Systematic Israeli State Terror

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September 8, 2011

Systematic Israeli State Terror – by Stephen Lendman

Despite his own cross to bear, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan got it right calling Israel responsible for “state terror.”

In fact, it’s official policy, ongoing for decades against non-Jews, especially Palestinians without letup.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), from August 18 – 24 alone, Israel launched 41 air strikes against Gaza, killing 17 Palestinians, including two children and a doctor, wounding 20 others, and destroying or damaging a number of facilities attacked.

During the same period, Israeli forces conducted at least 27 military incursions into Palestinian West Bank communities, arresting 77 civilians.

On September 5, Press TV said Israeli settlers torched a mosque in Qusra village near Nablus “when they threw burning tires inside it.”

As a result, fire damaged the walls and ceiling. They also broke windows, threw rocks at Palestinian vehicles, wrote insulting graffiti about the Prophet Mohammed and Israeli social justice protestors, and drew the Star of David on the wall of Ayman Tayseer Omran’s house, located near the mosque.

Condemning the incident, PCHR this and others “are carried out in the context of incitement practiced by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people, which encourages settlers to continue their attacks.”

It’s not the first time mosques have been attacked and for sure not the last, nor many other ways extremist settlers vandalize Palestinian property with impunity, and commit acts of violence, including murder.

None of this gets reported by Western media, especially America’s, or when done, one-sided bias for Israel is expressed, and/or reports are sanitized, omitting key facts.

For example, New York Times writer Fares Akram headlined his September 6 article, “Gaza: Israelis Kill Militant,” saying:

An Israeli attack helicopter killed Khaled Sahmoud “after (its) forces carried out an incursion into Gaza….and clashed with members of a small militant group, shooting at them and receiving mortar fire back, according to the Israeli military and officials of….the Popular Resistance Committees.”

Israel accused him and other militants of “carr(ying) out the terrorist attack from the Sinai region of Egypt on southern Israel last month that killed eight Israelis.”

Akram’s article was little more than a propaganda piece, a virtual IDF press handout, presenting its version of events as fact.

A previous article contradicted the official account, accessed through the following link:

It cited compelling reasons to hold Israel responsible for killing its own citizens to incite fear, ahead of the September General Assembly vote on Palestinian statehood and full UN membership, as well as because of weeks of social justice protests Netanyahu very much wants diffused and ended. What better way than to change the subject.

Like America, Israel doesn’t hesitate killing Jews as well as enemies when its purpose is served. That’s one definition of terrorism. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary calls it “an intense, overpowering fear….the use of terrorizing methods of governing or resisting a government.”

The US Code defines it as involving:

(A) “violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State;”

(B) are intended to –

(i) “intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States….”

The US Army Operational Concept for Terrorism (TRADOC Pamphlet No. 525-37, 1984) shortens the above definition to be “the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature….through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear.”

It’s state terrorism when committed by nations against anyone – other states, groups or individuals, including state-sponsored assassinations.

It’s also illegal violence to influence behavior, inflict punishment, take revenge, or accomplish other illegal aims. Israel commits it regularly – terrorism, in one form or other, against Palestinian civilians.

Last April, a masked gunman killed General Director of Jenin’s (2006-founded) Freedom Theater, Juliano Mer-Khamis, inside his car after leaving the building. A woman with him was wounded. Whether or not Israel was responsible isn’t known.

Haaretz writer Avi Issacharoff quoted former resistance leader/now co-theater manager Zakarya Zubeidi calling it a “well-planned assassination. There is one organization or body, central, big, behind this act. This was not a simple operation. There is a big hand” behind it.

Two previous times, the theater was torched because of the type drama it produces.

In remembering a man he admired, Gideon Levy called his documentary “Arna’s Children” the best film about the occupation he ever saw. Nothing “approaches its emotional impact or captures the way in which the trasher of the occupation methodically destroys the lives of everyone in its path – and (yet) those in its way resist it no matter what.”

Levy called it a work of genius, as well as representing the inspirational courage of Mer-Khamis’ mother and the humanity of Jenin’s children.

Whether or not Israel killed him or ordered his death, it certainly had motive to silence a powerful voice against occupation and injustice.

Despite his death, the theater remains threatened. In late July, Israeli forces targeted it. A press release recounted what happened, saying:

The sound of “heavy blocks of stone” hurled at the building’s entrance woke night guard/technician student Ahmad Nasser Matahen. “As he opened the door, he found masked and heavily armed Israeli Special Forces around the theater.”

He thought they’d kill him. Location manager Adnan Naghnaghiye “was arrested and taken away to an unknown location together with Bilal Saadi,” a theater board member.

When its general manager, Jacob Gough, and co-founder, Jonatan Stanczak “arrived on the scene, they were forced to squat next to a family of four small children surrounded by about 50 heavily armed Israeli soldiers.”

When Stanzak and others tried explaining they were attacking a cultural venue and arresting its members, they were told to shut up and were threatened. When they later tried contacting Israel’s civil administration, the person answering hung up. No explanation of why this happened was gotten.

On August 25, Israeli forces again surrounded the theater around 2:00AM, beat the security guard, ransacked his home, then abducted him and two others.

Stanczak called Israel’s behavior “systematical harassment (and) scandalous. This proves that the Israeli army and security apparatus is either lost in their investigation or that they have the actual intention of damaging the theater. It also seems that after the murder of (Mer Khamis, the theater) is no longer exempted from the kind of oppression (Palestinians are) subjected to in general.”

Twice earlier, the theater was torched. On April 16, 2009, a press release headlined, “The Freedom Theatre Under Attack!” saying:

“In the morning of April 15, 2009, an unknown individual set fire to The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, Occupied Palestine. The main door of the theatre was completely burned, but the fire did not spread inside the building and the theatre remains largely unharmed.”

“This was the second (arson) attempt….On the night when Al Kamandjati Music Centre in Jenin was devastatingly set on fire three weeks ago, there was also a failed attempt to destroy The Freedom Theatre.”

In addition, for weeks, Israeli security forces have systematically harassed and raided The Freedom Theater on the pretext of investigating Mer-Khamis’ assassination.

General manager Gough called it “tactics to damage us,” adding:

“An investigation into murder should be done in certain ways, not kidnapping people, torturing them and trying to make them confess.”

It suggests something more sinister is involved. Perhaps Israel wants Palestinians blamed for its own crime. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Access the theater’s web site through the following link:

Calling itself “the only professional venue for theatre and multimedia in the north of the West Bank, (it) offers children, youth and young adults in the Jenin area a safe space (to) express themselves, to explore their creativity and emotions through culture and arts.”

“It provides them with opportunities to develop the skills, self-knowledge and confidence which can empower them to challenge present realities and to speak out in their own society and beyond.”

For these and other reasons, Israel wants documentaries like “Arna’s Children” and other productions silenced. It wants militarized occupation continued, land theft through settlement expansions unchallenged, voices for liberation suppressed, and others resisting occupation imprisoned or killed.

It wants no opposition to its worst crimes, including terrorizing and virtually imprisoning an entire population for the crime of not being Jews. It wants the myth of its victimhood believed, to be able to commit crimes of war and against humanity with impunity. It wants the right to do any damn thing it pleases and get away with it, within or outside the law.

It wants the power of creative expression eliminated to remove a motivating voice for popular resistance. As a result, The Freedom Theatre threatens what no longer is tolerable to allow – preventing freedom for all Palestinians on their own land in their own unoccupied sovereign country.

It’s an idea whose time has come. It’s a threat Israel will use any means to stop. It’s the obligation of everyone to stand for what’s right over wrong. It’s time 44 years of occupation ended so Palestinians again can be free.

It’s what everyone everywhere deserves in peace under governments representing all their people, not just the privileged few. It’s an idea worth fighting for. It’s why all popular struggles exist and deserve universal support because nothing is more important.

A Final Comment

Mer-Khamis’ mother, Arna, the inspiration for his “Arna’s Children” documentary, founded the original theater in 1988 after witnessing the first Intifada’s devastation.

On February 24, 2006, Maureen Clare Murphy’s Electronic Intifada article headlined, “Photostory: Freedom Theatre in Jenin aims to plant the seeds of dignity,” saying:

The theater’s opening the previous week showed “(t)he spirit of resistance has not been beaten out of Jenin…”

“Calls by speakers for the Palestinians to stand firm despite Israeli and American pressure resonated with the crowd, men on one side of the hall and women and children on the other.”

Adorning the theater’s walls were photos of the original theater Arna Mer-Khamis created, a Jew from a Zionist family, married to a Palestinian. Her picture is displayed inspirationally in the middle of the arranged montage.

In 1993, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, called the Alternative Nobel Prize presented annually “for outstanding vision and work on behalf of our planet and its people.”

She donated her $50,000 award to the original Jenin camp Stone theater she founded.

In 2002, it was destroyed during Israel’s attack on Jenin, killing dozens, cutting it off from outside help, destroying hundreds of buildings (many with people buried inside under rubble), cutting off power and availability of food and water from the outside, and refusing to let help come in (including medical aid).

Despite the recurrent threat of Israeli violence, “the forces behind The Freedom Theatre are undeterred” in their mission to use “(c)culture (to plant) the seed of human dignity” and inspiration to resist.

Why else would Israel want Theater principals silenced and their vision stopped by whatever means it takes.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.