Israel is concealing vital records to prevent darkest periods in its history from coming to light, academics say
Al-Jazeera – 9 June 2016
Israel is locking away millions of official documents to prevent the darkest episodes in its history from coming to light, civil rights activists and academics have warned as the country’s state archives move online.
They claim government officials are concealing vital records needed for historical research, often in violation of Israeli law, in an effort to avoid damaging Israel’s image.
The Israeli army has long claimed to be the “most moral” in the world.
Accusations of increased secrecy come as Israel marks this week the 49th anniversary of the 1967 war, when it seized and occupied Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, and Golan Heights.
Many of the records to which access is being denied refer to that war and the first years of Israel’s military rule over Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
Menachem Klein, a politics professor at Bar Ilan University, near Tel Aviv, said researchers needed such documents to gain a clearer picture of events half a century ago, the goals of policymakers, and human rights abuses. “We have gradually been able to expose some of what happened in 1948 [the war that established Israel], but there is still very little available to help us understand the 1967 war,” he told Al-Jazeera.
As part of its commemorations this week, the state archives published testimony by military commanders from 1967. However, local media noted that whole pages had been censored on “security grounds”.
Nonetheless, some of the declassified material was revealing. Uzi Narkiss, who headed the army’s central command at the time, suggested that he and other commanders hoped to ethnically cleanse most of the territories under cover of fighting. He told fellow officers: “Within 72 hours we’ll drive out all the Arabs from the West Bank.”
The campaign to open up Israel’s archives is being led by the Akevot Institute, a group of Israeli human rights activists, lawyers and researchers trying to document the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a new report, Point of Access, they note that only 1 percent of 400 million pages of documents have been made public.
Most of the files should have been accessible after 15 years, with the most top-secret documents locked away for up to 70 years. In many cases, Akevot says, the classified status of documents has expired, but they have still not been made public. Reasons for denial of access are rarely given.
In other instances, documents that were already declassified – some of them decades ago – have been re-sealed and are now unavailable.
Despite the mounting secrecy, historic war crimes are still coming to light.
In March the largest known massacre of Palestinians by the Israeli army during the 1948 war that founded Israel – what Palestinians call al-Nakba – was exposed, in spite of official efforts to keep the atrocity under wraps for nearly seven decades.
The gag was effectively ended with the publication of a soldier’s letter in the Haaretz newspaper, detailing the execution of hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children at the village of Dawaymeh, near Hebron.
“The entire history of Israeli society and its conflict with the Palestinians is to be found in those archives,” Lior Yavne, co-author of the report, told Al-Jazeera. “It is impossible to understand and write about that history without access.” He added: “In practice, most of Israel’s archives are permanently closed.”
According to Akevot, Israel has exploited a new programme to digitally copy existing paper files to increase secrecy.
Archivists are currently scanning and uploading documents to create a comprehensive database – a project that is likely to take more than 25 years. The archive’s website went live in April.
However, the public nature of the database means hundreds of thousands of national security files have been submitted for the first time to an official body known as the military censor. Until now its powers had been largely restricted to oversight of the Israeli media, said Yavne.
The censor is reported to be refusing to release many of the documents, redacting others and reclassifying as secret many records that were previously available to researchers.
A growing backlog of tens of thousands of files that need to be reviewed has also blocked access to researchers, according to Akevot.
Requests to see documents can be denied if they damage national security or foreign relations, or violated privacy.
Yavne said access to records after the time restriction had expired was regularly refused without legal authority. Files appeared to be withheld if officials feared they might “highlight human rights violations or shed light on sordid affairs”.
The report notes that the records of government decision-making belong to the public but are treated as “a secret to be kept from it”.
The current emphasis on concealment contrasts with the late 1980s, when parts of the archives from the 1948 war were opened.
A handful of Israeli historians, most notably Benny Morris, Ilan Pappe and Avi Shlaim, revealed that much of Israel’s official history of the state’s founding was based on misinformation.
These “new historians” unearthed evidence of wide-scale massacres of Palestinians, rapes and forced expulsions. They also showed that common assumptions about the war – such as that Palestinians had been ordered to flee by their leaders – were later inventions by Israel to minimise international criticism.
One Israeli academic, Shay Hazkani, has estimated that up to a third of records relating to the 1948 war that were declassified have been put under lock again. Given the large number of documents, many had yet to be examined by researchers.
Nur Masalha, a UK-based Palestinian historian who exposed evidence in Israel’s archives of expulsion, or “transfer”, policies against Palestinians between 1948 and 1967, told Al Jazeera the clampdown on access to documents was part of wider internal repression in Israel.
It reflected, he said, Israel’s mounting concern at the connections being made between Israel’s past and present atrocities. “Israel has faced growing international condemnation for its war crimes in Gaza, and at the same time Palestinians, including those inside Israel, have become more determined to focus attention on the Nakba.”
Some of the most highly classified records – which have been under lock for 70 years – are due to be made public in less than two years’ time. That would turn the spotlight on the most contentious events from Israel’s founding.
However, according to Akevot, no preparations have been made by Israel’s most secretive security agencies, the Shin Bet intelligence service and the Mossad spy agency, to release their archives.
The report says access “is expected to be denied” for the foreseeable future. Yavne said the Shin Bet had already ignored a commitment to make available sections of its archives after 50 years.
Those documents would shed light on Shin Bet policies in the state’s early years, when a fifth of Israel’s population belonging to the Palestinian minority were placed under a military government.
Details of this period would be embarrassing both because of the harsh treatment of Palestinians during military rule and because the template of the military government was later exported into the occupied territories, said Klein.
Archive documents might expose the Shin Bet’s detention and torture practices, its use of blackmail and entrapment to recruit informants, and its harassment of Palestinian leaders. “The Shin Bet has always operated beyond the law,” he said.
The Israeli prime minister’s office, which oversees both the archives and the Shin Bet, declined to comment.
Yavne said Akevot, which was established 18 months ago, was assisting academics and researchers, most of whom were afraid to speak out against the mounting restrictions. “They are worried that if they are seen to be criticising the archive policy, they may face even more restricted access,” he said.
He added that Akevot was creating an alternative database of documents to help researchers to understand the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Among the top-secret documents recently unearthed by the group is one revealing a government order immediately after the 1967 war to remove the Green Line, marking Israel’s internationally recognised borders, from all maps used in Israeli schools.
Klein said the aim was to “root into Israelis’ minds the idea that the occupied Palestinian territories are part of Israel” to make returning them more difficult.
Other classified documents from the period show that Israel’s chief adviser on international law, Theodor Meron, warned that the Geneva Conventions applied to Israel’s behaviour in the occupied territories. Israel has publicly always denied that it is bound by the conventions.
There has been a similar spate of revelations about the 1948 war.
In January Haaretz reported that the archives were still refusing access to a transcript of a cabinet meeting in 1949 in which ministers discussed the widespread desecration of churches the previous year.
The discussion, however, could be reconstructed from other sources.
The Foreign Minister of the time, Moshe Sharett, is recorded as saying the Israeli soldiers had behaved in ways “fit for savages”- a reference to their defecating in churches and looting icons. Sharett suggested paying the Vatican large compensation to buy their silence”.
Israeli military correspondent Amir Oren recently wrote that archival evidence showed that the current spate of Israeli soldiers executing Palestinians was not a new phenomenon.
The 1948 war, Oren wrote, had “launched the catalogue of murder, rape, looting, contempt for human life” by the Israeli army.
1. Out of the 14.2 million Jewish people in the world, (in 2016), only a minority of 43% reside in Israel.
2. Whilst 75% of Israelis are Jewish, 21% are indigenous Arabs with restricted civil rights.
3. Israel has the highest birth rate in the developed world, with an average of 3 children per woman.
4. The Netanyahu government now receives more than US$6 billion every year from the US congress/ AIPAC lobby i.e. equating to $1000 annually for every Jewish Israeli, courtesy of the American taxpayer.
5. Israel has induced over 500,000 of its citizens to illegally settle in the Occupied Palestinian West ...
Several years ago two very distinguished American scholars wrote a book, The Israel Lobby.
The book made a very understated case that the Israel Lobby has far more power over the US government and media than is good for America or Israel, as it silences constructive critics who are Israel’s friends. The two scholars were demonized by the Israel Lobby as advocating the return of the Holocaust.
The Israel Lobby presented itself as just a poor little weak thing unable to stand up to all the Nazis assailing Israel. Meanwhile the US Congress was unanimously passing outrageous resolutions handed to it by ...
One way to understand the effect of 9/11, in most general terms, is to see that it allowed the agenda developed in the 1990s by neoconservatives—-often called simply “neocons”—to be implemented. There is agreement on this point across the political spectrum. From the right, for example, Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke say that 9/11 allowed the “preexisting ideological agenda” of the neoconservatives to be “taken off the shelf . . . and relabeled as the response to terror.”1 Stephen Sniegoski, writing from the left, says that “it was only the traumatic effects of the 9/11 terrorism that enabled the agenda ...
The Israeli historian Benny Morris has been very vocal of late in denying that Palestine was ethnically cleansed of Arabs in order for the “Jewish state” of Israel to be established. In a series of articles in the Israeli daily Haaretz, Morris has debated the question with several of his critics who contend that ethnic cleansing is precisely what occurred. Not so, argues Morris. So who’s right?
It’s worth noting at the outset that, while such a debate exists in the Israeli media, the US media remains, as ever, absolutely silent on the matter. Americans who get their information about the ...
The United States government is guilty of war crimes. This is the stark conclusion reached by the independent international commission of inquiry established by the United Nations in 2011 to investigate human rights violations stemming from the protracted US-backed war for regime change in Syria.
The Pentagon’s relentless bombing campaign in and around the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the so-called “capital” of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has inflicted a “staggering loss of civilian life,” while forcing over 160,000 civilians to flee their homes, Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN’s commission of inquiry, said on Wednesday.
US warplanes ...
Six Years Later, Kosovo Still Wrong
In the early hours of March 24, 1999, NATO began the bombing of what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. For some reason, many in the targeted nation thought the name of the operation was “Merciful Angel.” In fact, the attack was code-named “Allied Force” – a cold, uninspired and perfectly descriptive moniker. For, however much NATO spokesmen and the cheerleading press spun, lied, and fabricated to show otherwise (unfortunately, with altogether too much success), there was nothing noble in NATO’s aims. It attacked Yugoslavia for the same reason then-Emperor Bill Clinton enjoyed a ...
In the night of July 16-17, 1918, a squad of Bolshevik secret police murdered Russia's last emperor, Tsar Nicholas II, along with his wife, Tsaritsa Alexandra, their 14-year-old son, Tsarevich Alexis, and their four daughters. They were cut down in a hail of gunfire in a half-cellar room of the house in Ekaterinburg, a city in the Ural mountain region, where they were being held prisoner. The daughters were finished off with bayonets. To prevent a cult for the dead Tsar, the bodies were carted away to the countryside and hastily buried in a secret grave.
Bolshevik authorities at first reported ...
Two Kosovo Albanian Muslim muhajedeens (with the passports of Republic of Kosovo) as members of ISIL in Syria in 2015 (Official ISIL’s video material)
After the 9/11, a worldwide “War on terror” begun in order to disband and neutralize Islamic terrorist networks across the globe. The main focus of the largest anti-terrorist campaign in history is focused in the Middle East area, as well as in Afghanistan.
The Balkan Peninsula is the European area where this campaign has also taken place, with numerous arrests and a continuous effort into riding the fundamentalist out of the area. The question arising though, is how ...
Accused of War Crimes: The British Prime Minister Tony Blair
WAR CRIMES CHARGES FOR THE HAGUE AGAINST THE NATO LEADERS – ONE OF THE INDICTMENTS IN THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
NOTICE OF THE EXISTENCE OF INFORMATION CONCERNING SERIOUS VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THE TRIBUNAL;
REQUEST THAT THE PROSECUTOR INVESTIGATE NAMED INDIVIDUALS FOR VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW AND PREPARE INDICTMENTS AGAINST THEM PURSUANT TO ARTICLES 18.1 AND 18.4 OF THE TRIBUNAL STATUTE.
Madam Justice Louise Arbour, Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Churchillplein 1, 2501 EW, The Hague, Netherlands.
President William J. ...
After the catastrophic attacks of September 11 2001 monumental sorrow and a feeling of desperate and understandable anger began to permeate the American psyche. A few people at that time attempted to promote a balanced perspective by pointing out that the United States had also been responsible for causing those same feelings in people in other nations, but they produced hardly a ripple. Although Americans understand in the abstract the wisdom of people around the world empathizing with the suffering of one another, such a reminder of wrongs committed by our nation got little hearing and was soon overshadowed by ...
A day that changed history: the bodies of unarmed protestors shot by the police and the British army in Athens on 3 December 1944. Photograph: Dmitri Kessel/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
“I can still see it very clearly, I have not forgotten,” says Títos Patríkios. “The Athens police firing on the crowd from the roof of the parliament in Syntagma Square. The young men and women lying in pools of blood, everyone rushing down the stairs in total shock, total panic.”
And then came the defining moment: the recklessness of ...
Every day signs are looming larger than life as we know it in the wealthiest nation on earth that it’s about to crash and burn, forever changing not for the better. The latest wake-up call arrived in a Guardian article earlier this week. The story features a secret prison not unlike the CIA torture detention centers all over the world whereby the Chicago police hold rounded up US citizens for hours or days at a time for interrogation. The same internationally illegal roundups of suspected “potential terrorists” (which by latest Gestapo America standards can easily be you or me) that the CIA ...
1. Kosovo issue is a conflict between ethnic Albanians and ethnic Serbs over the territory
Wrong: It is a part of the conflict between Balkan Albanians and the surrounding populations, in Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia and Greece (ex. clashes between Albanians and Macedonians in Macedonia from 1991 onward including and open rebellion in 2001 & 2015
2. The issue is a fight of Albanians for their political rights
Wrong: The crux of the matter lies at the biological level. The real rationale is a demographic explosion which is going on within the Albanian population for a century or so (rate of growth by Albanians ...
Never has US intentions in Asia been so obvious. Attempts to portray America’s role in the region as constructive or necessary have been ongoing since the end of World War II, however, recently, with Asia able to begin determining its own destiny for itself, the tone from Washington has become increasingly curt and direct.
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s remarks during the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore were all but a proclamation of US hegemony over Asia – a region of the planet quite literally an ocean away from Washington.
In Reuters’ article, “U.S. flexes muscles as Asia worries about South China ...
“In fourteen hundred and ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue….
Today, Christopher Columbus is celebrated as a mythical hero by some – complete with songs, poems, and fictional tales about his great adventure across the Atlantic to explore the majestic land that would eventually be known as the Americas. There are fifty four communities named after the explorer in the United States, including the District of Columbia. “Hail, Columbia” was the United States’ unofficial national anthem until 1931. A federal holiday, “Columbus Day,” is celebrated every second Monday in October.
Despite all of this, historians have begun to tear down the ...
US and NATO forces invaded Afghanistan more than 16 years ago in October 2001. It’s has been a continuous war marked by US military occupation.
The justification is “counterterrorism”. Afghanistan is defined as a state sponsor of terrorism, allegedly responsible for attacking America on September 11, 2001.
The war on Afghanistan continues to be heralded as a war of retribution in response to the 9/11 attacks. US troops are still present and deployed in Afghanistan.
The legal argument used by Washington and NATO to invade and occupy Afghanistan under “the doctrine of collective security” was that the September 11 2001 attacks constituted an ...
These are awesome days for headline writers. So many global settings, such an abundance of weapons, such a wealth of choices!
On the morning of April 14, the New York Times led with “A Giant U.S. Bomb Strikes ISIS Caves in Afghanistan,” matched by CNN’s “US Drops ‘Mother of All Bombs.’” The Washington Post chose Syria, where “Errant U.S. Strike Kills 18: Victims in Syria Were Allied Forces.” By mid-afternoon that same day, the Associated Press had shifted to the horn of Africa, where the “U.S. Sends Dozens of Troops to Somalia, 1st Time in Decades.”
And as the Friday rush hour ...
A new Foundation for the Study of Democracy (FSD) report is titled “War crimes of the armed forces and security forces of Ukraine: torture of the Donbass region residents.”
It provides graphic evidence of horrendous Kiev war crimes Western media ignore.
Earlier articles discussed Kiev’s dirty war. It deliberately targeted civilian neighborhoods, schools, hospitals and infrastructure.
It used of cluster munitions, white phosphorous and other chemical weapons, as well as cold-blooded murder of hundreds of captives.
Most were abducted civilians. They were brutally tortured, murdered and secretly buried. Eyewitnesses exposed the crimes.
FSD’s report provides more damning evidence of junta torture, inhumane and degrading treatment.
Over 100 former ...
The American taxpayers have been fleeced for almost seventy years by a so-called «intelligence» agency that has systematically violated the US Constitution, broken practically every federal law on the books, and penetrated virtually every facet of American life. The Central Intelligence Agency’s creation was bemoaned by its creator, President Harry S Truman, who, in a fit of personal angst following the 1963 assassination of President John F Kennedy, wrote in a newspaper column,
“I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations… I, therefore, would like to see ...
Since terrorism’s tragedy is again in the news, it is timely to revisit perhaps one of the biggest acts of terrorism in modern history – the illegal invasion and destruction – ongoing – of Iraq.
March 20th marked the thirteenth anniversary of an action resulting in the equivalent of a Paris, Brussels, London 7th July 2005, often multiple times daily in Iraq ever since. As for 11th September 2001, there has frequently been that death toll and heart break every several weeks, also ongoing.
America and Britain have arguably engaged in and generated the legacy of one of the longest recorded attacks ...
Ten Facts Everyone Needs To Know About Israel
Zionist Israel Hides Its Crimes Behind Its Smears Of Truth-Tellers
Neocon Imperialism, 9/11, and the Attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq
Benny Morris’s untenable denial of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine
Washington’s War Crimes in Syria
Kosovo: An evil little war
The Jewish Role In The Bolshevik Revolution And Russia’s Early Soviet Regime
The emergence of “Balkan Jihad” and its progress in the region
War Crimes Charges for the Hague Tribunal Against NATO Leaders
Study: U.S. Regime Has Killed 20-30 Million People Since World War Two
Athens Massacre Of 1944: Britain’s Dirty Secret Of Winston Churchill
Totalitarian Rule In America: False Flags, Secret Prisons, Extrajudicial Assassinations, Media Censorship, The Rounding Up Of Alleged “Terrorists” …
Twenty Principal Misconceptions About The Kosovo Issue
US Declares Hegemony Over Asia
The Truth About Christopher Columbus
The 2001 War on Afghanistan is a profit driven “Resource War”
There is no Strategy Behind Trump’s War, Just Brute Force
CIA: The Corrupt and Ignorant Agency
Iraq Invasion – Anniversary Of The Biggest Terrorist Attack In Modern History