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Disturbing Hebron February 2020

February 23rd 2020

Two very disturbing images in Hebron today. The most disturbing by far is the apartheid checkpoint at checkpoint 160, or Salaymeh; the second, less disturbing but pretty strange was this goat. After the school run we had a call to say that soldiers had invaded a house in the Old City in order to gain access to the roof. Unfortunately, we went backwards and forwards and in circles in the midst of a communications failure between us and ISM, and their activist J. who by now as having coffee with the family who apparently were unperturbed by the soldiers on their roof.

See video here

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IOF storm the souq in al-Khalil again this afternoon, illegally entering and occupying four Palestinian-owned family homes with the residents, including young children, inside. They stood on the roofs overseeing the entire neighbourhood whilst snipers were stationed all around the Ibrahimi mosque and Palestinian civilians were body searched and held in queues for long periods of time at the mosque checkpoint, seemingly in advance of Netanyahu’s apparent visit to the mosque and illegal settlements today. Soldier genuinely rubbing his hands together with glee in second pic and also it’s a beautiful day today there’s absolutely no reason for any of these idiots to be wearing face coverings apart from trying to look scary which is pretty pathetic seeing as most people are numbed to the actual fucking terrifying stuff they do daily I don’t think anyone is scared of your little mask

A post shared by Flora Thomas (@florathomasphoto) on

To cut a long story short we didn’t find the soldiers but we did find a small herd of these feisty goats in a small alleyway in the souk being somewhat nonchalantly sheperded, if that’s the right word, by an older guy sat on a chair. Around us children played asking Paul to take their photos and chanting football anthems at us.

Later we discover that the Israeli PM Netanyahu is visiting the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba today – and apparently has promised the settlers sovereignty over the (whole of) the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which is also the Al Ibrahim mosque and a very holy site for Islam globally. One might imagine that Netanyahu is wanting to incite a holy conflagration, which would act as a justification for intensifying the oppression.

PS today 25th Feb the media confirm Netanyahu’s pledge to give sovereignty over the Al Ibrahimi mosque to the Zionists.

See article: here

Monitoring the settler tour Hebron, February 2020, Palestine

This, the weekly settler tour, is a confusing experience for us, foreigners from the UK, here in Hebron, Palestine. We are new to this, working for CPT (Christian Peacemaker Teams), and struggle to make sense of this place and these events. Each week, the IDF (Israeli Defense Force .. the “most moral army in the world” according to the Israeli State, and note that we distinguish between the Israeli state and the Israeli people), gather and emerge from their camps and bases behind the checkpoints to ‘escort’ guard, and enable an invasion by an uninvited, and un-permitted group of Jewish people.

These Jewish folk may be here for God knows what reason individually, but one thing is clear, they have not passed through any legitimate frontier seeking visas or permission to be in this place. They have literally barged into the homeland of Palestinians under military protection, and are now barging into the very centre of the Old City .

And, in addition, they will justify their mission to take over this place on the basis that Yaweh (God) apparently encouraged Abraham and his followers, or is it tribe, to invade and take over this land many years ago. Or so the bible stories have it. As many know they, the settlers, the army and the state, will justify this invasion on the basis that Jews lived in Hebron up until around 1929, when they were evacuated by the British for their own safety after many Jews were killed by Muslims here.

What the settler won’t tell you is that the 1929 massacre of Jews followed the influx of religious Jews from Europe – an immigration permitted by the British who held a UN mandate to govern Palestine in 1917. This mass immigration in the 1920s, of European Jews led to violence as they attempted to gain access to religious sites including the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. In other words the European Jewish immigration in the 1920s and the ensuing violence at religious boundaries instigated by zionists who wanted a Jewish only State, were an incitement to violence in which Jews , and let’s not forget, Palestinians too were killed.

it was sparked by the incitement of the Hagana and Betar (the Revisionist organization) taunting Arabs at the Al-Buraq Sanctuary of the Haram al-Sharif (Western Wall) … Same trick used by Ariel Sharon in 2000 to spark the Second Intifada …

see Alex Winder

The Jewish settlers from Europe have no historical or ethnic connection with Hebron.

The so-called tour of settlers, with their tour guide, is accompanied by a gaggle of heavily armed soldiers, who prevent us or any Palestinians getting too close. They walk around the souk of the Old City, receiving a historical, and no doubt zionist biased version of events.

Some of the soldiers come close to use, very close, and photograph us, we can complain that they don’t have permission to take photos of us and we are there legitimately, but on the whole it is enough to document their behaviour, so they know the world is watching what they are doing.

We are there to record their crimes, their invasion of Palestinian territory, the disruption of the freedom of movement, and even the invasion of homes (see the picture above of soldiers on roof tops at the tour, vantage points only obtained by trespassing on private Palestinian property).

Today we have as usual co-ordinated our monitoring of the tour with ISM (International Solidarity Movement) and EAPPI (Ecumenical Accompaniers). Today the tour is uneventful, so once its over we spend a few moments chatting with the ISM and EAPPI teams. The rest of the day flies by, some food shopping, an attempt to find a mains lead for an old laptop (an attempt which, so far, has failed but has resulted in an invitation to a shop called ‘Falafel Shower’ tomorrow where we will, we hope, be offered falafel and access to a computer person). The evening consists of meal preparation, (we thought we’d bought chicken but its probably turkey judging by the size of the joints), writing a blog, and erecting shelves in the office, and finally a trip to the gym for me – men only 5pm to 11pm, about twenty minutes walk away. Its hard to be disciplined and to go, partly because it is almost impossible to develop any regular daily routines here.

Finally, 10.30pm, last few odd jobs in the office and that’s the day over. We’ll be up at 06.00 to get to the checkpoints at Qutein and Salaymeh in the H2 High Security Zone to monitor the childrens’ safe passage on their way to school .

What fascism looks like – 2 – Israel

In February 2020, billboards were erected in Tel Aviv depicting the political leaders of Hamas and of the Palestinian Authority as blindfolded and kneeling, as if, one might reasonably think, they are about to be shot. They were endorsed by an Israeli Jew Nave Dromi, leader of the ‘Israel Victory’ project. The slogan is ‘Peace is made only with defeated enemies.

Umberto Eco draws attention to 14 ideas around which fascism can congeal. one of these is the idea of the enemy, and an obsession with plots and conspiracies. This poster signifies the Palestinians as the enemy ‘within’, plotting to annihilate the Jews, through terrorism sponsored by Hama and the PA.

To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia.

The article in Haaretz by Gideon Levy identifies a xenophobic billboard in Tel Aviv and calls it fascist. I am suggesting that we can see here Eco’s elements of fascism: a) the enemy within (within the zionist idea of Eretz Ysrael, or Greater Israel); b) the obsession with terrorist plots by the Palestinians (as opposed to their legitimate resistance and fight for justice); and c) the idea of being besieged: the only way to defeat the enemy that is besieging us is to destroy them.

Opinion In Endorsement of Fascist Billboards, Nave Dromi Showed Her True Face. And That of Israel

Billboard in Tel Aviv reading ‘Peace is made only with defeated enemies.’

According to Nave Dromi the head of the Israel Victory Project, a project of the Middle East Forum-Israel, this billboard depicts:

… billboards we hung that showed Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas defeated.

Three of the 14 elements around which fascism can congeal are, according to Umberto Eco : a) xenophobia; b)  the need for an enemy to establish public acceptance of racist; and c) elitist supremacist policies . And all three are signified in this billboard.

is it now possible to see this  billboard is a visible signal telling us that Israel is now a fascist state – enacting terrible crimes against humanity whilst the world looks on and does nothing.

Levy identifies Nave Dromi as an individual in Israel who endorses Israel’s Zionist ethnic cleansing policies. She endorses her racist and murderous view here.

Israeli military tower next to the Jerusalem Hebron road

It is almost too shocking to be able to respond coherently. Levy, see link to article above, does a fair job. I would only add, from my alien foreigner perspective, that: a) an occupied people have the right under international law to respond militarily against military targets, and b) it is palpably clear from seeing the settlements scarring the landscape, monitoring the military checkpoints and passing by the massive concerted military observer posts along the Jerusalem Hebron (and settlement Kiryat Arab) Road (see above), that Israel is enforcing a genocidal regime of forced displacement.

The concept of the defeated enemy as used here, signifies the need for the  total defeat, or the complete absence of resistance to Israeli oppression, which in turn signifies the total destruction of Palestinian identity everywhere. This is the genocidal ideology behind the Israel Victory project. And, this is also one of the key motifs in the 2020 USA/Israel so-called peace plan for Palestine which forbids any Palestinian resistance to their oppression.

On the basis of inciting hatred at least, and genocide by implication, Nave Dromi should be charged with crimes against humanity. The international community should rebut Israel’s Zionist ideology that claims land based on biblical myth and should identify and prosecute Israel’s crimes for what they are.

A day on call with CPT in Hebron, Palestine – February 2020

This is a perspective from a CPT white male reservist from the UK, so bear in mind that this is through a lens of passport, white and male ‘privilege’. In other words bear in mind I cannot know what Palestinians feel about these issues.

I have deliberately chosen a day without extreme violence or clashes etc. to emphasise the routine and everyday structural violence of the occupation and settler colonisation.

Being on call involves working as a pair. with phone to hand, ready to take calls from the CPTer allocated to the team phone that day as part of rotated daily duties, for routine on call work and any incidents that may arise.

So, take today the 13th February:

We’re up at 6 for a quick cup of tea and a pastry, and meet up with the others in the team office at 06.40, and divide ourselves between different checkpoints.

Our role at checkpoints is to monitor and document the numbers of children going through, and to record any other violations of human rights such as searches, delays, detainments etc (bearing in mind that having to go through a military or border police controlled checkpoint is already a restriction on freedom of movement and a violation of human rights).

This morning two other pairs of CPTers are going to Qutein, and Salaymeh checkpoints, and Louise and I are heading over to Cortoba check point.

We walk through the tunnels of the Old City souk only to find the mosque check point crowded with Palestinians, held up because of some delay of unknown cause.

We’re already running late so we turn tail and re-trace our steps towards checkpoint 56, an alternative entrance to what is known as the H2 high security zone (H2HSZ). See the map, but note that the topography is complex.

We are trying to get to Cortoba checkpoint by 7am – this checkpoint lies on Shuhada street within the H2HSZ, and consists of a soldier in a sentry box, with his ubiquitous machine gun, who controls the gate that leads to Cortoba kindergarten, primary, and secondary schools.

By the by, since Trump/Netanyahu’s proposed plans for Palestinian subjugation to their domination there has been increased aggression and questioning of CPTers at checkpoints which has made us a little nervous. We all have a good idea of what to say if we’re asked why we’re there. And we double check we have our passports and no incriminating photos on our cameras.

We walk briskly past the watchtower at Bab al Balladye, past Bab az Zawiye, and through to check point 56 where a child of 16 was shot dead through the chest by the Israeli Defense Force a few days ago. We are nervous as we go through the intimidating architecture of the checkpoint (see photo).

At first encounter these monstrosities make no sense to the foreigner, and it takes time and repeated exposure and experience of them for feelings to develop appropriate to the dehumanising impact they have (on, I suggest, everybody, but of course intentionally and oppressively on the Palestinians). The checkpoints guard the H2HSZ, which is the area demarcated by the military to enable and protect Israeli Jewish Zionist settler colonisation.

We pass through the heavy metal turnstile, and through the concrete shed with its metal detector under the gaze of two soldiers behind a (presumably bullet and knife proof) screen. We glance at them to double check whether they want to check our IDs, and also, possibly, to hopefully indicate our fearlessness and hence innocence of wrongdoing – to avoid being stopped. Anyway, we both get through unscathed.

We walk along Shuhada Street for a few hundred metres, and turn right by Cortoba checkpoint where we’re both asked where we’re from, and to show passports, by the soldier on duty: a form of minor harassment of activists, and becoming more common.

We wait on a path higher up, overlooking Shuhada Street, the checkpoint, and the stark huge overbearing Hadassah settlement building, on the path that leads to the school.

We watch the children and teachers as they also pass through this soldier-controlled gate.

We’re there for about 90 minutes, and we really enjoy interacting with the children as they pass by.

But as well has happy children, we are aware of the checkpoint and the settler children on Shuhada Street, escorted by settlers holding machine guns.

From where we stand we see and hear an over-bearing and loud settler giving a tour to American youth. He is using forceful, indoctrinating and biased de-contextualised narratives about the 1929 massacre of Jews (ignoring Zionist violence in Jerusalem by extremist religious European Jewish immigrants fomenting unrest). And, he is extolling stories of past Zionist settler heroism, and the ‘necessary even though reckless’ sacrifice of individual life of Jews so that Jewish life may live. He exhorts the all-too impressionable youngsters to seek out the sacrifices they each can make, as if for the greater glory and longevity of Jewish Israeli nationalism.

This illustrates just one of zionism’s fascist features – the cult of heroism: described by Umberto Eco in his 1995 essay:

In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero. In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Falangists was Viva la Muerte (in English it should be translated as “Long Live Death!”). In non-fascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death.

So, we are becoming increasingly aware of the intensity of this apartheid and oppressive security regime imposed by a settler-military-state ideology of relentless colonisation: in the name of a mixture of biblical origin myths and more contemporary fears and antisemitic victimhood.

The rest of the day is uneventful, in the afternoon we escort children from the kindergarten near the mosque and patrol the checkpoints at Qutein and Salaymeh for the children going home.

We have other tasks in hand to think about, inputting data on the computer, writing as part of our advocacy activities, meetings with partners in Hebron and with visitors or delegations, domestic tasks such as maintenance work or preparing dinner for the team.

Not much down time, but we emphasise the importance of self-care for everybody and try to get some rest at some point. Some team members use the gym in the newer part of Hebron about 20 minutes walk away from the apartment.

That evening we get a call from a team member, it appears that the military are carrying out a home invasion, and somebody has contacted the team and asked us to go. We get a taxi, but there is confusion over the location. We have a team member who speaks Arabic which helps and she liaises with the family and the taxi driver. We are dropped off in a residential area near Tel Rumeida. And we feel apprehensive about confronting the military in this situation. However, despite making enquiries we draw a blank and head back to the team office/apartment. We were at the wrong location, and we hear the military have left the home. We agree a home visit by us next week would be a good idea.

Back to bed. A day without any major crisis, of routine work, but demanding in many ways nonetheless.

The Mass Psychology of Fascism in the 21st Century – part 6 : The Sense of Place and Identity in Hebron

Fascism is racist, and settler colonisation with ethnic cleansing breeds hatred and more racism. This is one of the features indicative of fascism.

In Hebron a city of 200 000 there is the Old City of 30 000, where there are religious sites coveted by Zionist settlers, these under military cover are slowly but surely helping Israeli policies of geographic Israeli expansion through settler colonisation.

Today, 5th Feb 2020, with CPT(Christian Peacemaker Teams). we went to a checkpoint in the Old City Hebron, within H2, an area of 30,000,under Israeli military control, to monitor Palestinian children, adults, and teachers on their way to school. They have to pass through these checkpoints – horrible cages with turnstiles, cold concrete, barbed wire and cameras.

We record the numbers of children and incidents of body and bag searches, delays and denials, and other kinds of abuse. The children have never known any different. This is a scene that the unaccustomed observer (especially) will struggle to empathise with or make sense of. We, the foreigners with passport privilege, free to leave this land at any time, can have no idea of the real impact of these checkpoints on the Palestinians.

This February morning, it was cold, and many children were going to school. After an hour, the last six boys were kept waiting for over 20 minutes and then the boys, waiting in the shade by the turnstile and no doubt cold, gave up and just turned back the way they came, away from school. No education for them today – effectively denied entry to their education by soldiers.

This was just one ripple of abuse, denial of human rights, among so many ripples spreading through the Palestinian community far and wide.

This check point is a barrier between settler-free Palestinian territory, to the south of the Old City, under Israeli military control. and what might be called a settler colonisation corridor (from Tel Rumeida to Kiryat Arba), that runs in a heavily policed curve south of the Old City, following the line of Shuhada Street to the west, and up to Prayer Rd to the east. To the north of this corridor are further checkpoints separating the settler corridor from the Old City.

The geography is extremely complex. A balanced community has been invaded by a malignant poison and this corridor is a poisoned place, poisoned by Zionist nationalism.

Map showing a central settler-colonisation security/apartheid belt; secured by heavily armed military checkpoints (red blocks).

Within the corridor lies Abed’s shop, owned by Palestinians who have lived here for generations. It lies smack bang in the middle of this apartheid corridor.

Some Palestinians live and work within this poisoned place. The idea of a poisoned place has been written out before. For example see here

By Edward Relph:

“I have written about these pathologies of place attachment [and poisoned places] … This is the result when sense of place turns sour and becomes exclusionary. Much of what is positive in sense of place depends on a reasonable balance. At one extreme, when that balance is upset by an excess of placeless internationalism the local identity of places is eroded. At the other extreme, when that balance is upset by excessive commitment to place and local or national zeal, the result is a poisoned sense of place in which other places and people are treated with contempt.”

In its extreme forms, … it is revealed in ethnic nationalist supremacy and xenophobia.”

It looks and feels to me, actually being here, as if the Palestinians living here have been exiled to a poisonous place, a place poisoned by settler colonialism. But nonetheless they are desperately holding on to their home and heritage, trying to hold onto their identity and sense of this poisoned place.

It is especially difficult for non-Palestinians to understand what is going on. or the thoughts and feelings of Palestinians. There are two opposing dangers, first, that we remain too aloof and detached or unfeeling treating the situation as a novelty, almost a tourist attraction, second, and by contrast, we could assume too much ‘as if’ we could ever know.

One way for non-Palestinians to approach the situation could be through Palestinian culture: writing, poetry, art, cinema. To this end I’ve included here a poem that we read together this morning at our morning reflection the day after a 17 year old boy was brutally shot dead by the IDF, for throwing stones. We cannot over-emphasise the barbarity and fascist features of this extreme Israeli Zionist nationalist and expansionist programme.

Through the words of Mahmoud Darwesh, a famous poem “Identity Card” written when he was only 24, and read by him in Nazareth in 1964, to a tumultuous reception.

Identity Card

Mahmoud Darwish – 1964 aged 24

First read in Nazareth to a tumultuous reaction

Write down!

I am an Arab

And my identity card number is fifty thousand

I have eight children

And the ninth will come after a summer

Will you be angry?

Write down!

I am an Arab

Employed with fellow workers at a quarry

I have eight children

I get them bread

Garments and books

from the rocks..

I do not supplicate charity at your doors

Nor do I belittle myself at the footsteps of your chamber

So will you be angry?

Write down!

I am an Arab

I have a name without a title

Patient in a country

Where people are enraged

My roots

Were entrenched before the birth of time

And before the opening of the eras

Before the pines, and the olive trees

And before the grass grew

My father.. descends from the family of the plow

Not from a privileged class

And my grandfather..was a farmer

Neither well-bred, nor well-born!

Teaches me the pride of the sun

Before teaching me how to read

And my house is like a watchman’s hut

Made of branches and cane

Are you satisfied with my status?

I have a name without a title!

Write down!

I am an Arab

You have stolen the orchards of my ancestors

And the land which I cultivated

Along with my children

And you left nothing for us

Except for these rocks..

So will the State take them

As it has been said?!

Therefore!

Write down on the top of the first page:

I do not hate poeple

Nor do I encroach

But if I become hungry

The usurper’s flesh will be my food

Beware..

Beware..

Of my hunger

And my anger!

Anger, of course, but violence may well breed more violence. A dilemma, since Identity seems to demand a forceful response. Youths throw stones and are shot: people demonstrate peacefully, and are shot. The State of Israel wants and needs violence, to brutalise its own population, to cement an Israeli identity in thrall to a fascist hatred of Muslims and Christians in Palestine.

We should note that Israel’s extreme nationalist colonialism is a form of ethnic cleansing and incremental genocide. Racism is a feature of fascism.

These places that we monitor are poisoned places breeding and perpetuating xenophobia and fear and distrust on all sides, and note clearly that this cycle of hate is being triggered here by US/UK/NATO and even Gulf State backed Israeli invasion, settler-colonisation, and expansion

The Mass Psychology of Fascism in the 21st Century – part 5

The battle with the unconscious and the mass psychology of fascism.

One fascism leads to another.

In the film ‘It Happened Here’ – a fictional and brutal account of a post Second World War Britain under Nazi occupation and a violent British partisan resistance – many Brits are portrayed accepting of the ideology of the Nazi fascist racism, and co-operating even with the killing programmes within Britain for East Europeans, the disabled and the elderly.

This phenomenon, the oppressed cooperating with, and even identifying with, the brutality of the oppressor is played out again in Philip K Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle.

In this novel, whilst under Japanese occupation in San Francisco, Robert Childan, a North American, experiences and displays the multi-layered complexity of the way fascism self-perpetuates. At a meal with two younger liberal minded Japanese who implicitly question the ideology of Nazism, Childan is at first subservient, and even obsequious in his attempts to, at least, not upset his hosts, but this seems to be in bad faith, that is, his identity is of a man oppressed, and who knows it, but acts as if he isn’t. Then, he blurts out an obviously anti-Semitic sentiment: if the Nazis and Japs has lost the war then the world would be controlled by Jews – an idea that he has absorbed, perhaps, from Nazi propaganda, a sentiment which visibly ‘chills’ his Japanese hosts. At which point he, in good faith it is implied , at least now, embraces his own white supremacist identity which thinks of his young Japanese hosts as little more than subhuman, ‘monkeys’ with good memories and imitation skills, but no genuine critical facilities. Because he thinks this in (apparent) good faith, these thoughts seem to be self-fulfilling and reinforce his white supremacism and he leaves his hosts house full of his (racist) self-confidence.

This is actually a vivid portrayal of a racist psyche at work from a man living already under oppression himself.

And, the young Japanese that he is invited to dine with portray voices of quiet resistance to fascism as they describe the banned book The Grasshopper Lies Heavy which reimagines a world in which the Nazis and Japan lost the war.

Fascism breeds fascism, oppression by fascism itself can breed fascism. Even those oppressed by fascism can work to support and sustain fascist ideologies.


This is subjectivisation at work; the formation of a subjectivity (identity) by its subjugation to its objectivisation. A process described by Foucault who perhaps maintained this was done in full consciousness and explained by Lacan who attributed it to a capacity to make unconscious certain meanings in order to create an identity dependent on incompatible meanings.

Today, it is possible we see the same phenomenon being played out in Israel and its apartheid (racist) so-called Jewish State and the occupied territories. Though I hasten to add that many Jews globally disapprove strongly of the Zionist concept behind such as state.

The Jews, victims of the European Holocaust in the twentieth century, were oppressed by Nazi fascism. This may have inculcated or at least incited a reactive xenophobia, directed toward the Muslims in the Middle East, as some sought to invade and colonise Palestine. Now, it is the oppressed who have become the oppressor. Have the extremist racist political and religious zionists embraced the proto-fascist identities of their Nazi oppressors? It is good to colonise, to create Y’Israel, or so the 2018 Israeli Nation State Law proclaims. But this ideology is incompatible with caring with love for the indigenous natives of Palestine, the Arab Muslims and Christians and the Bedouin. The Palestinians, like Childan’s Japanese in Dick’s novel. are not valued as human but as ‘vermin’, as existential threat, to be despised. feared and destroyed.