“Blood and Religion”

Jonathan Cook is a British-born independent journalist based (since September 2001) in the predominantly Arab city of Nazareth, Israel and is the “first foreign correspondent (living) in the Israeli Arab city….” He’s a former reporter and editor of regional newspapers, a freelance sub-editor with national newspapers, and a staff journalist for the London-based Guardian and Observer newspapers. He’s also written for The Times, Le Monde diplomatique, the International Herald Tribune, Al-Ahram Weekly and Aljazeera.net. He is also a frequent contributor to Global Research. In February 2004, he founded the Nazareth Press Agency.

Cook states why he’s in Nazareth as follows: to give himself “greater freedom to reflect on the true nature of the (Israeli-Palestinian) conflict and (gain) fresh insight into its root causes.” He “choose(s) the issues (he) wish(es) to cover (and so is) not constrained by the ‘treadmill’ of the mainstream media….which gives disproportionate coverage to the concerns of the powerful (so it) makes much of their Israel/Palestine reporting implausible.”

Living among Arabs, “things look very different” to Cook. “There are striking, and disturbing, similarities between” the Palestinian experience inside Israel and within the Occupied Territories. “All have faced Zionism’s appetite for territory and domination, as well as repeated (and unabated) attempts at ethnic cleaning.”

Cook authored two important books and contributed to others. His newest one, just published was reviewed by this writer. It’s called “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East.” Advance praise accompanied it, and noted author John Pilger calls it “One of the most cogent understandings of the modern Middle East I have read. It is superb, because the author himself is a unique witness” to events and powerfully documents them.

Cook’s earlier book was published in 2006. It’s titled “Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State” and is the subject of this review. It’s the rarely told story of the plight of Israel’s 1.4 million Arab citizens, the discrimination against them, the reasons why, and the likely future consequences from it. Israel’s “demographic problem” is the issue Cook addresses. It’s the time when a faster-growing Palestinian population (excluding the diaspora) becomes a majority, and the very character of a “Jewish State” is threatened. Israel’s response – state-sponsored repression and violent ethnic cleansing, in the Territories and inside Israel.

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Assault on Gaza: Day of grief and defiance

By Donald Macintyre in Jabalya, northern Gaza
Monday, 3 March 2008

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, rejected international calls yesterday to end the “excessive” and “disproportionate” military operation in Gaza which has claimed the lives of 101 Palestinians – including many children and other civilians –since Wednesday.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, called on Israel to halt the air and ground attacks which on Saturday alone claimed the lives of at least 54 Palestinians in the most lethal single day of violence since the beginning of the second intifada more than seven years ago. The Slovenian EU presidency – while condemning the rocket attacks from Gaza which Israel says it is trying to stop – condemned the “recent disproportionate use of force by the Israel Defence Forces against the Palestinian population of Gaza, noted the death of “innocent children” and said that such acts of “collective punishment” were against international law.

But as the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, announced that he was breaking off US-brokered negotiations with Israel as long as its “aggression” continued, Mr Olmert told the weekly meeting of the Israeli Cabinet: “Israel has no intention of stopping the fight against the terrorist organisations even for a minute.” He declared: “With all due respect … no one has the right to preach morality to Israel for employing its elementary right of self-defence.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Israel’s most important ally in the Muslim world, also decried the “disproportionate force” used in attacks which were killing “children and civilians” and complained that Israel was rejecting a “diplomatic” solution to the conflict.

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Israeli Extra-Judicial Executions

At 8:50AM on February 27, an Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at a civilian microbus on the coastal road near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. Six members of the Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades were in it at the time. Five of them were killed. The sixth one was seriously injured.

Twenty minutes later, another aircraft attacked a vehicle in which other Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades members were traveling. They escaped harm by fleeing before missiles struck their car and destroyed it.

On March 1, Hamas reported that Israelis killed 91 Palestinians in February, 83 in Gaza and eight in West Bank, and the killing continues to escalate. The International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) said eyewitnesses confirmed that IDF troops and tanks invaded Jabalyia (in Gaza) before dawn on Saturday. They targeted the refugee camp, struck at resident homes, attacked medical relief workers, fired missiles at cars and in residential areas, and killed at least 37 Palestinians (mostly civilians) and injured 120 others by midday. IMEMC later on Saturday raised the toll to 56 dead and updated it again Sunday AM to 98 as IDF forces continued rampaging without letup.

Haaretz first reported 34 deaths on Saturday, including five children and three women. Later in the day, it upped the total to 50, then 59 and by Sunday noon the total known killed was “more than 70.” AP first indicated 33 deaths, then raised it to 45, then 50 late in the day and 66 by Sunday morning (plus about 200 wounded) and nearly 100 deaths since February 27.

The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported 84 deaths since Saturday, 98 in total since February 27 and over 200 wounded, many with mangled bodies and serious life-threatening injuries. Throughout the weekend, Israeli aircraft struck many targets, including Hamas’ headquarters building (unoccupied at the time) that “completely collapsed” and injured five people, according to witnesses.

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Israeli missiles silence baby’s laughter in Gaza

Sami Abu Salem writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 28 February 2008

Nasser al-Bor’i holds the body of his six-month-old son, Mohammed, outside the morgue at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

The innocent laughter of six-month-old baby Mohammed al-Bor’i stopped forever on Wednesday night when shrapnel from an Israeli missile and rubble struck the infant in the head, minutes after he enjoyed his last meal.

“The baby sucked milk, he was playing with his mother; I was reading a book when a rocket hit the Ministry of Interior,” said Nasser al-Bor’i, the baby’s father.

With the first missile, the electricity was cut and darkness filled the ill-fated house. Stones and pieces of the asbestos ceiling fell onto the head of the laughing child. The explosions continued as two other missiles hit the building.

“I looked for my baby in the darkness between the rubble; I did not know where he was. When he cried once I followed the direction of his voice,” Nasser al-Bor’i said. “My hands touched my baby who was breathing hard; I felt warm liquid on my two hands and realized that he was wounded.”

Al-Bor’i carried his son to the nearby Shifa Hospital as the blood streamed from his tiny head. In the hospital, al-Bor’i became hysterical when he realized that his only child had been killed.

Tears poured from al-Bor’i’s eyes when he saw Mohammed’s shoes. “After five years of treatment for sterility, [my wife and] I had a baby. I can’t imagine that I lost him in a second.”

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Ambulances in Gaza unable to run due to fuel shortage

Gaza – Ma’an – Ambulances in the Gaza Strip ran out of fuel on Monday due to the reduction of fuel shipment from Israel to Gaza. The ambulance and emergency service in the Palestinian Health Ministry organized a ‘sit-in’ for the ambulance drivers in protest against the Israeli decision to further reduce fuel deliveries.

Muawiya Hassanain, director of ambulance and emergency service, appealed to the international Quartet and the World Health organization (WHO), as well as the United States, the UN, UNICEF and the Red Cross – asking them to end the siege of the Gaza Strip and to secure resumption of fuel delivery.

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War pimp alert: ‘IDF should wipe out parts of Gaza’

Israel will escalate its ground and air operations in the Gaza Strip this week and may begin targeting members of the Hamas political leadership in the wake of intensified Kassam rocket attacks against Sderot, senior defense officials said Sunday.The officials said it was premature to launch a major ground operation and that the army still had a number of steps to try before reaching that point.

“The IDF has not exhausted all of its options,” a defense official said. The decision to escalate military operations was made after two brothers, aged eight and 19, were seriously wounded by a Kassam rocket in Sderot on Saturday night.

Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit told The Jerusalem Post that during Sunday’s cabinet meeting, he had called on the IDF to “take off its gloves,” head into Gaza with armored tractors and raze an entire neighborhood from which rockets have been launched, and then withdraw. The residents of that neighborhood would be warned in advance to flee, he said.

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War pimp alert: PM vows ‘relentless’ war on terror in wake of Dimona attack

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged Monday that Israel will not relent in its struggle against terrorism, after a suicide bombing in the southern town of Dimona earlier in the day. The United States issued a statement Tuesday condemning the attack and urging the Palestinian Authority to do more to counter terrorism.

Addressing the Knesset, Olmert said that Israel is facing a constant war in the southern part of the country, referring to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Israel believes the suicide bombers infiltrated into Israel from Egypt after crossing from Gaza into Egypt.

Referring to the attack in Dimona, Olmert said, “It was a very harsh incident that only points again to the complexity that we deal with daily. I have said more than once in the past few weeks that a constant war is being conducted in the south of the country, a war of terror against us and our war against terror, this war will continue, terrorism will be hit. We will not relent.”

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