Netanyahu’s Real Crimes

Dr. James J. Zogby, Arab American Institute, NOVEMBER 23, 2019

After years of investigation and months of delay, Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit formally indicted Benjamin Netanyahu for crimes ranging from his violation of public trust to bribery and fraud. Israel’s apologists will argue that the fact that a sitting Prime Minister has been charged with crimes against the state and people presents compelling evidence of the country’s democracy and commitment to the rule of law. This is the very point that Mandelblit made in announcing the indictments – “The public interest requires that we live in a country where no one is above the law.” However, this is only partially true since it appears that in Israel the principles of democracy or the rule of law only apply to Israeli Jews or the interests of the state, itself. In fact, Netanyahu’s entire sordid career is evidence of the selectiveness of Israelis’ sense of justice.

In the past the Netanyahu household has been charged with some of the pettiest forms of corruption imaginable. For example, his wife was found guilty of taking the empty bottles from beverages consumed at official state functions and keeping the money she received for turning them for recycling. The Netanyahus were also known to bring three weeks of dirty laundry on two-day official state trips and sending them to the hotel in which they were staying for a night so that the cleaning bill would be charged to the state’s budget. This is the sort of past petty thievery for which the Netanyahus were famous.

Looking at the recent indictments, it is clear that the Prime Minister has graduated to bigger and better forms of fraud and corruption. What’s striking, however, is that all of the crimes with which he is charged were focused on feeding his ego or his appetites. In some instances, they were favors done for a businessman in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts, in others they were the corrupt deals he made with various media tycoons in which he promised them benefits in exchange for their guaranteeing him positive coverage in their news outlets.

There is no doubt, that in all of these cases, Netanyahu’s behavior has been clearly criminal and reprehensible, and, as described by the Attorney General, a breach of the public’s trust. But what I find so striking and disturbing, is that these crimes pale in significance when compared to what Netanyahu has done to the Palestinian people and the prospect for Israeli-Palestinian peace – crimes for which he will not be called to account.

After Oslo, Netanyahu organized a back-door lobby to mobilize US Congressional opposition to the peace accords. This was the first time an Israeli lobby worked in the US to oppose their own government. He should have been charged with treason.

Back in Israel, during the same period, he organized with Ariel Sharon and a few others a smear campaign of incitement against Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The campaign was so virulent and threatening that many Israelis, including Rabin’s wife, held Netanyahu responsible for Rabin’s assassination. Netanyahu should have been charged with incitement.

In 1996, he was elected Prime Minister on a platform dedicated to ending the peace process and he did everything he could to slow down, distort, and ultimately sabotage the Oslo Peace Process. Even the agreement he signed with the Palestinians at Wye so encumbered the process that by the end of his first term in office, peace was on life support. He should have been charged with destroying the prospects for peace and putting at risk the lives of millions.

During his last three terms in office, he incited violence and hatred against Palestinians, both those who are citizens of Israel and those living under occupation. This has fueled extremist settler movements that have engaged in daily acts of violence, destruction of property, and murder. He also encouraged soldiers in the Israeli army to murder defenseless Palestinians and supported them when they were charged with crimes. In addition, as he did with Rabin, he has falsely accused his Israeli opponents of being too close to the Arabs and accused the Palestinian citizens of Israel of being enemies of the state. He should have been charged with hate crimes.

During his time in office he has: expanded settlements on stolen Palestinian land and the demolition of Palestinian property; overseen a number of devastating assaults on Gaza resulting in the indiscriminate massacre of thousands of innocent civilians and the destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure; instituted and maintained a cruel blockade of Gaza’s population, as an act of collective punishment, in which, for long periods of time, food, medicine, and other essential items were restricted or severely regulated – resulting in death, disease, and impoverishment of millions of innocents. He should have been charged with war crimes.

The list could go on, but this should suffice.

The bottom line is that, to be sure, Netanyahu is a criminal. But in today’s Israel he can’t be found guilty of his most serious crimes – treason, incitement, destroying peace, hate crimes, and war crimes. Instead, he will be asked only to answer for his narcissistic appetites and corruption.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Arab American Institute. The Arab American Institute is a non-profit, nonpartisan national leadership organization that does not endorse candidates.

Dreams in the Crosshairs

We Are Not Numbers video being shown in Washington, DC

When Israeli snipers target people participating in or even located near Gaza’s Great Return March, it’s not just their bodies they kill or maim, it’s their dreams. This is the story of Alaa al-Dali. Thank you to the Freedom Flotilla Coalition for its support and funding.

Human Rights Activist to be Deported by Israel

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, November 25, 2019

Washington, D.C. | November 24, 2019 | adc.org — The targeting of human rights and peace activists by Israel continues to reflect the fact that it is indeed an apartheid state with complete disregard for international and human rights. Recently Israel has ramped up their denial of entry of peace activists and continues to move to deport human rights advocates. Within the next few hours Mr. Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch (HRW) is scheduled to be deported despite outcry from the international community. The deportation of Mr. Shakir, and other peace activists, signifies that the apartheid state of Israel will do everything it can to prevent the truth from being shown to the world.

Mr. Shakir serves as HRW’s Israel & Palestine Director – he is being removed by Israel for peaceful, human rights advocacy focusing on ending the illegal occupation and illegal settlements. ADC joins a global chorus of voices calling against the deportation of Mr. Shakir and other human rights activists. The work of human rights activists across the world is important to shedding the truth on many of the atrocities we see across the globe. By silencing these voices governments are shielding themselves from international law and continue to oppress millions.

In addition to the deportation, ADC continues to hear from Americans who are denied entry by Israeli authorities into Palestine via the unilaterally controlled international border crossings. The systemic denial of entry leads to a separation of families, extreme hardship, and loss of business or educational opportunities. The denial of entry also serves a clearer objective, just as the deportation of activists like Mr. Shakir – it prevents the international community from witnessing and reporting first-hand about the apartheid policies undertaken by Israel.

Mr. Shakir, along with the thousands of others who have been deported or denied entry, pose a threat to Israel because they will report the truth, and Israel is threatened by the truth. Despite being met with worldwide condemnation, Israel continues its occupation of Palestine, and has shown a complete disregard of international law. The deportation of Mr. Shakir signals that the apartheid state is doubling down on its oppressive policies and will do everything it can to stop the truth from being told.

Polluted Water is the Leading Cause of Child Mortality in Gaza

With 43 Olympic swimming pools of sewage flowing from Gaza daily, local epidemic is only a matter of time


A Palestinian boy drinks water from public taps at the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza city, March 7 2018. (Wissam Nassar/DPA)

Yaniv Kubovich, Haaretz, Oct 16, 2018

Illness caused by water pollution is a leading cause of child mortality in the Gaza Strip, says a study by the RAND Corporation, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz.

The study shows that water pollution accounts for more than a quarter of illnesses in Gaza and that more than 12 percent of child deaths up until four years ago was linked to gastrointestinal disorders due to water pollution. Since that time these numbers have continued to grow.




The collapse of water infrastructure has led to a sharp rise in germs and viruses such as rotavirus, cholera and salmonella, the report says.

The data appear in a study by Dr. Shira Efron, a special adviser on Israel and policy researcher at RAND’s Center for Middle East Public Policy; Dr. Jordan Fishbach, co-director of the Water and Climate Resilience Center at RAND; and Dr. Melinda Moore, a senior physician, policy researcher and associate director of the Population Health Program at RAND.

The researchers based their study on previous cases in the world in which wars and instability created a water crisis and hurt infrastructure, such as in Iraq and Yemen, where mortality has been on the rise and other health problems have surfaced. In the period studied, they collected material from various officials in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

Related Articles




Help the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project provide another clean water filter system to a school in Rafah, Gaza!
Continue reading

BREAKING: US Disregards International Law On Israeli Settlements


  November 18, 2019

Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | November 18, 2019 – Moments ago Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Trump Administration will no longer view Israeli settlements as against international law. This is another step taken by the Trump Administration to thwart and bury the idea of a peace process, and further solidifying Israel as an apartheid state. This administration’s complete disregard for international law, and over four decades of American policy, undermines and delegitimizes the U.S. on the global stage – the international community overwhelmingly considers the settlements illegal.

ADC is committed to a just and lasting peace in the region, and any peaceful resolution of the conflict requires the cessation of expansion and dismantlement of all settlements; an end to the collective punishment imposed on the Palestinian population as a result of Israeli occupation policies; an end to the siege of Gaza; the exercise of the democratic rights of Palestinians in electing their government; the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and the upholding of the right of return of the Palestinian refugees under international law.

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly states that “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territories it occupies.” Israel has been illegally settling on Palestinian land since 1948 with impunity, and encouragement from the U.S. With his remarks today Secretary Pompeo did not address whether or not Israel violated international law, instead he indicated that international law is meaningless – which is a mark of an authoritarian regime.

The Trump Administration has given a green light to Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government to continue the annexation of Palestinian land. These actions are extreme positions that undermine any possibility of peace. These actions continue to legitimize violence and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. This will only lead to the furtherance of an Israeli apartheid state where Palestinians are treated as second class citizens.

Rep. Pocan emphasizes progressive caucus’s commitment to Palestine


Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI). (Photo: AP/Lauren Victoria Burke)

Helena Cobban, Mondoweiss, November 14, 2019

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) recently told an audience in his Madison WI district that the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), of which he is co-chair, is planning (depending on how Israel’s government-forming works out) to send a delegation to Palestine.

“But,” he noted to applause, “the permission has to include Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.” The two first-term members are both members of the CPC.

Pocan added, “We’re also saying we have to go into Gaza. And we have some commitments from our leadership, who say they’re going to help us do this– which we never had when Paul Ryan was Speaker.”

Pocan made these comments on October 27 during the introduction he gave to Gaza-Palestinian Yousef Aljamal, who gave a speech, “Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Youth Under Siege and Occupation.”

The event was held at Christ Presbyterian Church in Madison, WI. The primary organizer was the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, and it had several other co-sponsors. This event was part of the nationwide speaking tour for Aljamal that Just World Ed organized under the title “Crisis in Palestine.”

Christ Presbyterian kindly made and posted a great video of the afternoon’s proceedings, which can be viewed in full here. (The images in the main part of this blogpost are all stills from the video.)

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) discusses his support for Palestinian rights in Madison, WI. (Photo: Just World Books)

Rep. Pocan’s introductory remarks take up the first seven minutes of the video. They provide an informative indication of the degree to which support for the rights of all Palestinians is growing within the 98-member-strong CPC.

Pocan prefaced his remarks by noting that, “We get so little information out of Gaza! And under this administration, our government has caused so much damage there.”

He recalled, “Three years ago, I led the first congressional delegation ‘to Palestine’– that’s what we called it! We had five members that went with us and we saw everything we could see. And on the final day, we were set to meet up with UNRWA and go into Gaza for a day. But the night before, we had a phone call, telling us we were not allowed to go in…”

He said that he and some of the other members of the delegation decided to go to the Gaza crossing-point anyway, since their notification had not come in writing… “And while we sat there we saw some of the bulldozers and things going through to take out some of the cropland… Eventually we got our official ‘No’. But to me, an official no just means we want to go even more!”

He recalled that it had been more than a decade since Keith Ellison was the last member of Congress allowed by the Israelis to visit Gaza. (Ellison, who had been the first Muslim member of Congress, is now the Attorney General of Minnesota.)

Pocan made a point of noting a couple of positive developments. One was the CPC’s plan to organize another– probably bigger?– delegation to Palestine than the one he had led back in 2016. The other was a plan that he said is projected to launch later this month for a series of Skype sessions between members of Congress and various groups of citizens inside Gaza.

He recalled the strong impression the 2016 visit had made on him: “It really was alarming to go into downtown Hebron and other areas… But in Gaza, we don’t even have people getting in!”

Yousef Aljamal speaking in Hawaii. (Photo: Just World Books)

Continue reading

What you need to know about the bombings in Gaza


Palestinian children in Gaza. (Lucy Duncan/AFSC)

Mike Merryman-Lotze, American Friends Service Committee, Nov 13, 2019

On Nov. 12, 2019 the Israeli military assassinated Baha Abu al-Ata, a leading member of Islamic Jehad in Gaza, and his wife—sparking more violence in Gaza. Shortly after the killing, Islamic Jehad fired rockets into Israel. In response, Israel has launched extensive bombing attacks on Gaza, killing at least 34 Palestinians and injuring many others. One Israeli has been injured as a result of Palestinian rockets fire. So far, Hamas has refrained from engaging in violence during this latest attack. A ceasefire was announced on Nov. 14, but bombing continued on the night of Nov. 14. If the ceasefire does not hold and Israel continues its disproportionate and deadly attacks on Gaza, there is significant risk of continued escalation.

Political action is needed now in the U.S. to protect this ceasefire and to ensure a halt to attacks on Gaza. But simply ending violence is not enough—there must be an end to the 12-year blockade of Gaza, the systematic inequality and human rights abuses faced by Palestinians, and Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Take action by contacting Congress today! 

Here’s what you need to know about the recent bombings:

Israel’s assassination of Baha Abu al-Ata was the start of the latest violence.

Israel has accused Abu al-Ata for a number of rocket attacks on Israel over the last several months, justifying his assassination as retaliation for those attacks. However, those attacks were carried out in the context of daily Israeli attacks on Gaza, including shooting across the boundary fence, shooting at protesters, ground incursions, shooting at fishermen, and shelling/bombing.

The Israeli government has noted that it expected a response from Gaza to the assassination, making clear that this particular escalation was purposefully started by the Israeli military.

The bombings follow more than a year of violence against Palestinians in Gaza.

Between January and September 2019, the Israeli military killed a total of 70 Palestinians in Gaza and injured 11,000 more. No Israelis were killed by Palestinians from Gaza during the same period.

Overall this year, the Israeli military has invaded Gaza on at least 54 occasions and carried out numerous airstrikes during the same period.

According to the United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs, between Oct. 15 and 28, the Israeli military opened fire toward Palestinians in the areas adjacent to Gaza’s perimeter fence and off the coast of Gaza on 28 different occasions, injuring at least two Palestinian laborers. During the same period, Israeli forces carried out four military incursions into Gaza.

In early 2018, Palestinians in Gaza began protesting in what is now known as the Great March of Return. Since the start of those largely peaceful protests, Israel has killed more than 320 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded over 36,000 more as they protested for their rights and against Israel’s occupation.

This violence is largely absent from the narratives that are already developing about this latest attack on Gaza, but it is critical that this context—and Israel’s ongoing blockade on Gaza and occupation of the Palestinian territory—be placed front and center when considering developments over the coming days or weeks.

Israel has indicated that new military actions in Gaza could last days or event weeks.

The last large Israeli attack on Gaza was in 2014. During that attack, more than 2,250 Palestinians, including over 500 children, were killed and over 11,000 people were injured. More than 160,000 were displaced. And Gaza has yet to recover from the destruction and damage of homes, schools, and infrastructure.

Continue reading