‘Fuck it, wipe out Gaza’, says spokesperson for EU campaign

Image of Avishai Ivri [Avishai Ivri/Twitter]

The EU has hired an Israeli who advocates Gaza be “wiped out” to improve EU-Israel relations, Electronic Intifada reported.

Avishai Ivri appears in a promotional campaign in which he outlines the European Union’s benefits for Israel, declaring it “the best neighbours we have”.

However, in tweets published during Israel’s November 2012 attack on the Gaza Strip, Ivri wrote: “Here’s a strategy that hasn’t been tried out yet: 1,000 Arabs killed for each one of our people killed. I think they owe us 5,000 from last week.”

A previous tweet during the same attack he urged: “Fuck it, wipe out Gaza.”

He has also advocated for Israel to annex the occupied West Bank and if Palestinians resist, “they’ll be tossed away, on a truck. Force is always an option, but we prefer an agreed-upon solution (but if not, force).”

“Are Palestinians a nation?” he asked in 2012, before answering his own question: “They’re shit.”

Read: ‘Can Gaza be thrown in the sea?’ asks Israeli politician

‘It’s a game to Israel, seizing and detaining Palestinians’

Hanaa Hasan asks former Hamas lawyer, Stanley Cohen, his opinion on the prisoner exchange talks between Israel and the Gaza Strip authority.

Image of former Hamas lawyer, Stanley Cohen [Istanleycohen.org]

Image of former Hamas lawyer, Stanley Cohen [Istanleycohen.org]

Last week, Israeli media reported that talks for a prisoner exchange were underway between Hamas and Israel; the first such talks to take place since the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal in which 1,027 Palestinians were freed in return for the return of an Israeli soldier.

In a new proposal, Israel is reportedly willing to release an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners, mostly women, children and parliamentarians, in return for video evidence showing three Israeli citizens held in Gaza are alive, and the release of the bodies of two soldiers killed in the 2014 Israeli offensive. Hamas has rejected the proposal, calling instead for some 55 Palestinians to be released, as well as information on other prisoners held by occupying forces.

Whilst Israel has yet to officially confirm reports, American defence attorney Stanley Cohen told MEMO that the timings of these rumours are indicative of Israel’s motivations.

Moussa Abu Marzouk

“Right now there is a tremendous amount of political pressure from the community in Israel about trying to recover the two bodies of soldiers in Gaza. So Israel is going to, for political reasons if for no other purpose, hold out and plant the seeds that negotiations are underway.”

Cohen has long been an advocate for the Palestinian cause. In 1995, he successfully defended Moussa Abu Marzouk, then the leader of Hamas’ political wing, against attempts to extradite him to Israel for trial. Following other prominent cases in the region, he has been banned from entering Israel and many Arab countries.

Read: Palestinian prisoners suffer ‘brutal’ conditions in Israeli jails

He remains an outspoken critic of Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine, and in reaction to the news of potential prisoner swap talks, questions the sincerity of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“In the long term, the problem is a lack of good faith by Israel. There is no doubt in my mind that Netanyahu is exploiting this for a personal political dynamic right now.”

Cohen is also a founding member of a group of international lawyers who have filed lawsuits on behalf of Palestinians against Israel in numerous national jurisdictions as well as before the International Criminal Court. The group has pursued allegations for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violation of the Geneva Conventions. He evidenced his scepticism of Israel by emphasising the fact that the government is offering to release prisoners who had already been freed six years ago in the Gilad Shalit exchange.

What has to be remembered is that the people that Israel is apparently offering to release are being held in violation of international law. These are not people who have been arrested and charged, convicted and imprisoned.

These are women and children and members of parliament that have been detained in violation of international law, that have not been tried, have not had their day in court and have been denied due process.”

“Once again Israel violates international law and then holds it out as a fig leaf to earn some quick political benefit itself. It’s a game to Israel; seizing and detaining people and trying to do exchanges,” he said.

Read more: Report: Israel detained 388 Palestinians in June

Egypt is reportedly acting as a mediator in the current deal, as it has done many times in the conflict’s tumultuous history. Cohen admitted that Egypt’s influence in the upcoming talks could be beneficial for the region, especially following recent Hamas delegation’s visit to Egypt earlier this month. However, he remained sceptical of how much of a positive role it could play, amid reports that Cairo has also put forward specific demands.

“Even when it plays a neutral role, Egypt does what is best for Egypt. Egypt’s relationship with Israel is very close right now. It has a warmer relationship, for lack of a better word, with Hamas, but to certainly position itself vis a vis Gaza as being in any position of good faith, that [good faith] is lacking.”

He also stressed that Israel was not to be swayed by officials in Cairo:

Egypt cannot exert any influence on Israel. Egypt will do what is best for its position and power, and Israel will try and maximise its relationship with Egypt for its own personal benefit; if they can score some points, they will.

Cohen has dealt with numerous negotiation cases in his 37 years as a lawyer, and in 2014 was involved in an attempt to secure the release of American aid worker Peter Kassig who was held by Daesh. Of all the groups he has worked with, he identified a lack of sincerity on Israel’s part as distinctive in how the government perceives such deals.

What is unique about Israel is that it brings to the table an arrogance that basically says ‘So we have bad faith, that’s who we are, we don’t hide it’.

In light of the current crisis surrounding Al-Aqsa Mosque, Cohen envisaged how the failure of the Israeli government to respond to the request of Palestinians for free access to the mosque could harden Hamas’ stance on the prisoner exchange.

Read: Number of Palestinians MPs imprisoned by Israel rises to 12

“Unlike Fatah, which easily segregates Palestinians in the West Bank and Palestinians in Gaza, Hamas does not. So it’s very clear, and Israel is well aware that if it continues the siege on Al-Aqsa … then Hamas’ position is going to harden even though they are dealing from Gaza. Because there is no separation of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank when it comes to Hamas, or when it comes to resistance movements in Palestine.”

“On the other hand, if Israel was serious about the negotiations they would temper to some degree what they are doing in Al-Aqsa; but Israel tempering simply means they will attack 200 people instead of 2,000.”

Edward I Expells the Jews from England(1290)

In 1290 King Edward I of England (Longshanks)Offsite Link issued an edict expelling all Jews from England.

“Lasting for the rest of the Middle Ages, it would be over 350 years until it was formally overturned in 1656. The edict was not an isolated incident but the culmination of over 200 years of conflict on the matters of usury. The first Jewish communities of significant size came to England with William the ConquerorOffsite Link in 1066. On the conquest of England, William instituted a feudal system in the country, whereby all estates formally belonged to the king, who appointed lords over vast estates, subject to duties and obligations (financial and knights) to the king. Under the lords were further subjects such as serfs, which were bound and obligated to their lords. Merchants had a special status in the system as did Jews. Jews were declared to be direct subjects of the King, unlike the rest of the population. This had advantages for Jews, in that they were not tied to any particular lord, but were subject to the whims of the king. Every successive King formally reviewed a royal charter granting Jews the right to remain in England. Jews did not enjoy any of the guarantees of Magna Carta of 1215.

“Economically, Jews played a key role in the country. The church at the time strictly forbade usury, or the lending of money for profit. This left a hole in the heart of the European economy that Jews quickly filled (canon law was not considered to apply to Jews, and Judaism permits loans with interest Offsite Linkbetween Jews and non-Jews).  As a consequence, some Jews made large amounts of money. However, taking advantage of their unique status as his direct subjects, the King could expropriate Jewish assets in the form of taxation. He levied heavy taxes on Jews at will without having to summon Parliament.  The Jewish community acted as a kind of giant monetary filter: Jews collected interest on money loaned to the people which the King could take at his pleasure.

“Jews acquired a reputation as extortionate money lenders which made them extremely unpopular with both the Church and the general public. While antisemitism was widespread in Europe, medieval England was particularly antisemitic. An image of the Jew as a diabolical figure who hated Christ started to become widespread, and antisemitic myths such as the Wandering Jew and ritual murders originated and spread throughout England; as well as Scotland and Wales.  Jews were said to hunt for children to murder before Passover so they could use their blood to make matzah. Antisemitism on a number of occasions sparked riots where many Jews were murdered, most famously in 1190 when over a hundred Jews were massacred in the city of York.

“The situation only got worse for Jews as the 13th century progressed. In 1218, England became the first European nation to require Jews to wear a marking badge. Taxation grew increasingly intense. Between 1219 and 1272, 49 levies were imposed on Jews for a total of 200,000 marks, a huge amount of money.  The first major step towards expulsion took place in 1275, with the Statute of Jewry. The statute outlawed all usury and gave Jews fifteen years to readjust. However, guilds as well as popular prejudice made Jewish movement into mercantile or agricultural pursuits almost impossible.

“While in GasconyOffsite Link in 1287, Edward ordered English Jews expelled. All their property was seized by the crown and all outstanding debts payable to Jews were transferred to the King’s name. It was a bleak sign of things to come. Edward’s personal views on Jews are something of a mystery. In the glimpses we have of his dealings with them, he seems interested but unsympathetic. His mother, however, does seem to have been anti-semitic. Whatever his personal feelings, by the time he returned to England in 1289 Edward was deeply in debt. The next summer he summoned his knights to impose a steep tax. To make the tax more palatable, Edward in exchange essentially offered to expel all Jews. The heavy tax was passed, and three days later, on July 18, the Edict of Expulsion was issued. One official reason for the expulsion was that Jews had neglected to follow the Statute of Jewry. The edict of expulsion was widely popular and met with little resistance, and the expulsion was quickly carried out.

“The Jewish population in England at the time was relatively small. While population estimates vary, probably less than 1% of England was Jewish; perhaps 3,000 people.  The expulsion process went fairly smoothly, although there were a few horrific stories. One story told of a captain taking a ship full of Jews to the Thames while the tide was going out and convincing them to go out for a walk with him. He then lost them and made it back to his ship before the tide came back in, leaving them all to drown. Other stories exist of Jews being robbed or killed, but the majority of the Jews seem to have crossed the channel in safety” (Wikipedia article on Edict of Expulsion, accessed 02-15-2009).

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