Trending Topics:

In NY, a Palestinian and Israeli detail forgotten war in Gaza — ‘wiping families off the planet’

US Politics
on 19 Comments

Last Thursday the New America Foundation hosted a remarkable event: a Palestinian photographer and Israeli human rights worker detailing war crimes during the forgotten war of Gaza last summer. Israelis have been trying to forget about the war since it happened, said the human rights worker, Avner Gvaryahu of Breaking the Silence, and the world media has been helping them to do so. If you think about the last Israeli slaughter, Cast Lead of ’09, the Goldstone Report came out ten months later. This time there’s nothing like Goldstone, so it’s been left to human rights groups and journalists to perform the necessary function, summarizing the atrocities. (The New America event is available on podcast here.)

I was most interested in the photographer, Eman Mohammed, the downtown audience, and the moderator Peter Beinart.

Eman Mohammed at New America from Lisa Goldman's twitter feed

Eman Mohammed at New America from Lisa Goldman’s twitter feed

Mohammed is slight and forceful, wears a hijab, speaks excellent English. She was a witness after the fact to several war crimes: the leveling of houses by missiles in which entire families were killed. “Wiping families off the planet,” as she describes the practice. She showed us a photo of a house where nine were killed, another photo of a demolished house that was neighbor to a targeted house. The families killed were not politically-affiliated, she asserted; they were just in the way. These indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks are illegal under international law and were borne out by Gvaryahu’s statement that in adopting the scorched-earth Dahiya doctrine as policy Israel shot 20,000 “exploding artillery shells” during this operation, seven times as many as it did in Cast Lead five years before– and anyone within a few meters of the shell is killed.

Mohammed’s most affecting stories were about hidden trauma. She showed us a photo of a six-year-old boy who is autistic (shot 9 here), who was born during Cast Lead, suffered through Pillar of Cloud, and then lost his house in Protective Edge. Imagine how his disorder has been affected by this experience, she said simply.

And she showed us a photo of a round-faced little girl with a pink bow in her hair. Mohammed’s daughter. Three weeks into the war Mohammed came home from photographing the house of a family wiped off the planet to find her house in darkness and her daughter on the floor unconscious with blood gushing from her mouth.

I had the longest moment in my life. I thought this is karma, I’ve documented so many funerals of dead babies, so it’s my turn. But as a mother, I didn’t want to believe that, I just wanted a button– to undo, to go back, to switch, to check, to wake up.

Desperately pouring water over her daughter’s face revived her, then Mohammed went to every hospital in the Strip without finding out what was wrong– they had bigger problems to deal with — and so she got out of the country a day later. Mohammed is Palestinian-American; she could get out. Her daughter’s fine now, but she still doesn’t know what caused the internal bleeding, but ascribed the malady to the siege and war.

This story provided the one killing moment of the night. During the Q-and-A later, a man with what I took to be an Israeli accent (minute 55) asked:

Just to get a more complete picture, Eman, right after you left Gaza, where did your baby get treatment?

Mohammed: In the United States.

You mean, you flew directly to the United States, there was no Israeli hospital involved.

Mohammed: No.

OK.

What a prick.

Audience at New America, from Lisa Goldman's twitter feed

Audience at New America, from Lisa Goldman’s twitter feed

He was the exception. The room in Soho was filled with nearly 100 people, standing room only, and they were mostly young and obviously diverse. They were open to hearing about war crimes; they showed sympathy to both speakers. The guy with the Israeli accent was echoed by another older Zionist catechist demanding to know why Breaking the Silence considers Gaza occupied, but they were the exceptions. There is just no space for Zionism in this young crowd. I’m not saying they’re anti-Zionist either, but the mood is very open, attentive, unprejudiced. They know something is wrong with Israel and they’re willing to hear about it. They understand Gaza is a historical crime. I got the same feeling a few months back when Hagai El-Ad of B’Tselem spoke with Lisa Goldman (who also invited Eman Mohammed to the more recent event). No one is proselytizing the Jewish state here. Gvaryahu cast himself as a supporter of the two-state solution — he believes in his right of self-determination as an Israeli Jew, he said — but happily he said nothing about Zionism.

Beinart also had the tact not to defend Zionism as Mohammed was talking about young Gazans “throwing themselves into the sea” in despair over their imprisonment. I wonder about Beinart because he has made such progress, from someone who used to address private AIPAC functions and supported the disastrous Iraq war to someone who has written that American Jews are in a (racist) cocoon and we must talk to Palestinians. So he shared the state with Mohammed, a Palestinian eloquently describing war crimes, at the same time last week as he wrote a piece for Haaretz decrying Obama’s equation of BDS with anti-Semitism. Beinart pointed out that there is a long tradition of Jewish anti-Zionism and said:

Anti-Zionism is growing because Palestinians are convincing left-leaning young Americans that Israel is a Western country that, with American support, systematically oppresses its non-Western, Palestinian, population.

Precisely. Any young person walking out of the New America space last week, especially after hearing that grotesque shout-out for Israeli hospitals, would be open to learning about what they can do about that oppression– Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions.

Beinart says that the only effective way to counter BDS is to “work to end the systematic oppression that Netanyahu has entrenched, and bring Israel closer to the principles of ‘freedom, justice and peace’”. The weakness of his argument is, to quote the bible, that it is neither hot nor cold but lukewarm so people will spit it out of their mouths, i.e., his activist liberal Zionism has done nothing to reverse the atrocities he himself has witnessed over the last four years, while BDS is biting hard, and nonviolently.

Also, to use another oldfashioned expression, the game isn’t worth the candle. Why work hard to preserve a Jewish state when I’d be goddamned before I had to live in a religious state myself, and so would most other Americans. It just doesn’t add up, it’s hypocritical. Beinart will get a chance to tell that downtown audience why Zionism is meaningful and necessary tomorrow night, when he debates Yousef Munayyer in the same small hall.

philweiss
About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

19 Responses

  1. joemowrey
    joemowrey
    June 3, 2015, 12:13 pm

    Always love your passion, Phil. Thanks for this report on the event.

  2. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    June 3, 2015, 12:23 pm

    “Wiping families off the planet,” or as the Israeli government would say “lawn mowing the terror cells.”

    “Anti-Zionism is growing because Palestinians are convincing left-leaning young Americans that Israel is a Western country that, with American support, systematically oppresses its non-Western, Palestinian, population”

    As Mrs Slocum would say “succinct and to the point.”

  3. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    June 3, 2015, 12:37 pm

    Forgive me for picking up on a phrase which was rather far from the main point here.

    Beinart says that Palestinians are non-Western? C’mon! Palestinians are (or were for a time) the most highly educated of all Arab people and I dare imagine that that education was “western”. Graduates of Friends Schools (Ramallah) can often skip one year at American universities (if they can get to them).

    I think that it is possible that many Americans and others may view Palestinians as non-Western. Maybe as Barbarians! Read what Israeli Jews say about Hamas! Hasbara may indeed have it that Palestinians are non-Western. And of course, never forget ISIS. Though ISIS seems a 7th century (and thus, I suppose, a non-Western) group, and although they have nothing to do with most Palestinians, well, Americans are dopes and will believe all kinds of things.

    But, Phil, when you say “Precisely” are you not also saying that Palestinians are “non-Western” here?

    • RobertHenryEller
      RobertHenryEller
      June 4, 2015, 2:08 pm

      What does it even mean to label Palestinians as “non-Western.” What purpose does this serve than to tag Palestinians as “other.” How about Palestinians are fellow human beings. At least if we ourselves are human beings.

  4. philweiss
    philweiss
    June 3, 2015, 1:03 pm

    Good point. Should have noticed that Pabelmont. Most Israelis are not western too. To me it’s about the racism, and we know what he means, Many Palestinians use the term, European

  5. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    June 3, 2015, 3:00 pm

    RE: “Last Thursday the New America Foundation hosted a remarkable event: a Palestinian photographer and Israeli human rights worker detailing war crimes during the forgotten war of Gaza last summer.” ~ Weiss

    ALSO SEE: “How an alleged war crime goes away — and resurfaces a year later”
    By Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man | 972mag.com | Published June 2, 2015
    Nobody really noticed the deliberate shelling of a Palestinian medical clinic, even when it was reported in real time during Israel’s war in Gaza last summer. Now, because of reporting by an independent journalist, there is a chance that somebody will be held accountable for what a rights group says is a clear-cut war crime.
    LINK – http://972mag.com/how-an-alleged-war-crime-goes-away-and-resurfaces-a-year-later/107357/

  6. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    June 3, 2015, 3:13 pm

    RE: (The New America event is available on podcast here.)

    ALTERNATIVE TO ITUNES – https://www.newamerica.org/nyc/this-is-how-we-fought-in-gaza-podcast/

  7. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    June 3, 2015, 3:36 pm

    RE: “Any young person walking out of the New America space last week, especially after hearing that grotesque shout-out for Israeli hospitals, would be open to learning about what they can do about that oppression– Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions.” ~ Weiss

    CHOMSKY:

    There are some things that are going on that really shock me. I learned recently from Ruchama Marton, a wonderful woman who is the head of the Israel Physicians for Human Rights organization, and you probably know this, that in Israeli hospitals, in maternity wards, Palestinian women citizens have to go to different wards than the Jewish women…. Things like that go on all the time.

    SOURCE – http://mondoweiss.net/2015/04/palestinian-segregated-maternity

  8. just
    just
    June 3, 2015, 7:05 pm

    A superb article, Phil. Thanks so much for it. It’s very encouraging, indeed.

    I linked to another Beinart article today on another thread that is mighty interesting:

    “The era of Iran is over; the age of BDS begins
    How the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is changing organized American Jewish life.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.659525?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    Looking forward to the Beinart : Munayyer debate.

  9. Bornajoo
    Bornajoo
    June 3, 2015, 7:53 pm

    Thanks very much Phil.

    “What a prick ”

    That was being very kind to that idiot in my opinion!

    There’s definitely a spectrum of liberal zionism and Beinart is definitely moving towards the very left side of that spectrum, which is useful.

    • DaveS
      DaveS
      June 3, 2015, 8:12 pm

      Beinart is definitely moving towards the very left side of that spectrum

      I get what you mean but would not completely agree, Born. I think Beinart has resided on that side of the spectrum for quite some time now, and hasn’t really been moving much at all. He always has impressed me with his honesty and often with his analysis as well. I once read his debunking of the whole Gaza greenhouse nonsense and thought it was brilliant. His Crisis of Zionism book is filled with great observations.

      Yet he is quite disappointing. He said years ago that he was willing to compromise his liberal principles to tolerate Israel treating its non-Jewish citizens unequally as a necessary and inherent part of being a Jewish State. I honestly thought he would soon realize how awful that sounds and evolve into an anti- or at least a non-Zionist. But it hasn’t happened. I think he still would stand by those words.

      I plan to be at the debate and will see if there’s anything new from him. I’m quite excited that he will be opposed from the left.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        June 3, 2015, 9:29 pm

        David Samel- Beinart is smart enough to be able to explicate precisely which advantages in Israel proper he feels are proper for Jews to have over nonJews. I assume that he would limit these advantages to ones of immigration. If you’re there tomorrow night, why don’t you ask him to be precise on this aspect of his Zionism.

      • Bornajoo
        Bornajoo
        June 4, 2015, 3:40 am

        “He said years ago that he was willing to compromise his liberal principles to tolerate Israel treating its non-Jewish citizens unequally as a necessary and inherent part of being a Jewish State. I honestly thought he would soon realize how awful that sounds and evolve into an anti- or at least a non-Zionist. But it hasn’t happened. I think he still would stand by those words.”

        Thanks for that David. If he really would still stand by those words then I agree he hasn’t moved at all, even though he’s good at giving the impression he has. But then I’m quite easily fooled and will try and clutch any promising straw.

        Would be great to hear your opinion, if possible, after the event tonight

  10. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    June 3, 2015, 9:45 pm

    Phil Weiss writes: “Why work hard to preserve a Jewish state when I’d be goddamned before I had to live in a religious state myself,”

    And that’s why I quoted Hannah Arendt last week, ““You know that I was a Zionist and that my reason for breaking with the Zionist organization was very different from the anti-Zionist stand of the Council: I am not against Israel on principle, I am against certain important Israeli policies. I know, or believe I know, that should catastrophe overtake this Jewish state, for whatever reasons (even reasons of their own foolishness) this would be the perhaps final catastrophe for the whole Jewish people, no matter what opinions every one of us might hold at the moment.”

    Arendt cared about the Jewish people and viewed catastrophe to the Jewish state as the final catastrophe for the whole Jewish people. Phil Weiss really does not care about the Jewish people.

    • eljay
      eljay
      June 3, 2015, 9:57 pm

      || yonah fredman: Phil Weiss really does not care about the Jewish people. ||

      But he really does seem to care about:
      – Jewish people;
      – non-Jewish people; and
      – justice, accountability and equality.

      He is your moral superior.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      June 5, 2015, 1:07 pm

      “Phil Weiss really does not care about the Jewish people.”

      No “benefit of the doubt for” Phil Weiss? He is a non-Jewish-people carer! Queen Yonah has spoken! Off with his yarmulke!

      I don’t think Yonah gives a husky f–k about the great, the vast majority of Jewish people. I get the impression Yonah only cares about his own particular tribe. And he thinks his little tribe should rule Judaism, and tell everybody else how to be Jewish. Not gonna happen, Yonah.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      June 5, 2015, 1:15 pm

      “Why work hard to preserve a Jewish state when I’d be goddamned before I had to live in a religious state myself,”

      Is it a “Jewish state” or is it a State run by one or two sects or denominations of Judaism? A state where you get indicted for eating a ham sandwich! (Just happened to a soldier in the IDF)

  11. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    June 3, 2015, 11:45 pm

    Phil, thanks for covering this event.

    What is really remarkable about the presentation is that the New America Foundation hosted it. The New America Foundation is a centrist, Establishment organization, not a left-wing organization or human rights organization. Look at their board of directors; Fareed Zakaria, Walter Russell Mead (who supported of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Mead is editor in chief of The National Interest)

    What does it mean that an Establishment organization like the New America Foundation is sponsoring presentations about Israeli war crimes and Israel’s wars of aggression? It meanss that Israel’s actions can no longer be concealed. Maybe Israel is so strong that it can’t be stopped, but Israel’s crimes can no longer be concealed.

    By Phil Weiss’s account, nobody, or almost nobody, attempts to explain away or support Israel’s assault on the refugees in Gaza. Not even in New York City. The situation a decade ago was quite different. For example, 9 years ago, in 2006, Tony Judt was scheduled to give a talk about Israel, but the talk was cancelled after pressure by the ADL and the American Jewish Committee.

    The Palestinian perspective is starting to get out, despite attempts by the Israelis and their supporters to suppress it

  12. iResistDe4iAm
    iResistDe4iAm
    June 5, 2015, 11:44 am

    War Crime Exhibit A1
    Murder of unarmed civilians in cold blood

    New video shows Palestinian youths killed by Israeli army on Nakba Day posed no threat to soldiers
    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/05/palestinian-israeli-soldiers

    War Crime Exhibit B1
    Collective punishment

    Photo Essay: Israeli soliders destroy Qawasmeh and Aisha family homes in retribution attack
    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/soliders-kidnapping-retribution

    War Crime Exhibits C1-C122
    Extrajudicial murder of civilians
    Wilful destruction of residential homes

    As of 4 August 2014, at least 122 families had lost three or more family members in the same incident since Israel began its July assault on Gaza. Some of the Palestinian families that were wiped out by Israel:
    – 25 members of the Abu Jamea family, including 18 children.
    – 20 members of the Al-Najar family, including 11 children.
    – 18 members of the al-Batsh family, including 6 children.
    – 16 members of the Abu Amer family, including 4 children.
    – 16 members of the Abu Jabber family, including 4 children.
    – 13 members of the al-Agha family, including 4 children.
    – 11 members of the Balata family, including 4 children.
    – 11 members of the Hilo family (# of children not reported).
    – 10 members of the al-Ghoul family, including 3 children.
    – 10 members of the al-Astal family, including 3 children.
    – 10 members of the al-Qassas family, including 6 children.
    – at least 111 other families who lost 3-9 family members.
    http://imeu.org/article/israels-mass-killing-of-palestinian-families-in-gaza

    Initial findings: 25 members of a single family killed when their house was bombed, apparently without warning
    http://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20140721_killing_of_abu_jame_family

    Israel/Palestine: Unlawful Israeli Airstrikes Kill Civilians
    http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/07/15/israelpalestine-unlawful-israeli-airstrikes-kill-civilians

    Gaza counts the cost of war: ‘Whole families smashed under the rubble’
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/15/-sp-gaza-counts-cost-of-war-whole-families-smashed-under-the-rubble

    Israeli forces displayed ‘callous indifference’ in deadly attacks on family homes in Gaza
    https://www.amnesty.org/en/articles/news/2014/11/israeli-forces-displayed-callous-indifference-deadly-attacks-family-homes-gaza/

    War Crime Exhibit D1
    Murder of unarmed civilian in cold blood

    War crime: video shows sniper killing of wounded Gaza civilian
    http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/war-crime-video-shows-sniper-killing-wounded-gaza-civilian

    War Crime Exhibit E1
    Extrajudicial murder of civilians (4 children aged 9-11)

    Israeli strike kills four Palestinian children playing soccer on Gaza beach
    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/israeli-palestinian-children

    War Crime Exhibits F1-F3
    Extrajudicial murder of civilians
    Wilful destruction of places or areas designated for the sole protection of civilians (UN schools)

    Gaza school attack denounced as ‘criminal act’ by UN chief
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/03/israel-air-strike-un-school-gaza-rafah

    ‘Children killed in their sleep’: Israeli artillery fire hits UN school, killing at least 20
    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/children-killed-in-their-sleep-israeli-artillery-fire-hits-un-school-killing-at-least-20

    Israeli forces shell UN school where displaced Palestinians gathered, killing at least 9
    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/displaced-palestinians-gathered

    War Crime Exhibit G1-G2
    Extrajudicial murder of civilians
    Wilful destruction of places or areas designated for the sole protection of civilians (hospitals)

    How an alleged war crime goes away — and resurfaces a year later
    http://972mag.com/how-an-alleged-war-crime-goes-away-and-resurfaces-a-year-later/107357/

    Israeli military destroyed el-Wafa hospital even though it knew there were no weapons inside
    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/hospital-evacuate-patients

    War Crime Exhibit H1-H4
    Extrajudicial murder of civilians
    Wilful destruction of residential homes and civilian infrastructure
    Collective punishment
    Crimes against humanity

    Cease-fire breaks down: Israeli shelling kills 50 after reported capture of soldier
    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/08/israeli-shelling-reported

    Israel’s attacks in Gaza town ‘a war crime’
    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/08/israel-attacks-gaza-town-war-crime-20148109292997298.html

    Gaza conflict: 360-degree panorama of flattened town of Khuza’a, Gaza
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/gaza/11012640/Gaza-conflict-360-degree-panorama-of-flattened-town-of-Khuzaa-Gaza.html

    Palestinians search through the remains of their homes after Israel destroys 13-story Gaza apartment building
    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/08/palestinians-apartment-building

    War Crimes (Summary)

    Israeli Assault on Gaza in Numbers
    http://euromid.org/en/article/608/Israeli-Assault-on-Gaza-in-Numbers

    People (as at 26 August 2014):
    – 2,147 Palestinians were killed, including 530 children and 302 women. 81% were civilians, compared to 9% of the 70 Israelis killed.
    – Among the dead were 16 journalists, 23 health care personnel and 11 UNRWA employees.
    – 10,870 Palestinians were wounded, including 3,303 children and 2,101 women. A third of the injured children (around 3,000) will suffer permanent disabilities.
    – 100,000 Palestinians were evacuated from their homes either because of Israeli threats or because their homes were destroyed or seriously damaged. They have found refuge in UN facilities or with other families, with dozens of people housed in the same home.

    Buildings and Equipment:
    – The total number of homes partially or completely destroyed since the start of this latest war on Gaza reached 17,132: 2,465 homes were completely destroyed and 13,644 homes seriously damaged. Tens of thousands of additional homes suffered less-severe damage.
    – The number of mosques targeted totaled 171; 62 mosques were totally destroyed.
    – 10 churches were damaged.
    – 222 schools were destroyed, including 141 government, 76 UNRWA and five private institutions. In addition, six universities were demolished.
    – 29 hospitals and primary health care clinics were damaged, along with 36 ambulances.
    – 55 fishing boats also were destroyed affecting 3,000 individuals dependent on them for a living, along with 48 NGO‘s that provide the civilians with services.
    – 372 businesses, factories and other industrial or commercial operations were damaged, as well as 19 financial institutions.

    Economic Impact:
    – The direct and indirect economic losses from the war are estimated to be $3.6 billion.

Leave a Reply