organization:military intelligence

  • Netanyahu likely to extend secrecy of some 1948 war documents 20 more years

    Defense establishment asked to lengthen classification period to 90 years, from 70, for material on Deir Yassin massacre, among other events

    Jonathan Lis and Ofer Aderet Oct 04, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-netanyahu-likely-to-extend-secrecy-of-some-1948-war-documents-20-m

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to sign regulations extending the period of confidentiality for information in the defense archives from 70 years to 90 years. The Defense Ministry and other organization requested the extension to prevent the release this year of some materials relating to the period of the War of Independence in 1948.
    The extension is intended to prevent the exposure of intelligence sources and methods that are still in use today by security forces. The archives also include information that was received from foreign sources under the condition that it would not be released, say defense officials. The draft regulations state that even after 70 years have passed, exposure of some of the archival materials could harm national security. In 2010, Netanyahu extended the period of confidentiality for security archives from 50 years to 70 years.
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    The legal adviser to the Israel State Archives, Naomi Aldubi, circulated a draft of the new regulations to the relevant government ministries Wednesday. The document states that the new regulations will apply to materials held by the Shin Bet security service, the Mossad and the archives of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, nuclear research centers and the Israel Institute for Biological Research. The new rules would also prevent the publication of raw intelligence from Military Intelligence as well as information concerning intelligence gathering for materials classified as secret and higher, along with materials concerning certain Israel Defense Forces and Defense Ministry units.
    The decision is expected to make life much more difficult for historians, other researchers and journalists and would also limit the public’s access to valuable historical information of public interest. For example, the new regulations would prevent the release of certain materials concerning the massacre at Deir Yassin in 1948.
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    In practice, the government will be able to prevent the release of any document related to the War of Independence that it wishes to keep secret. The new rules also contradict the recommendations of the supreme advisory council overseeing the Israel State Archives, which recommended extending the confidentiality of only some of the documents for five years.

    The Archives Law states that any person has the right to examine documents stored in the state archives, but also grants the government authority to restrict access according to the level of classification — for example, materials classified as “secret” — and according to the amount of time that has passed since the materials were created. This period ranges between 15 and 75 years, in accordance with the materials’ source and contents. For example, the classification period for the minutes of classified sessions of Knesset committees is limited to 20 years; for foreign policy documents the period is 25 years; for police archives, 30 years and for minutes of the security cabinet 50 years. Intelligence materials, including those of the Shin Bet, Mossad, Atomic Energy Commission and Biological Institute, remain classified for 70 years.
    Even after this period expires, the state archives and other archives, such as the IDF Archives, have not acted on their own initiative to release the materials. In practice, the end of the classification period alone is not sufficient for automatic declassification of the material. First, the chief archivist must examine the materials. After that, a special ministerial committee, headed by the justice minister, has the right to apply additional restrictions on access to them.
    The committee used its power to prohibit access to the so-called Riftin report on extrajudicial executions carried out by the Haganah pre-independence army. In 1998, half a century after the report was written, its confidentiality period expired, after which it should have been unsealed. In the 20 years that have passed since then, two state archivists requested, and received, extensions of the classification period from the ministerial committee.
    The draft proposal does stipulate that the relevant organizations must draw up new protocols that would enable the unsealing of classified materials after 50 years, on their own initiative. In addition, they would be instructed to conduct an annual review of their classified documents in order to determine whether they can be declassified.

  • Thank you, Mother Russia, for imposing boundaries on Israel - For the first time in years another state is saying to Israel: Stop right there. At least in Syria, that’s the end of it. Thank you, Mother Russia.

    Gideon Levy SendSend me email alerts
    Sep 28, 2018
    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-to-russia-with-love-1.6511224

    A ray of hope is breaking through: Someone is setting limits on Israel. For the first time in years another state is making it clear to Israel that there are restrictions to its power, that it’s not okay for it to do whatever it wants, that it’s not alone in the game, that America can’t always cover for it and that there’s a limit to the harm it can do.
    Israel needed someone to set these limits like it needed oxygen. The recent years’ hubris and geopolitical reality enabled it to run rampant. It could patrol Lebanon’s skies as if they were its own; bombard in Syria’s air space as if it were Gaza’s air space; destroy Gaza periodically, put it under endless siege and continue, of course, to occupy the West Bank. Suddenly someone stood up and said: Stop right there. At least in Syria: That’s the end of it. Thank you, Mother Russia, for setting limits on a child whom no one has restrained for a long time.
    >>What Russia and Turkey really want in Syria | Explained ■ Russia’s claims on downed plane over Syria are dubious, but will usher in new reality for Israel | Analysis ■ Russia vs. Israel: The contradicting accounts of the downing of a plane over Syria

    The Israeli stupefaction at the Russian response and the paralysis that gripped it only showed how much Israel needed a responsible adult to rein it in. Does anyone dare prevent Israel’s freedom of movement in another country? Is anyone hindering it from flying in skies not its own? Is anyone keeping it from bombing as much as it pleases? For decades Israel hasn’t encountered such a strange phenomenon. Israel Hayom reported, of course, that anti-Semitism is growing in Russia. Israel is getting ready to play the next victim card, but its arrogance has suddenly gone missing.
    In April the Bloomberg News agency cited threats from retired Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin and other officers that if Russia gives Syria S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, Israel’s air force would bombard them. Now the voice of bluster from Zion has been muted, at least for the moment.
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    Every state is entitled to have weapons for defense against jet bombers, including Syria, and no state is permitted to prevent that forcibly. This basic truth already sounds bizarre to Israeli ears. The idea that other countries’ sovereignty is meaningless, that it can always be disrupted by force, and that Israeli sovereignty alone is sacred, and supreme; that Israel can mix in the affairs of the region to its heart’s content – including by military intervention, whose true extent is yet to be clarified in the war in Syria – without paying a price, in the name of its real or imagined security, which sanctifies anything and everything – all this has suddenly run into a Russian “nyet.” Oh, how we needed that nyet, to restore Israel to its real dimensions.
    It arrived with excellent timing. Just when there’s a president in the White House who runs his Middle East policy at the instructions of his sponsor in Las Vegas and mentor on Balfour Street; when Israel feels itself in seventh heaven, with an American embassy in Jerusalem and no UNRWA, soon without the Palestinians – came the flashing red light from Moscow. Perhaps it will balance out, just a bit, the intoxication with power that has overtaken Israel in recent years, maybe it will start to wise up and recover.
    Russia, without meaning to, may yet turn out to be better for Israel than all the insane, corrupting support it receives from the current American administration, and from its predecessors, too.
    Russia has outlined for the world the way to treat Israel, using the only language Israel understands. Let those who truly care for Israel’s welfare, and for justice, learn how it’s done: Only by force. Only when Israel gets punished or is forced to pay a price does it do the right thing. The air force will think twice now and perhaps many times more before its next bombardment in Syria, whose importance, if indeed it has any, is unknown.
    Had such a Russian “nyet” hovered above Gaza’s skies, too, so much futile death and destruction would have been spared. Had an international force faced the Israeli occupation, it would have ended long ago. Instead, we have Donald Trump in Washington and the European Union’s pathetic denunciations of the evictions at Khan al-Ahmar.

  • Secret Israeli Report Reveals Armed Drone Killed Four Boys Playing on Gaza Beach in 2014
    Robert Mackey | August 11 2018, 10:09 a.m.
    https://theintercept.com/2018/08/11/israel-palestine-drone-strike-operation-protective-edge

    A confidential report by Israeli military police investigators seen by The Intercept explains how a tragic series of mistakes by air force, naval, and intelligence officers led to an airstrike in which four Palestinian boys playing on a beach in Gaza in 2014 were killed by missiles launched from an armed drone.

    Testimony from the officers involved in the attack, which has been concealed from the public until now, confirms for the first time that the children — four cousins ages 10 and 11 — were pursued and killed by drone operators who somehow mistook them, in broad daylight, for Hamas militants. (...)

    https://seenthis.net/messages/276558

    • 10 questions on secret Israeli report over 2014 killing of four children on Gaza beach
      Haaretz.Com
      https://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/.premium-10-questions-on-secret-report-over-killing-of-four-kids-on-gaza-be
      Mordechai Kremnitzer | Aug. 13, 2018 | 10:03 PM | 3

      The secret investigation report on the killing of four Palestinian children on the Gaza beach in 2014, part of which was published on the website The Intercept and whose essentials were reported in Monday’s Haaretz, raises a lot of questions. The confidential Israeli military police report reveals that the attack on July 16, 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, was carried out by a drone and stemmed from an intelligence failure.

      No one disputes that Ismail Bakr, 9, Ahad and Zakaria Bakr, both 10, and Mohammed Bakr, 11, were not involved in hostile actions against Israel. Therefore, there was no justification for firing at them twice with a drone and certainly not to kill them. The report also shows that those involved in the decisions and actions that led to the boys’ killing thought that the four were Hamas operatives and were not aware that they were children.

      Despite signs pointing to negligence, at the very least, the previous military advocate-general, Maj. Gen. (res.) Danny Efroni, closed the case without taking any legal or disciplinary steps against those involved. This decision stood even after Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, petitioned the attorney general, who has yet to respond.

      The central question is whether the error that was the basis for the Israel Defense Force’s actions was reasonable or not. Based on the answer to this question, one can determine whether the military advocate-general’s decision was justified or mistaken and negligent. We cannot pass judgment on Efroni’s decision without access to the investigation file and its full conclusions. However, questions arise that require a response.

      1. Was the investigation effective and thorough? For example, shouldn’t testimony have been taken from the journalists who saw the incident from the beach? An external perspective could have been critical in assessing the nature of the compound in which the children were seen, and the issue of the firing itself.

      2. The army acted on the assumption that the jetty on which the children were seen had previously served Hamas’ naval commandos. The day before the firing incident, the compound had been bombed by the IDF. Didn’t the bombing require a reevaluation about the nature of the place and the identity of anyone found there? After the structure was bombed, there were no secondary explosions heard, casting doubt on the initial conclusion that it had been used as a weapons depot. According to witnesses, after the bombing a new situation existed. There were no guards stationed at the entrance to the compound, it’s possible that the gate that surrounded it had been destroyed, and it was clear to Hamas that the site was an IDF target. All this indicates that a reevaluation would have pointed to a reasonable possibility that those the IDF had identified on the day the drone fired weren’t Hamas operatives but civilians (not necessarily children). If this possibility wasn’t raised, wasn’t that a negligent blunder? According to the testimonies, the question if the compound was open only to Hamas operatives or whether civilians also had access was raised with intelligence in real time. It isn’t clear what happened to that question. If this possibility was not discounted, it would have been correct to examine the responsibility of the soldiers involved in the killing.

      3. After the first shooting, the drone operators who fired asked for clarification as to the borders of the compound. But around half a minute afterward, before the question was answered, there was a second round of fire that killed three of the boys. Shouldn’t the operators have waited for an answer?

      4. All those involved declared that they could not identify the figures seen in the compound as children. The conclusion of the investigation was that it was impossible to discern that these were children, although the incident occurred in broad daylight. Two days earlier, however, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office had praised the ability of drone operators to identify potential targets under surveillance as children and thus avoid attacking them at the last moment. This is puzzling. If it’s not possible to distinguish the age of those being shot at, that is, it’s possible to shoot at children without being aware of it, were those involved in the shooting being overly reliant on the means at their disposal? Would it not have been appropriate to use additional means of observation? Was the possibility that the figures were civilians, or even children, not enough of a reason to refrain from firing? Under international law, in cases of doubt one is required to assume that the people are civilians. It should be noted that the soldiers did not claim that the figures had been identified as carrying weapons or as posing a significant threat to our forces.

      5. How is it possible to reconcile the testimony of the air force officer who coordinated the attacks, who said this is a highly unusual case in which the intelligence information was completely different from the facts on the ground, and the legal conclusion that there was no fault in the actions of those involved? If the intelligence presented was inaccurate, isn’t there a flaw in the structure of the division of responsibility between different parties such that it is impossible to hold anyone personally responsible? Do the accepted standards of skill, responsibility and caution not apply to Military Intelligence? Has chalking things up to an “intelligence mistake” become a way to whitewash prohibited and unjustified killings?

      6. Have all the operational and intelligence lessons, as well as the cognitive and moral ones, been learned so as to prevent similar incidents in the future?

      7. Doesn’t this incident offer support for the concerns raised regarding the use of drones, which can dull human sensitivity?

      8. Did the legal decision-makers use the reversal test – what would we say if it had been our children and the enemy had been the one to make the decisions and carry out those actions?

      9. Were the minimal humane steps taken, like an apology and compensation, steps that even an army that was not the most moral in the world would take?

      10. Does not the thesis that anyone suspected of being a Hamas operative is a legitimate target, even when he is not carrying a weapon and does not pose a risk to our forces, border on extrajudicial execution, which is prohibited by international law? Does it not create an unreasonable risk to the lives of civilians who must be protected, a risk that was actualized in the case of these four children?

  •  » MOH : “Army Kills Eight Palestinians, Injures At Least 512 In Gaza” IMEMC News - May 14, 2018 2:00 PM
    http://imemc.org/article/moh-army-kills-eight-palestinians-injures-at-least-512-in-gaza

    The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported that Israeli soldiers killed, on Monday morning until 1 in the afternoon, seven Palestinians, including two children, with live fire, and injured at least 512, in several parts of the coastal region.

    Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza said the soldiers injured 512 Palestinians, including at least 165 with live fire, near border areas in northern Gaza Strip, Gaza city, the Central District, Khan Younis and Rafah in the southern parts of the coastal region.

    He identified the slain Palestinians as:

    1 Anas Hamdan Qdeih , 12. East of Khan Younis)
    2 Mos’ab Yousef Abu Leila , 28. (East of Jabalia)
    3 Obeida Salem Farhan , 30.
    4 Mohammad Ashraf Abu Sitta , 26.
    5 Ezzeddin Mousa Sammak , 14.
    6 Ezzeddin Nahedh al-‘Oweiti , 23.
    7 Bilal Ahmad Abi Doqqa , 26.
    8 Jihad Mofeed al-Farra , 30. (live round in the chest, east of Khan Younis)

    In addition, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate has reported that six of the wounded Palestinians are journalists.

    It is worth mentioning that, at the time of this report, the Health Ministry said that two more Palestinians were also killed, but there names have not been made public yet.

    #marcheduretour #Palestine_assassinée

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    Updated : “Israeli Soldiers Kill 18, Injure 918, In Gaza”
    May 14, 2018 2:44 PM IMEMC New
    So far, sixteen of the slain Palestinians have been officially identified as :
    9 Fadi Hasan Abu Salma , 30.
    10 Ahmad Awadallah , 24.
    11 Mo’tasem Fawzi Abu Louli , 20.
    12 Mohammad Mahmoud Abdul’al , 50.
    13 Fadi Hasan Abu Silmi , 30.
    14 Ahmad Fawzi at-Tatar,
    15 Ahmad Adel Mousa Sha’er , 16.
    16 Mohammad Abdul-Rahman Miqdad . (live round in the back)

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    MOH : “Army Kills 41 Palestinians In Gaza”
    May 14, 2018 4:22 PM - IMEMC News
    http://imemc.org/article/moh-army-kills-37-palestinians-in-gaza

    Updated: The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed that Israeli soldiers killed, Monday, 41 Palestinians, including children and four officers of the Ministry of Interior and National Security, in the Gaza Strip, and injured more than 1700.

    The Ministry of Interior and National Security said among the slain Palestinians are four of its officers, identified as:

    Mousa Jaber Abu Hassanein, 36 – medic, Civil Defense Department.
    Mo’taz Bassam an-Nuno, 30 – Internal Security Department.
    Mos’ab Yousef Abu Leila, 30 – Military Intelligence Department.
    Jihad Mohammad Mousa, 30 – Internal Security Department.

    It said the slain officers were performing their duties and national services when the soldiers shot them dead.

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    MOH : “Army Kills 52 Palestinians In Gaza”
    May 14, 2018 4:22 PM IMEMC News
    http://imemc.org/article/moh-army-kills-37-palestinians-in-gaza

    Updated: The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed that Israeli soldiers killed, Monday, 52 Palestinians, including children and four officers of the Ministry of Interior and National Security, in the Gaza Strip, and injured more than 2410.

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 01
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM01.htm

    The Military College

    “Kli-mov!”

    As the call filtered through the thick cloth of my military greatcoat it seemed to be coming from an immense distance. Surely I had dreamt it! It was so warm under my coat; I drew it right up over my ears. My bed of fir branches was so soft and comfortable. Of course I’d dreamt it!

    “Captain Kli-mov!”

    The shout again disturbed the nocturnal silence. Then someone muttered something to the guard pacing up and down between the rows of tents.

    “... He’s ordered to report immediately to the staff headquarters of the front,” the voice said to the guard. Then once more came the shout: “Captain Klimov!”

    “Hell! Staff headquarters! That’s no joke!”

    I threw off my greatcoat, and at once felt the damp air from the nearby swamp, mingling with the omnipresent, distinctive smell of front-line soldiers. In-visible mosquitoes were buzzing. Taking care not to disturb my comrades, I crawled out of the tent backward.

    “What’s up?” I muttered, still half asleep. “Whom were you shouting for? Did you say ’Klimov’?”

    “Comrade Captain, here’s a courier for you from the staff,” the guard reported through the darkness.

    “Where is he? What’s it all about?”

    “Comrade Captain, here’s an order for you.” A sergeant in a leather helmet handed me a document. By the light of a torch I read: ’Captain G. P. Klimov is ordered to report to the Personnel Department of the Leningrad front staff headquarters on July 17, 1944, at eight hours.’ At the bottom of the paper was a hand-written note from my commanding officer: ’Order to report at once.’

    ’Hm, this might be interesting!’ I thought. “Have you anything further to communicate?” I asked the sergeant.

    “I’m ordered to take you to the staff at once,” he answered as he kicked down the starter lever of his motorcycle combination.

    In the sidecar I quickly forgot my weariness. We jolted over the potholes of the forest road, then passed through a half-destroyed, deserted village. Against the slowly lightening sky I discerned the dark chimneys, the roof joists splintered by artillery fire. The motorcycle wheels spun in the sand; then we made a precarious crossing of a grassgrown ditch, and I was relieved to feel the smooth surface of the Leningrad high road beneath us.

    A light early morning haze was hovering over the steaming earth, and now the little houses of the Leningrad suburbs began to appear amid the green of trees. In the distance rose the chimneys of the city’s factories and industrial works.

    What was behind this urgent summons to staff headquarters? Away back in the tent my comrades would be just waking up. When they saw my empty place they would feel pretty glad that it was not they who had been called out. But then, when they learned that I had been taken urgently to the staff, they would scratch their napes thoughtfully and exchange uncertain glances.

    At this time I was serving in a K. U. K. S. force, undergoing a course for advanced training of officer personnel for the Leningrad front. The K. U. K. S. was a very unusual type of military formation, a ’curiosity shop’, as the members of the course themselves called it. It consisted of comparatively young men with beards and whiskers of extraordinary shapes and sizes. These grim-looking individuals had a queer habit of wearing fur hats in the hottest of weather. In fact they were former officers and commanders of partisan detachments, who were being purged of their partisan ideas and spirit and were having army discipline drummed into them.

    Shortly after the liberation of Leningrad from the German blockade in January 1944 the city celebrated the triumphal entry of partisans of the Leningrad province. But within a month Narcomvnudel Special Brigades had to be ordered hurriedly to the city to disarm the overzealous men of the woods. The partisans were behaving like the conquerors of an enemy fortress and were using hand-grenades and automatic pistols against the militia who tried to reduce them to order. They regarded every militiaman as a hereditary enemy and openly boasted of how many they had bumped off.

    After the partisans had been disarmed they were packed quietly into cattle-trucks and sent to special Narcomvnudel camps. The newspapers had glorified the ’wild’ partisans as patriotic national heroes, but when they emerged from their forests into the light of day they at once came under the sharp eyes of the Narcomvnudel. Those partisans who were members of the regular detachments built up out of Red Army personnel, and the semi-regulars under commanders sent from the central command and obeying orders issued by the central radio and air force, were acceptable. But anyone who had fought in the forests and had had to resort to straightforward ’food requisitioning’ when their stocks of homemade vodka and fat bacon came to an end-God help them! The N. K. V. D. put them through a thorough purging before passing them on to the regular army, and their commanders were sent to receive special training in the K. U. K. S., such as the one for the Leningrad front.

    While in the K. U. K. S. I often heard the enigmatic questions: “Where are you from? Out of the Eighth?” "No, the Ninth," the answer would come reluctantly. After a time I found out that the ’Eighth’ and the ’Ninth’ were storming battalions on the Leningrad front. ’Storming battalion’ was the official name for punitive battalions in which officers served as rank-and-file soldiers and were sent as such into battle. If they came back alive they were restored to their previous officer’s rank. The losses of storming battalions regularly amounted to 90 and even 95 per cent of the strength in every engagement.

    As the Red Army went over to the offensive and began to liberate the occupied areas, all the former Soviet officers found in these areas were rounded up, and, like the partisans, were sent to special Narcomvnudel camps. Those whom the N. K. V. D. did not regard as worthy of dying on the gallows were given a preliminary purge, and then sent to the next department of the ’cleansing institution’, to a storming battalion. There they were afforded plenty of opportunity to purge their crime against the Fatherland with their blood.

    Let them fight! There would be time to deal with them properly after the war!

    Those who survived the ordeal by fire were usually sent straight from hospital-freedom from a storming battalion was gained only at the price of blood-to the K. U. K. S. for final retraining. A number of my comrades in the K. U. K. S. had paybooks which after the denotation ’soldier’ or ’infantryman’ gave the rank of ’regimental commissar’ or ’squadron commander’ in brackets.

    Yes, there was some very interesting human material in our K. U. K. S.! In reality it was a permanent reserve for the Leningrad front. The officers being retrained were not allowed to lounge about, they had to play at soldiers in deadly earnest. The former commandeer of a machine-gun company had to learn how to take to pieces and reassemble a machine-gun of the Maxim pattern, while the commander of a rifleman’s battalion was instructed in the workings of the unsurpassable ’1891 muster’ rifle.

    There was a large percentage of Ukrainians in the K. U. K. S. When the Red Army retreated from the Ukraine many soldiers who came from that area simply threw their arms into the nearest ditch and ’went home’. But when the Red Army began to drive the Germans out again these ’sons of the soil’ were hastily rounded up, weapons were thrust into their hands, and they were sent, just as they were, even without uniforms, into the front line. The banks of the Dnieper were strewn with corpses in civilian clothing.

    Ordinary soldiers were simply returned to active service, usually without any preliminary purge by the N. K. V. D. Personal accounts between State and individual could be settled later; at that moment there was more need of cannon fodder for the army than labor power for the concentration camps.

    Though the feeling never came into the open, there was constant tension between the Ukrainians and the Russians in our K. U. K. S. The Ukrainians usually kept their mouths shut, like younger brothers with bad consciences. The Russians only let fall a good-natured: “Ah, you Hohols!” (Russian term of contempt for Ukrainians - Tr.)

    “Ah, those Germans!” The Ukrainians sighed in reply. “They abused our trust, the blighters!”

    One day questionnaires were circulated through the battalions of the K. U. K. S.; the command was attempting to establish which of the members of the course were Crimean Tatars. I remember noting Lieutenant Chaifutinov’s anxious face as he sat filling in the questions inquiring into his family. We had heard rumors that by the Kremlin’s order the entire Tatar population of the Crimean Autonomous Republic was to be deported; several million people were to be transferred to Siberia, and their republic abolished, because of their ’disloyal attitude to the Soviet regime during the German occupation’. This order provoked conversations like the following among members of our course:

    “Do you know how the Kalmuks behaved at Stalingrad? The Germans attacked, but they prepared the way. They cut the throats of whole Soviet regiments in the night.”

    “I’d like to know why the Don and Kuban cossacks looked on and did nothing,” someone interjected.

    “What else were the cossacks to do?” remarked a third. “You won’t find a single real cossack in the cossack forces today.”

    These officers saw nothing surprising in the fact that the Kalmuks had exterminated their regiments, they were only amazed that the cossacks had stood by idly. For in the past the Don and Kuban cossack districts had been famous as centers of opposition to the Soviet regime. The artificially created famine disaster of 1983 had been forced through in those districts with more than the usual brutality. Down to 1936 the cossacks had been the only national group not called up into the regular army. And so it seemed incredible that the cossacks, who had been renowned throughout history for their love of freedom, had not risen against the Soviets.

    Among the participants in the course were many former political officers of the Red Army. A number of men in this category had lost their heads already in the Narcomvnudel special camps, and those few who survived both these camps and the storming battalions must have had an unusually tenacious grip on life. And hardly had they arrived at the K. U. K. S., when they began with true communist wolfishness to clutch at their former jobs as shepherds of the human herds. Despite all the sifting and purging they had experienced through the N. K. V. D. even in the K. U. K. S. they managed some-how to get into positions as commanders of sub-divisions of our course. The other officers took every opportunity to address them as ’Comrade Political Director’ or ’Comrade Commissar’, though these ranks had been abolished in the army for some time.

    Despite, or even because of the fact that the ’curiosity shop’ was such a haphazard collection of widely varied types, there was always much coming and going. Almost every day mysterious commissions visited us in quest of various kinds of ’commodities’. For instance, one commission came in search of partisans for Yugoslavia. The conditions were: 25, 000 rubles in cash, a month’s leave, then a parachute drop into that country. Our men needed no special training for such activities. There was a queue of candidates; the majority being former partisans who could not endure army discipline.

    Then came a general search for men with Polish surnames, as recruits for the Polish ’National’ Army. Then there was a call for candidates to the Red Army Intelligence School. Conditions: nobody accepted under the rank of major, and graduation from high school. Yet even these strict standards could be met over and over again.

    These ’trading activities’ were due to the great shortage of special cadres, which were particularly lacking in the army. And the K. U. K. S. contained a mass of fresh, still unsorted human material, which had not been available until recently, because it had been isolated in partisan bands or in the occupied areas.

    The majority of my K. U. K. S. comrades were men almost literally from the other world. One youngster had fled right across Europe from a German prisoner-of-war camp in France. When he reached the Russian area under German occupation he was captured a second time, put into a concentration camp, and then escaped again. Twice he had been set up against a wall and had fallen seriously wounded, getting away by worming his way out from under his comrades’ corpses in the mass grave. He had had two years as a partisan in the swamps and forests around Leningrad. And as a reward for his love of the fatherland he had been ’purged’ in a Narcomvnudel camp, had experienced bloodbaths in a storming battalion, and at last had found the quiet haven of the K. U. K. S.

    Practically every member of the course had had a similar past. They were the few survivors. Naturally, they were not very fond of telling their life-stories. In such company I was a real greenhorn, as innocent as a newborn babe. I had been sent to the K. U. K. S. after serving in the 96th Special Regiment of Reserve Officers. I had been wounded in the fight for Novgorod, and had spent three months in hospital.

    It was during my stay in hospital, which was the former Leningrad Palace of Engineers, that the entire city was staggered by unexpected news. By order of the Leningrad City Soviet all the important, historical streets and squares were to have their former, pre-revolutionary names restored to them. Thus the Prospect of October 25th was renamed once more the Nevsky Prospect; the Field of Mars was relieved of its tongue-twisting revolutionary name and became again the Field of Mars. The changes left us gaping. If things moved at this rate even the collective farms would be abolished...

    The staff of the Leningrad front had its headquarters in the horseshoe-shaped former General Staff building, opposite the Winter Palace. The way to the Personnel Department lay through the famous and historic Arches of the General Staff. It was through these Arches that the revolutionary sailors and red guards of Petrograd had stormed the Winter Palace in 1917.

    On the broad windowsills of the reception room I found several officers sitting, dangling their legs.

    “Do you want this place too. Captain?” one of them, asked me. When I nodded he asked me the unexpected question: “Can you speak any foreign language?”

    “Why, what’s going on here?” I asked in turn.

    “At the moment it’s an examination in foreign languages,” a lieutenant explained. “It’s something to do with selection for some special school, or possibly a college,” another added. “The first requisite is knowledge of some foreign language, and graduation in secondary education. Obviously it’s something important. It’s even said to involve return to Moscow...” he said in a nostalgic tone, and clicked his tongue hopelessly.

    An officer, very red and sweating, shot through the door. “Oh, hell!... What’s the German for ’wall’? I knew ’window’, I knew ’table’, but I simply couldn’t remember ’wall’. Damn it all! Listen, boys! Mug up all the names of things you find in a room. He points with his finger and asks their names.”

    Of the officers in that reception room, two knew Finnish, one Rumanian, and the others had school knowledge of German and English. I knew well enough what ’school knowledge’ meant. But the less chance a man has, the greater becomes his desire to reach the mysterious spot where this linguistic knowledge is required. Everything in any way associated with the thought of ’abroad’ automatically stimulated one’s curiosity and imagination.

    I couldn’t help smirking. So here we wouldn’t be concerned with the five parts of the breech of an 1891 rifle! I stretched myself comfortably on a distant bench and attempted to continue my rudely interrupted sleep. When my name was called I went in, clicked my heels with all the precision laid down by Hitler’s army regulations and reported in German in such a thunderous voice that the major sitting at the desk started back in alarm. He stared at me in astonishment; possibly he was wondering whether he should ask me the German for ’table’ or ’window’. Then he asked me a question in Russian. I answered in German. He spoke again in Russian, I once more answered in German. At last he had to laugh. As he invited me to sit down he asked:

    “Where have you picked it up, Captain?”

    I took out the documents relating to my civilian life before call-up - it was a miracle that I still had them safely - and laid them on the table.

    “Ah, this is wonderful!” he remarked. “I really took you for a German at first. I’ll present you to the colonel at once.”

    He showed me into the next room and introduced me to the head of the Personnel Department. “Comrade Colonel,” he said, “I think we’ve got a genuine candidate this time! You needn’t worry about his language; he really put the wind up me. I thought he must be a diversionist.” He laid my papers on the desk and withdrew.

    The colonel took his advice, and did not bother about language tests. He started at once on the moral aspect. The moral and political reliability of an officer is the most important factor, and he is subjected to strict tests in this respect.

    “You see, Captain Klimov,” the colonel began, “we’re thinking of sending you to a responsible and privileged higher school of the Red Army.” He spoke in tones of great solemnity. “You will understand me better if I describe the position to you. Moscow demands a fixed quota of candidates from us every month. We send them to Moscow, and there all those who fail to pass are sent back to us. We send all failures to a punitive company,” he remarked casually, giving me a meaning look. “Every day Moscow bombards us with the demand: ’send us men’. But we haven’t any.

    That’s one aspect of the problem. Now for the second. You’re in the K. U. K. S., and there are a lot of men with doubtful pasts in the K. U. K. S. I don’t ask you your record. But one thing is sure: you’ve got to be spotlessly clean! Otherwise you’ll find yourself in a different place from the one we propose to send you to. And we’ve got to send you! Get that?”

    I liked the colonel’s unusual frankness. I assured him that I was quite immaculate.

    “I don’t care a damn whether you’re immaculate or not,” he answered. “You’ve got some extraordinary fellows in your K. U. K. S. Only yesterday one of your former colonels swore to me that he was a lieutenant of infantry. We wanted to send him to the intelligence corps school, but he dug his feet in like a mule and said he couldn’t write.”

    I was not in the least surprised. Men who had held responsible posts and had passed through the usual preliminaries to K. U. K. S. lost all desire for rank and responsibility and had only one wish-a quiet life.

    “You may try to think up something on those lines,” the colonel went on. “So I repeat, this is a serious matter. If we consider it necessary to send you we shall send you! And no monkey tricks or we’ll report you as refusing to perform military service. You know what that means! Field court-martial!” he explained weightily. He knew well enough that members of K. U. K. S. courses and former storming battalion men were not to be intimidated with threats of punitive companies. Only a court-martial, with certain death to follow, made any impression on such cases.

    He gave me a critical glance and picked up the telephone to get contact with the staff of my K. U. K. S.

    “We’re sending your Klimov away. Get his documents ready. He must leave for Moscow by the twelve noon train,” he told the chief of staff. “And one other thing: why do you let your men go around looking like tramps? Fit him out at once. He mustn’t bring shame on our front when he arrives in Moscow.”

    A few minutes later, in an adjoining room, I was handed a sealed and stamped packet which contained my personal documents and traveling passes for Moscow.

    Back in the reception room, an excited crowd of candidates surrounded me. “Well, how did it go? Sunk? Were the questions lousy?”

    I shrugged my shoulders and showed my order for Moscow. “So it really is Moscow!” they exclaimed. “Well, good luck!” and they shook my hands.

    Out of the cool twilight of the archways, I stepped into the sunlit Winter Palace Square. I simply couldn’t believe that I wasn’t dreaming! In three hours I would be on the train to Moscow! Such luck, such incredible luck, made me feel queer. I knew of lots of officers, men whose homes were in Leningrad, who had served on the Leningrad front for three years without a single leave in the city. Even in the K. U. K. S. officers who came from Leningrad were not allowed local leave. When we went to the town-baths or on sightseeing tours we were marched in formation. As for Muscovites, even such a short and official visit to their home city was an unrealizable dream. Was it really possible that I was going home?

    I looked about me. Yes, this was Leningrad, but in my pocket was a voucher opening my way to Moscow. Standing in the middle of the empty Winter Palace Square, I took it out and read it. I deliberately refused to give way to the patrols in green caps who were to be seen everywhere on the sidewalks and at the street-crossings. Leningrad was in the frontier zone, and the patrols of the Narcomvnudel frontier regiments were particularly strong in the city. The greencaps were the bitterest enemies of all men in uniform. It was not so long since I myself had spent two days and nights in a cold cell at their headquarters, without food and without cigarettes, until an officer armed with a machine-pistol had come from K. U. K. S. to take me back. My crime had been that I had left the baths and gone out into the street. While our command was having a steam bath I had a quick wash and slipped out into the fresh spring air. Right outside the door I had been picked up as a deserter by the greencaps. But today I could cock a snook at them. Today I was going to Moscow.

    In the K. U. K. S. staff headquarters a princely reception was awaiting me. In half an hour I was completely refitted from head to foot; new cap, new uniform, even a new pack, filled with cans and cigarettes. Punctually at midday I presented my traveling voucher at the October railway station ticket office.

    “Fifty-six rubles,” the booking clerk said. I felt hurriedly in my pockets. Hell, of course I needed money! The one thing I lacked. During my soldiering I had quite forgotten what it was. My pay was sent home automatically. A hopeless situation? Not at all! Under socialism everything is very simple, life is absurdly easy. I darted out into the station square, tore open my pack, and whistled. Hardly had I got the pack open when customers came running up. Five minutes later lighter by a few cans of food, but with my pockets full of rubles, I was back at the ticket office. And ten minutes later the train was carrying me to Moscow.

    Through the carriage window I gazed at the straw-thatched roofs of villages, at poverty-stricken fields and glittering lakes, bombed-out stations. And yet I felt very light-hearted. Despite all the German resistance, our army was advancing. The scales of history were sinking slowly but surely in our favor.

    It was not much more than a month since the K. U. K. S. had buzzed like an excited swarm of bees: the Allies had landed at last on the Normandy coast. For several days we had lived in the fear that the landing troops might be thrown back into the sea, or that it was only another diplomatic, not a military, maneuver. I had no connection with the men in the Kremlin and had no idea what they thought about it. But we in the Red Army had read all the Soviet papers with their continual appeals for help, and even their frequent charges that the Allies were pursuing a policy of deliberate inactivity.

    We who were serving in the immediate vicinity of the front knew only too well what sacrifices were called for in an offensive, what sacrifices lay behind the laconic report of the Information Bureau: ’On the Narva front, no change.’ We knew that whole divisions were being slaughtered to the last man in fruitless attempts to break through the Narva front. The Estonian detachments fighting with the German Army held those positions on the frontier of their native land, and they held out to their last breath; they were even more obdurate than the Germans. But the Information Bureau reported: ’No change’. The only important things were visible results, not human lives. And that is the case wherever war is waged.

    But now we felt grateful to our Allies, not only for their mountains of canned foods, soldiers’ greatcoats, and even buttons, but for the blood they were shedding in the common cause. An iron grip had closed round Germany’s throat. Even though life was hard, though hungry women and children held out their hands, begging, at every railway station, despite everything we were going forward to victory. We believed in victory, and even more strongly in something different that would come after the victory.

    The story goes that when he heard the Allies had landed in France Stalin stamped his foot with rage. I don’t know whether the story is true, but I know we soldiers were filled with joy. The politicians share out Europe, we soldiers shared out our bread and our blood.

    So now I was returning to Moscow. My thoughts wandered back to the day I had left it. It seemed ages and ages ago. After a fine day in the country, Genia and I were returning in the cool autumn evening by the suburban electric train to Moscow. I took the city military command’s order that I was to re-register out of my pocket and re-marked: “I’ll go along and get them to stamp my exemption to-morrow morning, and then I’ll come along to you. And we’ll see about it....”

    “But supposing they keep you there!” Her voice quivered with agitation, her black eyes looked at me anxiously. I was terribly grateful for those words and that look.

    “Don’t talk rubbish! It isn’t the first time!” I answered.

    Next morning I went in my padded military jacket, in my blue trousers thrust into my military boots, and my extraordinary headgear, to report to the Military Commissariat. By wartime standards I was dressed like a gentleman. It was common form to be dressed like that in wartime Moscow, and it saved you a lot of hostile scowls. In my pocket I had Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four, which I read in the Underground to practice my English.

    After handing in my papers at the Second Department of the Military Commissariat I slipped into a corner and took out my book to pass the time. The room was crowded with an extraordinary collection of men: chalk-white faces, unshaven cheeks, and shabby clothes much too light for the time of year. Two militiamen were leaning lazily against the door. I read while I waited for my exemption paper to be handed back, stamped: ’re-registered’.

    After some time the head of the department came out with a list. He read out a number of names, including mine. I had no idea what the list was for. The moment he left the room the militiamen gave the order: “Fall in the street”.

    We were all, including myself, with my index finger still between two pages of my book, driven out into the yard. What joke was this? They couldn’t do this to me! I’d got exemption! I tried to turn off to the left, and found myself looking into the muzzle of a revolver. To the right: another revolver.

    “No protests!” the militiamen shouted. “So long as you’re in our charge you’re prisoners. When we’ve handed you over at the assembly point you’ll be free again....”

    Thus I marched through Moscow, guarded by militiamen with revolvers at the ready.

    A mistake, you think? Nothing of the sort. There was a terrible shortage of reserves for the front. Yet the needs of the rear were just as great. The rear issued exemptions from military service. But the front carried off the men, together with their exemptions. Behind it all was the ’Plan’.

    According to the Plan the Military Commissariat had to send fifty men to the assembly point that day. What else could they do but rake them in wherever they could? So they hauled the short-term prisoners out of the prisons-most of them were in for turning up late or slacking at work-took them under escort to the Military Commissariat and then to the assembly point. And if they were still short of men for the Plan, they threw in a few ’exempted’ men.

    And that was how an exempted scientific worker in the Molotov Energetics Institute, which had been awarded the Order of Lenin, became a soldier. Neither Lenin nor Molotov made any difference. This was more exciting than Conan Doyle. The one pity was that I had no chance to say goodbye to Genia.

    I soon learned to march as bravely as the rest. We were dispatched to the front, and I bawled out the Russian folk-song at the top of my voice:

    “Nightingale, nightingale, little bird, why don’t you sing me a cheerful song....”

    All the songs of the pre-war period, about the ’Leader’, the ’proletariat’, and similar eyewash, had been swept out of the army as though by the mighty incantation of a magician. Instead, the genuine Russian marching songs conquered the soldiers’ hearts. Even quite unmusical fellows bawled them out, simply because they were now again allowed to sing about neighing steeds, old mothers, and young beauties. The magician in the Kremlin realized that such things were closer to the soldiers’ hearts than Karl Marx’s beard.

    Now I was returning to Moscow. Only yesterday I had not dared even to dream of such a thing. I recalled when I had last thought of Moscow. One sunny spring day, as I wandered through a lonely glade in the dense forest of the Karelian Peninsula, I had come upon a deep shell crater overgrown with young green. At the bottom, greenish bog-water shimmered like transparent glass. Forest water, as clear as crystal, which we often scooped up in our helmets, to drink. But there, head in the water, his arms flung out in a last spasm, lay the body of an enemy soldier.

    As I descended, digging my heels into the soil, clumps of earth rolled down into the pool. Little ripples wrinkled the surface and set the dead man’s hair in gentle movement with their mournful caresses. Oppressed by this close union of life and death, I squatted down. But at last my curiosity overcame my respect for death. I carefully opened the man’s breast pocket and took out a packet of papers.

    The usual military documents, with the eagle astride the swastika, letters from home, and the photo of an attractive, fair-haired girl in summer dress. The photo was carefully wrapped in paper. On its back was written: ’To my beloved from his beloved’, the date, and the name of a town far away in the south of the Reich. I looked at the dead man’s hair in the green water, then again at the face of the girl on the bank of the Rhine. Where she was the orchards were now in full bloom and the vines were showing green on the slopes. One warm spring night this girl had gently caressed the hair of her beloved; now it was being caressed by the cold bog-water of a forest somewhere in Russia.

    I took out my notebook and, sitting on the edge of the crater, wrote a melancholy note to Genia: ’Perhaps tomorrow I too will be lying somewhere with my face turned upward, and nobody will tenderly caress me, not even the green water of a bomb crater.’ Women like a touch of the romantic. And I, too, am not exactly made of iron.

    At that time, when I had no hope of seeing Genia again for a long time, I had written simply, as all soldiers write to their sweet-hearts. Letters are almost the soldier’s only joy and comfort.

    Stepping out of the Komsomolsk railway station in Moscow, I plunged into the bustle of the Underground, whistling a front-line song as I went. I had given a whole eternity to the State. It could not be regarded as a great crime that I now wished to devote a few minutes to myself. Besides, Genia would never have forgiven me if I had preferred any military unit whatever to her.

    I found her door locked, pushed a little note through the crack, threw my pack over my shoulder again, and gave myself the order: ’Left turn, quick march!’ Having dealt with my personal affairs, I returned to affairs of State.

    Half an hour later I arrived at my service destination. As I walked down a long corridor I was amazed. True, there were many men in uniform scurrying around like ants disturbed from their ant-hill, but the place reminded me more of a university during finals than an army unit.

    Some men put their books down open on windowsills to enter into an excited argument, others hurriedly repeated their lessons, wrote notes, and hurriedly took them off somewhere. Nobody taking any notice of distinctions of rank, or shoulder-tabs, nobody was thinking of saluting. They all had other cares. Most of them wore expressions very different from those of army officers, whose faces, as well as their souls, are imprinted with the stamp of barrack drill.

    Close by me two officers were conversing in some incomprehensible language. I noted shoulder-tabs of all kinds, from air force to infantry. And even the black coats of the navy. But most astonishing of all was the large number of women and girls in uniform. Hitherto only a few women had been accepted for propaganda purposes in certain military schools. Here was a very different situation.

    I felt a little awkward, and decided to try to get my bearings. At one of the windows I noticed a first lieutenant in a sand-colored greatcoat, and riding breeches of similar material. He must be from Leningrad! I was wearing exactly the same sort of uniform, and I had never come across it outside the Leningrad sector.

    When the Americans were preparing for the landing in North Africa they ordered an enormous number of cool, silky, sand-coloured uniforms for their soldiers. Later, they found they had such a superfluity of this ’African’ clothing that in their friendship for their Russian allies they transferred it to us. So our resourceful supreme command presented this tropical attire to the very coldest, namely the Leningrad, sector of the front. And thenceforth we had no difficulty in picking out our colleagues from that front on any occasion.

    “Tell me, lieutenant,” I addressed the officer in the sand-colored uniform. “Are you from Leningrad too?”

    Yes, the Karelian sector," he answered very readily. Apparently in this hubbub he felt as lost as I did, and was glad to meet a friendly colleague.

    “Well, how are things?”

    “So far, not bad. I think I’ve fallen on my feet,” he answered. But despite the confident answer there was a hint of disillusionment in his tone.

    “But what is this show: a boarding house for respectable girls?” I asked him. “I’ve only just arrived, and I don’t get it at all.”

    “The devil himself wouldn’t get it! For instance, I’ve been assigned to Hungary. The devil can take the whole of Hungary!” The disillusionment in his voice was now more pronounced. I grew more and more puzzled. “Now if I could get into the English Department,” he sighed. “But that’s hopeless, unless you’ve got connections. You have to be a general’s son at the least. See them swarming around? And every one of them with a letter of recommendation in his pocket!”

    He pointed to a door. On it was a notice: ’Head of the Training Department,’ and before it was crowded a group of officers in elegant boots of the finest leather and in extra-smart uniforms. They certainly didn’t look like front-line officers.

    “Then what’s the best way of tackling the situation?” I asked. “What languages do you know?”

    “A little German, a little English, a certain amount of Russian...” "Quit fooling and tell them you know only English. The English Department is the best of the lot," the future Hungarian advised me.

    From various conversations I began to realize that this mysterious educational institution was concerned with training personnel for abroad. None of the novices appeared to know its name. But after I had had a talk with a flying officer, a student at the air force college, who-apparently through influential connections-was attempting to get transferred from the third course of the college to the first course of this mysterious school, I felt convinced that the place must offer considerable advantages.

    During the next few days I filled in a sheaf of questionnaires which attempted to establish all my past: whether I had any relations or acquaintances abroad; whether I had any relations ’in areas temporarily occupied by the Hitlerite land-robbers’; whether I had ever belonged to or had any sympathies with groups hostile to the Party or was planning to have such sympathies; whether I had ever had any doubts of the correctness of the Party line. The questions which showed interest in the negative aspects of my life far exceeded those that were concerned with my positive qualities. I had already brought all these questionnaires with me in a sealed envelope from Leningrad; now I had to fill them in all over again.

    I remember a scandal that occurred over a questionnaire, which one of my colleagues of student days had filled in for the Special Department of his Institute. He gave his year of birth correctly as 1918. The next question, ’What were you doing when the revolution broke out in 1917?’ he answered with the precise statement: ’I was in the underground movement.’ Because of this answer he was summoned again and again to the Narcomvnudel for interrogation.

    I spent several days being examined in German and English. Those who failed in the language tests were excluded from further tests and were returned to their previous units. However, the favorites of patronage were an exception: they were all assigned to the first course, and were not subjected to such strict requirements. All others were thoroughly sifted out; if they had sound knowledge they were assigned to one of the higher courses, otherwise they were returned to their units.

    After the questionnaires and the language tests came examinations in Marxism-Leninism. In my twenty-six years of life I had passed all the half dozen normal and three State examinations in this branch of knowledge. These were followed by quite insignificant tests in philosophy and dialectical materialism, in general and military history, the Russian language, and economic geography.

    All this procedure left me pretty indifferent. There was no knowing when the war would end, but one thing was certain: it had already passed its critical phase and was coming to its close. My one idea was to get out of uniform as soon as possible after it was over. Against that, this educational establishment might prolong my time of service in the army, if not extend it into eternity. For the majority of the youth, this school was a means of learning a profession, which would enable them to earn their living after the war. I was less interested in that aspect. But the army was the army; here orders were supreme, and one could only obey them.

    It was a fierily hot summer. Entire caravans of barges laden with timber were being hauled along the River Moskva. All through the war Moscow had been heated exclusively with wood, even the locomotives were burning wood instead of coal. The city was uncommonly still and peaceful. The only variety was provided by the patrols of the town command, which checked your papers at every step. They treated me with particular distrust: I had a front-line officer’s tabs on my shoulders, but I sauntered about like an idler.

    All my private plans had collapsed like a house of cards on my being drafted into the army. When I returned to Moscow I had unconsciously assumed that now life would return to its old courses. But life doesn’t stand still, and I, too, had changed, after my experiences of front-line life. And now, during my aimless wanderings around the battlemented walls of the Kremlin, I felt only a vague yearning and an empty void. Just one thing seemed to be clear: the war must be brought to an end. For so long as this war lasted there would be room neither for private life nor for personal interests.

    After I had passed the questionnaires and the tests I was summoned to the head of the Educational Department, Colonel Gorokhov. Behind a large desk sat a little man with the blue tabs of a cavalry officer and a cranium that was as bald as a billiard ball. In his sly, foxy face twinkled colorless, watery eyes.

    “Sit down, Comrade Captain,” he said courteously, pointing to a chair on my side of his desk.

    This was a very different reception from normal army discipline. It was much more like the atmosphere of university lecture hall and absentminded professors. The colonel ran his thin fingers through the numerous documents devoted to my moral and political standing, the attestations of my participation in battles, my questionnaires and test reports.

    “So you’re an engineer! Well, well!” he observed in a friendly tone. “Speaking quite generally, we don’t give a warm welcome to engineers. We have a few here already. Too self-opinionated and not sufficiently disciplined. What is your view of your future career?”

    “As the interests of the State require,” I answered prudently, but without the least hesitation. I wasn’t to be caught by such questions.

    “Do you know what sort of educational establishment this is?” he asked.

    When I answered vaguely he began to tell me slowly, with many pauses: “It is the Military-Diplomatic College of the General Staff of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army. You must be aware of the fact that, according to the law, men with military high school training, in other words men who have graduated from the military colleges, are obliged to give life-service in the army. The State spends an enormous amount on your education, and so it cannot allow the men to do, as they like afterwards. The State has poured out quite a considerable sum on you personally.” He glanced at my diploma testifying that I was a graduate of the Industrial Institute.

    “I should feel very sorry to sacrifice more time and money on you” he continued with the air of an economical housewife. “And so I must make it perfectly clear that if you are accepted in the college you must throw overboard all your civilian stuff and forget all about demobilization. There are some that think that when the war’s over they can slip away out of sight. Forget it! You are of interest to us in so far as, judging from your documents and tests, you have a solid groundwork of knowledge, such as we need. You will give us less trouble to train than others will. For that reason, and solely for that reason, we are interested in your case.”

    After this introduction he proceeded to details. “What made you take up foreign languages after you had graduated from the Industrial Institute?”

    “I considered a knowledge of foreign languages was essential for an engineer.”

    “Good! But what the devil made you”-he took another glance at my papers-"graduate from the First Moscow Institute for Foreign Languages, and the Pedagogical Department at that? Didn’t you like being an engineer?"

    The colonel was well posted in all the subtleties of the changes of interests and professions which so frequently occur in present-day Soviet society. Owing to the comparative ease with which one could get higher technical education in pre-war days, the students at the technical high schools included quite a large percentage who were completely unsuitable. As soon as they started practical work they found it unsatisfactory both morally and economically, so they packed their diplomas away and went off to seek a more lucrative or less responsible profession.

    For engineers were frequently imprisoned for the most trivial of technical mistakes, and they received relatively low pay. Also, many women with high school education preferred to get married and stay at home rather than follow their profession, provided their husband’s salary was large enough. If not, they, too, went in search of a new profession. And so people traveled with their diplomas from one end of the country to the other. The State took steps to stop this: it tied the young specialist down to a definite works or factory for five years, and if he broke his contract arbitrarily he was imprisoned.

    “How did you come to know foreign languages at all?” the colonel continued. “You must have had a governess, surely?”

    This was as good as a Narcomvnudel interrogation! In my childhood, to have a governess signified that you belonged to the people of the ’old days’. But now the word ’governess’ no longer had this compromising connotation: in the Moscow parks swarms of children from the Kremlin’s upper circles were to be seen accompanied by governess who talked to them in French or English. After they had overthrown and libeled their predecessors the new ’upper ten’ had quickly adopted their habits.

    “I learned languages parallel with my other subjects. I took my finals in languages and the State examination as an internal student at the Moscow Institute at the one time,” I answered.

    “Aha! So you studied at two institutes simultaneously. You must be very studious!” the colonel deduced, and stroked his baldhead thoughtfully, as though some new idea had occurred to him.

    I simply don’t know what made me decide to study foreign languages. Every student has some bee in his bonnet. I happened to discover that in the Moscow city library there was a mass of unsorted and uncatalogued works in foreign languages. There was nobody to put them in order and submit them to the censorship. Yet until they had been censored they could not be used. I quite quickly obtained permission to work on these materials, and a completely new world, closed to all others, was opened to me.

    My linguistic knowledge was far from brilliant, but in Soviet conditions even restricted knowledge of foreign languages was exceptional. A Soviet citizen has such a small chance of making practical use of such knowledge that it doesn’t occur to anybody to waste time studying languages. ’It might easily bring you to the notice of the Narcomvnudel’, was the way people reasoned.

    “Well, now to business.” The colonel tapped his pencil on my papers. “We can pack whole street-cars with German linguists. And we’ve got more than we need of English. But as I see you’re studious and you’re not a child, I’ll make you a much better proposal.” He paused significantly, carefully watching my reaction. “I’ll assign you to an exceptionally important department. In addition I guarantee that after you’ve passed out you’ll work in San Francisco or Washington. What do you say to that?”

    I didn’t bat an eyelid. What was he after? Neither English nor German.... Work in Washington.... I know: as a liftboy in some embassy! I had heard rumors of such things happening.

    “I’ll assign you to the Eastern Faculty,” he added in a condescending tone. I went hot and cold. “The Japanese Department,” he said in a tone of finality. “And you’ll find more use for your English there than anywhere else.”

    I shivered a little across the shoulders, and felt thoroughly uncomfortable. “Comrade Colonel, isn’t there something just a little less complicated?” I said feebly. “I’ve only just recovered from a head wound....”

    “This isn’t a shop. The choice is limited.” His face changed completely, it went cold and hard. He was obviously regretting the time he had wasted on me. “Two alternatives: either the Japanese Department or we send you back to your unit. That’s settled. I give you two hours to think it over.”

    The colonel in Leningrad had threatened me with a court-martial if I was sent back. And here I was faced with lifelong forced labor on the Japanese language. ’It strikes me, my dear Klimov, you’re in a jam!’ I thought.

    When I left the room I was surrounded by a lively group of my new acquaintances, all anxious to know the result of so protracted an interview.

    “Well, how did it go? Where are you assigned to: the Western Department?” they clamored.

    “The geisha girls!” I answered dejectedly.

    For a moment they stared at me in silence, then there was a roar of laughter. They thought it a good joke; but I didn’t see it.

    “Do you know how many signs they have got to their alphabet?” one man asked sympathetically. “Sixty-four thousand. An educated Jap knows about half of them.”

    “There have been three cases of suicide here during the last year,” another told me cheerfully. “And all three were in the Japanese Department.”

    One of them took my arm. “Come and I’ll show you the Japanese,” he said.

    When he opened the door of the department I saw a disheveled creature sitting with his legs tucked under him on a bed; he was wearing pants and horned spectacles. He took no notice of us whatever, but went on with his occupation, muttering some exorcism and simultaneously describing mysterious figures in the air with his finger. I saw several other similar individuals in the room. They were all in various stages of Buddhistic trance; their naked skin showed through their undergarments.

    “These are your future colleagues,” my companion informed me cheerfully. “Here is the source of all wisdom. And every one of them is an epileptic, so beware!”

    A swarthy-skinned, lean and lanky lieutenant-the only man in the room still wearing epaulettes-was sitting at a desk, describing artistic figures on paper. He had begun at the bottom right-hand corner and was continuing his course upward, from right to left. Outside the window was the hot Moscow summer; hopeful youngsters were swarming in the corridors, but these poor wretches were stuck here with the droning flies on the wall and were harassing them-selves stupid in their endeavor to split the granite of eastern wisdom.

    During the next few days I wandered about the college like a deceived lover. I had been promised a fabulous beauty, but behind the veil I had seen a toad. I made the firm decision to drop Japanese at the first opportunity. But as I saw no possibility of doing so at the moment I began to settle down in the college.

    It had only recently returned from evacuation, and had been given temporary accommodation in several four-storied buildings standing on Tagan Square. The various faculties were scattered all over the environs of Moscow. Our building was in a quiet side-street high above the granite embankment of the River Moskva. The windows looking out over the river afforded a view of the Stone Bridge and the Kremlin walls on the farther side.

    Of an evening we frequently enjoyed the cheerful and fascinating sight of the victory salutes thundering over the city. The picture of the city lit up by the fire was one of exceptional beauty. The batteries were grouped round the Kremlin in concentric rings. It was said that Stalin often went up one of the Kremlin belfries to enjoy the sight. Our Military-Diplomatic College had been founded in the war years, when changed international relations necessitated the extension of military-diplomatic ties with countries abroad. By the repeated changes in the college curriculum it was possible to trace the course of Soviet foreign policy for several years ahead.

    The college was based on the pattern of the High School for Diplomacy, the Military Intelligence High School, the Institute for Eastern Culture, and several other higher military and civilian educational institutions. To give an idea of the difficulties attending the selection of candidates, one need merely mention that the High School for Diplomacy only accepted men with completed secondary education and who in addition had at least five years’ Party membership.

    The Eastern Faculty of the college covered not only Japanese and Chinese, but Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Indian, and Afghan Departments. In addition to English, German, and French, the Western Faculty had Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Dutch, Italian, and other departments. There was also a Naval Faculty, which had departments for all the various naval powers. The Air Force Faculty had been temporarily transformed into a Faculty for Parachute Groups, with special emphasis on countries with which Soviet forces might shortly be making contact. As the college itself had been founded only recently, the students attending the first course were numbered in thousands, those in the second course in hundreds, and the third course students numbered only a few dozen. The last, the fourth course, was only in process of organization.

    In the case of the Eastern Faculty there was an additional fifth course. For entry to the higher courses the requirements were extremely high, while the number of candidates was very small, and so suitable men had to be sought all over the Soviet Union. Foreigners were not allowed to attend the college, but on the other hand Russian citizens with knowledge of foreign languages were a rarity. Approximately half of the students in the first course were the children of generals or high officials in the Party or State service; it was practically impossible for a man of ’ordinary’ origin to get accepted in that course. However, ’Heroes of the Soviet Union’, young officers who had particularly distinguished themselves in the war, and celebrities generally were the exception to this rule.

    All the college knew the young Tadjik girl named Mamlakat. During the ’thirties her picture had been distributed all over the Soviet Union. In distant Tadjikistan the little Mamlakat had achieved a record in cotton picking. About that time a conference of Stakhanovite workers on collective farms was being held in Moscow, and so Mamlakat was brought to the city and decorated with the Order of Lenin at the conference. Stalin personally gave her a gold wristwatch and was photographed in a fatherly pose with her.

    Since then years had passed. Mamlakat had long since stopped picking cotton, but she still sunned herself in her fame and the favor of her leader. There were smirks as the college students told the details of her career. On returning to the luxurious apartment of the Hotel Moskva after the conference, she had been so excited over her fame and Stalin’s gift that she jumped into her bath without stopping to take off the watch. The watch stopped, and she put the whole hotel in turmoil with her wild wailing.

    Now she was twenty years old. Since that time she had graced four different institutes in succession with her presence, attacking each in Stakhanovite tempo, and now she had entered the haven of our college. She found it necessary to change her subjects and place of study after each examination. But if Lenin Orders and Stalin watches cannot affect cerebral activity, at least they open many doors to their possessors. It was rumored that Mamlakat was again on the point of changing the scene of her operations. The college students included a number of such parasites living on past glories.

    Somewhere on the outskirts of Moscow a second educational institution existed which had tasks similar to those of our college, but where the students were all foreigners, being trained on the recommendation and instigation of the officially dissolved, but in fact highly active, Cornintern. They formed a reservoir for Soviet foreign agents. They had no diplomatic passes at their disposition, but their labors were more important and in any case far more active than those of the official diplomats.

    In addition, many well-known foreign communists, such as Rakosi, Dimitrov, and Anna Pauker, took training courses at the Sun Yat Sen University or at the Lenin Political Academy. You don’t know everything! Our college wasn’t talked about much, for that matter, though its objects were quite legal, namely, the training of personnel for Soviet military missions abroad. An interesting and quite safe job. If you did happen to come to grief, you were only sent back home. What happened when you got home was another matter.

    Strange to say, Jews were rigorously excluded from our college. Here for the first time I found official confirmation of certain rumors, which had been persistently circulating in the country. On the nationalities question the Kremlin had taken a largely unexpected course. Until recently the Jews had played, and they still do play, an important part in Soviet diplomacy and the foreign service generally. Yet now the doors of a diplomatic college were closed to them. Perhaps Stalin could not forgive the fact that in the Moscow trials of 1935-38 a large number of the accused was Jews.

    I could not help recalling certain incidents that had occurred comparatively recently. During the retreat of 1941, Jews were not evacuated from the abandoned areas, but were left quite deliberately to be exterminated by the Germans. The people of Moscow well remember the autumn days of 1941. Hardly any of the Moscow Jews, apart from the Party and government officials, obtained per-mission to leave the city. When the Germans captured the approaches to Moscow on October 16, thousands of people sought salvation in panicky flight. The majority was Jews, for the ordinary Muscovites had neither the possibility nor the desire to flee. Stalin sent Narcomvnudel forces to block the Moscow-Gorky main road, and gave them orders to shoot at sight anybody who tried to flee without an evacuation pass. This order was published only after the Narcomvnudel forces had been posted, and the result was hecatombs of Jewish bodies on both sides of the Moscow high road.

    During the war years the unity of the peoples of the Soviet Union was put to a severe test. The national minorities had not justified the Kremlin’s hopes. In the army a new, incomprehensible insult came into use: ’Yaldash’. In the language of the Asia Minor peoples the word means ’Comrade’. Introduced to them during the revolutionary period as an official form of address, it was now transformed into a term of contempt.

    Another Asiatic word, which enriched the Soviet army vocabulary during the war, was ’Belmeydy’. In the early days the national minorities went over to the Germans en masse, practiced self-mutilation, and later resorted to the passive ’Belmeydy’, ’I don’t understand’. With true Asiatic impassivity the Turkmen and Tadjiks called up for the army answered every question with the brief ’Belmeydy’. And if they were ordered ’left turn’ they unhesitatingly turned right.

    General Gundorov, the President of the Pan-Slav Committee, was responsible for putting into circulation the term ’Slavonic Brothers’. And after that, whenever some filthy trick, some act of looting or some senseless stupidity was observed and discussed in the army, the remark was made: ’That’s the Slavonic Brothers!’ This was the ordinary soldiers’ own way of criticizing certain things that were encouraged by the higher authorities, things which unleashed the dark instincts of the less responsible sections of the army. When each of these ’campaigns’ had served its turn the same higher authorities threw the whole blame on to those who had carried it through, issuing an indignant order and having the scapegoats shot.

    The derisive term ’Slavonic Brothers’ was often applied to the Polish and Baltic formations of the Red Army. The Red Army men spoke of the Estonians and other Balts who fought on the German side with more respect. The Soviet soldiers had no idea what sort of ’autonomy’ the Germans contemplated conferring on the Balts, but they knew quite well what sort of ’independence’ these peoples had received from the Soviet regime in 1940. The Russian soldiers had been thoroughly trained in the spirit of abstract internationalism, but during the war they had had an opportunity to view events from the national aspect, and they appreciated even their enemies’ fight for national freedom.

    “They hold on, the devils!” they frequently remarked with more respect than anger in their tones.

    Some months after the war had begun, during the construction of the second ring of landing grounds around the city of Gorky, I came across thousands of foreigners engaged in excavating and leveling the sites. Their dress at once revealed them as foreigners. Their faces were sullen. They were former citizens of the Estonian, Lithuanian, and Latvian Soviet Republics, who had worked hand in hand with the new Soviet rulers. They had become militiamen and Party and State officials of the new republics. When they fled before the Nazi forces into the homeland of the world proletariat, spades were thrust into their hands, so that they could learn what it meant to be proletarians. Later still they were transferred to the Narcomvnudel’s forced-labor camps. And when in due course it became necessary to organize national army units, they were sent into the Estonian and other national brigades, where the majority of them finished their days. Such is the career of the petty opportunists.

    August passed into September, and we began regular instruction. I still could not reconcile myself to being condemned to a diplomatic career in Japan. When I talked it over with acquaintances they laughed as though they thought it a good joke.

    One day, as I was hurrying across the college yard, I collided with a woman in military uniform. A military man’s first glance is at the tabs. Astonished to see a woman with the high rank of major, I looked at her face.

    “Olga Ivanovna!” I exclaimed joyfully, surprised at this unexpected meeting.

    Olga Ivanovna Moskalskaya was a doctor of philology, and had been professor and dean of the German Faculty in the First Pedagogical Institute for Foreign Languages. I had met her there in the days of peace, and she had been pleasantly touched by my interest in foreign languages. She was a woman of great culture and unusual personal charm.

    “Comrade Klimov!” she exclaimed, just as astonished as I. She gave me a swift look up and down.

    “In uniform? What are you doing here?”

    “Oh, don’t ask, Olga Ivanovna!” I replied, rather crestfallen.

    “But all the same... Have you taken up German again?”

    “No, Olga Ivanovna; even worse... Japanese!” I answered gloomily.

    “What? Japanese? Impossible! You’re joking!”

    “It’s no joke, I can tell you.”

    “I see!” She shook her head. “Come along to my room and we’ll have a chat.”

    On the door of her room was the inscription: ’Head of the Western Faculty’, and her name. So she held an important position in the college.

    “What idiot has put you in the Japanese Department?” she asked. I saw at once that she was well acquainted with conditions in the college.

    “It wasn’t an idiot, it was Colonel Gorokhov,” I answered.

    “Would you agree to being transferred to the German Department?” she asked in a curt, businesslike tone. When I said yes, she added: “I’m just engaged in making a selection of candidates for the last course, and I’m racking my brains to know where to get the people from. If you don’t object I shall ask the general this very day to have you transferred. What do you think?”

    “Only for God’s sake don’t let Colonel Gorokhov think it’s my personal wish... Otherwise I don’t know what will happen,” I replied as I gratefully shook her hand.

    “That’s my headache, not yours. See you again soon!” she laughed as I left her room.

    Next day the head of the Japanese preparatory course sent for me. As though he were seeing me for the first time in his life he asked distrustfully:

    “So you’re Klimov?”

    “Yes, Comrade Major,” I answered.

    “I’ve received an order from the general to transfer a certain Klimov” - he contemplated the document - “to... the fourth course of the Western Faculty.”

    He gave first me, then the paper, a skeptical look.

    That look was quite understandable. Conditions’ in the college were decidedly abnormal. The students of the preparatory course lived in a state of bliss. Those assigned to the first course, especially those concerned with the ’leading’ nationalities, were inflated with conceit. Those attending the second course were regarded as made for life. Of the members of the third course it was secretly whispered that they must have pulled unusually effective strings. As for the fourth and last course, little was known about it, but it was regarded as the dwelling-place of the gods.

    “Do you know anything about this?” he went on to ask suspiciously.

    “Oh no. Comrade Major,” I replied.

    “Very good! Here’s the order-as we haven’t any other Captain Klimov at the moment-and you can go off to the West. But I think there must be some mistake, and we’ll be seeing each other again soon,” he added.

    “Very good, Comrade Major!” I clicked my heels.

    So now I was in the final course of the German Department. Fortune had smiled on me after all.

    #anticommunisme #histoire #Berlin #occupation #guerre_froide

  • ’Shoot anyone breaching the fence’: Israeli army gears up for Gaza mass protest -
    Israeli army calling up snipers and extra soldiers to help local troops deal with Friday’s demonstration ■ Defense officials certain army can prevent Palestinian from crossing Gaza border

    Yaniv Kubovich Mar 29, 2018 10:07 AM

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-army-gears-up-for-gaza-mass-protest-1.5957896

    The defense establishment believes that the army will succeed in preventing Gazans from crossing the border into Israel during the March of Return scheduled for Friday, even if that means Palestinian deaths.
    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    Defense officials said Gaza residents do not seem eager to take part in the event, but Hamas is making efforts to bring as many of them as possible to the fence on Friday. As a result, the troops may have to deal with a particularly large demonstration.
    <<This Friday, Israel’s Tear Gas and Tanks Will Confront Palestinian Marchers. But Brute Force Can’t Be Israel’s Only Answer |Opinion

    A Palestinian poster calling for people to join ’The Great March of Return’ on the Gaza-Israel border on Friday, March 30 2018
    Over the last few days the Israel Defense Forces has warned that it would open fire on anyone who tries to breach the border fence and enter Israel.
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    The IDF has brought a brigade, snipers and soldiers from various courses, to help local troops deal with Friday’s demonstration. The snipers have been instructed to shoot demonstrators who breach the fence.
    In a ceremony marking a change of Military Intelligence commanders on Wednesday, Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said that the situation in Gaza is “highly explosive” and “threatens to damage the sensitive life fabric and safety of the region’s residents.”

    <<Israel’s Defense Minister Says There’s No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza. Here Are the Facts<<
    Eizenkot visited the Gaza division several times this week to supervise the preparations. On Wednesday he and Shin Bet chief Argaman presented to the cabinet ministers preparations and intelligence evaluations ahead of the events, noting that stopping the Palestinians from crossing the fence and entering Israel was the troops’ main task.
    They also presented a scenario in which a large crowd comes to the tent compound on the other side of the fence. The assessment is that the army will manage to handle the event, though possibly only at the cost of Palestinian fatalities.

    ’Grandfather, we will return soon’ - Palestinian poster ahead of ’The Great Return March’
    On Wednesday, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Yoav Mordechai, warned the Palestinian bus companies slated to carry demonstrators to the fence that their entry permits would be revoked.
    “We contacted more than 20 bus companies in Gaza, who were paid by Hamas to take people to violent demonstrations and warned that we’ll take personal steps against their owners,” he said.
    Preparations for Friday’s event come in the wake of growing tension along the Gaza border and several attempts — some successful — to cross it.
    On Wednesday, the army struck two Hamas observation posts in the northern Gaza Strip after two Palestinians set a fire near the border fence. The suspects did not cross into Israel.
    Also Wednesday, a Palestinian from Gaza was arrested on the Zikim beach in Israel near the Gaza border and taken in for questioning. He was unarmed.
    On Tuesday, three Palestinians, armed with grenades and knives, were found and arrested after infiltrating 20 kilometers into Israeli territory. On Saturday, Israel struck Hamas targets after four Palestinians carrying bottles filled with flammable material approached the fence on foot and managed to cross the border into Israel near Kibbutz Kissufim.
    The army also said it will impose a closure on the West Bank and Gaza crossings for the duration of the Passover holiday. The closure will begin Thursday at midnight and be lifted on Saturday, April 7. The army added that passage will be allowed for humanitarian and medical cases, pending approval by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

  • Egypt Analysis : How Sisi has been sidelining his opponents

    | MadaMasr
    https://madamirror.appspot.com/www.madamasr.com/en/2018/02/10/feature/politics/analysis-how-sisi-has-been-sidelining-his-opponents

    “Angry” was the way many described President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s improvised speech during the inauguration ceremony of the Zohr natural gas field on January 31.

    The president declared that the only way Egypt’s national security could be compromised was over his “dead body” and the “dead body of the military.”

    But who exactly the president is angry at is not clear. Sisi did not specify whether he was addressing opposition leaders — many of whom have called for a boycott of the upcoming presidential elections — or individuals within state institutions who have antagonized him as of late.

    The speech follows a series of high-level shuffles within the security apparatus, with Sisi unexpectedly dismissing Armed Forces’ Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazy in October of last year. According to a family friend, Hegazy had been under house arrest until December 16, when he appeared at a small event held to honor him — which the president attended — and where the dismissed official was permitted limited movement under strict surveillance.

    In January of this year, Sisi also dismissed Khaled Fawzy, the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service (GIS). Fawzy’s movement has also been restricted, according to a source close to his family. He was removed from his post after calls were allegedly leaked in which a man who appears to be affiliated with Military Intelligence speaks to media talk show hosts and celebrities and instructs them to appear understanding of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The man is also heard condemning Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for political stances that Cairo is not pleased with, especially with the rapprochement between Kuwait and Qatar and the fear of a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood. The leaks have yet to be independently verified.

    According to a Foreign Ministry source and to a European diplomat who has recently visited both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the leaked calls have made officials from both countries unhappy, and compelled the Egyptian Foreign Ministry to release a statement of apology to Kuwait and take unannounced measures to placate Saudi Arabia.

  • Trump and Putin are the real targets of Israel’s alleged strike in Syria -

    Exceptional strike, attributed to Israel, signals Netanyahu can disrupt a ceasefire in Syria if Israel’s security interests are ignored ■ Incident comes amid anti-Hezbollah war game

    Amos Harel Sep 08, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.811078

    The weapons manufacturing plant that occurred early Thursday morning in western Syria is a site clearly identified with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The exceptional attack, which foreign media are attributing to the Israel Air Force, appears to be a message to the world powers that maintain a prominent aerial presence in the area. Over the past two years, Russia has invested huge efforts in saving and rehabilitating the Syrian president.
    The bombing is not routine, either in its target or its timing. In an interview with Haaretz last month, outgoing air force chief Amir Eshel said that over the past five years, the air force had launched attacks on the northern military theater and on other fronts.
    But most of these forays were designed to quell efforts to strengthen Hezbollah and other terrorist and guerrilla groups. This time, according to Syrian reports, the target was a government one – a missile production facility run by the Assad regime – rather than another Hezbollah weapons convoy destined for Lebanon. 
    >> Analysis: Israel Just Shot Itself in the Foot
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    Over the past year, senior Israelis have highlighted their concerns following the wide steps taken by the Iranians to try and enlarge and upgrade the supply of precision missiles in Hezbollah’s possession. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi have all made reference to this in public appearances. 
    For several years now, Hezbollah has maintained a huge weapons arsenal, containing between 100,000 and 130,000 missiles and rockets (according to various estimates). If the proportion of precision missiles is increased and their precision improved, that could enable the organization to inflict more devastating damage to the Israeli home front in a war.
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    In accordance with its declared policy, Israel is acting to prevent Hezbollah improving the quality of its weapons. The chaos the Syrian civil war has caused, during which serious damage has been inflicted on the capabilities of Assad’s army, has seemingly made this easier for Israel. Syria has for years been a no-man’s-land that no one has controlled. That changed with the arrival of the Russians two years ago. 
    According to foreign media, the deployment of Russian squadrons in northwest Syria since September 2015 hasn’t entirely halted the Israeli attacks. But the strategic reality has become more complicated. The prime Russian interest is the survival of the Assad regime. For Moscow, it is important to show that the regime is stable and that Russia is the party dictating what takes place in Syria. The attack on the facility – the Syrian Scientific Researchers Center – undermines that image, and could concern the Russians.
    skip - Shehab News Agency tweet

    The timing of the action attributed to Israel is sensitive. At the end of July, in a Russia-led effort, the Assad regime reached a partial cease-fire with Syrian rebel groups. Although the fighting has continued in various regions, its intensity has declined in many places. The United States, whose interest in Syria has been on the decline, acceded to the Russian initiative. 
    Washington and Moscow also failed to heed Israeli protests that the agreement to reduce friction in southern Syria failed to require Iran and allied militias to steer clear of the Golan Heights.
    Consequently, the attack attributed to Israel – the first to be reported since the agreement was reached – may be interpreted as an Israeli signal of sorts to the world powers: You still need to take our security interests into account; we’re capable of disrupting the process of a future settlement in Syria if you insist on leaving us out of the picture. 
    Since the attacks attributed to Israel began in January 2012, the Assad regime has shown restraint in the vast majority of cases, other than in one incident in March this year when missiles were fired at Israeli planes after an attack near the town of Palmyra in eastern Syria. One missile was intercepted by an Arrow missile over Israel.
    At first, the Syrian regime totally ignored most of the attacks. At later stages, it would accuse Israel and sometimes even threaten a response, but it didn’t follow through. The reason is clear: The damage sustained by the regime from the responses was marginal compared to the harm to civilians in the civil war, and the last thing President Bashar Assad wanted was to drag Israel into the war and tip the balance in the rebels’ favor.
    Israel will have to see how recent developments are received in Moscow, Washington and Tehran. The response won’t necessarily come immediately.

    Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting in Moscow, October 2015.AP
    Russia is not hostile to Israel but, above all, it looks after itself and Assad. The Russians will also take the consequences on countries in other areas into account, as well as its tangled relations with the United States – which has been acting as a present-absent party in the Middle East for a long time now.
    This comes against the backdrop, beginning Tuesday this week, of a large Israeli military exercise based on a war scenario with Hezbollah. In fact, Israel is taking pains to declare that the exercise was planned nearly a year in advance and that it has no warlike intentions. But the fact that the exercise was carried out has raised the anxiety threshold among Hezbollah’s leaders.
    Al-Manar, the Hezbollah television station, declared Wednesday that Hezbollah isn’t worried about a war. That’s very inaccurate. To a great extent, Hezbollah, like Israel, is worried about a war and would prefer to avoid one – but in the Middle East things sometimes happen when you don’t exactly intend them.
    The early morning attack came exactly 10 years and a day after the bombing of the North Korean nuclear facility in eastern Syria, which U.S. President George W. Bush and others attributed to Israel. Last time (and then too, by the way, an attack came during a major exercise by the air force) a war was averted. That’s the hope this time too.

  • Russian Meddling in Syria Drives Netanyahu to Moscow - Diplomacy and Defense - Haaretz - Amos Harel - Sep 21
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.676885

    Aside from reducing risk of unwanted clash between Israeli and Russian fighter jets, PM’s visit should be seen in a wider context of tensions between Moscow and Washington.

    The immediate reason for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to Moscow on Monday is increased Russian military involvement in Syria.

    On Sunday, the first satellite photos were released from the air base that Russia is building on the Alawite strip of coast in northern Syria near Latakia. Netanyahu, who in an unusual step is taking Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi, with him and, at the last minute, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, will devote much of his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin to preventing direct friction between Israel and Russia in the north.

    The aircraft photographed in northern Syria are Sukhoi 27s. Their main mission, according to experts on the Russian Air Force, is to ensure aerial superiority, not bombardment. That underscores the assessment that Russia has not sent its forces to the region just to fight Islamic State, which is what Russia stresses in justifying its new military deployment, but that Moscow wants to establish a more significant presence. Anti-aircraft batteries will apparently also be deployed to protect the base, as well as a small number of ground forces, tanks, APCs, and a special low-profile unit, in what is reminiscent of Russia’s conduct in the war in Ukraine.

    But beyond reducing the risk of an unwanted clash between Israeli and Russian fighter jets over Syria or Lebanon, it seems that the visit should be seen in a wider context of tensions between Moscow and Washington.

    And although Netanyahu only last week said “commentators” were wrong when they warned of a collapse of ties between Israel and the United States in light of the Iran nuclear deal, Netanyahu’s current visit to Moscow could be seen as an Israeli jab at Washington. The visit seems to reflect Netanyahu’s lack of faith in the ability or the intent of the United States to protect Israel’s security interests.

    The visit cannot be considered good news in Washington, which led a campaign of condemnation and sanctions against Moscow over its involvement in the war in Ukraine last summer. (Israel did not take a position on that conflict and was duly rewarded by Russia which issued a moderate response to Israel’s actions in the war on Gaza shortly thereafter.)

    The turning point in Russia’s policy in Syria can be traced to about a month ago. It’s interesting that it was a report from Israel — Yedioth Ahronoth’s report on the deployment of Russian fighter jets in northern Syria — that brought the issue to the attention of the world media. A few days later the American media began talking about it. It looks like Jerusalem is encouraging the publication of reports public of developments that would force the United States to intervene. But this time, Netanyahu is adding his high-profile visit to Russia.

    Security sources in Israel who are knowledgeable about preparations for the visit said that Israel wants to ensure that Russian planes will not restrict the Israel Air Force’s freedom of movement on the northern border and will not lead to accidents or aerial battles. To this end, there will be an attempt to set rules of caution and perhaps a coordination procedure. Israel will also tell Russia that it would only consider intervening in Syria if red lines are crossed — namely, terror against Israel from Syrian territory, or an attempt to move advanced weaponry from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

    These two red lines are connected to Russia. Most of the advanced arms Syria is getting are Russian. And with regard to terror, Israel is concerned over the third member of the partnership keeping Assad’s regime alive — Iran. Last year there was a series of attacks in the enclave still held by Assad’s forces in the northern end of the Syrian border with Israel in the Golan Heights. It is reasonable to assume that Israel will ask for Russia’s help in reining in attacks led by Iran from the border in the Golan.

    Another question preoccupying Israel involves the fate of the hundreds of thousands of Druze in the Jabal al-Druze region near the border with Jordan. The Druze have in recent months been trying to distance themselves from Assad’s regime, threatened as they are from east and west by Sunni rebel forces.

    Israel has in the past asked the United States to help protect the Druze in light of concern by Druze in Israel and in the Golan Heights for their brethren in Syria. A similar request might be addressed to Putin.

    In an article this week in the magazine Foreign Affairs, the Israeli scholar Dr. Dima Adamsky describes Russia’s current policy in the region as a new and expanded version of Soviet intervention for Egypt during the War of Attrition, 45 years ago.

    Adamsky, of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, writes that the operation was considered a success because the contingent of forces and adviser it sent saved the Egyptian regime and deterred Israel. According to Adamsky, Russia’s new assertiveness in the Middle East serves its supreme goal: attaining regional status parallel to that of the United States, in addition to secondary goals such as creating a buffer zone against jihadists that could strike Russia from the south.

    Russia, Adamsky writes, sees the Arab Spring five years ago as the result of mistaken American Middle Eastern policy and the upheaval in the region almost directly hurt Russian interests when it led to the toppling of Gadhafi’s regime in Libya and endangered Assad’s regime.

    Russia is also working on improving ties with Sunni countries – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. Russia played an important role in the agreement two years ago on the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria and to a certain extent also helped put together the Iranian nuclear agreement in Vienna.

    Russia hopes to parlay its renewed ties with Egypt and Syria into arms deals and economic contracts with countries in the region. In Moscow, Netanyahu and Eizenkot will be meeting a major player in the region, who long ago stopped making do with playing second fiddle to the United States.

  • Israel’s Military Intelligence Monitoring Dozens of BDS Groups Around the World
    While the IDF is responsible for foreign groups, local groups supporting BDS are monitored by the Shin Bet.

    Gili Cohen Aug 18, 2015
    Haaretz Daily Newspaper Israel News
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.671785

    The Israel Defense Forces routinely gathers information on foreign, left-wing organizations that it believes are working to delegitimize the State of Israel, Haaretz has learned.
    The Military Intelligence Research Division’s Delegitimization Department was established as part of the lessons learned after the Mavi Marmara affair in 2010. As Haaretz revealed in 2011, the department focuses on studying the activities of anti-Israeli groups operating overseas, including some that promote sanctions on Israel.
    Nine foreign nationals were killed when IDF commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara, part of a flotilla trying to break the embargo on Gaza, in May 2010. A tenth died in 2014, after being in a coma for four years.
    As part of its activities, the Delegitimization Department gathered proof of Hamas violations of international law during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
    Among the overseas organizations monitored by Military Intelligence are dozens affiliated with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, though groups with the same goals working within Israel are not monitored by the department. Such activity inside Israel was criticized in the past, due to its political connotations.
    The BDS movement conducts campaigns aimed at promoting boycotts of Israel and persuading companies to withdraw their investments from the country.
    The monitoring of every BDS-linked group is approved in advance by a senior officer in the research division, following a decision not to follow groups which have indirect contacts with Israeli activists.
    The IDF has emphasized in recent weeks that it does not collect information on Israeli citizens. That is the job of the Shin Bet security service, which monitors Israeli citizens involved in what are regarded as delegitimization activities.
    In the past, left-wing activists belonging to the BDS movement have reported being contacted by a woman from the Shin Bet who calls herself Rona. Re’ut Mor, a media consultant for the Joint Arab List, said in June that she was questioned by Rona after returning from a trip abroad. The questioning covered a flotilla that had attempted to reach Gaza at the time and her positions on the BDS movement, the IDF and Zionism.

  • IDF declassifies docs in still-rotten Lavon Affair
    Comment Israël a organisé des attentats en Egypte en 1955 pour casser les relations entre Le Caire et Washington

    Dialogue between the two men at the heart of affair reveals tense blame game over 1954 false flag scandal.
    By Ofer Aderet | May 11, 2015 | Israel News | Haaretz
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.655850

    The conversation between Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon and Military Intelligence chief Binyamin Gibli on December 28, 1954, was extremely tense. “I wanted to give you another chance to tell me the whole truth,” Lavon told the senior Israel Defense Forces officer sharply. “Don’t hide anything, neither person nor issue. Unfortunately, either you didn’t understand or you decided not to understand.”

    “I can’t believe you, Mr. Minister. I’m very sorry,” Gibli answered.

    The issue about which they were talking – “the rotten business” (esek habish), also known as the Lavon Affair – was a scandal that occupied the country for several years, caused considerable political turmoil, and can still make headlines more than 60 years on.

    Code-named Operation Susannah by Military Intelligence, it involved a Jewish terror cell in Egypt that was meant to undermine Cairo’s relations with the United States and Britain. The cell, whose members were arrested in the summer of 1954, had planned to plant bombs in movie houses, a post office, and U.S. institutions in Cairo and Alexandria, making it look as if the bombs were the work of Egyptians. Then-Prime Minister Moshe Sharett apparently had no advance knowledge of the operation.

  • #film LE VILLAGE SOUS LA FORÊT
    De Heidi GRUNEBAUM et Mark J KAPLAN


    En #1948, #Lubya a été violemment détruit et vidé de ses habitants par les forces militaires israéliennes. 343 villages palestiniens ont subi le même sort. Aujourd’hui, de #Lubya, il ne reste plus que des vestiges, à peine visibles, recouverts d’une #forêt majestueuse nommée « Afrique du Sud ». Les vestiges ne restent pas silencieux pour autant.

    La chercheuse juive sud-africaine, #Heidi_Grunebaum se souvient qu’étant enfant elle versait de l’argent destiné officiellement à planter des arbres pour « reverdir le désert ».

    Elle interroge les acteurs et les victimes de cette tragédie, et révèle une politique d’effacement délibérée du #Fonds_national_Juif.


    « Le Fonds National Juif a planté 86 parcs et forêts de pins par-dessus les décombres des villages détruits. Beaucoup de ces forêts portent le nom des pays, ou des personnalités célèbres qui les ont financés. Ainsi il y a par exemple la Forêt Suisse, le Parc Canada, le Parc britannique, la Forêt d’Afrique du Sud et la Forêt Correta King ».

    http://www.villageunderforest.com

    Trailer :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISmj31rJkGQ

    #israel #palestine #carte @cdb_77 @reka
    #Israël #afrique_du_sud #forêt #documentaire

    –-

    Petit commentaire de Cristina pour pour @reka :
    Il y a un passage du film que tu vas adorer... quand un vieil monsieur superpose une carte qu’il a dessiné à la main du vieux village Lubya (son village) sur la nouvelle carte du village...
    Si j’ai bien compris la narratrice est chercheuse... peut-etre qu’on peut lui demander la carte de ce vieil homme et la publier sur visionscarto... qu’en penses-tu ? Je peux essayer de trouver l’adresse email de la chercheuse...

    • Documentary Space, Place, and Landscape

      In documentaries of the occupied West Bank, erasure is imaged in the wall that sunders families and communities, in the spaces filled with blackened tree stumps of former olive groves, now missing to ensure “security,” and in the cactus that still grows, demarcating cultivated land whose owners have been expelled.

      This materiality of the landscape becomes figural, such that Shehadeh writes, “[w]hen you are exiled from your land … you begin, like a pornographer, to think about it in symbols. You articulate your love for your land in its absence, and in the process transform it into something else.’’[x] The symbolization reifies and, in this process, something is lost, namely, a potential for thinking differently. But in these Palestinian films we encounter a documenting of the now of everyday living that unfixes such reification. This is a storytelling of vignettes, moments, digressions, stories within stories, and postponed endings. These are stories of interaction, of something happening, in a documenting of a being and doing now, while awaiting a future yet to be known, and at the same time asserting a past history to be remembered through these images and sounds. Through this there arises the accenting of these films, to draw on Hamid Naficy’s term, namely a specific tone of a past—the Nakba or catastrophe—as a continuing present, insofar as the conflict does not allow Palestinians to imagine themselves in a determinate future of place and landscape they can call their own, namely a state.[xi]

      In Hanna Musleh’s I’m a Little Angel (2000), we follow the children of families, both Muslim and Christian, in the area of Bethlehem affected by the 2000 Israeli armed forces attacks and occupation.[xii] One small boy, Nicola, suffered the loss of an arm when he was hit by a shell when walking to church with his mother. His kite, seen flying high in the sky, brings delighted shrieks from Nicola as he plays on the family terrace from which the town and its surrounding hills are visible in the distance. But the contrast between the freedom of the kite in this unlimited vista and his reduced capacity is palpable as he struggles to control it with his remaining hand. The containment of both Nicola and his community is figured in opposition to a possible freedom. What is also required of us is to think not of freedom from the constraints of disability, but of freedom with disability, in a future to be made after. The constraints introduced upon the landscape by the occupation, however, make the future of such living indeterminate and uncertain. Here is the “cinema of the lived,”[xiii] of multiple times of past and present, of possible and imagined future time, and the actualized present, each of which is encountered in the movement in a singular space of Nicola and his kite.


      http://mediafieldsjournal.squarespace.com/documentary-space-place-and-la/2011/7/18/documentary-space-place-and-landscape.html;jsessioni
      #cactus #paysage

    • Memory of the Cactus

      A 42 minute documentary film that combines the cactus and the memories it stands for. The film addresses the story of the destruction of the Palestinian villages of Latroun in the Occupied West Bank and the forcible transfer of their civilian population in 1967. Over 40 years later, the Israeli occupation continues, and villagers remain displaced. The film follows two separate but parallel journeys. Aisha Um Najeh takes us down the painful road that Palestinians have been forcefully pushed down, separating them in time and place from the land they nurtured; while Israelis walk freely through that land, enjoying its fruits. The stems of the cactus, however, take a few of them to discover the reality of the crime committed.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQ_LjknRHVA

    • Aujourd’hui, j’ai re-regardé le film « Le village sous la forêt », car je vais le projeter à mes étudiant·es dans le cadre du cours de #géographie_culturelle la semaine prochaine.

      Voici donc quelques citations tirées du film :

      Sur une des boîtes de récolte d’argent pour planter des arbres en Palestine, c’est noté « make wilderness bloom » :

      Voici les panneaux de quelques parcs et forêts créés grâce aux fonds de la #diaspora_juive :

      Projet : « We will make it green, like a modern European country » (ce qui est en étroit lien avec un certaine idée de #développement, liée au #progrès).

      Témoignage d’une femme palestinienne :

      « Ils ont planté des arbres partout qui cachaient tout »

      Ilan Pappé, historien israëlien, Université d’Exter :

      « ça leur a pris entre 6 et 9 mois poru s’emparer de 80% de la Palestine, expulser la plupart des personnes qui y vivaient et reconstruire sur les villes et villages de ces personnes un nouvel Etat, une nouvelle #identité »

      https://socialsciences.exeter.ac.uk/iais/staff/pappe

      Témoignage d’un palestinien qui continue à retourner régulièrement à Lubya :

      « Si je n’aimais pas cet endroit, est-ce que je continuerais à revenir ici tout le temps sur mon tracteur ? Ils l’ont transformé en forêt afin d’affirmer qu’il n’y a pas eu de village ici. Mais on peut voir les #cactus qui prouvent que des arabes vivaient ici »

      Ilan Pappé :

      « Ces villages éaient arabes, tout comme le paysage alentour. C’était un message qui ne passait pas auprès du mouvement sioniste. Des personnes du mouvement ont écrit à ce propos, ils ont dit qu’ils n’aimaient vraiment pas, comme Ben Gurion l’a dit, que le pays ait toujours l’air arabe. (...) Même si les Arabes n’y vivent plus, ça a toujours l’air arabe. En ce qui concerne les zones rurales, il a été clair : les villages devaient être dévastés pour qu’il n’y ait pas de #souvenirs possibles. Ils ont commencé à les dévaster dès le mois d’août 1948. Ils ont rasé les maisons, la terre. Plus rien ne restait. Il y avait deux moyens pour eux d’en nier l’existence : le premier était de planter des forêts de pins européens sur les villages. Dans la plupart des cas, lorsque les villages étaient étendus et les terres assez vastes, on voit que les deux stratégies ont été mises en oeuvre : il y a un nouveau quartier juif et, juste à côté, une forêt. En effet, la deuxième méthode était de créer un quartier juif qui possédait presque le même nom que l’ancien village arabe, mais dans sa version en hébreu. L’objectif était double : il s’agissait d’abord de montrer que le lieu était originellement juif et revenait ainsi à son propriétaire. Ensuite, l’idée était de faire passer un message sinistre aux Palestiniens sur ce qui avait eu lieu ici. Le principal acteur de cette politique a été le FNJ. »

      #toponymie

      Heidi Grunebaum, la réalisatrice :

      « J’ai grandi au moment où le FNJ cultivait l’idée de créer une patrie juive grâce à la plantation d’arbres. Dans les 100 dernières années, 260 millions d’arbres ont été plantés. Je me rends compte à présent que la petite carte du grand Israël sur les boîtes bleues n’était pas juste un symbole. Etait ainsi affirmé que toutes ces terres étaient juives. Les #cartes ont été redessinées. Les noms arabes des lieux ont sombré dans l’oubli à cause du #Comité_de_Dénomination créé par le FNJ. 86 forêts du FNJ ont détruit des villages. Des villages comme Lubya ont cessé d’exister. Lubya est devenu Lavie. Une nouvelle histoire a été écrite, celle que j’ai apprise. »

      Le #Canada_park :

      Canada Park (Hebrew: פארק קנדה‎, Arabic: كندا حديقة‎, also Ayalon Park,) is an Israeli national park stretching over 7,000 dunams (700 hectares), and extending from No man’s land into the West Bank.
      The park is North of Highway 1 (Tel Aviv-Jerusalem), between the Latrun Interchange and Sha’ar HaGai, and contains a Hasmonean fort, Crusader fort, other archaeological remains and the ruins of 3 Palestinian villages razed by Israel in 1967 after their inhabitants were expelled. In addition it has picnic areas, springs and panoramic hilltop views, and is a popular Israeli tourist destination, drawing some 300,000 visitors annually.


      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_Park

      Heidi Grunebaum :

      « Chaque pièce de monnaie est devenue un arbre dans une forêt, chaque arbre, dont les racines étaient plantées dans la terre était pour nous, la diaspora. Les pièces changées en arbres devenaient des faits ancrés dans le sol. Le nouveau paysage arrangé par le FNJ à travers la plantation de forêts et les accords politiques est celui des #parcs_de_loisirs, des routes, des barrages et des infrastructures »

      Témoignage d’un Palestinien :

      « Celui qui ne possède de #pays_natal ne possède rien »

      Heidi Grunebaum :

      « Si personne ne demeure, la mémoire est oblitérée. Cependant, de génération en génération, le souvenir qu’ont les Palestiniens d’un endroit qui un jour fut le leur, persiste. »

      Témoignage d’un Palestinien :

      "Dès qu’on mange quelque chose chez nous, on dit qu’on mangeait ce plat à Lubya. Quelles que soient nos activités, on dit que nous avions les mêmes à Lubya. Lubya est constamment mentionnées, et avec un peu d’amertume.

      Témoignage d’un Palestinien :

      Lubya est ma fille précieuse que j’abriterai toujours dans les profondeurs de mon âme. Par les histoires racontées par mon père, mon grand-père, mes oncles et ma grande-mère, j’ai le sentiment de connaître très bien Lubya.

      Avi Shlaim, Université de Oxford :

      « Le mur dans la partie Ouest ne relève pas d’une mesure de sécurité, comme il a été dit. C’est un outil de #ségrégation des deux communautés et un moyen de s’approprier de larges portions de terres palestiniennes. C’est un moyen de poursuivre la politique d’#expansion_territoriale et d’avoir le plus grand Etat juif possible avec le moins de population d’arabes à l’intérieur. »

      https://www.sant.ox.ac.uk/people/avi-shlaim

      Heidi Grunebaum :

      « Les petites pièces de la diaspora n’ont pas seulement planté des arbres juifs et déraciné des arbres palestiniens, elles ont aussi créé une forêt d’un autre type. Une vaste forêt bureaucratique où la force de la loi est une arme. La règlementation règne, les procédures, permis, actions commandées par les lois, tout régulé le moindre espace de la vie quotidienne des Palestiniens qui sont petit à petit étouffés, repoussés aux marges de leurs terres. Entassés dans des ghettos, sans autorisation de construire, les Palestiniens n’ont plus qu’à regarder leurs maisons démolies »

      #Lubya #paysage #ruines #architecture_forensique #Afrique_du_Sud #profanation #cactus #South_african_forest #Galilée #Jewish_national_fund (#fonds_national_juif) #arbres #Palestine #Organisation_des_femmes_sionistes #Keren_Kayemeth #apartheid #résistance #occupation #Armée_de_libération_arabe #Hagana #nakba #exil #réfugiés_palestiniens #expulsion #identité #present_absentees #IDPs #déplacés_internes #Caesarea #oubli #déni #historicisation #diaspora #murs #barrières_frontalières #dépossession #privatisation_des_terres #terres #mémoire #commémoration #poésie #Canada_park

    • Effacer la Palestine pour construire Israël. Transformation du paysage et enracinement des identités nationales

      La construction d’un État requiert la nationalisation du territoire. Dans le cas d’Israël, cette appropriation territoriale s’est caractérisée, depuis 1948, par un remodelage du paysage afin que ce dernier dénote l’identité et la mémoire sionistes tout en excluant l’identité et la mémoire palestiniennes. À travers un parcours historique, cet article examine la façon dont ce processus a éliminé tout ce qui, dans l’espace, exprimait la relation palestinienne à la terre. Parmi les stratégies utilisées, l’arbre revêt une importance particulière pour signifier l’identité enracinée dans le territoire : arracher l’une pour mieux (ré)implanter l’autre, tel semble être l’enjeu de nombreuses politiques, passées et présentes.

      http://journals.openedition.org/etudesrurales/8132

    • v. aussi la destruction par gentrification de la Bay Area (San Francisco), terres qui appartiennent à un peuple autochtone :

      “Nobody knew about us,” said Corrina Gould, a Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone leader and activist. “There was this process of colonization that erased the memory of us from the Bay Area.”

      https://seenthis.net/messages/682706

    • La lutte des Palestiniens face à une mémoire menacée

      Le 15 mai, les Palestiniens commémorent la Nakba, c’est-à-dire l’exode de centaines de milliers d’entre eux au moment de la création de l’Etat d’Israël : la veille, lundi 14 mai, tandis que plusieurs officiels israéliens et américains célébraient en grande pompe l’inauguration de l’ambassade américaine à Jérusalem, 60 Palestiniens étaient tués par des tirs israéliens, et 2 400 autres étaient blessés lors d’affrontements à la frontière de la bande de Gaza.
      Historiquement, la Nakba, tout comme la colonisation de Jérusalem-Est et des Territoires palestiniens à partir de 1967, a non seulement eu des conséquences sur le quotidien des Palestiniens, mais aussi sur leur héritage culturel. Comment une population préserve-t-elle sa mémoire lorsque les traces matérielles de son passé sont peu à peu effacées ? ARTE Info vous fait découvrir trois initiatives innovantes pour tenter de préserver la mémoire des Palestiniens.

      https://info.arte.tv/fr/la-lutte-des-palestiniens-face-une-memoire-menacee

    • Effacer la Palestine pour construire Israël. Transformation du #paysage et #enracinement des identités nationales

      La construction d’un État requiert la nationalisation du territoire. Dans le cas d’Israël, cette appropriation territoriale s’est caractérisée, depuis 1948, par un remodelage du paysage afin que ce dernier dénote l’identité et la mémoire sionistes tout en excluant l’identité et la mémoire palestiniennes. À travers un parcours historique, cet article examine la façon dont ce processus a éliminé tout ce qui, dans l’espace, exprimait la relation palestinienne à la terre. Parmi les stratégies utilisées, l’arbre revêt une importance particulière pour signifier l’identité enracinée dans le territoire : arracher l’une pour mieux (ré)implanter l’autre, tel semble être l’enjeu de nombreuses politiques, passées et présentes.

      https://journals.openedition.org/etudesrurales/8132

    • The Carmel wildfire is burning all illusions in Israel

      “When I look out my window today and see a tree standing there, that tree gives me a greater sense of beauty and personal delight than all the vast forests I have seen in Switzerland or Scandinavia. Because every tree here was planted by us.”

      – David Ben Gurion, Memoirs

      “Why are there so many Arabs here? Why didn’t you chase them away?”

      – David Ben Gurion during a visit to Nazareth, July 1948


      https://electronicintifada.net/content/carmel-wildfire-burning-all-illusions-israel/9130

      signalé par @sinehebdo que je remercie

    • Vu dans ce rapport, signalé par @palestine___________ , que je remercie (https://seenthis.net/messages/723321) :

      A method of enforcing the eradication of unrecognized Palestinian villages is to ensure their misrepresentation on maps. As part of this policy, these villages do not appear at all on Israeli maps, with the exception of army and hiking maps. Likewise, they do not appear on first sight on Google Maps or at all on Israeli maps, with the exception of army and hiking maps. They are labelled on NGO maps designed to increase their visibility. On Google Maps, the Bedouin villages are marked – in contrast to cities and other villages – under their Bedouin tribe and clan names (Bimkom) rather than with their village names and are only visible when zooming in very closely, but otherwise appear to be non-existent. This means that when looking at Google Maps, these villages appear to be not there, only when zooming on to a very high degree, do they appear with their tribe or clan names. At first (and second and third) sight, therefore, these villages are simply not there. Despite their small size, Israeli villages are displayed even when zoomed-out, while unrecognized Palestinian Bedouin villages, regardless of their size are only visible when zooming in very closely.


      http://7amleh.org/2018/09/18/google-maps-endangering-palestinian-human-rights
      Pour télécharger le rapport :
      http://www.7amleh.org/ms/Mapping%20Segregation%20Cover_WEB.pdf

    • Il y aurait tout un dossier à faire sur Canada Park, construit sur le site chrétien historique d’Emmaus (devenu Imwas), dans les territoires occupés depuis 1967, et dénoncé par l’organisation #Zochrot :

      75% of visitors to Canada Park believe it’s located inside the Green Line
      Eitan Bronstein Aparicio, Zochrot, mai 2014
      https://www.zochrot.org/en/article/56204

      Dont le #FNJ (#JNF #KKL) efface la mémoire palestinienne :

      The Palestinian Past of Canada Park is Forgotten in JNF Signs
      Yuval Yoaz, Zochrot, le 31 mai 2005
      https://zochrot.org/en/press/51031

      Canada Park and Israeli “memoricide”
      Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, le 10 mars 2009
      https://electronicintifada.net/content/canada-park-and-israeli-memoricide/8126

    • Israel lifted its military rule over the state’s Arab community in 1966 only after ascertaining that its members could not return to the villages they had fled or been expelled from, according to newly declassified archival documents.

      The documents both reveal the considerations behind the creation of the military government 18 years earlier, and the reasons for dismantling it and revoking the severe restrictions it imposed on Arab citizens in the north, the Negev and the so-called Triangle of Locales in central Israel.

      These records were made public as a result of a campaign launched against the state archives by the Akevot Institute, which researches the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

      After the War of Independence in 1948, the state imposed military rule over Arabs living around the country, which applied to an estimated 85 percent of that community at the time, say researchers at the NGO. The Arabs in question were subject to the authority of a military commander who could limit their freedom of movement, declare areas to be closed zones, or demand that the inhabitants leave and enter certain locales only with his written permission.

      The newly revealed documents describe the ways Israel prevented Arabs from returning to villages they had left in 1948, even after the restrictions on them had been lifted. The main method: dense planting of trees within and surrounding these towns.

      At a meeting held in November 1965 at the office of Shmuel Toledano, the prime minister’s adviser on Arab affairs, there was a discussion about villages that had been left behind and that Israel did not want to be repopulated, according to one document. To ensure that, the state had the Jewish National Fund plant trees around and in them.

      Among other things, the document states that “the lands belonging to the above-mentioned villages were given to the custodian for absentee properties” and that “most were leased for work (cultivation of field crops and olive groves) by Jewish households.” Some of the properties, it adds, were subleased.

      In the meeting in Toledano’s office, it was explained that these lands had been declared closed military zones, and that once the structures on them had been razed, and the land had been parceled out, forested and subject to proper supervision – their definition as closed military zones could be lifted.

      On April 3, 1966, another discussion was held on the same subject, this time at the office of the defense minister, Levi Eshkol, who was also the serving prime minister; the minutes of this meeting were classified as top secret. Its participants included: Toledano; Isser Harel, in his capacity as special adviser to the prime minister; the military advocate general – Meir Shamgar, who would later become president of the Supreme Court; and representatives of the Shin Bet security service and Israel Police.

      The newly publicized record of that meeting shows that the Shin Bet was already prepared at that point to lift the military rule over the Arabs and that the police and army could do so within a short time.

      Regarding northern Israel, it was agreed that “all the areas declared at the time to be closed [military] zones... other than Sha’ab [east of Acre] would be opened after the usual conditions were fulfilled – razing of the buildings in the abandoned villages, forestation, establishment of nature reserves, fencing and guarding.” The dates of the reopening these areas would be determined by Israel Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Shamir, the minutes said. Regarding Sha’ab, Harel and Toledano were to discuss that subject with Shamir.

      However, as to Arab locales in central Israel and the Negev, it was agreed that the closed military zones would remain in effect for the time being, with a few exceptions.

      Even after military rule was lifted, some top IDF officers, including Chief of Staff Tzvi Tzur and Shamgar, opposed the move. In March 1963, Shamgar, then military advocate general, wrote a pamphlet about the legal basis of the military administration; only 30 copies were printed. (He signed it using his previous, un-Hebraized name, Sternberg.) Its purpose was to explain why Israel was imposing its military might over hundreds of thousands of citizens.

      Among other things, Shamgar wrote in the pamphlet that Regulation 125, allowing certain areas to be closed off, is intended “to prevent the entry and settlement of minorities in border areas,” and that “border areas populated by minorities serve as a natural, convenient point of departure for hostile elements beyond the border.” The fact that citizens must have permits in order to travel about helps to thwart infiltration into the rest of Israel, he wrote.

      Regulation 124, he noted, states that “it is essential to enable nighttime ambushes in populated areas when necessary, against infiltrators.” Blockage of roads to traffic is explained as being crucial for the purposes of “training, tests or maneuvers.” Moreover, censorship is a “crucial means for counter-intelligence.”

      Despite Shamgar’s opinion, later that year, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol canceled the requirement for personal travel permits as a general obligation. Two weeks after that decision, in November 1963, Chief of Staff Tzur wrote a top-secret letter about implementation of the new policy to the officers heading the various IDF commands and other top brass, including the head of Military Intelligence. Tzur ordered them to carry it out in nearly all Arab villages, with a few exceptions – among them Barta’a and Muqeible, in northern Israel.

      In December 1965, Haim Israeli, an adviser to Defense Minister Eshkol, reported to Eshkol’s other aides, Isser Harel and Aviad Yaffeh, and to the head of the Shin Bet, that then-Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin opposed legislation that would cancel military rule over the Arab villages. Rabin explained his position in a discussion with Eshkol, at which an effort to “soften” the bill was discussed. Rabin was advised that Harel would be making his own recommendations on this matter.

      At a meeting held on February 27, 1966, Harel issued orders to the IDF, the Shin Bet and the police concerning the prime minister’s decision to cancel military rule. The minutes of the discussion were top secret, and began with: “The mechanism of the military regime will be canceled. The IDF will ensure the necessary conditions for establishment of military rule during times of national emergency and war.” However, it was decided that the regulations governing Israel’s defense in general would remain in force, and at the behest of the prime minister and with his input, the justice minister would look into amending the relevant statutes in Israeli law, or replacing them.

      The historical documents cited here have only made public after a two-year campaign by the Akevot institute against the national archives, which preferred that they remain confidential, Akevot director Lior Yavne told Haaretz. The documents contain no information of a sensitive nature vis-a-vis Israel’s security, Yavne added, and even though they are now in the public domain, the archives has yet to upload them to its website to enable widespread access.

      “Hundreds of thousands of files which are crucial to understanding the recent history of the state and society in Israel remain closed in the government archive,” he said. “Akevot continues to fight to expand public access to archival documents – documents that are property of the public.”

    • Israel is turning an ancient Palestinian village into a national park for settlers

      The unbelievable story of a village outside Jerusalem: from its destruction in 1948 to the ticket issued last week by a parks ranger to a descendent of its refugees, who had the gall to harvest the fruits of his labor on his own land.

      Thus read the ticket issued last Wednesday, during the Sukkot holiday, by ranger Dayan Somekh of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority – Investigations Division, 3 Am Ve’olamo Street, Jerusalem, to farmer Nidal Abed Rabo, a resident of the Jerusalem-area village of Walaja, who had gone to harvest olives on his private land: “In accordance with Section 228 of the criminal code, to: Nidal Abed Rabo. Description of the facts constituting the offense: ‘picking, chopping and destroying an olive tree.’ Suspect’s response: ‘I just came to pick olives. I pick them and put them in a bucket.’ Fine prescribed by law: 730 shekels [$207].” And an accompanying document that reads: “I hereby confirm that I apprehended from Nidal Abed Rabo the following things: 1. A black bucket; 2. A burlap sack. Name of the apprehending officer: Dayan Somekh.”

      Ostensibly, an amusing parody about the occupation. An inspector fines a person for harvesting the fruits of his own labor on his own private land and then fills out a report about confiscating a bucket, because order must be preserved, after all. But no one actually found this report amusing – not the inspector who apparently wrote it in utter seriousness, nor the farmer who must now pay the fine.

      Indeed, the story of Walaja, where this absurdity took place, contains everything – except humor: the flight from and evacuation of the village in 1948; refugee-hood and the establishment of a new village adjacent to the original one; the bisection of the village between annexed Jerusalem and the occupied territories in 1967; the authorities’ refusal to issue blue Israeli IDs to residents, even though their homes are in Jerusalem; the demolition of many structures built without a permit in a locale that has no master construction plan; the appropriation of much of its land to build the Gilo neighborhood and the Har Gilo settlement; the construction of the separation barrier that turned the village into an enclave enclosed on all sides; the decision to turn villagers’ remaining lands into a national park for the benefit of Gilo’s residents and others in the area; and all the way to the ridiculous fine issued by Inspector Somekh.

      This week, a number of villagers again snuck onto their lands to try to pick their olives, in what looks like it could be their final harvest. As it was a holiday, they hoped the Border Police and the parks authority inspectors would leave them alone. By next year, they probably won’t be able to reach their groves at all, as the checkpoint will have been moved even closer to their property.

      Then there was also this incident, on Monday, the Jewish holiday of Simhat Torah. Three adults, a teenager and a horse arrived at the neglected groves on the mountainside below their village of Walaja. They had to take a long and circuitous route; they say the horse walked 25 kilometers to reach the olive trees that are right under their noses, beneath their homes. A dense barbed-wire fence and the separation barrier stand between these people and their lands. When the national park is built here and the checkpoint is moved further south – so that only Jews will be able to dip undisturbed in Ein Hanya, as Nir Hasson reported (“Jerusalem reopens natural spring, but not to Palestinians,” Oct. 15) – it will mean the end of Walaja’s olive orchards, which are planted on terraced land.

      The remaining 1,200 dunams (300 acres) belonging to the village, after most of its property was lost over the years, will also be disconnected from their owners, who probably won’t be able to access them again. An ancient Palestinian village, which numbered 100 registered households in 1596, in a spectacular part of the country, will continue its slow death, until it finally expires for good.

      Steep slopes and a deep green valley lie between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, filled with oak and pine trees, along with largely abandoned olive groves. “New” Walaja overlooks this expanse from the south, the Gilo neighborhood from the northeast, and the Cremisan Monastery from the east. To the west is where the original village was situated, between the moshavim of Aminadav and Ora, both constructed after the villagers fled – frightened off by the massacre in nearby Deir Yassin and in fear of bombardment.

      Aviv Tatarsky, a longtime political activist on behalf of Walaja and a researcher for the Ir Amim nonprofit organization, says the designated national park is supposed to ensure territorial contiguity between the Etzion Bloc and Jerusalem. “Since we are in the territory of Jerusalem, and building another settler neighborhood could cause a stir, they are building a national park, which will serve the same purpose,” he says. “The national park will Judaize the area once and for all. Gilo is five minutes away. If you live there, you will have a park right next door and feel like it’s yours.”

      As Tatarsky describes the blows suffered by the village over the years, brothers Walid and Mohammed al-‘Araj stand on a ladder below in the valley, in the shade of the olive trees, engrossed in the harvest.

      Walid, 52, and Mohammed, 58, both live in Walaja. Walid may be there legally, but his brother is there illegally, on land bequeathed to them by their uncle – thanks to yet another absurdity courtesy of the occupation. In 1995, Walid married a woman from Shoafat in East Jerusalem, and thus was able to obtain a blue Israeli ID card, so perhaps he is entitled to be on his land. His brother, who lives next door, however, is an illegal resident on his land: He has an orange ID, as a resident of the territories.

      A sewage line that comes out of Beit Jala and is under the responsibility of Jerusalem’s Gihon water company overflows every winter and floods the men’s olive grove with industrial waste that has seriously damaged their crop. And that’s in addition, of course, to the fact that most of the family is unable to go work the land. The whole area looks quite derelict, overgrown with weeds and brambles that could easily catch fire. In previous years, the farmers would receive an entry permit allowing them to harvest the olives for a period of just a few days; this year, even that permit has not yet been forthcoming.

      The olives are black and small; it’s been a bad year for them and for their owners.

      “We come here like thieves to our own land,” says Mohammed, the older brother, explaining that three days beforehand, a Border Police jeep had showed up and chased them away. “I told him: It’s my land. They said okay and left. Then a few minutes later, another Border Police jeep came and the officer said: Today there’s a general closure because of the holiday. I told him: Okay, just let me take my equipment. I’m on my land. He said: Don’t take anything. I left. And today I came back.”

      You’re not afraid? “No, I’m not afraid. I’m on my land. It’s registered in my name. I can’t be afraid on my land.”

      Walid says that a month ago the Border Police arrived and told him he wasn’t allowed to drive on the road that leads to the grove, because it’s a “security road.” He was forced to turn around and go home, despite the fact that he has a blue ID and it is not a security road. Right next to it, there is a residential building where a Palestinian family still lives.

      Some of Walaja’s residents gave up on their olive orchards long ago and no longer attempt to reach their lands. When the checkpoint is moved southward, in order to block access by Palestinians to the Ein Hanya spring, the situation will be even worse: The checkpoint will be closer to the orchards, meaning that the Palestinians won’t be permitted to visit them.

      “This place will be a park for people to visit,” says Walid, up on his ladder. “That’s it; that will be the end of our land. But we won’t give up our land, no matter what.” Earlier this month, one local farmer was detained for several hours and 10 olive trees were uprooted, on the grounds that he was prohibited from being here.

      Meanwhile, Walid and Mohammed are collecting their meager crop in a plastic bucket printed with a Hebrew ad for a paint company. The olives from this area, near Beit Jala, are highly prized; during a good year the oil made from them can fetch a price of 100 shekels per liter.

      A few hundred meters to the east are a father, a son and a horse. Khaled al-‘Araj, 51, and his son, Abed, 19, a business student. They too are taking advantage of the Jewish holiday to sneak onto their land. They have another horse, an original Arabian named Fatma, but this horse is nameless. It stands in the shade of the olive tree, resting from the long trek here. If a Border Police force shows up, it could confiscate the horse, as has happened to them before.

      Father and son are both Walaja residents, but do not have blue IDs. The father works in Jerusalem with a permit, but it does not allow him to access his land.

      “On Sunday,” says Khaled, “I picked olives here with my son. A Border Police officer arrived and asked: What are you doing here? He took pictures of our IDs. He asked: Whose land is this? I said: Mine. Where are the papers? At home. I have papers from my grandfather’s time; everything is in order. But he said: No, go to DCO [the Israeli District Coordination Office] and get a permit. At first I didn’t know what he meant. I have a son and a horse and they’ll make problems for me. So I left.”

      He continues: “We used to plow the land. Now look at the state it’s in. We have apricot and almond trees here, too. But I’m an illegal person on my own land. That is our situation. Today is the last day of your holiday, that’s why I came here. Maybe there won’t be any Border Police.”

      “Kumi Ori, ki ba orekh,” says a makeshift monument in memory of Ori Ansbacher, a young woman murdered here in February by a man from Hebron. Qasem Abed Rabo, a brother of Nidal, who received the fine from the park ranger for harvesting his olives, asks activist Tatarsky if he can find out whether the house he owns is considered to be located in Jerusalem or in the territories. He still doesn’t know.

      “Welcome to Nahal Refaim National Park,” says a sign next to the current Walaja checkpoint. Its successor is already being built but work on it was stopped for unknown reasons. If and when it is completed, Ein Hanya will become a spring for Jews only and the groves on the mountainside below the village of Walaja will be cut off from their owners for good. Making this year’s harvest Walaja’s last.

      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-is-turning-an-ancient-palestinian-village-into-a-national-p
      https://seenthis.net/messages/807722

    • Sans mémoire des lieux ni lieux de mémoire. La Palestine invisible sous les forêts israéliennes

      Depuis la création de l’État d’Israël en 1948, près de 240 millions d’arbres ont été plantés sur l’ensemble du territoire israélien. Dans l’objectif de « faire fleurir le désert », les acteurs de l’afforestation en Israël se situent au cœur de nombreux enjeux du territoire, non seulement environnementaux mais également identitaires et culturels. La forêt en Israël représente en effet un espace de concurrence mémorielle, incarnant à la fois l’enracinement de l’identité israélienne mais également le rappel de l’exil et de l’impossible retour du peuple palestinien. Tandis que 86 villages palestiniens détruits en 1948 sont aujourd’hui recouverts par une forêt, les circuits touristiques et historiques officiels proposés dans les forêts israéliennes ne font jamais mention de cette présence palestinienne passée. Comment l’afforestation en Israël a-t-elle contribué à l’effacement du paysage et de la mémoire palestiniens ? Quelles initiatives existent en Israël et en Palestine pour lutter contre cet effacement spatial et mémoriel ?

      https://journals.openedition.org/bagf/6779

    • Septembre 2021, un feu de forêt ravage Jérusalem et dévoile les terrassements agricoles que les Palestinien·nes avaient construit...
      Voici une image :

      « La nature a parlé » : un feu de forêt attise les rêves de retour des Palestiniens

      Un gigantesque incendie près de Jérusalem a détruit les #pins_européens plantés par les sionistes, exposant ainsi les anciennes terrasses palestiniennes qu’ils avaient tenté de dissimuler.

      Au cours de la deuxième semaine d’août, quelque 20 000 dounams (m²) de terre ont été engloutis par les flammes dans les #montagnes de Jérusalem.

      C’est une véritable catastrophe naturelle. Cependant, personne n’aurait pu s’attendre à la vision qui est apparue après l’extinction de ces incendies. Ou plutôt, personne n’avait imaginé que les incendies dévoileraient ce qui allait suivre.

      Une fois les flammes éteintes, le #paysage était terrible pour l’œil humain en général, et pour l’œil palestinien en particulier. Car les incendies ont révélé les #vestiges d’anciens villages et terrasses agricoles palestiniens ; des terrasses construites par leurs ancêtres, décédés il y a longtemps, pour cultiver la terre et planter des oliviers et des vignes sur les #pentes des montagnes.

      À travers ces montagnes, qui constituent l’environnement naturel à l’ouest de Jérusalem, passait la route Jaffa-Jérusalem, qui reliait le port historique à la ville sainte. Cette route ondulant à travers les montagnes était utilisée par les pèlerins d’Europe et d’Afrique du Nord pour visiter les lieux saints chrétiens. Ils n’avaient d’autre choix que d’emprunter la route Jaffa-Jérusalem, à travers les vallées et les ravins, jusqu’au sommet des montagnes. Au fil des siècles, elle sera foulée par des centaines de milliers de pèlerins, de soldats, d’envahisseurs et de touristes.

      Les terrasses agricoles – ou #plates-formes – que les agriculteurs palestiniens ont construites ont un avantage : leur durabilité. Selon les estimations des archéologues, elles auraient jusqu’à 600 ans. Je crois pour ma part qu’elles sont encore plus vieilles que cela.

      Travailler en harmonie avec la nature

      Le travail acharné du fermier palestinien est clairement visible à la surface de la terre. De nombreuses études ont prouvé que les agriculteurs palestiniens avaient toujours investi dans la terre quelle que soit sa forme ; y compris les terres montagneuses, très difficiles à cultiver.

      Des photographies prises avant la Nakba (« catastrophe ») de 1948, lorsque les Palestiniens ont été expulsés par les milices juives, et même pendant la seconde moitié du XIXe siècle montrent que les oliviers et les vignes étaient les deux types de plantation les plus courants dans ces régions.

      Ces végétaux maintiennent l’humidité du sol et assurent la subsistance des populations locales. Les #oliviers, en particulier, aident à prévenir l’érosion des sols. Les oliviers et les #vignes peuvent également créer une barrière naturelle contre le feu car ils constituent une végétation feuillue qui retient l’humidité et est peu gourmande en eau. Dans le sud de la France, certaines routes forestières sont bordées de vignes pour faire office de #coupe-feu.

      Les agriculteurs palestiniens qui les ont plantés savaient travailler en harmonie avec la nature, la traiter avec sensibilité et respect. Cette relation s’était formée au cours des siècles.

      Or qu’a fait l’occupation sioniste ? Après la Nakba et l’expulsion forcée d’une grande partie de la population – notamment le nettoyage ethnique de chaque village et ville se trouvant sur l’itinéraire de la route Jaffa-Jérusalem –, les sionistes ont commencé à planter des #pins_européens particulièrement inflammables sur de vastes portions de ces montagnes pour couvrir et effacer ce que les mains des agriculteurs palestiniens avaient créé.

      Dans la région montagneuse de Jérusalem, en particulier, tout ce qui est palestinien – riche de 10 000 ans d’histoire – a été effacé au profit de tout ce qui évoque le #sionisme et la #judéité du lieu. Conformément à la mentalité coloniale européenne, le « milieu » européen a été transféré en Palestine, afin que les colons puissent se souvenir de ce qu’ils avaient laissé derrière eux.

      Le processus de dissimulation visait à nier l’existence des villages palestiniens. Et le processus d’effacement de leurs particularités visait à éliminer leur existence de l’histoire.

      Il convient de noter que les habitants des villages qui ont façonné la vie humaine dans les montagnes de Jérusalem, et qui ont été expulsés par l’armée israélienne, vivent désormais dans des camps et communautés proches de Jérusalem, comme les camps de réfugiés de Qalandiya et Shuafat.

      On trouve de telles forêts de pins ailleurs encore, dissimulant des villages et fermes palestiniens détruits par Israël en 1948. Des institutions internationales israéliennes et sionistes ont également planté des pins européens sur les terres des villages de #Maaloul, près de Nazareth, #Sohmata, près de la frontière palestino-libanaise, #Faridiya, #Kafr_Anan et #al-Samoui sur la route Akka-Safad, entre autres. Ils sont maintenant cachés et ne peuvent être vus à l’œil nu.

      Une importance considérable

      Même les #noms des villages n’ont pas été épargnés. Par exemple, le village de Suba est devenu « #Tsuba », tandis que #Beit_Mahsir est devenu « #Beit_Meir », #Kasla est devenu « #Ksalon », #Saris est devenu « #Shoresh », etc.

      Si les Palestiniens n’ont pas encore pu résoudre leur conflit avec l’occupant, la nature, elle, s’est désormais exprimée de la manière qu’elle jugeait opportune. Les incendies ont révélé un aspect flagrant des composantes bien planifiées et exécutées du projet sioniste.

      Pour les Palestiniens, la découverte de ces terrasses confirme leur version des faits : il y avait de la vie sur cette terre, le Palestinien était le plus actif dans cette vie, et l’Israélien l’a expulsé pour prendre sa place.

      Ne serait-ce que pour cette raison, ces terrasses revêtent une importance considérable. Elles affirment que la cause palestinienne n’est pas morte, que la terre attend le retour de ses enfants ; des personnes qui sauront la traiter correctement.

      https://www.middleeasteye.net/fr/opinion-fr/israel-jerusalem-incendies-villages-palestiniens-nakba-sionistes-reto

      –—

      An Israeli Forest to Erase the Ruins of Palestinian Agricultural Terraces

      “Our forest is growing over, well, over a ruined village,” A.B. Yehoshua wrote in his novella “Facing the Forests.” The massive wildfire in the Jerusalem Hills last week exposed the underpinning of the view through the trees. The agricultural terraces were revealed in their full glory, and also revealed a historic record that Israel has always sought to obscure and erase – traces of Palestinian life on this land.

      On my trips to the West Bank and the occupied territories, when I passed by the expansive areas of Palestinian farmland, I was always awed by the sight of the long chain of terraces, mustabat or mudrajat in Arabic. I thrilled at their grandeur and the precision of the work that attests to the connection between the Palestinian fellah and his land. I would wonder – Why doesn’t the same “phenomenon” exist in the hills of the Galilee?

      When I grew up, I learned a little in school about Israeli history. I didn’t learn that Israel erased Palestinian agriculture in the Galilee and that the Jewish National Fund buried it once and for all, but I did learn that “The Jews brought trees with them” and planted them in the Land of Israel. How sterile and green. Greta Thunberg would be proud of you.

      The Zionist movement knew that in the war for this land it was not enough to conquer the land and expel its inhabitants, you also had to build up a story and an ethos and a narrative, something that will fit with the myth of “a people without a land for a land without a people.” Therefore, after the conquest of the land and the expulsion, all trace of the people who once lived here had to be destroyed. This included trees that grew without human intervention and those that were planted by fellahin, who know this land as they do their children and as they do the terraces they built in the hills.

      This is how white foreigners who never in their lives were fellahin or worked the land for a living came up with the national forestation project on the ruins of Arab villages, which David Ben-Gurion decided to flatten, such as Ma’alul and Suhmata. The forestation project including the importation of cypress and pine trees that were alien to this land and belong to colder climes, so that the new inhabitants would feel more at home and less as if they were in somebody else’s home.

      The planting of combustible cypresses and pines, which are not suited to the weather in this land, is not just an act of national erasure of the Palestinian natives, but also an act of arrogance and patronage, characteristics typical of colonialist movements throughout the world. All because they did not understand the nature, in both senses of the word, of the countries they conquered.

      Forgive me, but a biblical-historical connection is not sufficient. Throughout the history of colonialism, the new settlers – whether they ultimately left or stayed – were unable to impose their imported identity on the new place and to completely erase the place’s native identity. It’s a little like the forests surrounding Jerusalem: When the fire comes and burns them, one small truth is revealed, after so much effort went into concealing it.

      https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-an-israeli-forest-to-erase-the-ruins-of-palestinian-agricultural-t

      et ici :
      https://seenthis.net/messages/928766

    • Planter un arbre en Israël : une forêt rédemptrice et mémorielle

      Tout au long du projet sioniste, le végétal a joué un rôle de médiateur entre la terre rêvée et la terre foulée, entre le texte biblique et la réalité. Le réinvestissement national s’est opéré à travers des plantes connues depuis la diaspora, réorganisées en scènes signifiantes pour la mémoire et l’histoire juive. Ce lien de filiation entre texte sacré et paysage débouche sur une pratique de plantation considérée comme un acte mystique de régénération du monde.

      https://journals.openedition.org/diasporas/258

  • Reservists from elite Israeli intel unit refuse to serve over Palestinian ’persecution’ Israel News | Haaretz
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.615498

    Forty-three former members of Israel Defense Forces intelligence Unit 8200, including some officers, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top military officials, saying they would refuse to do reserve service because of Israel’s `political persecution’ of the Palestinians.

    “We, veterans of Unit 8200, reserve soldiers both past and present, declare that we refuse to take part in actions against Palestinians and refuse to continue serving as tools in deepening the military control over the Occupied Territories.” the soldiers said in the letter, which was also addressed to IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate.

    Among the signatories are a major and two captains in the reserves. Also signing were other intelligence personnel, who include officers and non-commissioned officers who served in the unit in professional capacities.

    “It is commonly thought that the service in military intelligence is free of moral dilemmas and solely contributes to the reduction of violence and harm to innocent people" they said in the letter. “However, our military service has taught us that intelligence is an integral part of Israel’s military occupation over the territories.”

    The signatories claimed, among other things, that while surveillance of Israeli citizens is strictly limited, “the Palestinians are not afforded this protection.”

    The 43 unit members who signed the letter, some of whom serve in the reserves, say that the information that is gathered and stored in the army’s systems “harms innocent people. It is used for political persecution and to create divisions within Palestinian society by recruiting collaborators and driving parts of Palestinian society against itself.”

    For this reason, the signatories say, their consciences do not allow them to continue serving that system and depriving millions of human beings of their rights.

    Daniel, a captain in the reserves who lives in Jerusalem and signed the letter, said that the process of getting signatures for the letter, which took about a year, started with a small group of people who knew each other from the unit.

    “There were fears of how people, and friends from the unit, might respond — if they knew that it was I and if they didn’t know,” Daniel says. But he adds that they felt a sense of responsibility and urgency, so they wrote the letter, Daniel told Haaretz on Thursday. According to the letter’s organizers, most of the people who signed it are reservists, but some of them have adopted a kind of “gray-market dodge” and were not summoned to perform reserve duty.

    “I don’t feel comfortable in my conscience continuing to serve, and instead of dealing with the dilemmas and the ramifications, I chose to take a more evasive route,” Daniel said, describing the “gray-market dodge” he has used for the past three years.

    “Now, later on, we feel that evasion is wrong, and that we have to take responsibility. In the end, I served there for seven years. I believed in what we did there — and for all those reasons, I must take responsibility for what I see as the perpetuation of the cycle of violence. We hope that people will think critically about these things.”

    An official of the IDF Spokesman’s Office said that “Unit 8200 has worked since the day it was established to gather intelligence that allows the army and security agencies to perform their tasks, and each day it helps protect the citizens of the State of Israel.

    "The unit uses varied methods and many fields while using methods and rules directed toward those who consume the information and for its own uses only. Those who serve in the unit are trained after a meticulous search process using training methods that have no parallel in the intelligence community in Israel or in the world. The content of their training places special emphasis upon the fields of ethics, morals and work procedures. These are put into practice during their service as soldiers and officers of the unit, and they are under the constant supervision of commanding officers of various ranks.

    “The concrete claims made in the report are unknown in the Intelligence Directorate. The fact that the alleged signatories of this letter contacted the media before bringing their complaints to their commanding officers or relevant agencies in the army is surprising and raises doubts regarding the sincerity of their claims.

    "Over the years, and particularly in recent years, the unit daily has received appreciation that often takes the form of citations, medals and national-security awards. As for the claims about harm done to innocent people, the process of gaining approval for targets in the army, which is long and meticulous, also takes the topic of uninvolved parties into account.”

    The spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority’s security services, Adnan Damiri, said the reservists made a moral move, and that the Palestinians salute humanitarian ideas of this sort, which come to the aid of an oppressed people, Israel Radio reported.

  • The Shin Bet’s failure in Gaza - Opinion Israel News | Haaretz
    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.608500
    The security service’s basic purpose has become blurred over the years; it has become a kind of Military Intelligence for the occupation.
    By Amir Oren

    The thundering military machine’s silent partner in this operation is the Shin Bet security service. The Shin Bet has proved capable of discovering trees, but yes, it has problems seeing the forest. The organization worked impressively to locate and rearrest prisoners released in the Gilad Shalit deal, but it was much less impressive predicting the events that led to their arrest, and how things would continue going forward.

  • Juin 2007 : le directeur des renseignements militaires israéliens déclare qu’il serait « heureux » d’une prise de contrôle de Gaza par le Hamas, qui permettrait à l’armée israélienne de traiter Gaza comme un État hostile. #cablegate

    07TELAVIV1733 – MILITARY INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR YADLIN COMMENTS ON
    GAZA, SYRIA AND LEBANON http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/06/07TELAVIV1733.html

    Although not necessarily reflecting a GOI consensus view, Yadlin said Israel would be “happy” if Hamas took over Gaza because the IDF could then deal with Gaza as a hostile state.