government forces. In response, the Lebanese security forces have taken a series of measures in a bid to contain the problem and prevent the two Islamist terror groups from establishing bases of power in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

According to some reports, dozens of Palestinians from Lebanon who joined ISIS and Al-Nusra Front have been killed or wounded in Syria in recent months. Most of those who were killed have been buried in Syria, the reports said.

Alarmed by the success of ISIS and Al-Nusra Front in recruiting dozens of Palestinians to their ranks, the Palestinian Authority leadership this week sent Azzam Al-Ahmed, a senior advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas, to Beirut for urgent talks with Lebanese government officials on ways of containing the escalation. The PA leadership fears that the heightened activities of the two terrorist groups in the refugee camps will force the Lebanese army to launch a massive military operation to get rid of the terrorists, who pose an immediate threat to Lebanese national security.

Al-Ahmed, who is in charge of the Lebanon Portfolio in the Palestinian Authority, held a series of meetings with Lebanese government officials in a bid to avoid a security showdown between the Lebanese army and the Palestinians living in the country’s refugee camps. Following a meeting with Lebanese Interior Minister Nihad Al-Mashnouk, the Palestinian envoy said that the talks focused on the need to take “joint steps to ensure security stability in the Palestinian refugee camps.” According to Al-Ahmed, the talks also dealt with ways to prevent certain parties, especially ISIS and Al-Nusra Front, from exploiting the Palestinian refugee camps to threaten Lebanon’s security interests.

Lebanese security officials have reported direct contacts between ISIS leaders in Syria and some senior Islamist figures in the Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp, the largest camp in Lebanon, with a population of more of than 120,000 — half of them refugees who fled Syria since 2011. The officials said that one of the commanders of ISIS in Syria, Abu Khaled Al-Iraqi, has stepped up his contacts with Palestinians in Ain Al-Hilweh in recent weeks, in preparation for launching terrorist attacks against Lebanese targets. The Lebanese have named a number of Palestinians from Ain Al-Hilweh evidently serving as ISIS representatives in Lebanon: Emad Yasmin, Helal Helal, Abed Fadda, Nayef Abdullah and Abu Hamzeh Mubarak.

Last week, Palestinian sources revealed that one of the jihadi leaders in Ain Al-Hilweh, Omar Abu Kharoub, nicknamed Abu Muhtaseb Al-Maqdisi, was killed while fighting alongside ISIS in Syria. The sources said that he is only one of hundreds of Palestinians from Lebanon who have joined ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front.

The Lebanese government has informed the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah that at least 300 jihadi terrorists are now barricaded inside Ain Al-Hilweh. “The situation has become intolerable and we can no longer turn a blind eye to this threat,” the Lebanese warned the PA.

The Islamist terrorists who have found shelter inside Ain Al-Hilweh have repeatedly warned the Lebanese authorities against launching a military attack against the refugee camp.

In a recent sermon for Friday prayers, Sheikh Abu Yusef Aqel condemned Lebanon’s mistreatment of its Palestinian population. He pointed out that under Lebanese law, Palestinians are banned from working in 72 professions. Referring to reports in the Lebanese media about the threats emerging from the Palestinian camps, Sheikh Aqel said:

“If these (Lebanese) media outlets were really affiliated with the resistance, as they claim, they would have focused on the suffering of a people that was displaced from its homeland more than 70 years ago. They would also have focused on the fact that Lebanon bans this people from working in 72 professions.”

Aqel is referring to the circumstance that until a decade ago, a total of seventy-two professions were restricted to Lebanese only. The Lebanese government issued a memorandum on June 7, 2005 permitting Palestinians refugees to work in fifty of these seventy-two professions. However, Palestinians in Lebanon are still banned from several types of jobs, especially in the fields of medicine and law. The 450,000 Palestinians living in Lebanon refer to these restrictions as apartheid measures.

The Lebanese apartheid measures against Palestinians are rarely mentioned in the Western media and international human rights groups. The United Nations does not seem overly concerned about this discrimination, apparently because it is practiced by an Arab country against Arabs.

Lebanon has never been comfortable with the presence of the Palestinians on its soil. That is precisely why the authorities have turned the twelve Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon into ghettos. These ghettos are off-limits to the Lebanese security forces. As a result, these camps have become in the past few decades bases for various innumerable militias and terrorist groups. Until a few years ago, the major Palestinian Fatah faction was the dominant group controlling the refugee camps in Lebanon. No longer. Today, it has become evident that many other groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, ISIS and Al-Qaeda have established bases of power inside the camps.

It is worth mentioning that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) is formally in charge of the refugee camps in Lebanon, including those that are now providing shelter to Islamist terrorists.

Back to PA anxiety. Undoubtedly, the Palestinian Authority leadership is concerned that many of its erstwhile loyalists in Fatah have defected to the various jihadi terror groups. These groups are now posing a major threat not only to Lebanon’s security and stability, but also to the PA and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, who feel helpless in the face of the Islamist tsunami sweeping the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

Abbas and his PA have clearly lost control over the millions of Palestinians living in the neighboring Arab countries, including Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. This is in addition to the fact that Abbas and the PA have nearly no control over Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where various jihadi groups and other secular militias and gangs are now in control.

The hands of the Palestinian Authority leadership are now tied: the PA cannot regain control over the refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Arab countries. There is also nothing that Abbas can do to stop the residents of these camps from joining ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

All what is left for Abbas to do is to try and prevent a catastrophe from falling on the heads of the Palestinians in these camps, especially Lebanon, where the Lebanese authorities are increasingly running out of patience with the growing Islamist threat.

“The Lebanese army will not allow terrorism to find a safe place in Ain Al-Hilweh or any other part of Lebanon,” cautioned a Lebanese security source. “We will not allow Ain Al-Hilweh to become a hotbed for terrorism and be used as a launching pad to explode the situation in Lebanon. We will face any such attempt with force and firmness.”

The Palestinians’ biggest fear now is that Ain Al-Hilweh will meet the same fate as the Nahr Al-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon, which was almost entirely destroyed by the Lebanese army in 2007. Then, the presence of Islamist terrorists belonging to the Fatah Al-Islam group inside Nahr Al-Bared triggered heavy clashes during which the Lebanese army used artillery and helicopter gunships to attack the camp, home to some 40,000 Palestinians. At least 158 people were killed and hundreds wounded in the fighting, which also left many families homeless.

Busy with more pressing issues, Abbas was unable to make the trip to Lebanon himself. What is the urgent business that prevented him from showing up in person to try to prevent catastrophe for his people in Lebanon? His grand tour, an end-game bid to win support for an international Middle East peace conference that would choke Israel into submission.

Abbas is next slated for Paris, where on July 22 he is scheduled to meet with President François Hollande to discuss the latest French initiative to “solve” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hollande might do better to turn inward to consider how his own country will manage the latest wave of Islamist terrorism. Abbas, for his part, is unlikely to broach with Hollande the incendiary situation in the Palestinian refugee camps, where ISIS and Al-Qaeda are gaining the upper hand.

Khaled Abu Toameh

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/khaled-abu-toameh/the-palestinians-refugee-camps-or-terrorist-bases/2016/07/24/

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