30th July 2014: UNRWA Gaza school shelling: haaretz.com
And: 'Huge surge' in displaced people after night of intensified violence – as it happened theguardian.com
The idea that Israel is defending itself from unprovoked attacks is absurd. Occupied people have the right to resist
For the third time in five years, the world’s fourth largest military power has launched a full-scale armed onslaught on one of its most deprived and overcrowded territories. Since Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip began, just over a week ago, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed. Nearly 80% of the dead are civilians, over 20% of them children.
(...) But instead of demanding a halt to Israel’s campaign of collective punishment against what is still illegally occupied territory, the western powers have blamed the victims for fighting back. If it weren’t for Hamas’s rockets fired out of Gaza’s giant holding pen, they insist, all of this bloodletting would end.
But the idea that Israel is responding to a hail of rockets out of a clear blue sky takes “narrative framing” beyond the realm of fantasy. In fact, after the deal that ended Israel’s last assault on Gaza in 2012, rocketing from Gaza fell to its lowest level for 12 years...
MK Haneen Zoabi (photo: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)
and former MK and Balad chairman Azmi Bishara
(photo: Thumar Almarzouki/CC)
(...) This conclusion drew on the unique experiences of Palestinians in Israel. They had survived physically and culturally, but still faced an array of contradictions in the Israeli reality. These difficulties came to a head with the Oslo accords, which totally ignored and excluded the Palestinian minority from the proposed solution. The minority had to face the future on their own, in the context both of their Israeli citizenship and of the broader Palestinian cause.
A new platform, requiring both full citizenship and a national identity, emerged as the new party emerged. Its slogans were: a state for all its citizens, full equality, and cultural autonomy for the Palestinian minority. (...)
The goal was to reconstruct the Palestinian minority’s political awareness by using the Knesset podium to launch an ideological confrontation with the Zionist character of the state. Azmi Bishara, the former leader of the party who is now in exile, was the leading intellectual among us, and he was the one who paid the highest cost.
The biggest challenge was entering the Knesset, where the racist laws are drafted and where our legislators would have to sit alongside those who have killed many of our people, and some who continue to kill them and even boast of it. (...)
(...) In Balad the debate about our platform has spread: not only do we discuss whether we should continue participating in the Knesset but also whether, given the contradictions inherent in a Zionist-Jewish state, we should continue to struggle for the country’s transformation into a true democracy. Many of us, myself included, now believe it is time to move beyond this thinking and accept it is outmoded. The campaign now should be for a single democratic state, offering peace and justice to all those living in historic Palestine.
Awad Abdelfattah is the secretary general of Balad, which holds three seats in the current Knesset
Dear Dr. Gysi, Dear members and supporters of Die Linke,
We are Israeli citizens, active against our government's policies of occupation, colonialism and Apartheid. We have been active for human rights and peace for many years within our society. Prior to Dr. Gregor Gysi's visit to Israel, we would like to clarify that his positions on the aforementioned issues have been incompatible with principles of justice and equality.
The Government of Israel is shamelessly expelling Palestinians from their land, not just in the occupied West Bank but also inside Israel's 67 borders, for example, as part of the Prawer plan for the Negev area...
The conference for One Democratic State (ODS) in historic Palestine at Zürich’s Volkshaus on 17/18 May 2014 achieved its twin goals of reaching a broader German-speaking audience and building an international movement for ODS. 180 people attended speeches and discussions on the Saturday, while on the Sunday 65 activists from ten countries elected a follow-up ODS Co-ordinating Committee with 23 members. It will recruit a secretariat for organisational and networking tasks and will itself take care of reach-out, media and research tasks. We are now publicly visible as the Zürich conference and Co-ordinating Committee.
A dozen ODS conferences preceded this one, starting in 2007 and held in London, Haifa, Southampton, Stuttgart, Boston, Dallas, and Ramallah. but especially the Munich conference in July 2012 which adopted the Munich Declaration, a one-page description of a future state in historic Palestine to which all ODS supporters adhere. It offers full civil equality for all citizens, namely for all current Israeli citizens and all other Palestinians wherever they live. ODS unequivocally upholds the Right of Return to their homes and property of all Palestinian refugees and their descendants. The Committee will co-ordinate the activities of existing ODS chapters in Texas, Yaffa/Haifa, Ramallah, and England.
Swiss Member of Parliament and President of the Association Switzerland-Palestine Daniel Vischer welcomed the audience with the observation that the Oslo process is dead and a reminder that the PLO in the late 1960s and early 1970s also held a one-democratic-state position. The conference’s closing act was the unanimous adoption of a resolution in support of all Palestinian political prisoners, especially those on hunger strike.
Saturday morning’s speakers were Dr Ilan Pappé and Dr Ghada Karmi, two authors who have elucidated the Nakba and continuing ethnic cleansing and see ODS as the only just solution. Saturday afternoon’s speakers were long-time exponent Dr Samir Abed-Rabbo of Jerusalem and the ODS movement in Texas, Ofra Yeshua-Lyth and Khaled Jabarin of the Yaffa group, Dr Radi Jarai and Ghassan Olayan of the Popular Movement for ODS in Ramallah, Yoav Bar, Aya Mana’a and Muhannad Abu Ghosh of Haifa, Swiss BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activist Saba Sabhai, and Rania Madi of Jerusalem and Geneva, an RoR expert working for BADIL.
Themes included the ‘ongoing Nakba’ or ‘sophisticated ethnic cleansing’ that has largely replaced the direct murders and expulsions of pre-television or pre-social-media days; the undesirability as well as the impracticality of two states; rejection of the Oslo ‘peace process’ charade and the Palestinian Authority’s role in it; the diminishing international immunity of Israel in committing its crimes; obstacles to the realisation of ODS; and strategies for its implementation including education, BDS, local popular resistance, and, controversially, perhaps the deliberate dismantling of the Palestinian Authority, thereby presenting the whole of historic Palestine as a single racist, apartheid state for which Israel is directly responsible.
It was further maintained that the Palestinian struggle is part of the wider Arab struggle for democracy; that ODS must both better understand attitudes behind Zionism and build bridges to the Jewish community; that a draft by ODS of a human-rights based constitution might defuse Jewish fears; that daily resistance battles should be integrated with the ODS vision; that we should remember the decades-long history of the marginal ODS idea; that BDS is now feared by Israel; that ODS consists both of the citizens of the future state and supporters from other countries; and that ODS has two pillars, namely its concept and its organisation, and involves two struggles, one from the inside and one from the outside.
At a next conference within one year the Co-ordinating Committee will present its work to the grassroots, roots which we hope by then will extend to known supporters in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Gaza. Anyone supporting this idea of a standard human-rights-based democracy in Palestine, or merely seeking more information, should write to email@example.com.A more detailed report is available here (scroll down the page).
|Palestinians march toward the Green Line in a Nakba Day protest in the West Bank village of Al Walaja, May 15, 2014 (Activestills.org)|
Transcribing the vivid details of the account engraved into the fabric of her memory, I am transfixed by all that she’s held onto for 65 years. From paper to pulse, I write the story buried deep in her consciousness to affirm her truth. Without her, it never would be written at all.
I study the lines on my grandmother’s face knowing behind every one there is a timeless story of unmitigated pain, survival and hope. This story, where the continued dispossession, suffering and oppression of the Palestinian people began, is one that refuses to be silenced or forgotten. It is the story of Deir Yassin.
Remember the date: Friday, 9 April 1948, a day of infamy in Palestinian history. My grandmother was nine years old at the time of the Deir Yassin massacre and every day since she has lived with a steadfast commitment to never forget...
For the first time since the US launched the Middle East peace talks last summer, the Palestinian leadership may be sensing it has a tiny bit of leverage. Barack Obama met the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Washington last week in what Palestinian officials called a “candid and difficult” meeting. The US president hoped to dissuade Mr Abbas from walking away when the original negotiations’ timetable ends in a month.
The US president and his secretary of state, John Kerry, want their much-delayed “framework agreement” to provide the pretext for spinning out the talks for another year. The last thing the US president needs is for the negotiations to collapse, after Mr Kerry has repeatedly stressed that finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is imperative.
(...) Mr Obama and Mr Kerry have set out a convincing scenario that in the longer term Israel will find itself shunned by the world. The Palestinian leadership will advance its cause at the UN, while conversely grassroots movements inside and outside Palestine will begin clamouring for a single state guaranteeing equality between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Israel’s vehement and aggressive opposition on both fronts will only serve to damage its image – and its relations with the US.
(...) Bolstering Washington’s argument that such pressures cannot be held in check for ever, a poll this month of US public opinion revealed a startling finding. Despite a US political climate committed to a two-state solution, nearly two-thirds of Americans back a single democratic state for Jews and Palestinians should a Palestinian state prove unfeasible. That view is shared by more than half of Israel’s supporters in the US.
That would constitute a paradigm shift, a moment of reckoning that draws nearer by the day as the peace process again splutters into irrelevance.
More about the poll on Haaretz
The packaging of three controversial Israeli laws — the governability, sharing the burden and referendum laws — in a single coalition bundle caused a tempest in the political and media swamps. The opposition parties boycotted debates and votes on those laws, claiming that bundling them together was an assault against the principles of democracy. Members of the coalition responded that the boycott brought disgrace on the legislature, which was the sanctuary of democracy. Both sides were right. This parliamentary event will hardly go down in the golden book of Israeli democracy. However, it is just a symptom of a more serious disease that has affected the spine of Israeli society and its institutions over the past few years, or to be more precise, Israel’s Jewish society...
Not a day goes by without us hearing the prime minister calling on the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. But is it possible to recognize Israel as a democratic state, as a state that makes every effort to treat all of its citizens as equals, regardless of religion, race, nationality or gender?
As BDS activists, we are no longer interested in the sterile opposition to normalization generated by the Oslo Accords, but rather in formulating the kind of response that could actually defeat multiple forms of Zionist oppression, i.e, occupation, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid. The moment the entire international community, civil society and governments, decides to act the same way it did against the apartheid system of White South Africa, Israel would succumb to the voice of reason represented by the 2005 BDS call issued by more than 170 Civil Society organizations and endorsed by almost all influential political forces from right to left of the political spectrum in historic Palestine and the Diaspora.
Since the world is showing a growing disapproval of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its settlement policies there, the urgent question now is — how long the world will tolerate Israel’s blatant constitutional racism?
The latest BDS success triggered by the American Studies Association resolution to endorse boycott of Israeli academic institutions is, in fact, what we have been calling for since 2004 when the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was launched...
SodaStream markets itself as an environmentally friendly product to “Turn Water Into Fresh Sparkling Water And Soda”… but there is nothing friendly about the destruction of Palestinian life, land and water resources! Although SodaStream products are labeled as "Made in Israel," its main production facility is in the industrial zone of Mishor Edomin, an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank...
When residents of one of the most radical settlements in the West Bank terrorized their Palestinian neighbors, the army and police did what they are becoming known for doing: absolutely nothing.
On April 25th, 2013, Raed Mahmoud Ahmad Sabah was in his house in the village of ‘Urif when he noticed three Israeli civilians, all wearing hoods, approaching his house from the nearby settlement of Yitzhar. Shortly afterwards, a settlement security vehicle joined the group, and out stepped a man who Sabah identified as a settlement security officer. Several minutes late, two IDF vehicles arrived, out of which emerged a handful of soldiers. The squad of hooded Israelis was reinforced by even more hooded Israelis who also came from the direction of Yitzhar. Together they began to hurl stones at Sabah’s home and at the neighboring houses and uprooting saplings. The Israeli soldiers, along with the settlement security officer, just stood about aimlessly.
Only when the young men of ‘Urif gathered to defend themselves and their property, did the army spring into action. Naturally, the IDF and Border Police began firing tear gas canisters at the Palestinians. Sabah would later count seven tear gas canisters in his courtyard. The Israeli rioters used the opportunity to sneak back home under cover of the gas. Needless to say, none of them were detained...
On 13 January, another attempt was made to take a humanitarian aid convoy into the besieged refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus, where about 20,000 people are trapped, including women and children.
The convoy was from UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, which serves over half a million Palestinian refugees in Syria, although about 70,000 of them have fled the fighting into Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere.
On 13 January, another attempt was made to take a humanitarian aid convoy into the besieged refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus, where about 20,000 people are trapped, including women and children.
The convoy was from UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, which serves over half a million Palestinian refugees in Syria, although about 70,000 of them have fled the fighting into Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere.
Amid reports of widespread malnutrition in Yarmouk, of women dying during childbirth because of shortages of medical care, and of children eating animal feed to survive, this is what happened to the UNRWA convoy...
"The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's senior adviser Dov Weisglass has told Haaretz.
"And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress."
According to reports, the secretary of state has accepted Netanyahu’s demand that Israel be recognized as a ‘Jewish state.’
Haaretz’s Barak Ravid reported Wednesday that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is demanding that Arab leaders pressure the Palestinians to recognize Israel as “a Jewish State,” or at least not protest if he can get Abbas to agree to such terms. This is yet another confirmation that the Obama administration has accepted the new demand posed by Netanyahu, and that it is intended to be a part of its proposal for a two-state settlement.
I find this move – and the indifference with which it was met among the Israeli-American peace camp – simply astonishing. The demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state originated in the Israeli far-right. The Left never demanded it, nor did any prime minister who negotiated with the Palestinians prior to Netanyahu. Even today’s elusive center sees no importance in it; Labor, Tzipi Livni – they never saw it as necessary. Even Finance Minister Yair Lapid, has taken hardline positions on other issues, came out publicly against these new terms. In other words, there was a Knesset majority against this idea.While it’s certainly an improvement from just five years ago, when pro-Palestine views were relegated to the most marginal corners of the left, the coverage has still been problematic, most notably for its near-blanket exclusion of Palestinian and Arab voices.
Rania Khalek, The Electronic Intifada, 19 December 2013
As the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel gains traction across the United States, progressive media outlets are being forced to acknowledge Israeli apartheid like never before.
While it’s certainly an improvement from just five years ago, when pro-Palestine views were relegated to the most marginal corners of the left, the coverage has still been problematic, most notably for its near-blanket exclusion of Palestinian and Arab voices.
This dynamic was on full display in recent days when a debate erupted at The Nation over the National Council of the American Studies Association’s decision to endorse the academic boycott of Israel. In the end, The Nation published a total of five pieces on the topic.
|Protests in Jerusalem|
'Day of rage' over demolition of 'unrecognised' villages in Bedouins' ancestral lands turns violent, with 40 arrests made
Several thousand people worldwide have taken part in protests at the Israeli government's plans to forcibly remove Bedouin Arabs from their villages in the Negev desert.
In Israeli towns and cities mounted police used teargas, stun grenades and water cannon against demonstrators, in what the Association of Civil Rights in Israel described as a "disproportionate" response to stone-throwing. More than 40 people were arrested at protests across the country, and 15 police officers were injured.
In what was billed as an international "day of rage", demonstrations were also held in London, Berlin, Rome, Istanbul, Cairo and in the United States.
To the article theguardian.com
Britons protest over Israel plan to remove 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins
More than 50 public figures including Antony Gormley and Brian Eno put names to letter opposing expulsion from historic land
|samidoun, Palsestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Only a political prisoner can fully comprehend the ordeal of a fellow political prisoner. The experiences of solitary confinement, ill-treatment, separation from the outside world, and the progressive erosion of the concept of time, cannot be fully translated into words. Imprisonment leaves behind deep scars, both in your flesh and in your soul.
Ahmed Kathrada is an anti-apartheid leader. He launched the Release Mandela Campaign and was imprisoned a year later, spending 26 years in apartheid jails. On October 27 on Robben Island, he launched the International Campaign to Free Marwan Barghouthi and All Palestinian Prisoners.
Together with leaders such as Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela, I spent more than a quarter of a century in the dungeons of apartheid in defence of an ideal that eventually triumphed: freedom and a non-racial and non-sexist, democratic South Africa. Like Israel today, the apartheid government framed our case as a "security threat", while it was evident that we were political prisoners fighting a legitimate struggle for national liberation against an oppressive and racist regime...
Historic Palestinian campaign launched on Robben Island youtube.com
Omar Barghouti, October 21, 2013
“Because it is a distortion of being more fully human, sooner or later being less human leads the oppressed to struggle against those who made them so. In order for this struggle to have meaning, the oppressed must not in seeking to regain their humanity (which is a way to create it), become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both.” 
The ongoing, tumultuous popular upheavals in the Arab world are ushering in a new phase that may break the rusty but still formidable imperial and neoliberal fetters that have consciously, systemically, and structurally inhibited human development in the entire Arab region. In addition to its anticipated emancipatory impact on peoples across this region, this process of radical transformation promises to further the struggle for self determination and ethical decolonization in historic Palestine.
Decolonization should not be understood as a blunt and absolute reversal of colonization, putting us back under pre-colonial conditions and undoing whatever rights had been acquired to date. Instead, decolonization can be regarded as a negation of the aspects of colonialism that deny the rights of the colonized indigenous population and, as a byproduct, dehumanize the colonizers themselves.
A secular, democratic unitary state in historic Palestine (in its British Mandate borders) is the most just and morally coherent solution to this century-old colonial conflict, primarily because it offers the greatest hope for reconciling the ostensibly irreconcilable — the inalienable rights of the indigenous Palestinian people, particularly the right to self-determination, and the acquired rights of the indigenized former colonial settlers to live in peace and security, individually and collectively, after ridding them of their colonial privileges.
Morality and legality aside, Israel has adopted a strategy of “territorial seizure and apartheid,” as the publisher of the Israeli daily Haaretz put it,  that obviates the practical possibility of implementing a two-state solution in line with a minimalist interpretation of relevant UN resolutions. Blinded by the arrogance of power and the ephemeral comfort of impunity afforded to it by the US-led West, Israel, against its own strategic Zionist interests, has failed to control its insatiable appetite for forcibly displacing more of the indigenous people of Palestine and for expanding its colonial control of their lands, undermining any real possibility for building a sovereign Palestinian state.
The fact that the single democratic state is morally and legally superior, however, does not necessarily make establishing it an easy task. It can only result from, among other factors, a long, intricate process of what I call ethical de-colonization, or de-Zionization, involving two simultaneous, dialectically related processes: reflection and action, or praxis. Ethical decolonization anchored in international law and universal human rights is a profound process of transformation that requires, above everything else, a sophisticated, principled and popular Palestinian resistance movement with a clear vision for justice and a democratic, inclusive society, with equal rights for all, Palestinian refugees included. This resistance must include the growing ranks of anti-colonial Jewish-Israelis, just as the South African struggle against apartheid included anti-racist and principled whites. It is also premised on two other pillars, a democratized and free Arab region, which now looks considerably less imaginary, and an international solidarity movement supporting Palestinian rights and struggling to end all forms of Zionist apartheid and settler-colonial rule.
In parallel with the process of ending injustice and restoring basic Palestinian rights, and while oppressive relationships are being dismantled and colonial privileges done away with, a conscious and genuine process of challenging the dichotomy between the identity of the oppressed and that of the oppressor must simultaneously be nourished to build the conceptual foundations for ethical coexistence in the decolonized future state. Only then can the end of oppression give birth to a common, post-oppression identity that can truly make the equality between the indigenous Palestinians and the indigenized settlers as just, sustainable and peaceful as possible.
Among the most discussed paths to resolving the question of Palestine, the civic, democratic state solution lays out the clearest mechanism for ending the three-tiered regime of injustice that Palestinians have suffered under since 1948 when Israel was created as a settler-colony on the ruins of Palestinian society. The three tiers are the occupation and colonization of the Palestinian – and other Arab –territory occupied by Israel in 1967; the system of institutionalized and legalized racial discrimination, or apartheid, to which the indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel are subjected to on account of being “non-Jews;” and the persistent denial of the intrinsic rights of the Palestine refugees, especially their right to return to their homes which was affirmed by UN resolution 194. An overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society has identified  these rights as the minimal requirements for the Palestinian people to exercise its inalienable right to self-determination.
A two-state solution cannot adequately, if at all, address the second injustice or the third, the core of the question of Palestine. But what about the bi-national state concept?
Bi-nationalism, initially espoused by liberal Zionist intellectuals , assumes that Jews around the world form a nation and is consequently premised on a Jewish national right in Palestine, on par and to be reconciled with the national right of the indigenous, predominantly Arab population. Bi-nationalism today, despite its variations, still upholds this ahistorical and morally untenable national right of the colonial-settlers.
A bi-national state solution also cannot accommodate the right of return as stipulated in UNGA resolution 194, not to mention the fact that it infringes, by definition, the inalienable rights of the indigenous Palestinians on part of their homeland, particularly the right to self-determination. Recognizing national rights of Jewish settlers in Palestine or any part of it cannot but imply accepting the right of colonists to self-determination. Other than contradicting the very letter, spirit and purpose of the universal principle of self-determination primarily as a means for “peoples under colonial or alien domination or foreign occupation” to realize their rights , such a recognition of national rights for a colonial-settler community may, at one extreme, lead to claims for secession, or Jewish “national” sovereignty, on part of the land of Palestine, undermining Palestinian self-determination.
A Jewish state in Palestine (“a state of the Jewish nation”), no matter what shape it takes, is by definition exclusionary; it cannot but contravene the basic rights of the land’s indigenous Palestinian population and perpetuate a system of racial discrimination that ought to be opposed categorically. Any other exclusionary regime in Palestine that denies citizens some of their rights based on their identity — ethnic, religious, gender, sexual, etc. — must be rejected just as strongly.
Accepting modern-day Jewish Israelis as equal citizens and full partners in building and developing a new shared society, free from all colonial subjugation and discrimination, as called for in the democratic state model, is the most magnanimous — rational — offer any oppressed indigenous population can present to its oppressors. Only by shedding their colonial privileges, dismantling their structures of oppression, and accepting the restoration of the rights of the indigenous people of the land, especially the right of Palestinian refugees to return and to reparations and the right of all Palestinians to unmitigated equality, can settlers be indigenized and integrated into the emerging nation and therefore become entitled to participating in determining the future of the common state.
The indigenous population, on the other hand, must be ready, after justice had been reached and rights had been restored, to forgive and to accept the former settlers as equal citizens, enjoying normal lives — neither masters nor slaves. The above explained process of de-dichotomization at the identity and conceptual level, not just in the concrete reality, that must proceed in parallel to the realization of rights is the most important guarantor of minimizing the possibility of lingering hostility or, worse, a reversal of roles between oppressor and oppressed once justice and equal rights have prevailed. The ultimate goal should be justice, equality and ethical coexistence, not revenge.
As the One State Declaration , issued by several Palestinian, Israeli and international intellectuals and activists in 2008, states:
In a future democratic state cultural particularity and diverse identities should be nourished, not just tolerated, by society and protected by law. Palestine was for centuries a fertile meeting ground for diverse civilizations and cultures, fostering communication, dialogue and acculturation among them. This heritage, almost forgotten under the cultural hegemony of Zionist colonial rule, must be revived and celebrated, regardless of any power asymmetry in the new state. We also must keep in mind that half of the Jewish-Israeli population, the Mizrahi/Arab Jews, have their cultural roots in Arab and other Middle Eastern cultures, making future coexistence even more likely.
While many Palestinians living in the occupied territories or in exile cannot entertain the idea of ever co-existing with Israelis in a post-colonial reality, mainly due to the current harsh conditions of Zionist racism, oppression and dispossession, most would agree that in the period that predated the Zionist conquest, when Jews were part of society, co-existence was ordinary. Unlike Europe, the history of Arab and Islamic civilizations does not include massacres or pogroms targeting the indigenous Jewish populations. Indeed, Jewish culture reached a highpoint under Arab-Islamic rule in Andalusia. Co-existence after establishing justice, far from being an artificial, “imported” concept, would connect with deep roots in our own history.
Moral reconciliation between conflicting communities is impossible if the essence of the oppressive relationship between them is sustained. The objectively contradictory identities of the oppressor and oppressed cannot find a moral middle ground. So long as oppression continues to characterize the communities’ relationship only coercion, submission and injustice are possible outcomes. Reconciliation and coexistence, then, can only result from ethical decolonization.
It is fair to assume, however, that the colonizers will use what they have at their disposal to perpetuate their colonial privileges and thwart transformative change towards justice. Some analysts go as far as predicting that Israel would use its nuclear weapons, its “Samson Option,” rather than accept the dismantling of its Zionist apartheid regime. Even without such dramatic predictions, one can surmise that the colonial community in Palestine will not only circle the wagons, as it were, against any common threat to the oppressive order; it will also shed any pretence of democracy or supposed respect for human rights and commit unprecedented egregious crimes against the indigenous Palestinians to maintain the system of oppression.
As the price of resistance rises, so will scepticism, including among some Palestinians, about the very merit of the struggle for emancipation and justice. This practical consideration coupled with ethical principles should guide effective resistance to Zionist apartheid and inform its adherence at all times to the highest moral standards. Resistance and solidarity forms that adopt a rights-based approach, as in the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, provide a good example. Other than being the right thing to do per se, an ethically consistent struggle in line with international law and universal principles of human rights will encourage Jewish-Israelis to join in “co-resistance” which is the most assured path to ethical co-existence.
By emphasizing equal humanity as its most fundamental principle, the secular democratic state promises to end the fundamental injustices that have plagued Palestine and, simultaneously, to transcend national and ethnic dichotomies that now make it nearly impossible to envision ethical coexistence in a decolonized Palestine, based on equality, justice and freedom—a truly promising land.
Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian human rights activist and independent researcher. He has advocated for the secular democratic state solution for more than three decades. This article reflects his personal analysis and does not represent the views of the BDS movement. This post is part of “What Comes Next?: A forum on the end of the two-state paradigm.” This series was initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace as an investigation into the current state of thinking about one state and two state solutions, and the collection has been further expanded by Mondoweiss to mark 20 years since the Oslo process. The entire series can be found there.
 Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum Books, 1993.
 Amos Schocken, The necessary elimination of Israeli democracy, Haaretz, 25 November 2011.
 Paulo Freire, ibid.
 In its most recent session in Cape Town, South Africa, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine concluded that, “Israel’s rule over the Palestinian people, wherever they reside, collectively amounts to a single integrated regime of apartheid.” Even human rights reports issued by the US State Department have condemned Israel’s “institutional, legal and societal discrimination” against the indigenous Palestinians. For example, see the 2010 report: link to www.state.govrls/hrrpt/2010/nea/154463.htm. Adalah, a leading Palestinian human rights organization in Haifa, lists more than 50 Israeli laws that discriminate against the Palestinian citizens of the state: link to adalah.orgDiscriminatory-Law-Database.
 Almost the entire spectrum in Palestinian civil society has endorsed these three basic rights in the historic call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), issued in July 2005.
 See, for instance, M. Reiner, Lord Samuel, E. Simon, M. Smilansky, Judah Leon Magnes, Palestine–Divided or United? The Case for a Bi-National Palestine before the United Nations, Greenwood Press, (Connecticut: 1983).
 Maath Musleh, Co-Resistance vs. Co-Existence, Maan News, 14 July 2011.
Israel continues to look for more Oslos to gain international legitimacy
September 15, 2013 Information Clearing House – The recent attempt to revive the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians is not likely to produce more meaningful results than that of any of the previous attempts. It comes 20 years after the Oslo Accords were signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
|Prof. Ilan Pappé, Exeter University, U.K.|
The Oslo Accords were a twofold event. There was the Declaration of Principles (DoP) signed ceremoniously on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993; and there was the relatively less celebrated ‘Oslo II’ agreement signed in September 1995 in Taba, Egypt, which outlined the implementation of the 1993 DoP, according to their Israeli interpretation.
The Israeli interpretation was that the Oslo Accords were merely an international as well as a Palestinian endorsement of the strategy the Israelis had formulated back in 1967 vis-à-vis the occupied territories. After the 1967 war, all the successive Israeli governments were determined to keep the West Bank as part of Israel. It was, for them, both the heart of the ancient homeland and a strategic asset that would prevent the bisection of the state into two should another war break out.
At the same time, the Israeli political elite did not wish to grant citizenship to the people living there, nor did they seriously contemplate their expulsion. They wanted to keep the area, but not the people. The first Palestinian uprising, however, proved the cost of the occupation, leading the international community to demand from Israel a clarification of its plans for the future of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. For Israel, Oslo was that clarification.
The Oslo Accords were not a peace plan for the Israelis; they were a solution to the paradox that had long troubled Israel, of wanting the physical space without the people on it. This was the predicament of Zionism from the day of its inception: how to have the land without its native people in a world that no longer accepted more colonialism and ethnic cleansing.
The Oslo II accords provided the answer: the discourse of peace will be employed while creating facts on the ground that lead to the restricting of the native population to small spaces, while the rest is annexed to Israel.
In the Oslo II accords, the West Bank was divided into three areas. Only one of them, Area A, where Palestinians lived in densely populated areas, was not directly controlled by Israel. It was a non-homogeneous territory that constituted a mere three per cent of the West Bank in 1995, and it grew to 18 per cent by 2011. The Israelis granted that area autonomy and created the Palestinian National Authority to run it. The two other areas, Area C and Area B, were run directly by Israel in the case of the former, and allegedly jointly, but also directly in practice, in the latter.
Oslo was meant to allow the Israelis to perpetuate this matrix of partition and control for a very long period. The second Palestinian uprising of 2001 showed that the Palestinians were unwilling to accept it. The Israeli response was to search for yet another Oslo, which we can perhaps call Oslo III, that would again grant them international and Palestinian acceptance for the way they want to rule the occupied territories. That is, by granting limited autonomy in densely populated Palestinian areas and full Israeli control over the rest of the territory. This would serve as a permanent solution in which that autonomy would eventually be termed ‘statehood’.
But something has changed in the Israeli view of Oslo since the year 2000. The political powers in Israel before 2000 were genuine, I believe, in their offer of Area C of the West Bank, and Gaza to the Palestinians for statehood. The political elite that took over in this century, however, while employing the discourse on two states, has established, without declaring it publicly, a one Israeli state in which Palestinians in the West Bank will be in the same secondary status as those living elsewhere inside Israel. They also found a special solution for the Gaza Strip: to ghettoise it.
The wish to maintain the status quo as a permanent reality became a full-blown Israeli strategy with the rise of Ariel Sharon to power in the early part of this century. The only hesitation he had was about the future of the Gaza Strip; and once he found the formula of ghettoising it, instead of ruling it directly, he felt no need to change the reality on the ground elsewhere in any dramatic way.
This strategy is based on the assumption that in the long run, the international community would grant Israel, if not legitimacy, than at least leniency toward its continued control over the West Bank. The Israeli politicians are aware that this strategy has isolated Israel in world public opinion, turning it into a pariah state in the eyes of civil society groups all over the globe. But, at the same time, they are also relieved to know that so far this global trend had little effect on the policies of the Western governments and their allies.
Any hope of reviving something out of the original ideas that led the Palestinians to support the Oslo Accords back in 1993 wilted with Ehud Olmet’s government of 2007, when it buried, for all intents and purposes, both the Oslo Accords and the two state solution.
This strategy was defined by Olmert as ‘unilateralism’. The raison d’être of this policy is that there would be no peace in the foreseeable future and therefore Israel has to decide unilaterally the fate of the West Bank. The diplomatic efforts in this century did very little to disrupt the implementation of this strategy on the ground.
From today’s vantage point, the strategy unfolds clearly on the ground. The West Bank is divided into two spaces: one Jewish, one Palestinian. The Jewish areas are more or less equivalent to Oslo’s Area C, where Israel has full control, but also parts of Area B, where the PNA (Palestine National Authority) and Israel share control. Together they form almost half of the West Bank.
Israel has not as yet annexed officially the ‘Jewish’ space; but it could do so in the future. For the time-being the ethnic identity of the space is determined by massive Jewish presence in it, coupled with a creeping ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian inhabitants in those areas, or pushing them into tight enclaves within this ‘Jewish’ space. The ‘Palestinian’ space, meanwhile, is Area A, which is controlled by the PNA, where Israel reserves the right to enter at will with its secret agents, special units and, if needed, massive armed forces, whenever it deems it necessary.
For the chief policy makers among Israel’s politicians and generals this is not a temporary situation, but a way of life that can be maintained for a very long time. It is complemented by several measures which are of the highest importance for anyone involved in the struggle against the occupation. The first is financial: the Israel government continues to pump large sums of money into the colonies and a result these colonies have now become an urban sprawl, with all the modern infrastructure of a new metropolis. The money is used mainly to build within the existing colonies, but also to expand the area around them in such a way that have turned them into a fixed feature in the landscape.
The second measure is the continued de-Arabisation of the ‘Greater Jerusalem’ area – more than 250,000 Palestinians were uprooted from this area that covers almost one third of the West Bank. This is achieved by demolition of houses, political arrests and mainly by not allowing people to return to the Greater Jerusalem area if they had made the mistake of leaving it.
The third measure is the network of walls. Its most visible feature is the famous Apartheid wall which has bisected the West Bank in a way that diminishes the territorial integrity for any future Palestinian state. The network also includes smaller fences and walls that enclave most of the Palestinian villages and towns in a way that does not allow any spatial development beyond the parameters in which people live now. In 2013, this is the state of Israel: one Zionist republic that stretches between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan, with an almost equal number of Palestinians and Jews in it. This demographic reality does endanger so far the identity of the state as a Jewish one, or the regime of the masters’ democracy.
There are no political parties of any significance in Israel that offer to change this reality. There is no real Western plan to stop the solidification of this one state on the ground, let alone offer a viable alternative to it in seriousness. Factors such as the fragmentation on the Palestinian side, the disintegration of the Arab nation states around Israel and a continued unconditional American support to Israel, all act as a buffer that cushions the Israeli Jewish public from any potential threats to their new enlarged, racist, but economically viable state.
The moral validity of this new geo-political enlarged state of Israel has been eroded significantly since the successful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign by Palestinian civil society began few years ago. Israel’s own actions have contributed to the state’s further de-legitimisation in the eyes of the civil societies around the world.
The past struggle in the West against South Africa’s apartheid regime shows that intentional rejection of a regime’s legitimacy is a bottom up process, and this may still happen to the new, enlarged state of Israel. The role of Palestine’s friends world-wide has therefore not changed and this is to continue with the same commitment and vigour to pressure their governments to sanction this new regime for its criminal policies.
The strategy for the people inside has also not changed much. The sooner they realise that they cannot struggle any more for an independent Palestine inside the ‘Palestinian space’, the better. They could instead concentrate on uniting the Palestinian front and strategising a struggle plan, together with progressive Israelis, for a regime change in this new one state that was established in 2001. There is an urgent need for a new strategy to reformulate the relationship between Jews and Palestinians in the land of Israel and Palestine.
The only reasonable regime for this seems to be one democratic state for all. If this is not going to happen, the storm on Israel’s borders will gather with even bigger force than hitherto. Everywhere in the Arab world, people and movements are seeking ways of changing regimes and oppressive political realities – surely this will also reach the new enlarged Israel; if not today, then tomorrow. The Israelis may occupy the best deck on the Titanic, but the ship is nonetheless sinking.
Read more here: www.odsg.org
The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a request by a group of Israelis to declare that they were members of the Israeli people and to allow them to change the ethnic registration on their identity cards from “Jewish” to “Israeli.”
The court ruled that the issue was not one for the court to decide and that there was no proof of the existence of a uniquely “Israeli” people. The court’s ruling echoed that in a similar case 40 years ago.
The decision by court President Asher Grunis and Justices Uzi Vogelman and Hanan Melcer upheld the 2008 ruling by their colleague, Noam Sohlberg, who, as a Jerusalem District Court judge, had rejected the group’s petition.
Israel does not recognize “Israeli” as an ethnic group [in Hebrew le’om.] The term can be translated into English as “nationhood,” but in the sense of ethnic affiliation, rather than citizenship. The le’om attrribution - the main ones are “Jewish” and “Arab” - is assigned by the Interior Ministry, regardless of the card-bearers preference.
The main appellant was Prof. Uzzi Ornan, a linguist who has long battled to separate religion and state. Ornan, 90, was born and raised in Jerusalem. He was expelled to Eritrea in 1944, when his underground activities were revealed to the British authorities. When he returned to Israel in 1948, he was registered in the state’s first census and insisted that he not be listed as “Jewish.” Instead, he wrote that he was of no religion and gave his ethnic designation as “Hebrew.” The newly-formed Interior Ministry accepted this without question.
In 2000, Ornan petitioned the Interior Ministry to be registered as an ethnic “Israeli,” but his request was rejected and none of his subsequent legal actions were successful. In 2007, he submitted another appeal to the Jerusalem District Court, together with Uri Avnery, Shulamit Aloni, Prof. Itamar Even-Zohar, Prof. Yosef Agassi, singer Alon Olearchik, playwright Joshua Sobol and others.
In his ruling rejecting the appeal, Sohlberg stated, “the requested declaration has a public, ideological, social, historic and political character – but not a legal one. This isn’t a technical issue of registration in the Population Registry, but a request that the court determine that in the State of Israel a new peoplehood has been formed, common to all its residents and citizens, called ‘Israeli.’ This issue is a national-political-social question and it is not the court’s place to decide it.”
The group argued in its appeal that an Israeli people was formed with the establishment of the State of Israel and that rejecting the existence of such a people is like rejecting the existence of the State of Israel as a democratic, sovereign state. They added that this was indeed a legal question that the courts could not avoid. In their response, the Interior Ministry and the attorney-general supported the district court decision, saying the issue was not justiciable.
The primary precedent on which the justices based themselves in their ruling Wednesday was the case of Dr. Georges Tamarin, who immigrated to Israel in 1949 from Yugoslavia. He was registered as being of Jewish ethnicity, but in the religion section was listed as having no religion.
In 1970, after a change in the law that forbade listing someone as being “Jewish” in either the ethnicity or religion section if he didn’t meet the description of a Jew in the Law of Return, Tamarin went to court to change his ethnic designation to “Israeli.” Both the Tel Aviv District Court and the Supreme Court rejected his request, stating that for a person to declare that he belongs to a given ethnic group, there had to be proof that the group exists. Court President Shimon Agranat stated that “there is no significance to the person’s subjective feeling of belonging to a given ethnic group, without being able to establish via any criteria that such a group exists.”
Ornan expressed his disappointment with the ruling. “In its ruling the court, in effect, agrees to totally ignore the obligations included in the Declaration of Independence, which promises full equality among all the state’s citizens, regardless of religion, race or gender,” he said.
“The government consensus that has developed ignores the existence of an Israeli people that was created with the Declaration of Independence,” Ornan continued. “This consensus enables the Jewish majority to have full control over the country and to operate not for the benefit of Israeli citizens but for the benefit of the current political majority among the Jews.”
|Raji Sourani, direktor of the Palestinian Center of Human Rights, Gaza|
"For his unwavering dedication to upholding the rule of law under exceptionally difficult circumstances"
Raji Sourani has, without fear or favour, defended and promoted human rights for all in Palestine and the Arab World for 35 years. As the most prominent human rights lawyer based in the Gaza Strip, Sourani established the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights to document and investigate human rights violations committed in the Occupied Territories, and has defended countless victims before Israeli courts. Never hesitant to speak truth to power, Sourani has been imprisoned on six separate occasions by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. As President of the Arab Organisation for Human Rights, he organised the first fact-finding mission to Libya after the fall of Colonel Qadaffi, and has recently trained Syrian lawyers, judges and activists on monitoring and reporting human rights violations.
The last three decades are littered with the carcasses of failed negotiating projects billed as the last chance for peace in Israel. All sides have been wedded to the notion that there must be two states, one Palestinian and one Israeli. For more than 30 years, experts and politicians have warned of a “point of no return.” Secretary of State John Kerry is merely the latest in a long line of well-meaning American diplomats wedded to an idea whose time is now past.
True believers in the two-state solution see absolutely no hope elsewhere. With no alternative in mind, and unwilling or unable to rethink their basic assumptions, they are forced to defend a notion whose success they can no longer sincerely portray as plausible or even possible.
It’s like 1975 all over again, when the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco fell into a coma. The news media began a long death watch, announcing each night that Generalissimo Franco was still not dead. This desperate allegiance to the departed echoes in every speech, policy brief and op-ed about the two-state solution today.
The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.
Using creative, colorful tools and supported by Palestinians from a number of villages, a group of Israeli women is trying to break the army’s campaign of fear and segregation.
|Take out the old, bring in the new. Signs on West Bank roads (Image: Crack in the Wall, Facebook)|
For several years now, all roads branching off of major Israeli-controlled West Bank highways and taking drivers towards Palestinian villages and cities, have been dominated by the presence of red trilingual warning signs. The signs threaten Israelis that the roads lead to Palestinian Authority controlled areas. Driving on them should thus be considered both a violation of the law, which officially forbids Israelis from entering “Area A” (although this law is almost never enforced), and a risk to one’s life, the signs warn.
On Saturday, July 13, a group of Israeli women went on a road trip to replace these threatening signs with more inviting texts. They traveled between several Palestinian towns and with the help of local residents, covered the military’s red with sheets of more colorful cloth. The messages on the new signposts read: “Civilian zone: No entry to the army! This road leads to Palestinian settlements. Israeli civilians, do not be afraid! Come and visit Palestinian settlements, refuse to be enemies!” (The Hebrew and Arabic versions use alternative words for “settlements,” which do not correspond to the English word for illegal Israeli settlements.)
The group, called “We do not obey,” previously gained considerable attention for publicly stating that they break the law and illegally enter Palestinian villages in order to smuggle Palestinian women through checkpoints into Israel.
|Upper Nazareth mayor Shimon Caspo|
Over the past few days, many people have been calling me a racist. Sometimes they also call me a Nazi, a bully or even Hitler. One need only look at the comments on Haaretz’s website to put me before a firing squad. What’s my crime? What act of bullying did I commit? I made a clear and unequivocal statement that Upper Nazareth was a Jewish city.
Yes — I’m not afraid to say it out loud, to write it and add my signature, or declare it in front of the cameras: Upper Nazareth is a Jewish city and it’s important that it remains so. If that makes me a racist, then I’m a proud offshoot of a glorious dynasty of “racists” that started with the “Covenant of the Pieces” [that God made with Abraham, recounted in Genesis 15:1–15] and the explicitly racist promise: “To your seed I have given this land” [Genesis 15:38].
When the Jewish people were about to return to their homeland after a long journey from slavery in Egypt, where they were enslaved for racist reasons, the God of Israel told Moses how to act upon conquering the land: he must cleanse the land of its current inhabitants. “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you allow to remain... as I thought to do to them, so will I do to you” [Numbers 33:55–56].
God gave them an explicit warning. Yes, the racist Joshua conquered the land in a racist manner. More than 3,000 years later, the Jewish people stood bruised and bleeding on the threshold of their land, seeking once again to take possession of it from the wild tribes that had seized the land in its absence. And then, an outbreak of racism flooded the country.
The racist Theodor Herzl wrote "Der Judenstaat" (“The Jewish State,” not “The State of All Its Citizens”). Lord Balfour recommended the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people. David Ben-Gurion, Chaim Arlosoroff, Moshe Sharett and other racists established the Jewish Agency, and the racist UN decided to establish a Jewish state — in other words, a state for Jews. The racist Ben-Gurion announced the establishment of the Jewish State in the Land of Israel, and during the War of Independence even made sure to bring in hundreds of thousands of Jews and drive out hundreds of thousands of Arabs who had been living here — all to enable it to be founded with the desired racist character.
Since then, racially pure kibbutzim without a single Arab member and an army that protects a certain racial strain have been established, as have political parties that proudly bear racist names such as “Habayit Hayehudi” — “the Jewish home.” Even our racist national anthem ignores the existence of the Arab minority — in other words, the people Ben-Gurion did not manage to expel in the 1948 war. If not for all that “racism,” it’s doubtful we could live here, and doubtful that we could live at all.
In these times of hypocrisy and bleeding-heart sanctimoniousness, of the proliferation of flaky types who are disconnected from reality, in the relative security that causes us to forget the dangers we face, we can sit in north Tel Aviv, and cry “racism” to seem enlightened and good-hearted in our own eyes. We can be shocked at a mayor who prefers that his city, which is right next to the largest Arab city in Israel, retain a Jewish majority and not be swallowed up in the Arab area that surrounds it. There will not be a single Jew in the future Palestinian state, but that’s all right. That isn’t racism.
Upper Nazareth is a Jewish city. Fewer than one-fifth of its inhabitants are Arab citizens, and they enjoy full municipal and national rights. Many of them are friends of mine, and I like and respect many of them. I could wish that Jews were treated the way the Arabs of Upper Nazareth are — not only those Jews who lived in Europe of times past, but also those who live in the Arab countries of today. If that were the case, perhaps we of Upper Nazareth would have no need to be “racists.”
The writer is the mayor of Upper Nazareth.
|Prawer won't pass!|
Following the first ‘Day of Rage’ against the planned uprooting of tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouin in the Naqab (Negev) on July 15, Palestinian activists inside Israel have called a second ‘Day of Rage’ for August 1.
On July 15, thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel along with Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and regional refugee camps, held numerous demonstrations against the so-called Prawer Plan being advanced by the Israeli government. Protesters – including Palestinian Members of the Israeli Knesset, marched, blocked roads, and were violently dispersed by security services (including several arrests).
|Thirty thousand reasons...|
By this time you, my dear Free Haifa readers, are probably angry and despaired of me. What is the justification to maintain your blogger for such a long time on the sunny Haifa beach if when there are real important things happening on the ground you hear nothing of him? Yes, if you rely only on Free Haifa for your news, you might have missed the general strike that was declared for 15/7 by the leadership of the ’48 Palestinians in solidarity with the Naqab (Negev) Arab population, against the new Israeli “Prawer Plan” for comprehensive ethnic cleansing of the area. It was a memorable day, a new step in the evolving historic struggle, as I will explain in the rest of this post. But first let me lay down my excuses for not writing on time.
What went wrong with me?
Who said that blogging is easy or safe?
On Monday 15/7, as part of the declared strike and “day of rage”, I was embedded at your service with some 500 demonstrators, mostly young, on the main junction just before Sakhneen, in the center of the Galilee. To show their depth of solidarity and determination to resist the government crimes, the demonstrators swamped the junction and stopped traffic for over an hour. I was holding a Palestinian flag, which is a good way to show your solidarity and also saves the need to take active part in the quarrel or throw stones when push comes to shoves.
It all went very well until the police gathered an impressive force around us, including some Border Guard bullies, “Yasam” gangster-cops and some cops mounted on heavy horses. Having done all this effort in our honor they wouldn’t just let us run away under regular attack. They sent one unit to cut us from the back blocking our retreat path to Sakhneen and attacked at full force, all at once, with horses galloping at the crowd, a barrage of stun grenades with some gas grenades following, and plain clothed detectives catching individual demonstrators, felling them to the ground and beating them.
Being slow to retreat and carrying the flag up in the middle of the mess, I became an easy and obvious target to the stun grenades, pretty heavy metal devices that tend to explode, which some cops threw directly at us from short distance. I received 3 direct hits, in both legs and one in my waist. After some time, when things calmed and I could distance myself from the area of confrontation, I was carried by some youth to receive emergency treatment in Sakhneen. Sitting with friends later I heard that some other flag carriers were hit the same way, one child suffered a direct hit in his head which caused a bleeding injury.
Read more here: freehaifa.wordpress.com/author/freehaifa/
On 15 July 2013, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Palestinian communities across Israel and the Arab world to protest against the Prawer Plan, which threatens to forcibly displace tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouin citizens in the Naqab (Negev). Adalah’s Media Director, Salah Mohsen, called the demonstrations “an extraordinary show of solidarity” with the Bedouin in the Naqab. (…)
The Prawer-Begin Law passed a first reading in the Knesset on 24 June 2013, with a vote of 43 to 40. The law is the legislative arm of the Prawer Plan, which, if fully implemented, will destroy dozens of ‘unrecognized’ Arab Bedouin villages in the Naqab, forcibly displace up to 70,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel, and confiscate over 800,000 dunams of their ancestral Bedouin land. To the article on Adalah...
9th July 2013
“Prawer Plan” to uproot and dispossess indigenous Bedouin-Palestinian Communities in the Naqab (Negev) is latest definitive evidence of the colonial nature of Zionism.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) condemns the racist and colonial “Prawer Plan” which was adopted by the Israeli government as official policy and recently passed by parliament (Knesset) in the first reading. This plan calls for ethnically cleansing tens of thousands of Bedouin Palestinian citizens of Israel by confiscating hundreds of thousands of dunams  of land that they have owned for generations in the Naqab and destroying their homes and communities to expand Jewish-only settlements in the Naqab. Full article...
Monday, June 24th, 2013 (Jerusalem)
|Destroyed Bedouin houses in Beer al-Mashash, Negev|
The Knesset voted in favor to the Prawer-Begin bill. Forty-three Members of Knesset voted in favor and 40 voted in opposition to the passage of the bill. The Prawer-Begin bill will displace at least 30,000 (and up to 70,000) Bedouin citizens.
Furthermore, it will dispossess the Arab Bedouin population of its land and traditional means of production as well diminish its social structure. The bill will cause Bedouins to be concentrated into impoverished, urban areas where their potential for self-development will be stymied.
The approval of the Prawer-Begin bill is contrary to the recommendations of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2011), which has called on Israel to refrain from forcibly evicting residents and to stop the demolitions in the unrecognized villages. It also contradicts the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (2007), which has called for the State to examine the possibility of recognizing Bedouin villages, allow Bedouin to control and tend their fields and desist with evacuations that are conducted without the consent of the residents in the villages. Full article...
Theresa Wolfwood has made this Summary of Proceedings: Together For One Democratic State to read in PDF-Format.
Speech of Richard Falk on BDS
and the perspectives of a common democratic state in Palestine
(Prof. emeritus of international law, Princeton University, United Nations Special Rapporteur, on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.
Contributions of other speakers Public Solidarity
Monday, June 24th, 2013 (Jerusalem): The Knesset voted in favor to the Prawer-Begin bill. Forty-three Members of Knesset voted in favor and 40 voted in opposition to the passage of the bill. The Prawer-Begin bill will displace at least 30,000 (and up to 70,000) Bedouin citizens.
Furthermore, it will dispossess the Arab Bedouin population of its land and traditional means of production as well diminish its social structure. The bill will cause Bedouins to be concentrated into impoverished, urban areas where their potential for self-development will be stymied.
The approval of the Prawer-Begin bill is contrary to the recommendations of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2011), which has called on Israel to refrain from forcibly evicting residents and to stop the demolitions in the unrecognized villages. It also contradicts the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (2007), which has called for the State to examine the possibility of recognizing Bedouin villages, allow Bedouin to control and tend their fields and desist with evacuations that are conducted without the consent of the residents in the villages.
At the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, the Israeli military and political leadership's attacks on critics reflects Israel's isolation and the strength of the boycott campaign.
Monday, 29 April 2013
Who we are
As intellectuals, academics, activists, artists, concerned citizens, and social movements we stand in solidarity with the Syrian revolution and people's struggle against dictatorship.
Solidarity With the Syrian Struggle for Dignity and Freedom
We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with the millions of Syrians who have been struggling for dignity and freedom since March 2011. We call on people of the world to pressure the Syrian regime to end its oppression of and war on the Syrian people. We demand that Bashar al-Assad leave immediately without excuses so that Syria can begin a speedy recovery towards a democratic future.
Since March 2011, Assad’s regime has steadily escalated its violence against the Syrian people, launching Scud missiles, using weapons banned by the Geneva Convention such as cluster bombs and incendiary munitions, and using aerial bombardment. The regime has detained and tortured tens of thousands of people and committed untold massacres.
It has refused political settlements that do not include Assad in power, and it has polarized the society through strategic acts of violence and by sowing seeds of division. The regime has also, since the early days of the uprising, sought to internationalize the crisis in order to place it within geopolitical battles that would only strengthen the regime.
Staying true to the logics of an authoritarian regime, Assad could never accept the legitimate demands of the Syrian people for freedom and dignity. Thus, there is no hope for a free, unified, and independent Syria so long as his regime remains in power.
This is a revolt that was sparked by the children of Deraa and the sit-ins and demonstrations of the youth in the cities, the peasants of the rural areas, and the dispossessed and marginalized of Syria. It is they who rallied non-violently through protests and songs and chants, before the regime’s brutal crackdown.
Since then, the regime has pushed for the militarization of the Syrian nonviolent movement. As a result, young men took up arms, first out of self-defense. Lately, this has resulted in attempts by some groups fighting the regime to force a climate of polarization, and negation of the Other politically, socially and culturally. These acts that are in themselves against the revolution for freedom and dignity.
Yet, the revolution for freedom and dignity remains steadfast. It is for this reason that we, the undersigned, appeal to those of you in the global civil society, not to ineffective and manipulative governments, to defend the gains of the Syrian revolutionaries, and to spread our vision: freedom from authoritarianism and support of Syrians’ revolution as an integral part of the struggles for freedom and dignity in the region and around the world.
The fight in Syria is an extension of the fight for freedom regionally and worldwide. It cannot be divorced from the struggles of the Bahrainis, Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans, Yemenis, and other peoples who have revolted against oppression and authoritarianism as well as against those seeking to usurp or destroy the uprisings and divert them for their own agendas. It is connected to the Palestinians’ struggle for freedom, dignity and equality.
The revolution in Syria is a fundamental part of the North African revolutions, yet, it is also an extension of the Zapatista revolt in Mexico, the landless movement in Brazil, the European and North American revolts against neoliberal exploitation, and an echo of Iranian, Russian, and Chinese movements for freedom.
The Syrian revolution has confronted a world upside down, one where states that were allegedly friends of the Arabs such as Russia, China, and Iran have stood in support of the slaughter of people, while states that never supported democracy or independence, especially the US and their Gulf allies, have intervened in support of the revolutionaries. They have done so with clear cynical self interest. In fact, their intervention tried to crush and subvert the uprising, while selling illusions and deceptive lies.
Given that regional and world powers have left the Syrian people alone, we ask you to lend your support to those Syrians still fighting for justice, dignity, and freedom, and who have withstood the deafening sounds of the battle, as well as rejected the illusions sold by the enemies of freedom.
As intellectuals, academics, activists, artists, concerned citizens, and social movements we stand in solidarity with the Syrian people to emphasize the revolutionary dimension of their struggle and to prevent the geopolitical battles and proxy wars taking place in their country. We ask you to lend your support to all Syrians from all backgrounds asking for a peaceful transition of power, one where all Syrians can have a voice and decide their own fate.
We also reject all attempts of any group to monopolize power, and to impose its own agenda, or to impose unitary or homogenous identities on the Syrian people. We ask you to support those people and organizations on the ground that still uphold the ideals for a free and democratic Syria.
List of signatories
To add your name please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As the two-state solution becomes progressively more problematic, a third option, a single democratic, pluralistic, bi-national state, requires serious consideration
To the article The Independent
An event to be held at a St Andrews hotel, aimed at raising funds for the Friends of the IDF and the JNF, has been cancelled on police advice in the face of serious mobilisations for planned protests. Palestine activists, human rights campaigners and students joined forces to speak out against the inclusion of Friends of the IDF and the JNF in the list of organisations that will benefit from the fundraiser.
Although the world has beome used to hearing protestations of vulnerability and the fear of annihilation from Israeli commentators, it's extraordinary how frank the state's leaders can be in unguarded moments.
Here are some quotations from Prime ministers, ministers and generals that show Israel's conflicts in a rather differnt light.
An event to be held at a St Andrews hotel, aimed at raising funds for the Friends of the IDF and the JNF, has been cancelled on police advice in the face of serious mobilisations for planned protests. Palestine activists, human rights campaigners and students joined forces to speak out against the inclusion of Friends of the IDF and the JNF in the list of organisations that will benefit from the fundraiser.
The Friends of the IDF fundraise for projects benefiting the Israeli Army and soldiers, an occupation force that brutalises, humiliates, kills and maims Palestinians, commits widespread human rights abuses to maintain the illegal occupation and settlements, and flouts international law. The cancellation is a further blow to supporters of such human rights abuses; in late 2012 Stevie Wonder pulled out of an FIDF fundraiser after realising the nature of the organisation.
The Jewish National Fund, experts in racist land administration, have long-faced the opposition of Palestine solidarity campaigners in Scotland. The JNF is responsible for dispossessing tens of thousands of Palestinians of their lands, for example building the "British Park" over the ruins of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages. Last week the Scottish TUC reinforced its commitment to opposing the activities of the JNF in enforcing an apartheid system in Israel and Palestine.
Earlier in the week a statement from Scottish Jews for a Just Peace stated: "We are deeply saddened and concerned that St Andrews Jewish society has been persuaded to use its charity ball to raise money for the Jewish National Fund and Friends of the Israel Defence Forces. The JNF takes over Palestinian land – including homes of Palestinian refugees and land in the occupied territories – and will not lease or sell land to non-Jews. And FIDF gives solidarity to an army whose attacks on Palestinian civilians have become increasingly persistent, violent and brazen. We urge everyone of conscience, Jew and non-Jew, not to go to this event. St Andrews Jewish Society claims to be friendly, welcoming and non-political. We ask it to live up to that description."
Dr Hajo G Meyer, a long-time friend of the Palestine solidarity movement in Scotland spent ten months in Auschwitz as a Jew and member of the Dutch Resistance, sent a message of support to the protest saying, "I strongly urge the Golf Hotel to cancel this atrocious event on Friday since it is a provocation to all who support human rights. If I could, I would be with you to join your protest in support of universal values of freedom and justice and freedom from racist occupation".
The JNF, a pillar of Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleansing, has suffered yet another setback; let us make sure their next Scottish attempt to raise funds at a charity shoot on June 4th at Cowan's Law is a similar debacle. Come to the Stop the JNF open organising meeting on Wednesday May 1st at 7.30pm at St John's Church, Princes Street, Edinburgh. RSVP for details 07931 200 361, email@example.com.
In December 2012, the German Social-Democratic Party (SPD) published a call for donations to plant trees in the “Forest of German States.” This Forest is located in the Israeli Negev and was planted, in part, on land claimed by Bedouin citizens of the country. In response to this fundraising campaign, the Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF) wrote a letter to the Party’s members, urging them to stop the donations project and explaining the complex reality in the Negev. In addition, NCF produced a video with Dr. Awad Abu Freich, one of the owners of the land where the forest is planted. The SPD reacted to this letter by inquiring with the JNF/KKL about this particular forest.
The JNF/KKL responses to the SPD regarding the “Forest of German States” have been rather specious. They serve as justification for the JNF’s discriminatory practice of developing forests on contested land in an attempt to Judaize the Negev/Naqab—a practice that is criticized in Israel and abroad. By partnering with the JNF, the SPD is complicit with this discriminatory practice. Given the egalitarian values of the SPD, we urge the SPD to reconsidering this partnership..
(...) My battle is not only for individual freedom. The battle waged by me and by my heroic colleagues, Tariq, Ayman and Ja’affar, is everyone’s battle, the battle of the Palestinian people against the occupation and its prisons. Our goal is to be free and sovereign in our liberated state and in our blessed Jerusalem... freehaifa.wordpress.com
aljazeera.com Israel court defers release of hunger striker:
reuters.com EU calls for better conditions for Palestinians jailed in Israel
HRC fact-finding mission's report released Thursday is the international body's harshest condemnation of Israeli policy in West Bank since 1967; UN investigators say Israel must withdraw all settlers at once; Israel's Foreign Ministry: Report is one-sided and biased.
A UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission on Thursday released its harshest report over Israeli policy in the West Bank since 1967, urging governments and private corporations across the world to consider economic and political sanctions against Israel over its construction in the settlements. This is the first time such a call has been made from within the United Nations.
"The Mission calls upon all Member States to comply with their obligations under international law and to assume their responsibilities in their relationship to a State breaching peremptory norms of international law – specifically not to recognize an unlawful situation resulting from Israel’s violations," said a report by the inquiry led by French judge Christine Chanet.
"Private companies must assess the human rights impact of their activities and take all necessary steps – including by terminating their business interests in the settlements – to ensure they are not adversely impacting the human rights of the Palestinian People in conformity with international law," the report added.
Report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem : United Nations HRC Report (PDF).
philosopher and professor
of comparative literature
at Berkeley University
[ … ] And yet all of us here have to distinguish between the right to listen to a point of view and the right to concur or dissent from that point of view; otherwise, public discourse is destroyed by censorship. I wonder, what is the fantasy of speech nursed by the censor? There must be enormous fear behind the drive to censorship, but also enormous aggression, as if we were all in a war where speech has suddenly become artillery.
[ … ] Let us consider, then, go back to the right of return, which constitutes the controversial third prong of the BDS platform. The law of return is extended to all of us who are Jewish who live in the diaspora, which means that were it not for my politics, I too would be eligible to become a citizen of that state. At the same time, Palestinians in need of the right of return are denied the same rights? If someone answers that “Jewish demographic advantage” must be maintained, one can query whether Jewish demographic advantage is policy that can ever be reconciled with democratic principles. If one responds to that with “the Jews will only be safe if they retain their majority status,” the response has to be that any state will surely engender an opposition movement when it seeks to maintain a permanent and disenfranchised minority within its borders, fails to offer reparation or return to a population driven from their lands and homes, keeps over four million people under occupation without rights of mobility, due process and political self-determination, and another 1.6 million under siege in Gaza, rationing of food, administering unemployment, blocking building materials to restore bombed homes and institutions, intensifying vulnerability to military bombardment resulting in widespread injury and death.
Full article: thenation.com.
Israeli settlements in the occupied territories violate Palestinians' human rights in ways designed to drive them off the land, a UN report states.
The report says settlements displace Palestinians, destroy their crops and property, and subject them to violence.
|A water pump in the Jordan Valley
In the Jordan Valley, colonization is based on the exploitation of scarce resources, such as water, for the benefit of the Israeli settlements specializing in export agriculture. For several years the area was cut off from the rest of the West Bank, and currently Palestinian communities holding on to their land are under threat of deportation. The Jewish National Fund is a major actor in the colonization of the Jordan Valley. We are publishing an updated report based on fresh evidence gathered by activists.
The Jordan Valley covers some 30 per cent of the area of the West Bank along it eastern border. The area is inhabited by approximately 65,000 Palestinians (as of 2009). The colonization of the Jordan Valley began already in the late 1960s; now ca. 10,000 settlers live in 37 Israeli settlements whose economic mainstay is agriculture for export. The settlers – who now comprise less than 15% of the area’s population control 860 thousand dunams (86,000 hectares) – that is, almost 50% of the Jordan Valley.Water and Exploitation
To understand the true dimensions of the exploitation of natural resources in the dry Jordan Valley by the Israeli agricultural settlements, one needs to look at access to water: The Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley use one quarter of the annual water consumption of the entire Palestinian population of the West Bank, some 2.5 million people.
Since 1967, Israel has taken control of most of the water sources in the Jordan Valley, allocating them to the almost exclusive use of settlers in the area. Over-extraction of water by the settlers and the discriminatory allocation of water resources in the northern West Bank have contributed to drinking water shortages and a sharp decline in lands under cultivation for Palestinians. Water shortage affects many parts of the West Bank, but in the dry Jordan Valley, water economy is precarious and vulnerable, and dependent on annual precipitation. Many Palestinian families, mostly Bedouins, have no access to water pipelines and are forced to buy water from tankers, paying on average three times the cost of water for Israeli settlers.
As campaign posters pop up around Israel ahead of the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections, Palestinian Bedouin citizens of the state are still reeling after being denied the chance to elect their own local council representatives.
Legal rights activists say the move represents the limits of democracy in Israel, particularly with regard to its non-Jewish citizens.
“Every citizen wants to have a say in the affairs of their lives. This is their legal right,” Jazi Abu Kaf, a local leader in Um Batin, a Bedouin village of some 4,000 residents in the southern Naqab (Negev) desert, said. “The authorities don’t want to allow elections or see leaders [emerge] from among the local people.”
|The construction of Israel’s mammoth apartheid wall has separated Palestinian farmers from their fields and destroyed Palestinians' legally owned fertile agricultural land.|
Since the idea of Zionism first gripped the minds of a few intellectuals and the limbs of many agrarian pioneers in the early 20th century, the state of Israel has presented its settlement of the land of Palestine, and its uprooting of the Palestinian people, as a rejuvenation of the earth. By “greenwashing” the occupation, Israel hides its apartheid behind an environmentalist mirage, and distracts public attention not only from its brutal oppression of the Palestinian people, but from its large-scale degradation of the earth upon which these tragedies unfold.
Determined to “make the desert bloom”, an international organisation -- the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (JNF-KKL, or JNF) planted forests, recreational parks and nature reserves to cover over the ruins of Palestinian villages, as refugees were scattered far from, or worse, a few hilltops away from, the land upon which they and their ancestors had based their lives and livelihoods.
Today, as Israel portrays itself as a “green democracy”’, an eco-friendly pioneer in agricultural techniques such as drip irrigation, dairy farming, desert ecology, water management and solar energy, Israeli factories drain toxic waste and industrial pollutants down from occupied West Bank hilltops into Palestinian villages, and over-pumping of groundwater aquifers denies Palestinians access to vital water sources in a context of increasing water scarcity and pollution.Jewish National Fund
The Jewish National Fund (JNF), perhaps the first transnational environmental NGO, was established in 1901, as the first wave of Jewish immigrants were settling in Palestine under the banner of Zionism. Throughout the 20th century, as the indigenous Arab population of Palestine found itself either expelled from its homeland or oppressed under the hand of a foreign invader, the JNF succeeded in raising enormous amounts of money to acquire and develop land throughout the territory that, in 1948, would become known as the State of Israel. Distinct from other transnational Zionist fundraising and advocacy organisations, such as the Jewish Agency, the JNF portrayed itself, from the beginning, as an environmental organisation, serving, according to its website, to “protect the land, green the landscape and preserve vital ecosystems” by “planting seedlings, maintaining forest health, combating desertification, protecting watersheds and managing water flow … [and] balancing the phenomenal growth and development Israel has experienced in the last decade with the maintenance of an ecologically sound environment”.
Proud that “Israel is the only country in the world that will enter the 21st century with a net gain in numbers of trees”, the JNF credits itself with planting 250 million trees, building more than 210 reservoirs and dams, developing more than 250,000 acres of land, creating more than 1000 parks and providing the infrastructure for more than 1000 communities throughout Israel. Suiting a state constructed for a single cultural-religious group, the JNF promotes an exclusionary, discriminatory brand of environmentalism. From its inception in 1901 -- when the JNF controlled but a single olive grove in a land where 94% of its neighbours were Arab -- to today, working closely with the Israel government, the JNF directly owns 13% of Israel’s land and effectively controls another 80%. The JNF’s constitution has explicitly stated that its land cannot be rented, leased, sold to or worked by non-Jews.
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the JNF-- helping to exile hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families, bulldoze their homes and clear the land to make way for Jewish settlement -- bought large tracts of land from absentee landowners, evicted local Arab tenant farmers, uprooted natural vegetation of olive, carob and pistachio trees, and planted throughout the land, in place of indigenous arboreta, vast swaths of European pinera (conifers) and eucalyptus trees.
Forests, parks and recreational facilities were strategically placed atop the ruins of destroyed Palestinian villages, so that the fast-growing pines would erase the history of Palestinian existence and prevent refugees from ever returning to their homes. In addition, pine forests were planted to guard and expand settlements built atop stolen land and, after 1967, to seize and divide Palestinian territory within east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.
The pines helped evoke images of a European wilderness, creating a familiar “natural” environment for the mostly European Jewish settlers, so much so that settlers affectionately nicknamed Carmel National Park, planted partially over the destroyed Palestinian village of al-Tira, “little Switzerland” for its resemblance to the Swiss Alps. Foreign species, these pine forests, then and now, often fail to adapt to the local soil and require frequent re-planting. As they age, they demand more water and become more prone to problems like pests, disease and conflagrations, such as the 2010 Carmel wildfire, deemed the worst in Israel’s history. As their fast-growing acidic pine needles fall to the ground, they destroy all other surrounding small plants, thus ruining the livelihood of Palestinian shepherds, whose animals depend on grazing land.
More at: links.org.
The Jewish National Fund (JNF), a.k.a. Keren Keyemeth le Israel, Inc. (KKL), has a long and obscure legal existence in the United States that occasionally has come to light in open court. This article addresses the history of selective U.S. legal and diplomatic action concerning the JNF. The JNF’s U.S. arm defines itself as a charitable organization, thus claiming and enjoying tax exemption with its associated para-state organizations, only once effectively challenged since 1926. The context and arguments of domestic U.S. jurisprudence now may suggest a new direction for U.S. federal courts to reconcile some of the related legal contradictions that also having grave consequences for US foreign policy towards the Middle East, but primarily for the direct victims of Israel’s para-state institutions. […]
Recently, disputes have arisen between the Jerusalem-based KKL and its international branches. In light of encroaching legal and popular scrutiny of their operations, the U.S. and UK affiliates have sought at least a rhetorical hedge against exposure of an association with the KKL that would cause them to lose nonprofit status in their host countries. The U.S. entity finally registered itself in New York State as a separate entity in 2003. The New York Secretary of State website lists “KKL-USA, INC,” founded 15 May 2003, as a nonprofit association. Information resurfacing shows that the U.S. affiliate is actually not separate from the KKL-Israel, as indeed it never has been. Donations to the U.S. arm of the JNF have historically formed the largest source of cash contributions to the KKL-Israel.
More at: badil.org.
|Judea & Samaria only
Because the Palestinian Authority has no real control or sovereignty, anyone who wishes to go to the occupied West Bank can only do so with Israeli permission. This includes foreign visitors and thousands of Palestinians with third country passports who live or visit there.
Even though many foreign nationals live and work in the West Bank, there is no such thing as a work permit that allows them to work for Palestinian institutions or companies based in the occupied West Bank, or simply to live there securely.
So such people get Israeli “tourist” visas which they have to constantly renew and which are frequently arbitrarily denied (...)
Stamping passports "Judea and Samaria"
In the past, an Israeli visa meant that a foreign visitor or Palestinian with a foreign passport could roam throughout “Israel” and across the West Bank.
But since at least 2009, Israel began stamping passports of visitors to the West Bank with the words “Palestinian Authority only,” meaning that the bearer could only move within the occupied West Bank.
Now in a significant new development, Israel has begun stamping passports with the words “Judea & Samaria only.”
Full article on: electronicintifada.net.
Letter with 52 signatories including artists and activists also denounces US and EU 'complicity' through weapons sales
Full article: guardian.co.uk.
|The illegal building on occupied land just carries on|
ISRAEL did not wait long to reveal its first response to the United Nations General Assembly’s overwhelming recognition of Palestine as a non-member state, almost immediately announcing its intention to push forward with plans to build housing for Jewish settlers in E1, an area of the West Bank just to the east of Jerusalem.
Although it is sometimes misleadingly referred to as “disputed” or “controversial,” settlement construction in E1 is no more and no less of a contravention of international law than settlement construction elsewhere in the West Bank or East Jerusalem. What makes this development significant is E1’s location, sealing tight the gap between East Jerusalem and Israel’s largest settlement, Maale Adumim, further to the east.
That gap is the last remaining link for Palestinians between the northern and southern parts of the West Bank; it also occupies the interface among and between the Palestinian communities of Ramallah, Bethlehem and East Jerusalem — which, apart from being the cultural, religious, social and economic focal point of Palestinian life, is also one day supposed to be the capital of Palestine.
To the article: New York Times
|Shortly after an israeli bombing raid, an injured man
looks anxiously to the sky
The Gaza Ceasefire, unlike a similar ceasefire achieved after Operation Cast Lead four years ago, is an event that has a likely significance far beyond ending the violence after eight days of murderous attacks. It is just possible that it will be looked back upon as a turning point in the long struggle between Israel and Palestine. Many have talked about ‘the fog of war,’ but it pales besides the ‘the fog of truce making,’ and in our media-infected air, the outcomes along with conjectures about the future are already being spun in all possible directions. Supporters of every position give their own spin, and then proclaim ‘victory.’ But as with the violent phases of the conflict, it is clarifying to distinguish the more persuasive contentions and interpretations from those that are less persuasive. What follows is one such attempt at such clarification.
It remains too soon to tell whether the ceasefire will hold for very long, and if it does, whether its central provisions will be implemented in good faith. At this early moment, the prospects are not promising. Israel has already used excessive violence to disperse Palestinian civilians who gathered on the Gaza side of the border, with a few straying across into Israel, to celebrate what they thought was their new freedom now to venture close to the border. This so-called ‘no-go-area’ was decreed by Israel after its 2005 ‘disengagement’ has been a killing field where 213, including 17 children and 154 uninvolved, had lost their lives according to Israeli human rights organizations. Israeli security forces, after firing warning shots, killed one Palestinian civilian and wounded another 20 others with live ammunition. The Israeli explanation was that it had given warnings, and since there had been no agreement on new ground rules implementing the ceasefire, the old regime of control was still in place. It is notable that Hamas protested, but at this point has made no moves to cancel the ceasefire or to retaliate violently, but the situation remains tense, fragile, and subject to change.
Putting aside the precariousness of the current situation and the accompanying uncertainties, it remains useful to look at the process by which the ceasefire was brought about, how this sheds light on the changing dynamics of the conflict itself, as well as discloses some underlying shifts in the regional and global balances of forces.
First of all, the role and outlook of the Arab governments was far more pro-active than in past interludes of intensified Israel/Palestine violence. During attacks several leading foreign ministers from the region visited Gaza and were received by the Hamas governing authorities, thus undermining the Israeli policy of isolating Hamas and excluding it from participation in diplomacy affecting the Palestinian people. Egypt played the critical role in brokering the agreement, and despite the Muslim Brotherhood affiliation of its leaders. Mohammed Morsi, the Egyptian President, emerged as the key diplomatic figure in the process and widely praised by the West for his ‘pragmatism.’ This can be understood as recognition of Morsi’s capability as a statesman to address the concerns of both sides without intruding his own pro-Palestinian outlook. Indeed, the auspices of this brokered agreement inverted what Americans have brought to the table in past negotiations, a pretension of balance, a reality of partisanship.
Secondly, the text of the agreement implicitly acknowledged Hamas as the governing authority of Gaza, and thereby gives it, at least temporarily, a greatly enhanced status among Palestinians, regionally, and internationally. Its claim to be a (not the) legitimate representative of the Palestinian people has now become plausible, making Hamas a political actor that has for the moment been brought in from the terrorist cold. While Hamas is almost certain to remain formally ‘a terrorist organization’ in the eyes of Israel, the United States, and Europe, throughout this just concluded feverish effort to establish a ceasefire, Hamas was treated as if ‘a political actor’ with sovereign authority to speak on behalf of the people living in Gaza. Such a move represents a potential sea change, depending on whether there is an effort to build on the momentum achieved or a return to the futile and embittering Israeli/U.S. policy of excluding Hamas from diplomatic channels by insisting that no contact with a terrorist organization is permissible or politically acceptable. Correspondingly, the Palestinian Authority, and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, have been for the moment awkwardly sidelined, overshadowed, and made to appear irrelevant in the midst of this latest terrible ordeal affecting the Palestinian people. It is puzzling why such an impression was fostered by the approach taken by all the diplomatic players.
Thirdly, Israel accepted as integral conditions of the ceasefire two sets of obligations toward the people of Gaza that it would never have agreed to before it launched its Pillar of Defense Operation: (1) agreeing not to engage in “incursions and targeting of individuals” and (2) agreeing to meet so as to arrange for the “opening the crossings and facilitating the movements of people and the transfer of goods, and refraining from restricting residents free movement, and targeting residents in border areas.” If implemented in good faith by Israel, this means the end of targeted assassinations and it requires the lifting of the blockade that has tormented Gaza for more than five years. These are major setbacks for the Israeli policy, although Hamas is obligated to stop sending rockets from its territory. The political acceptance by Tel Aviv of a prohibition on targeted assassinations, if respected, renounces a favorite tactic of Israeli governments for many years, which although generally regarded as illegal was still frequently relied upon by Israel with impunity. Indeed, the most dramatic precipitating event in the recent controversial unfolding crisis timeline was the killing of Ahmed al-Jabari on 14 November, a military/political leader of Hamas, who at the very time was negotiating a truce relating to cross-border violence. Unraveling the competing claims of acting defensively should at least acknowledge this complexity that makes polemical the contention that only one side is responsible. The Obama administration, with its usual deference to Tel Aviv, misleading told the story of the sustained violence as if only Israel was entitled to claim a defensive prerogative.
Fourthly, the role of the United States, while still significant, was considerably downsized by these other factors, especially by the need to allow Egypt to play the main role as arbiter. Such a need was partly, no doubt, a consequence of Washington’s dysfunctional insistence of continuing to avoid any direct contact with Hamas officials. This Egyptian prominence suggests a trend toward the regionalization of Middle East diplomacy that diminishes the importance and seriously erodes the legitimacy of extra-regional interference. This is bad news for the Israelis and for the United States. Turkey, a state with bad relations with Israel, also played a significant role in defusing the escalating crisis.
There exists a revealing gap between the U.S. insistence all along that Israel’s use of force was fully justified because every country has the right to defend itself and the ceasefire text that placed restrictions on future violence as being applicable to both sides. After the ceasefire, the United States needs to make a defining choice: either continue its role as Israel’s unconditional enabler or itself adopt a more ‘pragmatic’ approach to the conflict in the manner of Morsi. If the United States remains primarily an enabler, its diplomatic role is likely to diminish rapidly, but if it decides to adopt a balanced approach, even if quietly, it might still be able to take the lead in establishing a real peace process that is sensitive to the rights of both sides under international law. To make such a shift credible, President Obama would have to make a major speech to the American people at some point explaining why it is necessary to choose between partisanship and diplomacy in reshaping its future relationship to the conflict. However sensible such a shift would be both for American foreign policy and the stability of the Middle East, it is highly unlikely to happen. There is nothing in Obama’s resume that suggests a willingness to go to the people to circumvent the dysfunctional outlook of special interest groups that have dominated the way the U.S. Congress and the media present the conflict.
Fifthly, the United Nations was made to appear almost irrelevant, despite the presence of the Secretary General in the region during the diplomatic endgame. Ban Ki Moon did not help matters by seeming to echo the sentiments coming from Washington, calling attention almost exclusively to Israeli defensive rights. The UN could provide more neutral auspices for future negotiations if it were to disentangle itself from Western geopolitics. To do this would probably require withdrawing from participation in the Quartet, and pledging a commitment to a sustaining and just peace for both peoples. As with United States, it is highly unlikely that the UN will make such a move, at least not without prior authorization from Washington. As with Obama, there is nothing in the performance to date of Ban Ki Moon as Secretary General that suggests either the willingness or the capacity to act independently when the geopolitical stakes are high.
Sixthly, the immediate aftermath of the ceasefire was a call from the Gaza streets for Palestinian unity, symbolized by the presence of Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine flags all flying in harmonious co-existence. As the New York Times commented, “a rainbow not visible here in years.” If Palestinian unity holds, and becomes a practical reality by being implemented at governmental levels, it could alter the political landscape in a fundamental manner. To take hold it would require open and free elections throughout Occupied Palestine. If this narrative were to unfold, it might make the ceasefire to be perceived as much more than a temporary tense truce, but as a new beginning in the long march toward Palestinian justice.
All in all, the outcome of Operation Pillar of Defense was a resounding defeat for Israel in at least three respects: despite the incessant pounding of Gaza for eight days and the threat of a ground invasion, Hamas did not give in to Israeli demands for a unilateral ceasefire; the military capabilities of Gaza rockets exhibited a far greater capacity than in the past to inflict damage throughout the whole of Israel including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, which suggests that in any future recurrence of major violence the military capabilities at the disposal of Gaza will become even greater; and the Israeli politics of promoting the Palestinian Authority as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people while refusing to deal with Hamas was dealt a heavy, possibly fatal, blow.
There is one chilling slant being given by Israeli officials to this attack on Gaza. It is brazenly being described as ‘a war game’ designed to rehearse for an impending attack on Iran. In the words of Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, “Israel was not confronting Gaza, but Iran.” Considering that at least 160 Gazans were killed, 1000 wounded, and many more traumatized, this is, or should be, a shocking admission of a declared intent to commit crimes against humanity. It should at least prompt the UN Human Rights Council to appoint a fact-finding mission to assess the allegations of criminal conduct during the military attack. In effect, the situation demands a Goldstone 2 report, but this time with the political will to follow through, assuming that incriminating findings are reported.If the HRC does not initiate such a process, as seems a near certainty at this point, the responsibility and the opportunity is a challenge to civil society organizations committed to peace and justice. Given the tactics and disproportionate levels of violence, it would be a fresh abuse of those who died and were injured, to fail to assess this behavior from the perspective of international criminal law.
These developments will themselves be affected by the pervasive uncertainties that make it likely that the ceasefire will be a short truce rather than a dramatic turn from violence to diplomacy. Will the parties respect the ceasefire? Israel has often in the past made international commitments that are later completely abandoned, as has been the case with dismantling the numerous ‘outposts’ (that is, ‘settlements’ unlawful even under Israeli law) or in relation to the commitment to settle the ‘final status’ issues associated with the Oslo Framework within five years. It is not encouraging that Israeli officials are already cynically whispering to the media that they agreed to nothing “beyond the immediate cessation of hostilities.” The undertakings of the text are thus being minimized as ‘talking points’ rather than agreed commitments that lack only specific mechanisms for their implementation. If Israel refuses to give effect to the agreed stoppage of targeted assassinations and does not move to end the blockade in good faith, it will not be surprising to see the rockets flying again.
The Palestinian Authority is poised to regain some of its lost ground by seeking recognition by the UN General Assembly of its status as ‘a non-member state’ on November 29, 2013, a move being fiercely resisted by Tel Aviv and Washington. It is probably too much to expect a softening of this diplomacy. Any claim of Palestinian statehood, even if only of symbolic significance, seems to threaten deeply Israel’s hypocritical posture of agreeing to the creation of a Palestinian state in the abstract while doing everything in its power to oppose any Palestinian efforts to claim statehood.
Such speculations must be conditioned by the realization that as the clock ticks the international consensus solution to the conflict, an independent sovereign Palestine, is fast slipping out of the realm of the feasible, if it has not already done so. The situation of prolonged occupation has altered the demography of Occupied Palestinian and raised the expectations of most Israelis. With as many 600,000 unlawful settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem no foreseeable Israeli government would survive if it agreed to any conflict-resolving arrangement that required even a small percentage of those settlers to leave. In contrast, on the Palestinian side no arrangement would be sustainable without the substantial reversal of the settlement phenomenon. So long as this 1000 pound gorilla strides freely along the corridors of diplomacy, attaining a genuine peace based on the international consensus of two states for two peoples seems an exercise in wishful thinking.
At the same time, history has shown us over and over again that ‘the impossible’ happens, impossible in the sense that it is an outcome that informed observers rejected as ‘possible’ before it surprised them by happening. It happened when European colonialism was defeated, and again when the Soviet internal and external empire suddenly disintegrated, and then when the apartheid regime was voluntarily dissolved. Sadly, the Palestinian destiny continues to be entrapped in such a foreclosed imaginary, and yet as we have learned from history the struggles of oppressed peoples can on achieve the unforeseeable. It is just barely possible that this latest display of Palestinian sumud (steadfastness) in the face of Pillar of Defense, together with the post-2011 increased responsiveness of the governments of Israel’s neighbors to the wishes of its their own citizenry, will give rise to a sequence of events that alters the equations of regional and global power enough finally to give peace a chance.
Richard Falk is an international law and international relations scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years. Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
25 October 2012 – A United Nations independent expert today called on the world body’s General Assembly, as well as civil society, to take action against Israeli and international businesses that are profiting from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Richard Falk (left)
To the article: UN News Centre
Public advertising is the new battleground for Palestinian and American interests
|Making a point in Sacramento|
Here is a new billboard, paid for by donations. It is shown from US-50 westbound, southwest of Sacramento, a section of the main highway belt receiving major traffic. The billboard was designed to appeal to those not particularly informed about the issue, and not even necessarily sympathetic to Palestinians. This is deliberate: there is no point trying to win people who already sympathize with us.
The billboard has been up for two weeks now, and will remain for another two weeks or more. It connects to a website that offers additional information and is another donation site.
More on: stoptheblankcheck.org.
Palestinian autonomy is an illusion. A plan B involving a struggle for equal rights would expose the reality of occupation by Israel
(...) Few would dispute the Palestinian entitlement to a state, but it simply cannot be achieved given the present reality. It was always folly to pursue the two-state solution in a context that militated against its ever happening. Today's Israel-Palestine is demonstrably one state, impossible to divide. But it is a discriminatory state operating an apartheid-style system against the Palestinians with impunity. Gross economic inequality is one indicator of this system... Full article in The Guardian...
(...) Partitioning Palestine between its Jewish colonial settler population and the indigenous Palestinians was first proposed by the British Peel Commission in 1937, while the Palestinians were staging one of the most massive revolts (1936-1939) encountered by the British Empire in the 20th century. It was revived again in the 1947 United Nations General Assembly’s Partition Plan.
The Palestinians rejected it strategically, because they saw it as a concession to the Zionist colonial theft of their lands – and the Zionists accepted it tactically, as a step towards the final dispossession of the Palestinians and the theft of their entire country...
The report deals with a comparative analysis of Israeli domestic law as it applies to Israeli children and Israeli military law as it applies to Palestinian children.The central questions addressed are: what are the differences between the two systems and is there any justification for these differences.
A delegation of senior lawyers visited Israel and West Bank and analysed the effects of Israel's military judicial system on Palestinian children.
They found "undisputed facts" showed six UNCRC articles had been breached. The lawyers urged Israel to address differences in the way Israeli and Palestinian children were treated.
Israeli military law is applied to Palestinian children detained by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank because it is under military occupation. However, Israeli children - including those living in Jewish settlements on occupied land in the West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law - are subject to Israeli criminal and civilian law.
Currently, the maximum period an Israeli child can be detained without charge is 40 days. For a Palestinian child the period is 188 days...
The report was written by a delegation of British lawyers on the treatment of Palestinian children under Israeli military law: Children in Military Custody (PDF).
For over a week, leading German politicians have been exposed to rather unexpected heavy weather: they don't know how to react to Günter Grass’ latest poem. The somewhat prosy and grammatically difficult text deals with a subject that most politicians prefer to brush aside. The poem What needed saying (or What must be said) deals with the difficult in Germany of criticising Israel (that is Israeli political decisions) without being accused of antisemitism. Particularly difficult for Grass is the fact that he fought briefly in the Waffen SS as a seventeen-year-old at the very end of the second world war. He was conscripted: like many others compelled to join the last ditch effort of Nazi Germany. Such a revelation would probably have been met with understanding had he made it in the 1950s. But it was only in 2006 that his war service finally came to light. So Grass is an easy target for those who want to smear him as an antisemite.
An easy target for those who have no knowledge of German politics and society. Grass, a Nobel Prizewinner (for Literature) is internationally recognised as a great writer and a leading humanist. It can be argued that his contribution to our understanding of the horrors of Nazism in The Danzig Trilogy - especially in The Tin Drum) led to greater understanding between Germany and its neighbours, and to a rehabilitation of the German nation.
So when the Israeli ambassador to Berlin opined that What needed saying belonged to the long tradition of antisemitic Jew-baiting before the Passover feast, that came over rathere badly among ordinary Germans. Our foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle said it was “absurd” to consider Iran and Israel morally equal. (Which raised the question: had he actually read the poem?)
On the other hand, an opinion poll in the Financial Times -Deutschland showed that 84% of respondents believed what Grass had said was correct or worth discussing. And following the declaration by Israel of Grass as persona non grata, even leading politicians complained that Israel had gone too far. In Israel itself, leading liberal voices talked of “hysteria” over Grass’ poem.
Here is an English translation of the “evidence” so you can make up your own mind:
What needed saying: an English version of Günter Grass’ poem
In the wake of the Arab Spring, an Israeli government minister said that for their own safety all of Tunisia's remaining Jews should move to Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Jews once lived across North Africa and the Middle East before the creation of Israel in 1948. But the suggestion that the small communities that remain should disband has been largely met with derision - from the Jews themselves.
In May of this year, David Cameron resigned as honorary patron of the JNF, the first time in the history of the JNF that a British Prime Minister has not held this position. The Scottish Greens are the first elected party overtly to condemn the JNF.
Israel has approved the biggest plan for forced-displacement of Palestinians since 1948
by Eyal Clyne, JNews Blog
Friday, 23 September, 2011
Last week the Israeli government approved a new plan to displace 30,000 native Bedouin Arabs of the Negev/Naqab from their homes.
“The Program for Regulating Bedouin Settlement in the Negev” is the biggest dispossession plan issued by Israel since 1948. It would forcibly relocate about half of the Bedouin population from their existing villages, which are older than the state of Israel itself, into existing small towns or townships, designated specifically for the Bedouins by the state...
Repressions Against Human Rights
Defenders and the Need for Implementation of the EU Guidelines
on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
* By Annette Groth and Tanja Tabbara
It is becoming increasingly difficult to defend human rights in Israel. Acts of repression against human rights defenders and several recent legislative bills that violate the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association reflect a steady erosion of democracy in Israel. While the European Union (EU) has recognized the special need to protect human rights defenders by adopting the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, which encourage its Member-States to create and promote thirdcountry implementation strategies, the Guidelines have yet to be implemented in Israel. EU Member-States, such as Germany, have taken the lead in promoting and implementing the guidelines in many third-party states, and should continue to advocate for the adoption of the Guidelines in Israel... Full article PDF
This article was published on the Website of the Washington College of Law Human Rights Brief
* Annette Groth is a member of the German parliament and spokesperson
for human rights of the Left party in the German parliament.
Tanja Tabbara is advisor on human rights and the Middle East
to Annette Groth.
BDSMovement.net is born out of the need to offer all those interested and active in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement a shared space for information, analysis, exchange of ideas and experiences. This website is overseen by the steering committee of the Palestinian BDS National Committee and has been adopted as a tool of the ICNP (International Coordinating Network on Palestine) to support efforts of networking and coordination.
Nelson Mandela: "…injustice and gross human rights violations were being perpetrated in Palestine. In the same period the UN took a strong stand against apartheid; …which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians."
Following his recent stay in Israel, Denis Golberg, veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, described his impressions thus:
The blindness to reality shocked me in Israel. Many progressive people who were opposed to apartheid would assert that there was no racism in Israel and that all were treated equally. Naturally they all knew I am not a Zionist because I would speak about Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Israelis to counter their bland usage of the word Israeli to mean only Jewish citizens. There are innumerable laws that make Palestinians aliens in their own land. I was asked to speak about apartheid in South Africa and it was striking that some in my audience would be very upset because they said I was describing Israeli life and law and segregation and racist ideology implanted in the minds of young people through daily experience, but also through their school texts, through religious instruction, through the youth movements and so on in their country when I was really describing our South African experience. I suspect that it was such talk that led Mr Segev to write the article I described above. As in apartheid South Africa, Zionist Israel does not like dissent. General Dayan said that there was not a Jewish settlement that had not been built on a Palestinian settlement that had been wiped off the face of the earth. General Sharon, an equally brutal General, later admitted that building settlements beyond the internationally agreed borders was in reality military occupation. As a matter of practical politics I accept the idea of the two state solution decided by the UN Security Council way back in 1948. That the secular PLO took so long to accept that basis does not alter the international legitimacy of this approach.
It is in my view not possible to achieve peace in a theocratic or priest driven society. Just as I reject the quasi religious basis of an exclusive Zionist Jewish state so I reject the quasi religious basis of Islamic states. One of the reasons for the ultimate lack of success of the secular PLO is that the feudal oil states of the Middle East would prefer to have Zionist Israel as their opponent and collaborator, than accept a secular Palestinian state. Palestinians are the administrators and skilled as well as labouring work force of the Middle East. As foreigners, albeit co-religionists, in the lands they find themselves in, they have virtually no political rights. With the backing of a putative secular Palestinian state, the feudal rulers would find themselves under threat of a revolution led by civil society and a demand for social democratic political systems.
Our world is a dangerous place – no conflict is more important than the demand for freedom by our Palestinian Brothers & Sisters. We in South Africa know about racial oppression. We fought it and defeated it because it was unjust. We fought it to be free to rebuild our country
The world condemned apartheid and international anti-apartheid campaigning was an important part of our struggle. It helped to isolate the apartheid regime politically, economically, diplomatically, socially and militarily all had their effects.
The condemnation of apartheid was of course based upon inherent denial of human rights and dignity to the mass of our people. the inherent violence of apartheid was condemned eg the military occupation of our townships the shootings and massacres shown on tv shocked people everywhere people, ordinary people, compelled their governments to take action against apartheid
The violence of the apartheid regime was as nothing in comparison with the utter brutality of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. I mean the whole of Palestine from which Palestinian Arabs have been driven out. The greatest violence is seen in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
We did not see tanks with guns blazing protecting armoured bulldozers. Nor did we see armoured helicopter gunships “taking out” homes, children, whole families with great precision!
We did not see the destruction by bombing of the whole centres of towns. We did see the brutalisation of our people on the same scale. Not only the oppressed were brutalized; we saw the brutalisation of young white soldiers and policemen and those black soldiers and police who could be induced to serve the oppressor. That pain and suffering too has to be overcome.
We see the same brutalisation of whole generations of Palestinain Arabs. The suffering of people prevented from going to a doctor. Of ambulances being stopped. Of pregnant women forced to give birth at checkpoints. We see the same brutalisation of generations of young Israeli soldiers called upon to destroy a people and a society. Checkpoints and fences we know about from the bantustanisation/balkanisation of our Country with artificial boundaries and with migrant labour.
The Group Areas Act that determined where people could live. NO PRIZES for guessing who had the best and who had the worst
I must digress a little to talk about apartheid
Yes, a system of racial oppression. But why? Always more complex than “simple” hatred of another race It was a system of economic exploitation – no rights makes wages low Every business school teaches what every businessman knows: low wages make fat profits apartheid was a system of social segregation, labour laws for exploitation and control –ie an economic system “legal” control of people by race all overtopped by an ideology of racial superiority to explain away the iniquity of the system
We South African recognise all these features in the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians We recognise from our history that as the peaceful resistance intensifies the occupying power resorts to more and more force. The oppressed begin to say, as in South Africa, that they shall take up arms to defend themselves At that point the terrorised oppressed people suddenly become even more demonised as terrorists! At that point the world must help to find a political solution before the brutalisation and genocide of a whole nation is allowed to happen without our protest. We must stop that from happening Whatever the protestations by the Israeli state its policy has always been to drive all Palestinian Arab people out of that state. The boundaries of the state have steadily expanded until but 22 percent of the land is nominally left to the Palestinians We know that there are about one million Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel but they are denied many rights of citizens They may not acquire land or property. Where will their children live when they are adults and raise their own families? South Africa did the same under the Group Areas Act.
This is land theft on a grand scale. It is accompanied by falsehoods:
“Palestinians abandoned their land and effectively gave it to Israel” a statement that simply
ignores the massacres and deliberate destruction of villages.
Notoriously General Dayan said that there is not an Israeli village or settlement that is not built on an Arab village the armed forces of Israel have destroyed.
Denis Goldberg born in Cape Town, 1933 is a South African social campaigner, and veteran of the struggle against apartheid. He was imprisoned in Pretoria for 22 years. Goldberg was a spokesperson for the ANC and also represented it at the Anti-Apartheid Committee of the United Nations.
A number of injuries has been reported, among them MK Talab El-Sana, who apparently fainted while entrenched in a tent constructed to protest the village's demolition. By Jack Khoury and Yanir Yagna
Clashes broke out on Wednesday between residents of an unrecognized Bedouin village and Israel Land Administration workers, who arrived to stop Bedouin who were trying to rebuild the village.
Al-Arakib, which is located north of Be'er Sheva, was razed by authorities last week after it was deemed illegal; several tents have been erected since then in an effort to rebuild the village.
The Bedouin villagers claim that the police acted violently during the clashes. A number of injuries have been reported, among them MK Talab El-Sana, who apparently fainted while entrenching himself in one of the tents constructed to protest the village's demolition. He was taken to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva for treatment. To the article...
A global coalition of Palestinian support groups is taking protest to a dangerous new point of brinkmanship this week, with an attempt to crash through Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip in a flotilla of cargo and passenger boats now assembling in the eastern Mediterranean.
Converging at an undisclosed rendezvous in international waters, the four small cargo boats and four passenger vessels - ranging from cruisers carrying 20 to a Turkish passenger ferry for 600 - are a multimillion-dollar bid to shame the international community to use ships to circumvent Israel's tight control on humanitarian supplies reaching war-ravaged Gaza.
The world cannot expect Palestinians to abandon violence while remaining silent on Israel's repression of nonviolent activists
(...) We have grown desensitized to the consequences of actively denying basic staples and construction supplies to 1.5 million people in Gaza, many of them still waiting to rebuild homes we destroyed.
We have grown inured to the appropriation of Palestinian-owned West Bank land, to abusive treatment of law-abiding Palestinians at checkpoints, to the ill-treatment and summary expulsion of foreign workers, to racist, anti-democratic and, yes, fascistic rulings by extreme rightist rabbis, especially some of those holding official positions in the West Bank...
It was with great joy that I learned of the recent 16-4 vote at UC Berkeley in support of divesting the university's money from companies that enable and profit from the injustice of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and violation of Palestinian human rights. Principled stands like this, supported by a fast growing number of U.S. civil society organizations and people of conscience, including prominent Jewish groups, are essential for a better world in the making, and it is always an inspiration when young people lead the way and speak truth to power.
Despite what detractors may allege, these students are doing the right thing. They are doing the moral thing. They are doing that which is incumbent on them as humans who believe that all people have dignity and rights, and that all those being denied their dignity and rights deserve the solidarity of their fellow human beings.
I have been to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid. I have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinian men, women, and children made to wait hours at Israeli military checkpoints routinely when trying to make the most basic of trips to visit relatives or attend school or college, and this humiliation is familiar to me and the many black South Africans who were corralled and regularly insulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government...
(...) The general principles of the Declaration of Independence resemble those of the American Declaration, from 1776, the foundation document of the American dream, which Martin Luther King also quoted.
A re-reading of the dreams King set forth in his speech reflects a speaker who was living in a society that nurtured discrimination and especially segregation between the races. It is easy to forget he was speaking in the second half of the 20th century.
The situation of the Arabs in Israel in 1963 was also very difficult. Nearly all of them lived under the rule of military government, which imposed restrictions on mobility and other draconian regulations that were arbitrarily, insensitively and sometimes maliciously enforced.
One of the main purposes of the military government imposed on the Arabs was to make it easier to expropriate their lands. Most of them were allowed to vote and to stand for election, but the various government authorities, including the Prime Minister's Office, the Shin Bet security service, the Israel Defense Forces, the Histadrut labor federation and the political parties effectively denied them the right to free political organization. And they suffered discrimination in many other areas, too.
(...) The similarity between the struggle of America's blacks and that of Israel's Arabs is expressed in the contents of their respective dreams: a state of all its citizens. The blacks in America had, and still have, a basis for being optimistic. That is the main difference between them and the Arabs of Israel.
The United Nations requested in October an official Israeli response to a report claiming the state was inaccurate in describing the status of Bedouin living in the Negev.
The August 2009 report by the Negev Coexistence Forum, comprising residents of unrecognized Bedouin villages, says there are contradictions and inaccuracies in Israel's last annual statement on the implementation of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it submitted in July 2008.
This is the first time the UN has made such a request with regard to Israeli citizens. "In the area of political and civil rights, Israel represents the standards of a Third World country," forum coordinator Noam Tirosh said.
"How does this jibe with Israel's claim that it is the only democracy in the Middle East? It is inconceivable that in 2010, tens of thousands of citizens are not connected to the electricity grid, do not have running water and do not have basic civil and political rights."
() What started out as a march of 20 youngsters protesting the entry of Jewish settlers into an East Jerusalem neighbourhood, has over the past few months turned into a political phenomenon that cannot be ignored. Several hundred activists, intellectuals and politicians gather every Friday at noon in order to demonstrate against the major wrongdoing. The strong-arm attitude displayed by the police only reinforced the struggle. It turned the struggle from a marginal cause to a symbolic centre that serves as a focal point for Leftists from around the country. They even dragged the State into the High Court of Justice. There they achieved a milestone when the judges authorised a large demonstration for Saturday night...
Catherine Ashton on Tuesday leveled scathing criticism at the "Israeli occupation," in her first speech as the European Union's first high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.
The British stateswoman, who has also served as the Commissioner for Trade in the European Commission, said that in the EU's view, "East Jerusalem is occupied territory, together with the West Bank."
Ashton demanded that Israel immediately lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip, and reiterated that the
union opposes the existence of the West Bank separation fence, as it opposes evictions of
Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem...
For decades, efforts to bring about a two-state solution in historic Palestine have failed to provide justice and peace for the Palestinian and Israeli Jewish peoples, or to offer a genuine process leading towards them.
The two-state solution ignores the physical and political realities on the ground, and presumes a false parity in power and moral claims between a colonized and occupied people on the one hand and a colonizing state and military occupier on the other. It is predicated on the unjust premise that peace can be achieved by granting limited national rights to Palestinians living in the areas occupied in 1967, while denying the rights of Palestinians inside the 1948 borders and in the Diaspora. Thus, the two-state solution condemns Palestinian citizens of Israel to permanent second-class status within their homeland, in a racist state that denies their rights by enacting laws that privilege Jews constitutionally, legally, politically, socially and culturally. Moreover, the two-state solution denies Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right of return...
The centenary of Tel Aviv, a city said to date from 1909, has provided a useful opportunity to present the face of Israel as a hip country built by Jewish pioneers on empty sands. Its vibrant cosmopolitan flavour, its commercial centre, its Mediterranean beaches, its liberal society and culture, are seen as signifying a truly commendable Zionist enterprise. According to the blurb on the centenary celebrations "several dozen families gathered on the sand dunes on the beach outside Yafo to allocate plots of land for a new neighbourhood they called Ahuzat Bayit, later known as Tel Aviv".
After the horrors of the Gaza onslaught and unending blockade, and the evidence of war crimes committed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) early this year (which Israel has responded to with hysterical denial) no effort has been spared by the Israeli embassy and its propaganda machines to deflect the attention of the world to Israel's marvellous technical and medical discoveries, and to use Tel Aviv to present its upbeat image. Hence Tel Aviv festivities were organised in New York, Vienna, Copenhagen and Paris, with the creation of Tel Aviv beaches in Central Park and along the banks of the Seine, the Danube and Copenhagen's canals...
As Yonathan Mendel says in his article "Fantasising Israel" in the London Review of books:
It [Tel Aviv] didn't just emerge from the sand in 1909, as the Zionist myth tells us. Al-Sumayil, Salame, Sheikh Munis, Abu Kabir, Al-Manshiyeh: these are the names of some of the villages that made room for it and the names are still used today. Tel Avivians still talk about the Abu Kabir neighbourhood, they still meet on Salame Street. Tel Aviv University Faculty Club used to be the house of the sheikh of Sheikh Munis.
The Israeli organisation Zochrot has published maps of Tel Aviv showing where Arab localities existed, particularly in Jaffa and its suburbs to the south, and in smaller villages east and north of the city, but which have been erased from maps of the region and its posted signs...
The citation reads: Langer's life's work of humanitarian activity is impressive. She has engaged in an outstanding way for peace and justice as well as in the defence of human rights. Her long years of activity for the disadvantaged and oppressed deserve great respect and the highest recognition.
The award has caused a predictable wave of outrage from Israeli polititians and diplomats who are
already swinging the cudgel of antisemitism and hinting darkly that Germany is returning to its bad
old ways. More of such tripe may be read here: Jerusalem Post: Germany honors Israeli 'Israel hater'
The Special Rapporteur also gives relevance to the pre-existing blockade of Gaza, which was in
massive violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, suggesting the presence of war crimes and
possibly crimes against humanity. He considers the tactics pursued during the attacks by both sides,
condemning the firing of rockets at Israeli civilian targets, and suggests the unlawfulness of
disallowing civilians in Gaza to have an option to leave the war zone to become refugees, as well as
the charges of unlawful weapons and combat tactics. He recommends that an expert inquiry into these
matters be conducted to confirm the status under international law of war crimes allegations, and to
consider alternative approaches to accountability...
Download full report as PDF (128 kb) >
An Interview with UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk
Professor Richard Falk is the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. He is world-renowned as an authority on international law and has authored and co-authored 20 books. Recently, Professor Falk has focused much of his attention on the Israeli massacres in Gaza, alleging that Israel's actions are constitutive of both violations of the laws of war and indicative of crimes against humanity. This is the transcript of a phone interview with him from his home in Santa Barbara, California.
Can you begin by explaining the reasons why you believe that Israel is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity?
Well that's a big question of course. I think that the attack on Gaza initiated on December 27th of
last year was a violation of a fundamental norm of the UN Charter, which prohibits non-defensive
uses of force. At the Nuremburg trials after World War II, that was treated as a crime against the
peace, which was viewed as the most serious of all international crimes.
To the interview at > imemc.org
The Court finds that the construction by Israel of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and
its associated rgime are contrary to international law; it states the legal consequences arising
from that illegality...
International Court of Justice
Here is a collection of selected articles from previous years.