on the jewish state

the other night kamal santamaria hosted a discussion of “obstacles to peace” in al jazeera’s “inside story” with david mack, mustafa bargouthi, and israeli terrorist shmuel sandler. the discussion is an interesting one, though i wish al jazeera would change the framework of their discussions to include concepts like justice and ideas like the one-state solution or liberating all of historic palestine. in any case, the program does a good job unpacking some of the basic bulls*&^ issues that show once again how the zionist entity has never wanted peace, justice, or anything other than the theft of more land.

i was surprised the other night when marwan bishara spoke about those of us fighting for a single state which would enable all palestinian refugees to return home. i’ve never heard him discuss such things before, tough, of course, his brother azmi bishara has been fighting for this for years. oftentimes when people write about or speak about one-state solutions (as opposed to two-state disasters) they fixate on the impossibility of one-state, when in reality anyone who thinks two-states is feasible must be smoking some serious crack cocaine.

in the conclusion of jonathan cook’s brilliant new book disappearing palestine he addresses some of these issues in his chapter that is beautifully titled “two-state dreamers.” here is what cook argues:

In fact, the division of land demanded by the real two-staters, however equitable, would be the very moment when the struggle for Israel to remain a Jewish state would enter its most critical and difficult phase. Which is precisely why Israel has blocked any meaningful division of the land so far and will continue to do so. In the unimaginable event that Israel were to divide the land, a Jewish state would not be able to live with the consequences of such a division for long. Eventually, the maintenance of an ethnic Israeli state would (and will) prove unsustainable: environmentally, demographically, and ultimately physically. Division of the land simply “fast-forwards” the self-destructiveness inherent in a Jewish state.

Let us examine just a few of the consequences for the Jewish state of a genuine two-state solution.

First, Israel inside its recognized, shrunken borders would face an immediate and very serious water shortage. That is because, in returning the West Bank to the Palestinians, Israel would lose control of the large mountain aquifers that currently supply most of its water not only to Israel proper but also to the Jewish settlers living illegally in the occupied territories. Israel would no longer be able to steal the water, but would be expected to negotiate for it on the open market. Given the politics of water in the Middle East that would be no simple matter. However, impoverished the new sovereign Palestinian state was, it would lose all legitimacy in the eyes of its own population were it to sell more than a trickle of water to the Israelis….

Second, with the labour-intensive occupation at an end, much of the Jewish state’s huge citizen army would become surplus to defence requirements. In addition to the massive social and economic disruptions, the dismantling of the country’s military complex would fundamentally change Israel’s role in the region, damage its relationship with the only global superpower and sever of its financial ties to Diaspora Jews. Israel would no longer have the laboratories of the occupied territories for testing its military hardware, its battlefield strategies and its booming surveillance and crowd-control industries. If Israel chose to fight the Palestinians, it would have to do so in a proper war, even if one between very unequal sides. Doubtless the Palestinians, like Hezbollah, would quickly find regional sponsors to arm and train their army or militias.

The experience and the reputation Israel has acquired–at least among the US military–in running an occupation and devising new and supposedly sophisticated ways to control the “Arab mind” would rapidly be lost, and with it Israel’s usefulness to the US in managing its own long-term occupation of Iraq and assisting the booming “homeland security” industry. Also, Israel’s vital strategic alliance with the US in dividing the Arab world, over the issue of the occupation and by signing peace treaties with some states and living in a state of permanent war with others, would start to unravel. With the waning of Israel’s special relationship with Washington and the influence of its lobby groups, as well as the loss of billions of dollars in annual subsidies, the Jewish Diaspora would begin to lose interest in Israel. Its money and power ebbing away, Israel might eventually slip into Middle Eastern anonymity, another Jordan. In such circumstances it would rapidly see a large exodus of privileged Ashkenazi Jews, many of whom hold second passports.

Third, the Jewish state would not be as Jewish as some might think: currently one in five Israelis is not Jewish but Palestinian. Although in order to realize a two-state vision all the Jewish settlers would probably need to leave the occupied territories and return to Israel, what would be done with the Palestinians with Israeli citizenship? These Palestinians have been citizens for six decades and live legally on land that has belonged to their families for many generations. They are also growing in number at a rate faster than the Jewish population, the reason they are popularly referred to in Israel as a “demographic timebomb.” Were these 1.3 million citizens to be removed from Israel by force under a two-state arrangement, it would be a violation of international law by a democratic state on a scale unprecedented int he modern era, and an act of ethnic cleansing even larger than the 1948 war that established Israel. The question would be: why even bother advocating two states if it has to be achieved on such appalling terms?

Assuming instead that the new Jewish state is supposed to maintain, as Israel currently does, the pretense of being a liberal democracy, these citizens would be entitled to continue living on their land and exercising their rights. Inside a Jewish state that had officially ended its conflict with the Palestinians, demands would grow from Palestinian citizens for equal rights and an end to their second-class status. Most significantly, they would insist on two rights that challenge the very basis of a Jewish state. They would expect the right, backed by international law, to be able to marry Palestinians from outside Israel and bring them to live with them; and they would want a Right of Return for their exiled relatives on a similar basis to the Law of Return for Jews. Israel’s Jewishness would be at stake, even more so than it is today from its Palestinian minority. It can be assumed that Israel’s leaders would react with great ferocity to protect the state’s Jewishness. Eventually Israel’s democratic pretensions would have to be jettisoned and the full-scale ethnic cleansing of Palestinian citizens implemented.

Still, do these arguments against the genuine two-state arrangement win the day for the one-state solution? Would Israel’s leaders not put up an equally vicious fight to protect their ethnic privileges by preventing, as they are dong now, the emergence of a single state? Yes, they would and they will. But that misses my larger point. As long as Israel is an ethnic state, it will be forced to deepen the occupation and intensify its ethnic cleansing policies to prevent the emergence of genuine Palestinian political influence–for the reasons I cite above and for many others I don’t. In truth, both a one-state and a genuine two-state arrangement are impossible given Israel’s determination to remain a Jewish state.

The obstacle to a solution, then, is not the division of the land but Zionism itself, the ideology of ethnic supremacism that is the current orthodoxy in Israel. As long as Israel is a Zionist state, its leaders will allow neither one state nor two real states. There can be no hope of a solution until the question of how to defeat Zionism is addressed. It just so happens that the best way this can be achieved is by confronting the illusions of the two-state dreamers and explaining why Israel is in permanent bad faith about seeking peace.

In other words, if we stopped distracting ourselves with the Holy Grail of the two-state solution, we might channel our energies into something more useful: discrediting Israel as a Jewish state, and the ideology of Zionism that upholds it. Eventually the respectable facade of Zionism might crumble. And without Zionism, the obstacle to creating either one or two states will finally be removed. If that is the case, then why not also campaign for the solution that will best bring justice to both Israelis and Palestinians? (247-251)

the issues that cook lays out above are necessary for those of us who wish to bring justice to palestinians. (of course i could care less about justice for israeli terrorists and would not be quite as even-handed as cook on that front.) but the core issue is that the discourse of two states is and has always been a distraction. it is just as much a distraction as the zionist entity’s demand that palestinians recognize that they are a “jewish state.” jerrold kessel and pierre klochendler reported on this very issue in ips today:

At their meeting Thursday night, Netanyahu told Mitchell that he would be ready to discuss a Palestinian state only if Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state. A senior official in the Israeli leader’s bureau quoted the prime minister as saying: “Israel expects the Palestinians first to recognise Israel as a Jewish state before there could be talking about two states for two peoples.”

abu yusef writing for palestine monitor explains precisely why he objects to this new demand by the zionist entity for recognition as a jewish state:

To those unfamiliar with the conflict or the numerous attempts at its resolution, the idea of recognizing Israel as a Jewish State seems uncontroversial, even logical. Israel is seen, at home and abroad, as a home for Jews and a place where they enjoy universal citizenship. ‘What is wrong with recognizing that?’ people ask.

A much better question to ask is, ‘Hasn’t the Palestinian leadership, through the PLO, already recognized Israel’s right to exist for fifteen years? If so, why should they now be demanded to recognize a specific nature of the state?’

For its part, Israel is hoping the international community focuses on the first question while ignoring the second. The real consequences of recognizing Israel’s Jewish character are far more important than attaching a name or a word to the description of the state. Recognizing Israel as Jewish, in fact, has a major role to play in shaping the ongoing negotiations for a two state settlement.

To show you how, we have broken up the Palestinians who will be affected by such a move into four groups. Each of these will be asked to forsake or concede certain rights and capacities prior to returning to the negotiating table with a Jewish state of Israel.

1. Palestinians in the occupied Territories.

Recognizing Israel as a Jewish state will insure that race and ethnicity will be the main determinants of a future border – one which will inevitably legitimize Israel’s ‘facts on the ground’ in the form of the wall and settlements. The new border will not be drawn upon the internationally recognized ‘Green Line’, rather it will try to include as much of one group as possible while excluding the other. All of the land stolen for the wall and settlements will become Israel’s, most likely in exchange for a land in the Negev – or perhaps even land within Israel populated by Israeli-Palestinian citizens.

2. Palestinian citizens of Israel

It is difficult to imagine a state characterizing itself as Jewish when a full fifth of its population are Muslim and Christian – but this is what Israel aims to do. The consequences of this on Israel’s Muslim and Christian population are second citizenship and strict demographic control over their growth and development. They will be living in a state that does not grant them the full rights of citizenship based on their creed and, therefore, in a theocratic dictatorship dressed up as a democracy. This is a best-case scenario for Israeli-Palestinians. In the worst case, as suggested by Avigdor Lieberman and mentioned above, the Israeli government will actually transfer large parts of its ‘unofficial’ population into the future Palestinian state. This transfer, though illegal under international law and inconsistent with the principles of liberal democracy, will be legitimized in the quest to maintain the demographic character of the Jewish state.

3. Palestinians living in the occupied East Jerusalem

Palestinians living in East Jerusalem experience an entirely different reality than their brothers and sisters in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza Strip. They live in the center of the conflict to change the nature and identity of the Holy City while increasingly isolated from the rest of the occupied Territories. As they are not citizens of Israel, nor do they want to be, they do not enjoy the same protections as their Israeli-Palestinian counterparts, and therefore find their rights and dignity much more easily trampled upon. Over the last months for example, dozens of homes have been destroyed and families made into refugees in an effort by the Israeli government and settler organizations to Judaize Jerusalem by changing its demography and architectural identity and heritage so as to change the perception of ownership.

4. Palestinian refugees in the occupied Territories and abroad

Perhaps the most important consequence of Palestinian recognition of Israel as Jewish state would be felt by the millions of Palestinian refugees living in the occupied Territories or abroad. International law calls for these people to return to their homes inside of Israel. Recognition of the Jewish state makes it impossible to endanger the Jewish demographic majority inside of Israel by transplanting millions of Palestinians back into their former homes. In short, recognizing Israel as a Jewish state means giving up the right of return prior to sitting down at the negotiating table. Though this right may some day be surrendered or altered in the final status agreements establishing a Palestinian state, giving it up prior to negotiations severely weakens the Palestinian negotiating team by limiting the amount of tools at their disposal. This is the new reality Israel is hoping to engender before sitting back down at the negotiating table.

The list of consequences in recognizing Israel as a Jewish state is in no way comprehensive, but it does highlight the gravity of this seemingly innocent request. Israel, by returning to the Annapolis process after their initial refusal to do so, is acting as if they are making a concession. By doing so, and fooling the entire international community in the process, they are now asking Palestinians to make the gravest concession of all as a form of perverted reciprocity. Only then will Israel be able to return to a farcical Annapolis process which does not even pretend to lead to anything more than commitments, declarations and endless delay.

It is not a deal that we would accept…

thankfully ma’an news is reporting that the united states will not support this demand of recognizing the zionist entity as a jewish state:

A demand that Palestinians recognize Israel “as the state of the Jewish people” as a condition for resuming peace negotiations is unacceptable to the US, the State Department said this weekend.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz, quoting statements from the State Department, indicated that the US would not back Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand for this recognition.

of course this demand for being recognized as jewish, and therefore somehow as validating their right to continue their oppression of non-jewish (read: palestinian) citizens living on their land under a brutal colonial regime, is also used to leverage their right to be free of all criticism because it better facilitates their conflation of anti-zionism or critiques of their state to anti-semitism. one example of that is the fact that in spite of removing all of the platform issues on palestine from the world conference against racism, the zionist entity, the united states, canada and now austria, and holland are boycotting the durban 2 conference in geneva this week. fabulous nora barrows-friedman explains the context of the removal of palestine from the conference agenda in electronic intifada:

However, two weeks ago, the UN High Commissioner’s office unilaterally cancelled all side-events pertaining to Palestine issues. Ingrid Jarradat-Gassner, director of the BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights in Bethlehem, one of several Palestine-based organizations attending the Durban Review conference, tells IPS that BADIL and the other NGOs had organized a side-event specifically about how and why they see Israel as a “regime of institutionalized racial discrimination on both sides of the Green Line.”

“As Palestinian NGOs and other NGOs working on the issue of Israel and its violations against the rights of the Palestinian people, we were expecting that there would be a possibility for us to organize these side-events during the official Durban review conference in Geneva,” Jarradat-Gassner says. “We were informed by the UN itself that this would be possible.”

Jarradat-Gassner says that on 3 April, less than three weeks before the Durban Review Conference, the UN High Commissioner’s office called BADIL’s representative in Geneva into a meeting at the UN, and verbally informed her that all side-events pertaining to the specific issue of Palestine and Israel had been banned.

“We were not even informed in any sort of direct of official way. In fact, we have no record of the decision of the UN not to let us work on such side-events,” says Jarradat-Gassner.

According to the UN’s Durban Review Conference agenda, other side-events focusing on indigenous rights, women’s rights and the link between racism and poverty will have an official platform.

Jarradat-Gassner says she knows there is a specific apprehension within the political UN body towards Palestine issues. In the draft document for the Durban Review Conference, she points out, there are particular recommendations for victims of HIV/AIDS, for victims of slave trade, Roma people, people of African descent, but, Jarradat-Gassner says, “there is not a single reference to Palestine, Palestinians or Israel in this whole document.”

BADIL, Al-Haq (a Palestinian human rights organization) and Adalah (the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel) wrote a joint formal complaint to the UN OHCHR, but have not received any reply. The UN OHCHR did not respond to IPS’s request for a comment either.

Dr. Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, tells IPS he had not known about the disallowance of side-events pertaining to Palestine/Israel by the UN’s OHCHR. “One has to assume it was part of an effort to meet the objections of the United States that the event was discrediting to the extent it engaged in ‘Israel-bashing.'” However, Falk points out, “US leverage is probably greater than it has been because Obama is President and Washington has indicated its intention to rejoin the Human Rights Council.”

Palestinian organizations say that banning these side-events is a significant disappointment in pursuing Israel’s legal responsibility towards its actions in Palestine. Dr. Falk echoes this sentiment. “I believe that the strong evidence of Israeli racism during the recent Gaza attacks makes it strange to refuse NGOs organizing side-events to address the issue,” he tells IPS. “Also, the collective punishment aspects of the occupation seem to qualify the Israeli policy as a form of racism, combined with the rise of the extreme right, with [Avigdor] Lieberman as [Israeli] foreign minister.”

Jarradat-Gassner says that within the framework of the Durban Review Conference, the issue of Palestine and Israel should be prominent. “There is an obvious link between colonization and apartheid [in Palestine-Israel]. If you have a settler-colonial regime that comes here to stay, and codifies into law its relationship of domination over the indigenous population, you are entering the field of apartheid … We are talking about what Israel has been practicing over the last 60 years in Palestine.”

as cook mentioned it is zionism that is the thing that must really be defeated in order to really get to a just solution for palestinians. interestingly, the newly launched boycott campaign in lebanon is a campaign that is dedicated to boycotting zionism. antoun issa blogged about our campaign on global voices and a few israeli terrorists are rather perturbed about this, likely because, although they are not clear or honest about their concerns, the logical conclusion to such a campaign is to the destruction of the jewish state. while i won’t quote the israeli terrorists in question, i will quote the response that rania wrote and that i edited and posted. you can click on the link to read and respond further to this discussion:

(1) A visit by Lisa Goldman (illegal that it was) to Lebanon hardly gives her credibility to discuss what is mainstream and what is radical in the country. One can very confidently say that all those who support resistance in Lebanon, who are at least 50 per cent of the country, support “a radical rejectionist ideology about Israel.” We are not the minority, not according to political polls.

(2) Zionism is not too complex of a political ideology. It is the idea that people who adhere to the Jewish religion have a claim to a particular land. The problem, for Zionism, is that, for centuries, Palestinians – of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faiths – have lived on that land. The predominant interpretation of Zionism is that that particular plot of land, known to Zionists as the land of Israel, belongs only to Jews, and therefore practicing Zionism involves (1) a unity of government and religion; and, much more importantly, (2) a belief in superior laws for one set of people. It is – as was stated in Durban – that Zionism is a form of racism. And indeed as it is practiced in Palestine it is racism. No different from racism in any other part of the world, except for the fact that the world’s 4th largest army is used to murder people and steal their land as a result of this racist ideology.

(3) The idea of boycotting Zionism rather than boycotting Israel is to stress that it is this ideology of racism and occupation that is opposed. Should Israel cease to be a zionist state, should Israel cease to treat Jews one way and non-Jewish Palestinians another way, then the boycott movement would cease as well. It is a similar concept to boycotting apartheid South Africa and not simply boycotting South Africa, a similar concept to opposing segregationist policies in Jim Crow US and not boycotting US.

(4) Boycotting institutions and companies that invest in and support Israel is one effective means to stand in solidarity with Palestinians, and thus stand in solidarity with the struggle for civil and human rights and liberation. It is not the only way, and alone, it does not suffice, but it is one effective method. It has been proven to be one effective method in the struggle for liberating South Africans from apartheid policies. It has already shown itself to be an effective public voice. [You may go to the link in the original post to see our statement for more on this.] Interestingly, Israeli professors like Tanya Reinhart and Ilan Pappe have publicly called for a boycott of Israel.

(5) Lisa Goldman is right to be concerned about a “respected international news agency is being put in a position of giving wide exposure to the views of a minority of bloggers who promote radical ideologies that are based on dubious information,” but she is incorrect about the bloggers themselves. The bloggers that do promote minority viewpoints are those that pretend to speak for peace while promoting racist policies and military occupation and lies and misinformation. So, we all should be concerned when an international news agency does not give equal and fair coverage and does not present the voices of the oppressed.


the west bank does not = palestine (just a very small, diminishing part of it)

archipelago of eastern palestine by julien bousac
archipelago of eastern palestine by julien bousac

as soon as i turned on my computer after school today i saw this tweet from @avinunu:

Ding dong the 2- state solution is dead! Rub your eyes get out of bed! Ding dong the wicked 2-state solution is dead! #Israel #Netanyahu

no, it is not an april fool’s joke. but this is the thinking among many palestinians about the new terrorist, fascist colonist regime that was sworn in today. khaled amayreh sums up this sentiment in palestine think tank pretty well:

In short, we are talking about a man who lies as often as he breathes a dishonest politician who thinks and smart public relations can be a more effective substitution for an honest peace process based on human rights and international law.

This is why, the capitals of the world must not allow themselves to be duped, deceived and cheated by this notorious, cardinal liar.

I am, of course, in no way suggesting that the previous Israeli government was less nefarious than the new one. The previous government of the evil trio Olmert, Livni and Barak had all the hallmarks of a Zionist Third Reich.

What else can be said of a government that ordered its army to exterminate and incinerate thousands of civilians with White Phosphorus, and then shamelessly claimed that it didn’t really mean to do it?

However, that government was considered by many states around the world, such as the gullible Europeans, a “government of peace,” a “liberal,” even “leftist government,” which really gave a new meaning to the term “verbal fornication.”

For us Palestinians, and despite the legitimate and understandable anxiety stemming from the rise of fascism in Israel, it is still better to have in Israel a manifestly fascist government pursuing fascist policies than a deceptively “liberal” or “leftist” government pursuing the same criminal policies.

Let the world see Israel as it really is.

In the final analysis, an honest criminal is better than a lying saint. At least the former is predictable and consistent.

in contradistinction former palestinian president mahmoud abbas had this to say about the netanyahu in ma’an news:

Israel’s new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “does not believe in peace” Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said Wednesday, and urged the world to put pressure on him to make peace.

“Benjamin Netanyahu never believed in a two-state solution or accepted signed agreements and does not want to stop settlement activity. This is obvious,” Abbas told the official Palestinian Authority news agency, WAFA.

while most of us who want to celebrate the death of a two-state solution with this new regime we are facing, there are, unfortunately, the palestinian authority wish to continue to promote an ever-shrinking palestinian state. i suspect if they keep at it they will wind up with ramallah as their state. perhaps jordan, which is what the israeli colonists have wanted all along. the map up above demonstrates just how little of the west bank would be a state in this so-called “solution.” (see mondoweiss and strange maps for more about its creation). but abbas’ words quoted above are reminiscent of hillary clinton’s comments that building illegal colonies are “unhelpful.” here are more of what i think are abba’s unhelpful comments:

Netanyahu made no specific mention, however, of Palestinian statehood, an important Palestinian demand that is supported by the US and other parties involved in mediating between the two sides.

“Under the final accord, the Palestinians will have all the rights to govern themselves except those that can put in danger the security and existence of the state of Israel,” he said.

Netanyahu also said that he wanted “full peace” with all Arab countries, praising Islam as a rich religion, but he attacked Iran and “radical Islam” as threats to Israel’s security.

“Extremist Islam does not only threaten us, but it threatens us first and foremost … Its goal is to erase the state of Israel from the face of the earth,” he said.

The Palestinian Authority described Netanyahu’s remarks as “not encouraging”.

of course the real island here is the pa itself. their thinking that peace is something you beg for is not shared by many palestinians, including many people in fatah. max ajl wrote in the palestine chronicle that some americans are still attempting to force palestinians into submitting that their state consists of this archipelago pictured above:

And it presents the brief for acting with dispatch: “Failure to act would prove extremely costly. It would not only undermine current efforts to weaken extremist groups, bolster our moderate allies and rally regional support to stabilize Iraq and contain Iran, but would also risk permanent loss of the two-state solution as settlements expand and become entrenched and extremists on both sides consolidate their hold.” The report’s authors recognize that if the two state settlement is not emplaced now, it will be emplaced never.

the plan ajl talks about is, like all american-sponsored plans, a frightening proposition as it allows the continued theft of palestinian water. but i suspect we needn’t worry about any of this given avigdor lieberman’s, the new foreign minister, statement today:

New foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday that Israel was not bound by commitments it made at a U.S.-sponsored conference to pursue creation of a Palestinian state.

“There is one document that obligates us – and that’s not the Annapolis conference, it has no validity,” Lieberman said in a speech, referring to a 2007 gathering in Annapolis, Maryland.

“The Israeli government never ratified Annapolis, nor did Knesset.”

and yet nour odeh reporting for al jazeera from ramallah seems woefully out of touch of what the people think about this new government. she stands there speaking from the island of ramallah thinking that palestinians are waiting for the europeans or the americans to fix the problem of the two state solutions. somebody really needs to tell her that the problem is that palestinians want to liberate their land and that they don’t want to think of this series of islands in the west bank as their state. she needs to spend a couple of weeks in nahr el bared refugee camp in lebanon to get a dose of reality in relation to what palestinians want:

still the note it ends on–that this is likely the end of the two-state catastrophe–is a good one. a hopeful sign. sam bahour published a new poster on his blog today to protest the new government and to support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (see below) calling for:

Hang this poster/flyer on your library bulletin board, supermarket bulletin board, city hall bulletin board, university bulletin board, place on car windshields at events, take out newspaper ads, hold press conferences, add to your websites, send to your newspapers editorial staff, etc, etc.

sam bahour flyer on bds
sam bahour flyer on bds

for those who prefer to wait for obama to rescue them and give them their bantustan state, while israeli terrorists continue to colonize more land, we can glean what obama is really about from this brief comment seymour hersh made on cnn with wolf blitzer about his encouragement of the israeli terrorists who besieged gaza:

and for those of you who think that boycott doesn’t work: check this out from the jerusalem post:

“In addition to the problems and difficulties arising from the global economic crisis, 21 percent of local exporters report that they are facing problems in selling Israeli goods because of an anti-Israel boycott, mainly from the UK and Scandinavian countries,” said Yair Rotloi, chairman of the association’s foreign-trade committee.

oh, and here, by the way, is a real map of palestine. the palestine that must be liberated from the river to the sea.


oh so many reasons for resistance…

ha’aretz journalist amira hass has a good piece in the london review of books this week that offers some context on the prison that is gaza, its origin, and its relationship to the situation in the west bank, which is worth quoting in its entirety:

Israel has finally breached the few limits it formerly set up for itself as an occupying state, and defied all the restrictions of international law that would require it to provide for the safety and welfare of the occupied population. It claims that disengagement ended the occupation and that Gaza is now an independent entity. Contrary to conventional wisdom, disengagement did not begin in 2005 with the evacuation of the settlers and the withdrawal of soldiers. It began in 1991, when, four years into the intifada, Israel instigated its closure policy (similar to the pass system under apartheid) and denied the Palestinians freedom of movement between the West Bank and Gaza, and within Israel. Unopposed by the international community, closure eventually turned into a policy of demographic separation, dividing Palestinians from Palestinians and Palestinians from Israelis.

The immediate consequence of the separation policy was to disconnect Gaza from the West Bank (and Palestinian East Jerusalem), from its population, its education centres and health services, from jobs in Israel and from family members and friends. No wonder Israel now defines Gazans who live in the West Bank as ‘illegal sojourners’ unless they have an Israeli permit to be there. The tight siege imposed in Gaza over the last two years has merely exacerbated the situation. The separation policy of the 1990s (along with the rapid expansion of Jewish colonies in the West Bank) was designed to destroy the foundation of a future Palestinian state.

Israel suppressed the second intifada with lethal means that it did not dare use in the first, not just because the Palestinians had now acquired guns, or because of the suicide bombings, but rather because since the creation of the Palestinian Authority, Israel has treated the ‘other side’ as sovereign and independent – when it wants to. As if the PA enclaves were not under occupation. Thanks to this very effective propaganda, most Israelis believe that the creation of the PA resembles the founding of an independent state – an ungrateful one at that, attacking little, peace-seeking Israel. They find it easy enough to ignore the fact that Israel continues to control – both directly and indirectly – all parameters of sovereignty and independence: land, borders, resources, water, population registry, economics, construction, education, health and medical services.

The unilateral disengagement from Gaza and the fact that Hamas spun it as a victory – the result of armed resistance – allowed Israel to claim that the occupation of Gaza had ended….

What the siege has done is reduce an entire society to the status of beggars, denying it nearly all productive activity, suffocating it in an open-air prison, disconnected from the rest of the world. The denial of the right to a livelihood, and the denial of freedom of movement: that is the essence of the siege, the foundation block of the separation policy. The closure policy is an assault on the human dignity of the Palestinians, and especially those in Gaza. Now, Israel has shown that the cage can also be a deathtrap.

one issue is, of course, the blockade that keeps palestinians dependent upon aid. but, of course, even the aid is not allowed to enter; mel frykberg explains that pasta somehow has become suspicious. (is there some sort of pasta grenade i don’t know about?):

Red-faced and unusually tongue-tied Israeli officials were forced to try and explain to U.S. Senator John Kerry during his visit to Israel last week why truckloads of pasta waiting to enter the besieged Gaza strip were not considered humanitarian aid while rice was.

Kerry, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, visited the coastal territory on a fact-finding mission.

The purpose of the visit was to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground and the level of destruction wrought by Israel’s three-week military assault on Gaza, codenamed Operation Cast Lead.

During his visit to Gaza it came to the senator’s attention that Israel had prevented a number of trucks loaded with pasta from entering the territory.

UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) officials explained to Kerry that Israel was only permitting limited amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and the definition of what the Israelis consider humanitarian was restricted.

“Pasta is not regarded as humanitarian aid and is not allowed in to Gaza while rice is,” an UNRWA official told Kerry.

Kerry then questioned Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak directly about the logic of the restriction on pasta. Following his intervention, the truckloads of pasta were eventually permitted to enter Gaza.

Over a hundred aid trucks are currently entering Gaza on a daily basis. This is more than the number of trucks that were permitted entry during the ceasefire with Hamas which lasted nearly five months until Israel launched a cross-border military raid into Gaza on Nov. 4.

However, according to the UN, the overall level of imports remain well below the 475 trucks allowed in daily before Israel’s blockade of Gaza in June 2007 when Hamas took control.

Aid organisations say the current number is insufficient to meet the market’s needs as well as the shortfall resulting from months of severe restrictions.

The Palestine Trade Centre (Paltrade) estimates that in order for any sort of economical revival to begin, exports should resume immediately and a minimum of 850 truckloads of market-triggered imports per day should be allowed entry.

most days it’s like this though–it doesn’t matter if it is rice or pasta, nothing is allowed inside:

<blockquote>Israel unexpectedly closed the Kerem Shalom terminal, the main crossing point for humanitarian aid and commercial goods in Gaza on Friday.

meanwhile, for those who think the israeli terrorist aggression against gaza is over, last night, like most nights, they continued their bombing:

Israeli warplanes bombed smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday night, the second such strike in several hours.

The strikes on the Brazil neighborhood of the city of Rafah caused no injuries, according to the director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, Muawiya Hassanein.

if israeli terrorist colonists would do as the french colonists in algeria and leave palestinians to build their own state on their own land wherever they choose then we would see more projects like the couscous co-op started in ein al-sultan refugee camp near eriha. these women, who have had a lot of success with their project, so much so they are not dependent upon aid any longer, tried to work with their sisters in gaza, but of course the israeli-terrorist siege has made that impossible as gen sander writes in electronic intifada:

The women unanimously agree that since they’ve been working at the couscous co-op their lives have improved dramatically. For the first time “we’re no longer dependent on humanitarian aid,” said Abu Shrar. Not only are they now independently taking home their well-earned wages, but they are finally able to simultaneously provide opportunities once inconceivable to their children, and fix-up their run-down homes. Furthermore, their self-confidence has grown alongside their social status, which has been propped up by virtue of their fortitude, self-determination and goodwill.

A similar success once seemed promising in the Gaza Strip, where six women’s fair trade couscous cooperatives shared the same dreams and aspirations as those of the Jericho co-op. More than two years ago, however, all six co-ops were forced to shut down thanks to the crippling Israeli blockade that prevented them from importing production requirements and exporting their produce. The closures had a direct impact on more than 400 persons whose lives depended heavily on their continued existence. More recently, after Israel’s brutal three-week assault on Gaza, one of the co-ops in Sheikh Radwan was damaged beyond repair.

indeed, two activist, alberto arce and miguel llorens, in gaza have produced a new documentary called erased, wiped off the map, to show just how brutal this aggression and invasion has been not only on people and their livelihoods, but on the entire society. for those who speak spanish and/or arabic below is the film (the link above will take you to an english-language version).

the title of the film is interesting given the way it alludes to the oft-repeated zionist mythology that arabs want to “throw jews into the sea.” of course, the reality is that zionists have been doing this to palestinians for decades now, but no one seems to notice or care, even when they are quite blatant about it:

A small number of young men soon to be drafted into the IDF from Hesder yeshivot around the country gathered at the Jerusalem Theater on Monday evening to hear speakers from the national-religious camp espouse the virtues of fulfilling “the commandment of war.”

The event, the first of its kind, was organized to salute young religious men about to be inducted and attracted just over 100 youths.

IDF Chief Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Avichai Ronsky told the youths it was a privilege to be able to take part “in the commandment of war and the preparations for fulfilling it.”

“Embrace this commandment with all your hearts. It is a right previous generations could not realize,” Ronsky said.

The IDF chief rabbi said Jewish armies, from the battles between the Israelites and the tribe of Amalek to the present day, had always been manned by virtuous soldiers.

Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau delivered a speech expressing hope that Israel would embark on preemptive wars rather than wait for “the enemy to come here… and see the whites of our eyes.”

“King David taught the people of Judah how to use the bow and arrow… Jacob our patriarch blessed his son Judah and told him to fight Israel’s enemies, to attack them and not fight defensively… The descendants of the tribe of Judah will do the same,” Lau said.

“Do we have another home? Somewhere else to go? This is our only home. Therefore, we have no choice but to fight… a preemptive war… not to wait for the next Operation Defensive Shield,” Lau said, referring to the 2002 IDF operation in the West Bank launched after a string of suicide bombings in Israel.

“If we could throw down our sword, it would be the dream of our lives. We pray for this three times a day, that God will bless us with peace. But so long as this does not happen, we cannot lay down our sword,” Lau added.

Rabbi Haim Druckman, who heads Bnei Akiva, said that “fighting our enemies is a commandment. To serve in the IDF is a commandment. We must remember that we could not carry out this commandment for 2,000 years. How happy we must be that we live in this great and special time, a time in which we have returned to our land, seen the founding of our state, the ingathering of exiles.”

it is really frightening how normalized and mainstream israeli terrorist rhetoric has become. as with their military, terrorist aggression, they do whatever they want and no one bothers them. their fascism has become completely mainstream, supported, even popular as in this article by sharon weill and valentina azarov from electronic intifada:

Avigdor Lieberman’s party advocates the banning of Arab political parties that called for “a democratic state for all citizens,” and the repression of what it sees as the “treachery” of the Arab citizens. According to its website, Yisrael Beiteinu demands an “unapologetical patriotism” and “requires citizens to affirm their loyalty to the state and readiness to serve in the army or in the National Service in order to be eligible for any state benefits.”

The party declares in its platform its intention to make Israel a purely Jewish state, and at the same time, “[i]ncreasing the Jewish Presence in Yehuda, Shomron, [in other words, the West Bank] the Golan [the occupied Syrian Golan Heights] and East Jerusalem” as well as working towards the “separation of Gaza from the West Bank.”

According to the party’s website, “Ideally, ‘the wolf shall dwell with the lamb,’ but we are not living in ideal times. History has shown that there is a dangerous potential for conflict wherever members of two different religions dwell in the same territory. … Members of this [Arab] minority are likely to serve as terrorist agents on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Many have already made explicit their lack of loyalty to the state. This situation could potentially lead to the collapse of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and perhaps as an entity all together. Therefore in our view, the only possible solution is the exchange of territory and populations, with the goal of the separation of the Jewish and Arab nations, respectively” (emphasis added).

Lieberman has made a number of utterances inciting racism against a Palestinians with Israeli nationality. A recent press conference organized by Lieberman’s party in Haifa barred Arab journalists from participating. As Haaretz reported on 6 February, during a recent visits to schools in northern Israel, Lieberman was welcomed with calls of “death to the Arabs” and with proposals to “revoke the Arabs’ nationality.” It was recently revealed by Haaretz that Lieberman was once a follower of the Kahane Kach movement, an extreme right wing movement that was outlawed in 1988.

Ideas that were once considered too racist to be legitimately expressed are now part of the mainstream political discourse. At the same time other opinions are silenced. This is a serious warning that the situation in Israel resembles more and more that of the apartheid-era South Africa.

and yet palestinians are never allowed to resist. their resistance is always crushed by words and israeli-american terrorism as dina jadallah-taschler explains in dissident voice:

The facts are simple enough. And yet that is not at all how current media narratives present the struggle. It is never referred to as one for liberation and freedom. Resistance to the oppressive occupation and to the expansionist and dispossessing Israeli state is never presented as a right, despite the self-evident moral and legal principle, that as the (occupying) aggressor, Israel cannot justify violence against resistance to its own initial aggression. And yet, in this last massacre, Gazans who are starving, imprisoned, mostly refugees from the original displacement that happened with Israel’s creation, and who have qualitatively modest (but technologically improving — distance/reach) weapons, are the ones being blamed for “starting” or inviting the attack on themselves. This is objectionable on several levels. Fundamentally, the framing of the story that equates Palestinian resistance with the fourth strongest army in the world is inherently deceptive. Additionally, it blames the victim for resisting annihilation.

But once again, because it is the strong who determine what is legal and what is not, the Palestinian struggle for national liberation and their resistance against their oppressors are illegal by definition and are presented as “terrorism.” The right of self-defense has been appropriated by the dominant, occupying, aggressing side and simultaneously denied to its victims. It is becoming increasingly apparent to the resisting Palestinians that this excessive use of legality is simply a means to preserve pre-existing power asymmetries that will perpetuate their oppression. It is ultimately aimed at their extinction as a people. It is the root cause of their resistance: for they refuse a peace built on injustice, no matter how much misinformation is produced disguise the facts.

The Oslo Peace Process must be evaluated from this perspective. It was started more than 15 years ago but has led to no tangible benefits for the Palestinians. On the contrary, it has led to their increasing dispossession and subjugation. It co-opted the PLO leadership and made the Palestinian Authority into a police arm of and chief appeaser/concessor to Israel, the occupier. The Process has served as legal cover for continued oppression. It is no different from the NATO announcement to “protect” Israel, or the Rice-Livni Accords, or the United Nations Resolutions that are never enforced.

All these entities and agreements give a cover of multilateralism and legality to what is essentially aggressive expansionism and intentional dispossession. Similarly, Israel’s “withdrawal” from Gaza in 2005, narratively presented in mainstream media with so much angst for the trauma of the occupier, does not remove the initial aggression of the original and consistently brutal occupation. Even when one allows for the prison that is Gaza to be considered “unoccupied,” the fact remains that Palestinians are one people and that the West Bank and East Jerusalem continue to be occupied. This is even acknowledged in the Oslo Accords, which defines them as “a single territorial unit.”

Moreover, Israeli expansionism continues, and even accelerates, in the shadow of the peace process and of the headline- grabbing events in Gaza. Just in the last week, Israel has announced the annexation of extensive areas of Palestinian-owned land, where the villagers have been non-violently protesting the apartheid wall. For three days the Israeli army invaded the village of Jayyous declaring it a “Closed Military Area” and arbitrarily arrested 65 Palestinians: “The Israeli wall confiscated about 600 dunums of lands and 8,600 dunums were isolated behind the wall, where the town’s area is 12,500 dunums,” leading to the loss of thousands of jobs lost as a result of the wall and the isolation of agricultural land.4 Similarly, on 1/26/2009, the Israeli High Court approved the complete destruction of the village of Tana, east of Nablus, in order to expand the settlement colony of Makhurah. In addition, an expansion to the Effrat settlement colony near Bethlehem was also announced, swallowing an additional 170 hectares of “state land.” All this is happening in the West Bank, ostensibly the co-operating segment under the dictatorial and oppressive control of the Palestinian Authority. And it is definitely not conducive to economic independence, let alone the mirage of prosperity that was promised to come with the pursuit of a negotiated and non-violent “settlement.”

The argument is frequently made that Hamas is a “terrorist organization” because it targets civilians. But that is a question that is both not for the militarily strong to ask and also ignores completely Israel’s far greater and more consistent targeting of civilians. In this last attack on Gaza, despite an earnest and far reaching hasbara/propaganda effort by Israel to change perceptions, the extent of the destruction was too blatant to repress. Any fair assessment of damage to civilians will plainly see the disproportionate suffering of the weaker party. It also must account for the slow strangulation and eradication of Palestinians even when there is no “war.” The means of destruction are so entrenched and persistent so as to become too banal for Western media to report on. The “targeted assassinations” that inevitably kill civilians, the ever-growing “settlements”/colonies, the land expropriations, the apartheid “separation” Wall, the roadblocks, the economic blockade and de-development, and so forth have effectively ended any hope of a two state solution. In fact, the Palestinians’ pursuit of the peaceful route of “settlement” through the peace process, recently “negotiated” at Annapolis, has resulted in a 20% increase in settlement expansion in the West Bank and a 36% settlement expansion in East Jerusalem, just in the last sixteen months.

yes, palestinians cannot resist. but israeli terrorists can continue with yizhak rabin’s formula of breaking the bones of palestinians at will:

A Palestinian man from the village Asreera Al Qibllya, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, was severly beaten by the members of Israeli border-guards at a checkpoint while he was taking his ill son to a local hospital.

Khalid Abu Khalaf, 38, said after receiving treatment at the Rafidia Hospital, that his son Shadi, 3 years 6 months old, is suffering from a neurological disease, and was transferred by the Palestinian Ministry of Health to Al Maqased Hospital In Jerusalem for treatment.

The father tried to obtain a permit from the Israeli side through the Palestinian District Coordination Office, but Israel rejected the application.

“My son’s situation requires hospitalization; therefore I tried to take him with me to Al Maqased Hospital in East Jerusalem, I tried to avoid the military checkpoint but the soldiers spotted me, and stopped me,” the father said. He added “I tried to explain to them that was taking my son to hospital. I showed them the medical reports, but they did not listen; instead they started kicking me and hitting me with batons.”

The father said that the soldiers, beat him in front of his son and broke his arm, causing his son to cry of fear, which worsened his condition.

“Later, they forced me and my son into their jeep, the father stated, the dropped us on the other side of the checkpoint, and we had to return to Nablus, I went to the hospital and found out that my hand was broken,” the father added.

Khalid was very concerned about the situation of his son, which is getting worse, and said that his son needs to be examined twice every month for follow-up as directed by his physicians.

on process

the other night when i felt a strong urge to throw a stiletto at condoleeza rice it was because i was listening to her speak about the impending united nations security council resolution 1850. in a press conference here is what the secretary of state had to say for herself:

What that resolution does is to put the international community on record in believing in the irreversibility of the Annapolis process – bilateral negotiations toward a two-state solution, a comprehensive solution, and the various principles of Annapolis and what the parties have established since then. And I believe that that will then add the voice of the international community through its most powerful and its most consequential body – that is, the Security Council – to establish Annapolis as the way – the Annapolis process as the way forward.

Obviously, Israel will have a prime minister one way or another after February, and the Israeli Government will have to chart a course. But I believe that the international community will have done what it can do in the strongest possible terms, and that is to put the weight of the Security Council behind not just the two-state solution but a particular process for getting there. And I might just emphasize that Annapolis, of course, is not just a top-down – that is negotiated process toward the solution of two states, but also a bottom-up process of Roadmap obligations and of improving life for the Palestinian people on the ground. And that is really the reason for the resolution tomorrow….

I believe that if you look at the language of Annapolis, it says that the parties will make the best efforts that they can – they could to come to an agreement by the end of the year. I think they have made best efforts and they continue to make best efforts. And so what this resolution does is to urge, as the parties did with us and the Quartet when we were in Sharm el-Sheikh, the continuation of this process to the conclusion of a comprehensive agreement, and also within the context of a broader Israeli-Arab peace. And so that is the reason for the resolution.

But I’d just like to take one moment to speak to the question of not having achieved an agreement by the end of the year. They won’t achieve agreement by the end of the year, but they have achieved a good deal of progress in their negotiations, a good deal of progress in the work that is being done on the ground. And I would just remind that this is the first time in almost a decade that Palestinians and Israelis are addressing all of the core issues in a comprehensive way to try to get to a solution. And if that process takes a little bit longer, so be it. But we are very much further along, certainly than we were in 2001, and I would argue even than we were in 2007 when Annapolis was concluded.

so apparently annapolis has moved from a conference to a “process.” is this going to be anything like the so-called peace process (better known and experienced in palestine as a ware process)? should it be also known as oslo 3? this is an excerpt from rice and the other members of the quartet’s comments (yes, that same quartet which has received a failing grade) at the united nations yesterday. you may read the rest by clicking on the above link. but rather than quote from that transcript ad nauseum i think it is more fruitful to look at the actual language of the new un resolution as well as this supposed “progress” that rice claims to have made.

first, the resolution reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions, in particular resolutions 242, 338, 1397, and 1515 and the Madrid principles,

“Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,

“Welcoming the 9 November 2008 statement from the Quartet and the Israeli‑Palestinian Joint Understanding announced at the November 2007 Annapolis Conference, including in relation to implementation of the Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,

“Noting also that lasting peace can only be based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement, and terror, and the two-State solution, building upon previous agreements and obligations,

“Noting the importance of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative,

“Encouraging the Quartet’s ongoing work to support the parties in their efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,

“1. Declares its support for the negotiations initiated at Annapolis, Maryland, on 27 November 2007 and its commitment to the irreversibility of the bilateral negotiations;

“2. Supports the parties’ agreed principles for the bilateral negotiating process and their determined efforts to reach their goal of concluding a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues, without exception, which confirm the seriousness of the Annapolis process;

“3. Calls on both parties to fulfill their obligations under the Performance-Based Roadmap, as stated in their Annapolis Joint Understanding, and refrain from any steps that could undermine confidence or prejudice the outcome of negotiations;

“4. Calls on all States and international organizations to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations and to support the Palestinian government that is committed to the Quartet principles and the Arab Peace Initiative and respects the commitments of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, to assist in the development of the Palestinian economy, to maximize the resources available to the Palestinian Authority, and to contribute to the Palestinian institution‑building programme in preparation for statehood;

“5. Urges an intensification of diplomatic efforts to foster in parallel with progress in the bilateral process mutual recognition and peaceful coexistence between all States in the region in the context of achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;

“6. Welcomesthe Quartet’s consideration, in consultation with the parties, of an international meeting in Moscow in 2009;

“7. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”

as is the case with far too many un resolutions–and with rice’s rhetoric–this resolution is empty. it is empty for so many reasons. whatever so-called progress discussed in either of the above quotations can only be understood in relation to israel’s facts on the ground: more palestinian political prisoners, more illegal israeli settlements, more israeli checkpoints, an increased siege on gaza, increased oppression of palestinians in 1948 palestine, increased home and village demolitions. but of course what rice and the security council fail to understand is that peace will never come without justice.

illegal israeli settlements, for example, have increased since annapolis according to adri nieuwhof in electronic intifada:

In Annapolis, Olmert committed to freezing settlement expansion. However, since that time according to numerous sources ranging from Israeli newspapers, to Peace Now, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as well as the websites of the Israeli Central Bureau, and the Ministry of Construction and Housing, Olmert’s government has been accelerating illegal settlement expansion on occupied Palestinian land.

Six months since Annapolis the planning of settlements has accelerated. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the construction of almost 1,000 housing units in several settlements in the West Bank. Furthermore the Israeli authorities announced plans, approved by Olmert, for the construction of an additional 2,900 units in settlements in the West Bank, including 750 units in Giv’at Zeev, and 1,900 housing units to be built this year for settlers who had to leave Gaza in 2005. In addition, Israel worked on the advancement of another 9,500 housing units in and around East Jerusalem, of which over 5,000 units have already been submitted for public review. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz the municipality of Jerusalem started the process of approving a plan for a new settlement complex with a synagogue in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan.

this is the only sort of process i can glean from whatever it is that rice is talking about or whatever this un resolution will bring to the fore: just more negotiations to obscure the israeli construction of facts on the ground. last month hasan abu nimah predicted that this will continue on in the form of some “process” in electronic intifada:

This is a game that suits the participants well; Rice — the lamest of lame ducks — is heading back to the region to meet a powerless caretaker prime minister in Israel and a powerless Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah. What can this possibly achieve other than to preserve the illusion of an ongoing “process?”

Sadly, many others who heavily invested in the peace process industry will prefer to latch on to these empty maneuvers as signs of “hope” rather than admit that they contain no substance that can ever lead to justice and peace.

But let me be clear: the negotiations did not reach a dead end because the negotiators ran out of time and are now leaving the scene. They failed because there was no viable peace project, because Israel, the strongest party, was not interested in reaching a reasonable settlement, and the sponsors of the process lacked the political courage to stand up to Israeli obstruction.

too, in electronic intifada osamah khalil saw this “process” coming immediately after the annapolis conference concluded and shows us why negotiations are a never-ending song and dance rather than anything remotely resembling an actual treaty or document that the zionist regime could be held accountable to:

Historically, successful diplomatic summits have resulted in a peace treaty not a “process” or a “framework for negotiations.” This is due to the presence of senior government officials and the momentum and trust built from negotiations that are actively facilitated by a major power. It is not a photo-op with a disengaged and indolent president who promises to be active in the future. The resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been known for over 40 years, an additional 14 months of negotiations is not intended to conclude a peace but prevent one. Moreover, the Arab League Peace Initiative which is based on existing UN resolutions and international law has been offered to Israel twice in the past five years and rejected both times. In addition, countless studies have been conducted by the UN, the World Bank, and numerous universities, think-tanks and non-governmental organizations on the different parameters not just for a peaceful settlement, but for political and economic coexistence and cooperation. What is needed now is not another “process” for negotiations, but the political will by the US and Israel to agree to, and institute, the existing agreements. Anything less is designed to further entrench and institutionalize the occupation while wringing additional concessions from the Palestinians and the Arab states.

Of course that is the true goal of this “process,” an amalgam of the strategies of two former Israeli Prime Ministers: Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon. After leaving office, Shamir explained why he agreed to attend the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, stating that although Israel participated in negotiations with the Palestinians, “I would have carried on autonomy talks for ten years and meanwhile we would have reached a half million people in Judea and Samaria.” Sharon’s strategy is best described by his adviser, Dov Weissglas, who explained in 2004 that the Gaza disengagement plan “supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.” This would not only “prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state” but also forestall “a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem.” In launching this new “peace process,” the Bush Administration continues to provide Israel’s ongoing colonization of Palestinian land with the requisite time to create further facts on the ground and stifle Palestinian aspirations for a viable, independent state. In order for this to be successful, Washington and Tel Aviv need a Palestinian leadership that will actively participate in such a charade in return for US funding and the title of President or Prime Minister. Abbas and his appointed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad are perfectly suited for this role and are in the process of obtaining the necessary political, economic and military support from the US and Israel to maintain their positions against internal opponents, including Hamas and other members of Fatah.

it is an illusion. it is a charade. nothing will come of this un resolution just as nothing came of annapolis. it’s all a ruse. but at the same time part of the problem when such vacuous language appears in a un security council resolution: how does one implement it? is this resolution suggesting that palestinians should stay on this merry-go-round while their land continues to be confiscated, while they are continuously kidnapped and imprisoned, murdered, under siege, and while refugees are still waiting–and thankfully not compromising on–their right of return? notably there were several protests of annapolis from those who felt most marginalized by this and all other so-called peace processes. palestinian refugees, most importantly, issued this statement from canada last year in protest:

It is our belief that the purpose of the Annapolis round of negotiations is to extract further critical concessions from the Palestinians while further delaying final status agreements. In particular, we believe that Israel will attempt to redefine the conflict with the Palestinians as being only about ending the occupation of Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, or parts thereof. Such a redefinition leads the Palestinians into the trap of the “two-state” formula which subverts our legitimate rights under international law. We stress that the central issue in the Palestinian conflict with Israel has always been the dispossession of the Palestinian people from their land and property caused by the Zionist ethnic cleansing of 1948 and the Israeli denial to Palestinians of the basic human right to return and to live in peace and security as equal citizens on their land.

We further specifically caution you against any recognition of Israel as a “Jewish” state. Such a recognition would give Israel the facade of moral and legal legitimacy while critically compromising the full implementation of the inalienable Palestinian right of return. In addition, it would contradict the struggle by Palestinian citizens of Israel to maintain their identity and gain equal rights as citizens. We point out that Israel was established through United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (Partition Resolution) which does not envisage or consent to the establishment of states on a religious or ethnic basis. In addition, we underscore that Israel was admitted as a member of the United Nations on the basis of its having recognized the full right of return of the Palestinian people on the basis of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 (Right of Return Resolution).

one of the reasons i stress week in and week out the necessity of placing un resolution 194 at the forefront of a just solution–and clearly i am not alone in this– is because this gets at the root of the problem. if you get to the heart of a problem you can find a solution. but in spite of israel and its lobbying buddies in the u.s. feigning interest in a solution of any kind–two states or otherwise–i would argue that the real reason they press on with this roller coaster of occupation known also known as a two-state solution because it really doesn’t matter what they agree to. from the beginning they have lied, stolen, cheated. they sign documents promising not to build settlements, for instance, and they continue to do so. but all of this daily reality–as brutal as it is–forces us to deal with the pressures of the moments: checkpoints, imprisonment, settlements rather than the core issue: the ethnic cleansing and rights of refugees to return home. this is codified in international law in the form of even the un resolutions mentioned in this new resolution 1850. this is like treating a lung cancer with a diet of cigarettes.

instead those who have called for and actively participated in a program of boycott, divestment and sanctions with a vision towards a one-state solution ensure the rights of refugees, and by extension all related issues. when you allow palestinians their right of return you immediately solve the problem of borders, water, settlements, land. ali abunimah and omar barghouti make this point abundantly clear in an electronic intifada article from last year:

Since the Palestinian-Israeli Oslo agreements were signed in 1993, the colonization of the West Bank and all the other Israeli violations of international law have intensified incessantly and with utter impunity. We see this again after the recent Annapolis meeting: as Israel and functionaries of an unrepresentative and powerless Palestinian Authority go through the motions of “peace talks,” Israel’s illegal colonies and apartheid wall continue to grow, and its atrocious collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza is intensifying without the “international community” lifting a finger in response.

This “peace process,” not peace or justice, has become an end in itself — because as long as it continues Israel faces no pressure to actually change its behavior. The political fiction that a two-state solution lies always just around the corner but never within reach is essential to perpetuate the charade and preserve indefinitely the status quo of Israeli colonial hegemony.

To avoid the pitfalls of further division in the Palestinian rights movement, we concur with [Nadia] Hijab and [Victoria] Brittain in urging activists from across the political spectrum, irrespective of their opinions on the one state, two states debate, to unite behind the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, as the most politically and morally sound civil resistance strategy that can inspire and mobilize world public opinion in pursuing Palestinian rights.

The rights-based approach at the core of this widely endorsed appeal focuses on the need to redress the three basic injustices that together define the question of Palestine — the denial of Palestinian refugee rights, primary among them their right to return to their homes, as stipulated in international law; the occupation and colonization of the 1967 territory, including East Jerusalem; and the system of discrimination against the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

and indeed the other key issue that gets solved with a just solution–meaning the return of refugees–is the plight of palestinians who are citizens of israel living in 1948 palestine. nadim rouhana demonstrates, by way of american analogies, how this ongoing process excludes palestinians living in 1948 and why they, like palestinian refugees, demand to have a voice in the so-called “peace process”:

Like many Mexican-Americans, we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us. We have been struggling ever since against a system that subjects us to separate and unequal treatment because we are Palestinian Arabs — Christian, Muslim and Druze — not Jewish. More than twenty Israeli laws explicitly privilege Jews over non-Jews.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is under intense pressure to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. This is not a matter of semantics. If Israel’s demand is granted, the inequality that we face as Palestinians — roughly 20 percent of Israel’s population — will become permanent.

The United States, despite being settled by Christian Europeans fleeing religious persecution, has struggled for decades to make clear that it is not a “Christian nation.” It is in a similar vein that Israel’s indigenous Palestinian population rejects the efforts of Israel and the United States to seal our fate as a permanent underclass in our own homeland.

We are referred to by leading Israeli politicians as a “demographic problem.” In response, many in Israel, including the deputy prime minister, are proposing land swaps: Palestinian land in the occupied territories with Israeli settlers on it would fall under Israel’s sovereignty, while land in Israel with Palestinian citizens would fall under Palestinian authority.

This may seem like an even trade. But there is one problem: no one asked us what we think of this solution. Imagine the hue and cry were a prominent American politician to propose redrawing the map of the United States so as to exclude as many Mexican-Americans as possible, for the explicit purpose of preserving white political power. Such a demagogue would rightly be denounced as a bigot. Yet this sort of hyper-segregation and ethnic supremacy is precisely what Israeli and American officials are considering for many Palestinian citizens of Israel — and hoping to coerce Palestinian leaders into accepting.

Looking across the Green Line, we realize that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has no mandate to negotiate a deal that will affect our future. We did not elect him. Why would we give up the rights we have battled to secure in our homeland to live inside an embryonic Palestine that we fear will be more like a bantustan than a sovereign state? Even if we put aside our attachment to our homeland, Israel has crushed the West Bank economy — to say nothing of Gaza’s — and imprisoned its people behind a barrier. There is little allure to life in such grim circumstances, especially since there is the real prospect of further Israeli sanctions, which could make a bad situation worse.

In the poll I just conducted, nearly three-quarters of Israel’s Palestinian citizens rejected the idea of the Palestinian Authority making territorial concessions that involve them, and 65.6 percent maintained that the PA also lacked the mandate to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Nearly 80 percent declared that it lacks the mandate to relinquish the right of Palestinian refugees — affirmed in UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948 and reaffirmed many times — to return to their homes and properties inside Israel.

palestinian authority billboard in tabariyya
palestinian authority billboard in tabariyya

indeed. but there were more recent polls taken, too–each problematic in their own way. these polls are related to the ads that abbas ran last month in israeli newspapers about his so-called promise of “peace.” the ads, as it turns out, are also billboards in hebrew all over 1948 palestine, though i only saw them in jewish-only cities when my friends and i were touring ethnically cleansed palestinian villages (see above photo):

Last month, Abbas ran ads telling Israeli newspaper readers they would win recognition from 57 Arab and Islamic countries if Israel withdraws from all the territories it occupied in the 1967 Mideast War.

According to the survey, 61 percent of Israelis oppose the trade-off and 36 percent support it. Among Palestinians, 66 percent support the idea and 30 percent oppose it.

clearly we see that israelis are not willing to give up any land for “peace.” that’s point one. point two is that just who was polled in this palestinian poll? palestinians in 1948 and palestinian refugees in syria and lebanon? no, none of these people were included in this poll. thus, the people who are most marginalized by this charade of a “process” are excluded and the poll is therefore deceptive.

at a protest against annapolis last year people interviewed by rami almeghari for electronic intifada expressed these same concerns showing that rights are far more urgent than “peace” because on the ground “peace” becomes like war:

A young woman taking part in a large women’s rally cried angrily, “We don’t want more alleged peace conferences, which bring us more suffering. We prefer poverty to accepting shameful peace.”

A young man at a nearby rally voiced similar frustration: “What peace are they are talking about? They want us to give up our legitimate rights. We prefer more years of suffering to conceding our rights.”

The speaker of the elected PLC, Dr. Ahmad Bahar, told the crowds, “Today, the Palestinian people tell those meeting in Annapolis that they refuse to concede their inalienable rights.”

Bahar said that the PLC passed a new bill prohibiting the concession of the Palestinian refugees’ right to return as well as the Palestinian nation’s rights to Jerusalem and to resist the occupation.

“This bill is intended to protect Palestinian rights from those who coordinate with the Israeli entity,” the speaker added, referring to President Abbas’ parallel, unelected government that holds talks with Israel.

Many Palestinian bodies, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)-linked parties and intellectuals have voiced their objection to the peace summit in Annapolis.

Dr. As’ad Abu Sharekh, a professor of English literature and a political analyst in Gaza, believes that the efforts underway will not lead to real peace.

“This conference should have instead been convened by the United Nations, which has been sponsoring the Palestinian question over the past six decades. The United Nations is the sole body that should implement its long-pending resolutions concerning the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

“Resolution 194 of 1949 should be on top of such resolutions, which demands the return and compensation of Palestinian refugees to historical Palestine,” he added.

it should be clear that this never-ending process will continue to be never ending because the issues that are at the core continue to be ignored. and yet the un security council voted unanimously to maintain the status quo. further it absolutely ignores key issues at stake as jamal el khodary shows us:

El Khodary added that this resolution provides protection to the illegal Israeli measures against the Palestinian people, as it supports unbalanced bilateral Palestinian-Israeli talks. He also said that this resolution gives Israel another free hand to annex the Palestinian lands, increase the Gaza siege and allow Israel to annex the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The independent legislator said that one of the most dangerous issues in this resolution is that it “puts the victim and the oppressor in equal positions”, and added that this resolution denies the legitimate Palestinian rights, especially the rights of independence, self determination and the right to establish a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

El Khodary also said that the resolution did not place any timeframe, did not call for dismantling the Israeli colonies, did not even hint the release of political detainees and ignored the internationally guaranteed Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees.

Furthermore, El Khodary added that the resolution totally ignored the Israeli siege on Gaza, collective punishment practiced by Israel and also ignored the settlements and the Annexation Wall.

el khodary brings up another essential point in the way that occupier and occupied are treated as equals in all of these international negotiations. but the problem is, too, that occupier and occupied are never treated equally by international parties; instead, the occupier is always given special treatment in spite of its incessant complaints of anti-semitism. this is precisely why the zionist state never wants people from the un like richard falk to enter palestine or why miguel d’escoto brockmann is now receiving death threats for speaking out against its apartheid regime. clearly in this “process” there is no room for justice and this new un resolution at best will bring no change and at worst will bring more of the same.

and just a couple more words on another process…or the lack thereof. i thought that there was some interesting timing today in that human rights watch released a new report about the lack of due process and justice in the iraqi criminal court system. this comes as muntathar al-zaydi is due in court. it also comes after reports on his torture in prison as well as dick cheney reporting that he approved the use of torture during his tenure as vice president.

rania had some really important things to say today about the meaning of muntathar al zaydi and how we can mobilize our collective energy and power in relation to this euphoria:

Now, the question becomes not only what will happen to Muntadher al-Zaidi and when he will be released (if he will be released) — but the larger question is how many more shoes will be launched towards the heads of occupiers and puppets and oppressors?

Let us also remember that resistance in Iraq existed prior to the shoes-thrown. And resistance in Iraq will continue to exist after the shoes-thrown. The question for us is: for those of us inspired, empowered, moved, energized by the action of Muntadher al-Zaidi, what shall we do? individually, what shall we do? collectively, what shall we do? it is not enough to be inspired and to be moved emotionally. What creates change is action. What inspires action is hope and strategy.

these are very important questions for us and our friend abed attempted to pose further questions and challenges that we should also consider:

But at the same time, i never once doubted the reactions of the people facing occupation all over the world, not just in the Arab World…

I never doubted their will to fight the power structures, and their courage to do so… that people, will engage in their own individual initiative to say NO, in the absence of a group project…

But what we need is more than personal/individual experiences, we need a collective approach to advance…

The entire world watched the Shoe thrown by a Iraqi journalist, just like we remember the Chinese guy in the Suit over in Tinamen Square… Muntather Zaidi is synonymous to Tommie Smith from the 68 Olympics who lost the Gold Medal because of the Black Power Salute… These are all examples of how individuals can challenge the status quo, and there are millions of these examples everyday everywhere, but these particular people were caught on tape or by the lens of a camera…

The only difference is that, today, only individuals are ready for sacrifice and have the courage and creativity for such actions while groups/parties/new possible progressive systems are dormant/non existent… while in the past (Tienanmen & Mexico city), the people were inspired by a collective action happening & taking place (Student movement, & civil rights movement)…

Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful action, but it was always there in Iraq everyday, it was just not on camera… and what we need is way more than what individuals can offer to save Iraq, Palestine, Sudan…
Muntather should not be turned into a hero because turning him into a hero will make him lose his humanity, nationalism & common sense which were the reasons for his actions… Making a hero out of him is isolating his action, while we need to multiply this kind of actions on camera while waiting for the collective project to wake up…

The excess of happiness over the shoe is our incapacity for actions at the Arab collective level…

so what shall we do? collectively? certainly there are the petitions–and a new one which i will add below–but this is minimal a simple petition is helping just one man. how can we help an entire nation or region resist colonialism and apartheid and occupation in all of its nefarious forms? think about that while you sign this third petition for al-zaydi:

حملة لجمع 50000 توقيع لإطلاق سراح البطل منتظر الزيدي

return to yaffa?

somehow this news item slipped passed me when it first hit in april: an israeli adapted ghassan kanafani’s novella return to haifa into a play that is now being performed in yaffa. there is something deeply disturbing about kanafani’s writing being adapted by a colonizer who lives his former land that he will never be able to return to because israel’s mossad murdered him along with his niece lamees. not only that it was altered in at least one way and who knows how else kanafani’s narrative was distorted:

Adapted by Israeli playwright Boaz Gaon from a famous novella by Ghassan Kanafani, it tells the story of Palestinians Said and Safiyeh who fled during fighting in 1948 and were forced to leave their baby boy behind.

New Jewish immigrants Miryam and Ephraim, who lost a son of their own in the Holocaust, move into the house, find the child, and raise him as their own. Two decades later, the five of them meet, and are forced to confront each other’s histories.

“At the beginning it seems impossible that these people would sit down to have a dialogue,” said Peter. “But the child is a sort of allegory. Who does he belong to? And there is a moment of grace where perhaps they could become one family.”

The original novella ends with Said, the Palestinian father, lamenting that only another war will settle the Israeli-Palestinian problem — a sentiment writer Gaon felt was inappropriate for the modern version.

His ending is far from rosy, but it opens the door to the chance of a more peaceful future.

“The last thing I wanted was for people to leave the theatre and rush to the front — we’ve exhausted that option,” he said. “I wanted to offer an opening for something else to happen.”

i discovered this play today because al jazeera did a piece on it:

it is so disturbing that this beautiful, eloquent, powerful story is being twisted in this way and being used by israelis. and i suspect that they have not acquired rights from his widow, anni, who once told me that people often adapt kanafani’s writings without going through the proper legal channels to acquire the rights. if this is true, then the adaption of this play goes along with the usual zionist modus operandi of theft. theft of the work of one of the most beautiful resistance writers who ever lived. a writer who was killed by the zionists for his artistic creations. a writer who was known as the “commando who never fired a shot.” a writer who was dedicated to the right of return for all palestinian refugees.

i had forgotten that this week was the anniversary of united nations resolution 194. the document is important in its entirety, but for me what is most important is its eleventh point:

Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;

meanwhile in the lead up to this anniversary the united nations office of the high commission for human rights held a meeting to review israel’s human rights violations (and one would hope hold them accountable: i.e., remove them until they can stop behaving like a rogue state). unfortunately, the united nations did not yield the desired results as badil makes clear in its press release on the subject:

Badil joined several human rights organizations in presenting information and evidence of Israeli violations of international human rights law to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Council met on 4 December to scrutinize the performance of Israel under human rights law in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) procedure, and is scheduled to release its report on the review of Israel on 9 December.

The National Report that was submitted by Israel to the Human Rights Council falls short from reflecting the reality and totally ignores the human rights situation in the 1967 Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), while justifying its violations of international humanitarian law by security reasons.

By 2008, and always under the pretext of “security and self-defense,” Israel has displaced 70% of the Palestinian people, now living as refugees and internally displaced persons; confiscated and/or de facto annexed some 60% of the occupied West Bank, including eastern Jerusalem, and established a system of institutionalized discrimination affecting Palestinians within Israel, in the OPT, and refugees worldwide.

Badil, together with other Palestinian, Arab, Israeli and international NGOs, provided information to the Human Rights Council, encouraging particular state scrutiny of Israel’s self-definition as a “Jewish and democratic state”, and its system of institutionalized racial discrimination against the indigenous Palestinian citizens (almost 20 % of Israel’s population) in resource allocation and political decision-making. These human rights organizations also argued that Israel’s regime of institutionalized racial discrimination has been expanded into the 1967 OPT as a tool for more colonization of land and oppression of the Palestinian people.

israel’s response to the sixty-year long list of gross human rights violations was that there was “room for improvement” (that’s the understatement of the year):

They noted the large number of human rights groups operating in Israel; governmental, judicial, and non-governmental. Israel’s representatives acknowledged there was room for improvement and pledged to seriously discuss the council’s recommendations. The democratic countries praised Israel’s report, although they expressed reservations about certain issues, such as the situation of the Negev Bedouin. However, the blood of the Arabs and the Muslims was boiling. Their central recommendation was that Israel put an end to the “racist” occupation, as the Syrian representative expressed it.

another missed opportunity last week came from the european union, which upgraded israel’s status when it could have made a bold move to cut the zionist state out entirely because the zionist regime’s deplorable record on human rights violates the european union’s constitution. david morrison explains these violations and its context within this e.u. agreement in electronic intifada:

The EU’s disregard of Israel’s violations has a long pedigree. Israel became a partner of the EU in November 1995 with the signing of the Barcelona Declaration, which established the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. This Partnership encompassed 15 EU states plus 11 states in the Mediterranean region (Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey) and the Palestinian Authority. Signatories to the Barcelona Declaration agreed to behave according to international norms in their relations with other states, promising to “act in accordance with the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other obligations under international law.”

The signatories also entered into a number of specific obligations in respect of their “partners” in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. This included:

(1) Refrain, in accordance with the rules of international law, from any direct or indirect intervention in the internal affairs of another partner;

(2) Respect the territorial integrity and unity of each of the other partners;

(3) Settle their disputes by peaceful means, call upon all participants to renounce recourse to the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of another participant, including the acquisition of territory by force, and reaffirm the right to fully exercise sovereignty by legitimate means in accordance with the UN Charter and international law.

In 1995, when Israel signed the Barcelona Declaration and undertook to abide by these principles, it was occupying southern Lebanon and had annexed the Syrian Golan Heights. By no stretch of the imagination could it be said that Israel was refraining from intervention in the internal affairs of its Lebanese and Syrian partners, or respecting their territorial integrity, or settling disputes with them by peaceful means. Manifestly, when it signed the Barcelona Declaration, Israel was openly contravening the agreement’s three core obligations.

At that time, Israel was also in breach of the general obligation in the Barcelona Declaration to “act in accordance with the United Nations Charter.” As an occupying power in the West Bank and Gaza, it remains in violation of Articles 2.4 of the UN Charter. It is also in violation of the requirement in Article 25 that UN member states “accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.” Indeed, by 1995, Israel was in violation of some 25 Security Council resolutions requiring action by it and it alone. These included demands to: cease the building of Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, reverse its annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and open its nuclear facilities to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA).

these developments in the un and the eu this week are disturbing for so many reasons. the siege of gaza has not changed. nor has the situation in the west bank or 1948 palestine for that matter. and yet the zionists still, quite literally, continue to get away with murder and theft. and not just surreptitiously either–as always they do so in broad daylight. one example of this is their so-called idea of “peace” which is really code for stealing more land, denying more human rights, and evading international law even further:

Israel has proposed annexing 6.8 per cent of the illegally occupied West Bank, the chief Palestinian negotiator has said in his first detailed comments about the stalled US-backed negotiations.

Israel proposed a swap of some of its own territory in return for the annexed area but the Israeli land was not an equal trade in size and quality, Ahmed Qurei said, adding that the Palestinians rejected the offer.

Tel Aviv has also said it would allow 5,000 Palestinian refugees to return to the territories as part of the plan to take the land in the West Bank, Qurei said on Friday.

The latest peace efforts were launched a year ago at a US-hosted conference in Annapolis, Maryland, where George Bush, the US president said he wanted to see a deal by the end of his presidency in January 2009.

so this is the state of affairs today. a sad state of affairs. i was chatting with a friend in gaza tonight. he said things were “fine” there–meaning they are “adapting,” though not “surrendering.” i cannot imagine what it must be like to “adapt” to a life of siege. to ever increasing, tightening restrictions.

and yet creative methods are continually being invented to make people remember–to never let them forget the history and this siege in its many forms from gaza to 1948 palestine to refugees. un escwa created a series of animated cartoons on the subject which are quite brilliant. they are in arabic, but other people can probably glean the main idea from watching (thanks muna) :

on history; or seeing the big picture

Yesterday I woke up early so that Saed and I could get to Ramallah before the Muwatin conference began. We had to leave extra early because the Israeli Terrorist Forces (ITF) won’t let him drive through Huwara checkpoint, so we had to go at least 30 minutes in the opposite direction before we could cut back down to the main road to Ramallah. Fortunately because it was a Friday morning we were able to make it on time.

The Muwatin annual conference this year explored the theme of “Critical Readings in the History of the Palestinian National Struggle.” Many of the speakers were historians or those commenting on history in relation to the media or politics. It was good for me to attend this conference as the chapter of my book that I’m working on now deals with Palestinian history and as a result I’ve been constantly thinking about history in terms of methodology, strategy. Over the past two years my sense of the role history plays in my book has shifted. Initially it was broad. Later it became focused on the two touchstones of an nakba and haq al awda. At first I imagined that for my American audience utilizing solely the work of Israeli historians like Ilan Pappe would be more effective in terms of getting Americans to listen. But the writings of friends, whose work I respect deeply, cautioned me that to use only the history of the oppressors to tell the story of the oppressed is racist. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized how right they are. Indeed, my whole book project on some level speaks to that as I’m arguing for supplanting the very narrow Zionist curriculum in the U.S. with a curriculum about Palestinians that would teach Americans about an nakba and al awda. I began to imagine growing up learning about Nazi Germany solely from the point of view of Adolf Hitler or of Nazis. Or I thought about what it would mean to learn about slavery only from the point of view of white slave owners. The facts, the truth, the narrative is, of course, quite different when you think about it in these ways. But yet another aspect of methodology emerged for me over the past month as friends shared with me a problem in the field of history more generally: the use of only English (or other European language) sources. My reliance upon Palestinian scholars like Rashid Khalidi, Lila Abu-Lughod, Joseph Massad, Yazid Sayigh, Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, Walid Khalidi, Naseer Aruri, and Nur Masalha is insufficient. There are many Palestinian scholars whose work is written in Arabic and these sources are ignored by scholars on the subject. Writing, thinking, re-writing, re-thinking has been a process. As indeed the writing of history should be more generally. A constant questioning, wondering, searching, exploring. At the same time, and on another level, living here forces me to think about the consequences of history every day as I watch in amazement the horrors of what it means for history to repeat itself in the short and long term.

Such questions emerged at the Muwatin conference yesterday. The first speaker was Rashid Khalidi who essentially gave a talk based on the fourth chapter of his book The Iron Cage. He mentioned that it will be published in Arabic in a few months. I suspect many people in the audience have not read the English version given the discussion throughout the course of the day. Even though I’ve read it it was interesting to hear the discussion of it in this different context. Khalidi framed his talk, which opened the conference and therefore addressed an important theme of the conference, which is related to the need for us to heed the lessons of history. One of the ways one achieves these lessons is by narrating a history that includes criticism, introspection, comparison. And Khalidi’s book does all of these things really well. Indeed, his entire methodology embeds these practices into his examination of Palestinian history. For one thing he examines this history by comparing it to the histories of Arab nations to compare Palestinian society at different stages in relation to daily life as well as responses to European colonialism. Khalidi explains that to understand the harm done to Palestinians historically and to achieve a just solution one has to understand this history in its proper context:

However, achieving any serious understanding of this poignant conflict, which has for decades rent the Middle East and has had such a wide-reaching political and moral impact outside it, requires a broad comprehension of Palestinian history in its own terms, and in its own context, which includes, but cannot be subsumed by or subordinated to Jewish and Israeli history. (xxix-xxx)

And the work that Khalidi–as well as most of the speakers yesterday–shared highlights this methodological strategy. Khalidi spoke about resistance in the context of the Palestinian revolt of 1936-1939. He related it to later resistance contexts, including Palestinian resistance from Lebanon in the 1970s. Through this lecture he theorized about the nature of history and how it gets told. There is a tendency–I would argue for every nation–to render its history into the realm of hyperbole, especially when one deals with leaders; nations are so rarely wiling to question this mythologizing work. But the issue of Palestinian history is still so much more complicated as there is still no master narrative. There are bits and pieces of it, but far too many lacuna.

Another speaker at the conference was Nadim Rouhana who is a Palestinian from 1948 Palestine. He’s currently working on a book on right of return in Israeli discourse. Yesterday he spoke about history in relation to strategy for the future. For instance, he discussed this issue of whether or not Jews constitute a religion or a ethnic group, but of course either way neither category allows them to steal and colonize someone else’s land (for the record Judaism is a religion like any other; they are not an ethnic group and like every other religion there are people from many other ethnic groups who make up this religious group as a result of conversion). As a proponent of a one-state solution, Rouhana talked about strategy involved in how a one state solution might emerge given the existence of Zionist Jews. What does one do with them? Indeed, an important question especially given that Zionism is so deeply enmeshed in the project of ethnic cleansing; it has no relationship to any sort of anti-colonial or anti-imperial power structure that it fought against Rouhana asserted. And this ethnic cleansing has continued in Palestine for 60 years. In a critique of Bush’s failed Annapolis project Rouhana raises some very important questions about Palestinians from 1948 who get left out of the process:

We are referred to by leading Israeli politicians as a “demographic problem.” In response, many in Israel, including the deputy prime minister, are proposing land swaps: Palestinian land in the occupied territories with Israeli settlers on it would fall under Israel’s sovereignty, while land in Israel with Palestinian citizens would fall under Palestinian authority.

This may seem like an even trade. But there is one problem: no one asked us what we think of this solution. Imagine the hue and cry were a prominent American politician to propose redrawing the map of the United States so as to exclude as many Mexican-Americans as possible, for the explicit purpose of preserving white political power. Such a demagogue would rightly be denounced as a bigot. Yet this sort of hyper-segregation and ethnic supremacy is precisely what Israeli and American officials are considering for many Palestinian citizens of Israel — and hoping to coerce Palestinian leaders into accepting.

Looking across the Green Line, we realize that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has no mandate to negotiate a deal that will affect our future. We did not elect him. Why would we give up the rights we have battled to secure in our homeland to live inside an embryonic Palestine that we fear will be more like a bantustan than a sovereign state? Even if we put aside our attachment to our homeland, Israel has crushed the West Bank economy–to say nothing of Gaza’s–and imprisoned its people behind a barrier. There is little allure to life in such grim circumstances, especially since there is the real prospect of further Israeli sanctions, which could make a bad situation worse.

Rouhana raises not only interesting practical concerns, but also historical concerns. A great deal of Palestinian history is based upon particular areas in historic 1948 Palestine: Haifa, Yaffa, Akka, the Jaleel, and the half of Al Quds that is occupied. Certainly there is historic work on places like Nablus but in English so much of the writing focuses on these other areas. Certainly this is related to the fact that many of the Palestinian scholars who produce this important work come from these spaces that they or their family members were expelled from in 1948.

Some of what Rouhana discusses in the piece above makes me think about Jonathan Cook’s new book, Disappearing Palestine. I remembered this book when I woke up today. Especially its title because yesterday in what I think was the most provocative and compelling paper came from Esmail Nashif whose talk was entitled “History of Resistance and the Need to Resist History,” but the paper actually focused on the phenomenon of disappearance. When I first heard him use this word I thought immediately of the disappeared from Argentina. Especially because he was arguing that disappearance be used as a resistance strategy. It was hard to wrap my head around at first. I also thought of the Palestinian disappeared–those kidnapped from their homes every night who wind up in Israeli jails. But of course, he wasn’t arguing for this sort of disappearance. He was thinking about disappearance on a number of levels. Influenced by Gramsci and rejecting Hegel’s notion of the master/slave dialectic, he rejects this idea of Palestinians viewing themsleves in the role of the victim. And he sees much of the Palestinian resistance as re-action to various actions by the Zionist state. For Nashif disappearance is a way to break out of this cycle in which Palestinians become a shadow of the image of the slave, a shadow of neoliberalism. This shadow is related to how he sees Israelis trying to be like the Germans and Palestinians trying to be like the Israelis. To resist being a slave, to resist defining oneself in relation to the Other, the industry of the Other, to break these cycles. The context for this is in relation to the underground of the resistance movement when Palestinians disappear and then reappear. This gives Palestinians agency. To disappear and the figure out precisely how one re-appears.

Those who must reappear if we are to learn from history, to use history in a way that corrects injustices are, of course, Palestinian refugees. The one who spoke most lucidly about this subject yesterday was Musa Budeiri. And his talk made the most clear cut connections between the aspects of history that one must use to learn from the problems of history. Budeiri himself is a man who is subjected to the fact that not learning from history enables the Zionist state to continue its practices of ethnic cleansing by its process of rendering people illegal, taking their identity cards away, thus forcing them to be removed, ethnically cleansed from their homes:

However between May and August 1999, a serious incident happened: the Ministry of Interior of the Barak government withdrew the Identity Document of Musa Budeiri, a director of the Center of International Relations in Al-Quds University and a resident of East Jerusalem. Native of Jerusalem, his family has lived there for hundreds of years, under Ottoman, British and Jordanian rule. He was given a tourist visa, valid for four weeks, and was told that he would have to leave Jerusalem by August 22 — Musa Budeiri is one of thousands of other Palestinians in a similar situation. They all have the same problem: they are subject to the threat of being turned into ‘tourists’ in their birthplace. 2,200 Jerusalem ID cards of families (roughly 8,800 individuals) were confiscated between 1996 and May 1999 (according to the Israeli ministry of Interior)…

Budeiri argued about some of the problems with writing Palestinian history: the fact that much of the historical records are maintained in British and Israeli archives. That even many of the things one counts as Palestinian from the 1920s-1940s are actually inventions of British colonial institutions: money, passports, radio, newspapers, economy, education. He argues that the sort of narrative that has been used thus far to tell the story of Palestinian people is one that continues to give Palestinian elites legitimacy. He argues that we must look at the people in a Howard Zinn sort of fashion. For instance, if we want to talk about resistance, we need to be truthful about where it originated: Palestinian refugee camps. The idea of resistance did not start in the West Bank and Gaza or even 1948 in the 1960s. It started outside. The problem with not making this aspect of history central, and instead making a Palestinian history about the West Bank and Gaza, or even 1948, the centerpiece is that it gives legitimacy to the Palestinian Authority (PA). In turn, this emboldens the PA to sell away Palestinian refugees’ right of return in Oslo and all other agreements and negotiations since (perhaps the PA should be reminded of the conditions of Palestinians in Lebanon to move them to thinking differently?). The most important element of this line of thinking is that it copies the Zionist logic (a bit of an oxymoron, I know) who argue that all problems related to Palestinians stem from what happened in 1967. Zionists and their American and European allies use the word “occupation” to mean the West Bank and Gaza. They never use it as it is more accurately used, which is to mean all of 1948 Palestine. When I say occupation, for instance, I mean every inch of historical Palestine. But when the Zionists and their allies use this word and talk about 1967 borders they come from a point of view that suggests everything was okay before 1967 and that changing these borders to 1967 will solve all the problems. It won’t. And the arguments that emerged throughout the day yesterday–people wanting to defend this leader or that leader in history takes away from the overall point of the uses of history. It’s striking to see how people get so offended by what they deem to be borderline slander because Husseini or Arafat get critiqued for mistakes they made. I mean, can one learn from history if one does not look honestly at the mistakes of history–whether a few years ago or many decades ago?

What we need to return to is the formula that was born in the camps through culture and armed resistance that equated liberation of all historic Palestine with the right of return. This is the formula for justice. And here is what Budeiri himself argues with respect to rectifying history:

Events overcame the British Empire’s attempts to maintain its hold in Palestine. Partition was its retreat position. But Palestine was a tiny and distant asset, expendable in the service of the larger interests of the British Empire. Israel, a colonial warrior state assuming the role of regional power in an environment it deems dangerous and hostile, has transformed the region, and in doing so has transformed itself as well. While pursuing the path of ethnic cleansing, when and where it is possible, it cannot turn back whatever the cost. The only salvation for Israelis and Palestinians is for new forms of struggle that are based not on historical nostalgia or worn-out recipes, but on the realization that peace and a necessary modicum of justice can only come about on the basis of a shared homeland. The longer this notion takes to take hold, the costlier it is going to be. Partition was not a solution then and cannot be one now.

A question in relation to all of these historical problems and how to solve this that continues to permeate my thinking, especially when looking at the damage that normalization with Israelis causes Palestinians at every level, is this: Why is it that Palestinians must “negotiate” for what is rightfully, legally theirs? If someone were to steal my purse and I found it, I would take it back. It belongs to me. Palestine belongs to Palestinians. It’s not rocket science. It’s pretty simple and there is an historical record consisting of a variety of sources from land deeds to keys to UN resolutions. There are various modes of resistance that can be used to create this change. We can learn from other histories as well. For instance, I showed my students the film Amandla the other day, which is a film about the ways in which South Africans used music as an element of their resistance. The film is historical to be sure: it shows how music evolved from various modes of resistance, some of which was passive, some of which was religious, some of which was armed. This history is important, I think, as it is depicted in the film because it tells the story from the point of view of the people in a variety of contexts. Likewise, I kept thinking about Howard Zinn yesterday and how his method of narrating history through the voices of the people really revolutionized American history, especially as it told the stories of various marginalized groups and their various methods of resistance against the U.S. government’s colonialism and racism. There is so much Palestinian oral history already collected and it would be an amazing resource for Palestinians to begin a similar process here, I think. Too, one of the main issues people critiqued yesterday is the way that so much Palestinian history focuses on elites and some of their papers were challenging this by example and asking others to follow. I also think that one of the values of Zinn’s books is that it teaches us to see parallels from each struggle, to learn from those struggles, to be able to use what worked and understand why other methods failed. One thing I found striking yesterday: not one person mentioned the important work of Salman Abu Sitta. This is a man who understands how to use history to effectively seek justice for Palestinians. His goal of creating a new PLO that represents all Palestinians around the globe is essential and if we’re going to be talking about how to best use Palestinian history, I do believe his work must be a component of that narrative.

All of this food for thought was quite important in getting me energized with respect to thinking about my own work, its use value, and the struggle more generally. But the highlight of my day yesterday, I must say, was the fact that my dear friend Sami showed up to the conference and I got to spend the day with him. At lunch I was so humbled and honored that I not only got to catch up with Sami, but that I was able to break bread with Hossam Khoder, one of the Palestinian political prisoners who was released back in August. I blogged about attending the celebration of his release back in August, where I posted photographs of him as well. It is difficult to express how amazing it was to be sitting there among several former prisoners and seeing them eating in relative freedom (as free as one can be here), including my friend Sami who was actually in prison with Hossam.

At the end of the conference I was able to catch a ride back with some Nabulsis who were not staying for the second day as Saed did. We had such a lovely chat in the car on the way home and when we reached downtown Nablus I was invited out for knafe and more thought-provoking discussion with a journalist who worked until a few months ago, but the Zionist regime shut down the television station where he had worked for many years. So many stories like this of censorship, of imprisonment, of resistance. Stories that must be written down–not so much to create a master narrative. But I would hope for a people’s history of Palestine. One that moves people to remember, to resist, and to take back what is theirs. To break out of this cycle that takes Palestinians nowhere. To realize that normalization means the death of resistance, of justice.

a day of mourning

If I had the energy, time, or ability I would organize try to encourage and help people here in Palestine to organize a nation-wide march, with everyone dressed in black, and carrying symbolic coffins. We would march from Jenin to Khalil in this fantasy (although if it is really a fantasy we could march to Gaza…or Akka…) and we would do this to publicly mourn the war process that has been the last 15 years of Oslo’s so-called “peace process.” Because today is the 15 year anniversary of that horrific day. In fact, when he refused to attend the ceremony at he White House, Edward Said remarked that “for all Palestinians September 13 ought to be a day of mourning” (Peace and Its Discontents xxix).

It is understandable why Americans would continue to call Oslo or the Road Map or Annapolis a “peace process,” because the media is so horribly incompetent or racist or both in the U.S. Take this report from If Americans Knew.org: “Off the Charts: Accuracy in Reporting of Israel/Palestine The New York Times,” which details precisely how skewed the reporting is, particularly when it comes to Palestinian deaths as compared to Israeli deaths. But this is not the only reason why Oslo has been an unending war that has accelerated Palestinian death and suffering in every possible way. Consider what Edward Said wrote about Oslo in Peace and its Discontents in 1996:

For the firs time in our history our leadership had simply given up on self-determination, Jerusalem, and the refugees, allowing them to become part of an undetermined set of ‘final status negotiations.’ For the first time in our recent past, we accepted the division of our people–whose unity we had fought for as a nation movement since 1948–into residents of the Occupied Territories and all the others, who happen today to constitute over 55 percent of the Palestinian population; they exist in another, lesser category not covered by the peace process. For the first time in the twentieth century, an anticolonial liberation movement had not only discarded its own considerable achievements but made an agreement to cooperate with a military occupation before that occupation had ended, and before even the government of Israel had admitted that it was in effect a government of military occupation. (xxix; emphasis mine)

Indeed many of the things that Said wrote in the 1990s turned about to be quite accurate premonitions. Consider this important comparison with Mandela and the ANC in South Africa:

The PLO will thus become Israel’s enforcer, an unhappy prospect for most Palestinians. Interestingly, even after it won political recognition, the ANC always refused to supply the South African government with police officials until after power was shared, precisely in order to avoid appearing as the white government’s enforcer. (12)

Re-reading Said’s words the past few days has been a helpful reminder of several curious things to me. First, it is sobering to see cataloged all of the egregious violations Yasir Arafat participated in at the expense of his people–the most important and enduring one, unfortunately, has been his (and his predecessors) refusal to put the right of return at the top of the negotiating list. And yet when I see his face plastered about Palestine I always wonder: why? I mean, we’re not in Jordan; one is not obligated to place photographs of Arafat everywhere. And fortunately there is enough variety that one can see various leaders, including PFLP leaders, around Palestine. But when he wholesale sold Palestinian rights down the river, why do people honor him and still have so much affection for him? It is really something that I have such difficulty grasping. So too is the subject of Bill Clinton. Many people in Palestine are under the delusion that somehow Clinton was good for them (by extension they believe any democrat will be helpful and thus want Barack Obama to win the election). But here is just one example from Said of what Clinton did with respect to Palestine:

…whenever he was challenged from the right, Clinton moved to the right. That was certainly the case in the Middle East, where he went along with everything the Israeli lobby–which effectively directs U.S. policy–has wanted. He changed the United States position on Israeli settlements, for example, no longer holding to the line taken by every other president before him, that the settlements were an obstacle to peace. He has made no comment about the concrete deterioration of Palestinian life as a result of Israeli military occupation policy. No president has been as Zionist as he. (114; emphasis mine)

And here is an example why all who were involved in Oslo–from whatever side–participated in something reprehensible, but especially those who sold their own people out and managed to dupe them in the process:

Because Palestinian leaders were concerned mainly about themselves, because so many Arab and Palestinian intellectuals (especially those who speak loftily of pragmatism, the New World Order, and “the peace process”) have capitulated morally and intellectually, we find ourselves int he middle of peace negotiations that never raise the obvious and fundamental questions. Has Israel changed or is there still a basic conflict of interests between Arabs and Israelis? What does it mean to make peace with a state that is still the only country in the world with no internationally declared boundaries? What does it mean to make peace with a state that has declared itself the state of “the Jewish people wherever they are” and that is not the state of its citizens and inhabitants? And as [Israel] Shahak has so tirelessly shown, what does it mean to make peace with a state governed by profoundly ideological laws of a fundamentally religious cast, laws that make no secret of the fact that non-Jews are in every respect inferior to Jews? (130-131; emphasis mine)

It seems, for instance, so much has been sold out, including history–and one look at Palestinian textbooks and it is quite obvious how little Palestinian history people know here (contrary to Hilary Rodham Clinton and her illegal Israeli settler friends). On the danger of forgetting one’s history, especially in the context of Oslo, Said has this to say:

The U.S. and Israeli line has it that all parties to the Palestinian-Zionist struggle must not dwell on the past since, as some liberal Israelis have put it, it has been a struggle between right and right. This of course is the biggest distortion of all and has been a central pillar of belief in the tactics of Peace Now and the so-called moderate Laborites. I fail to see how we are supposed to equate the “right” of a largely European people to come to Palestine, pretend it was empty of inhabitants, conquer it by force, and drive out 70 percent of its inhabitants, with the right of the native people of Palestine to resist these actions and try to remain on their land. It is a grotesque notion to suggest parity in such a situation and then also to ask the victims to forget about their past and plan to live together as inferior citizens with their conquerors. The proposition is especially galling since it comes from a movement that claims quite openly never to have forgotten its own history of persecution, and indeed allows itself every crime against the Palestinian people because it says it is living it he shadow of past persecutions. (132)

The above is an excellent series of examples of why Israel should be isolated as a pariah state and states should follow Lebanon’s example and not normalize relations with them under any circumstances. It is also a reminder of how hypocritical Zionists are and it is also a great example of Jewish supremacy: it is very clear that when it comes to Jewish suffering that cannot be forgotten, but Palestinians (or anyone else for that matter–depending on whether or not it is run by the US Holocaust Museum first) should forget their past suffering.

But in fact Palestinians have the moral ground, they have the truth on their side (one of my favorite lines in Annemarie Jacir’s new film The Salt of This Sea is when Soraya [Suheir Hammad] says “all we have is the truth”). And the truth bears out that there are many more reasons to mourn Oslo as the war process it has been. I spent the last couple of days trying to compile statistics on how many Palestinians have been murdered and massacred since 1993; how many have been assassinated; how many homes have been demolished; how many political prisoners have been kidnapped; how much land has been confiscated; how much illegal settlements have expanded. My statistics have been cobbled together as best I could given the fact that there are some years with no statistics available and sometimes they are grouped by first intifada and second intifada with little room to flesh out what happened in between (Oslo should also be mourned for the way it killed the first intifada).

Since 1993 there have been at least 5,267 Palestinians murdered by Israeli settlers and Israeli Terrorist Forces (ITF). Additionally, there have been 971 Palestinian children killed by the ITF and Israeli settlers since 2000. 3,706 Palestinian civilians have been killed by the ITF since September 2000 alone; there have been 36,033 related deaths and injuries due to the ITF (B’tselem; DCI; Palestine Monitor; Palestinian Centre for Human Rights)

Additionally, since 2000 at least 731 Palestinians have died as a result of ITF’s practice of “targeted assassinations.” (Palestinian Center for Human Rights)

Since 1993 there have been at least 39,460 Palestinians who have been held in administrative detention. Administrative detention refers to the detention of individuals without charge or trial, and is authorized by administrative order as opposed to judicial decree. At present there are approximately 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners, including 104 women and 375 children. Between 2001-2008 at least 8,805 children have been kidnapped and placed in ITF prisons or administrative detention centers. (Palestine Monitor; B’tselem; DCI)

Since 1993 in the West Bank at least 589 Palestinian homes have been demolished as a form of collective punishment for families who have family members accused of a “crime” by the ITF; since 2000 alone 2,958 Palestinian homes have been demolished in the Gaza Strip. From 2003-2008 at least 13,168 Palestinians have been rendered homeless as a result of ITF house demolitions. Additionally, in the West Bank since 1993 at least 1,307 Palestinian homes were demolished because the family did not have a building permit from the ITF. As a result at least 622 people were left homeless. In Jerusalem at least 1,180 Palestinian homes were demolished because the family did not have a building permit, which is nearly impossible to obtain for Palestinian families. In Jerusalem between 2004-2008 alone at least 1,135 Palestinians were rendered homeless as a result. (B’tselem; Palestinian Center for Human Rights)

Since 1993 at least 5,153 Palestinians from and living in Jerusalem have had their residency permits revoked meaning that they are no longer allowed inside Jerusalem, inside their own homes. (B’tselem)

Between 1993-2007 the illegal Israeli settlement population increased from 114,900 to 275,156. 76% of these illegal settlers live in 48 illegal settlements that are on the west side of the Apartheid Wall and the remaining live in the 74 illegal settlements lie to the east. Additionally, the West Bank houses 105 unauthorized illegal “outposts,” which are temporary mobile trailer parks that are at the beginning stages of becoming new illegal settlements. (Passia)

The illegal settlements were in the news this last week in particular because they doubled in size last year:

The construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, seen as a major barrier to US-backed peace talks, has nearly doubled since 2007, an Israeli watchdog said Tuesday.

In a report published during the visit of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice the settlement watchdog Peace Now said settlement building in the first half of 2008 was double that in the same period last year.

But it is also massacres of the past, a recent past that includes the time since/during Oslo’s so-called “peace process.” One massacre happened in Jenin at the hands of the ITF:

A senior Palestinian, Nabil Shaath, accused Israel of carrying out summary executions and removing corpses in refrigerated trucks. He said close to 500 people had been killed. Israel says 70 Palestinian fighters died in the fighting. “The Israeli army took six days to complete its massacre in Jenin and six days to clean it up,” Mr Shaath said.

Another massacre that happened in Khalil at the hands of an illegal Israeli settler:

In 1994 on Purim, Goldstein stormed a mosque and fired on praying Muslims in the West Bank city’s Tomb of the Patriarchs – a shrine sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

Twenty-nine people died in the attack, and the angry crowd lynched Goldstein in retaliation.

Israeli extremists continue to pay homage at his grave in the nearby Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, where a marble plaque reads: “To the holy Baruch Goldstein, who gave his life for the Jewish people, the Torah and the nation of Israel.”

Or consider this very recent news about Palestinian deaths at the hands of the ITF:

The death toll of Palestinians killed by Israelis has soared 100 percent since the U.S. sponsored November peace talks in Annapolis, according to Palestinian political leader Mustafa Barghouti.

The former Palestinian information minister and head of the Palestinian National Initiative political movement backed up his claim with data showing that the ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed last year was the most unbalanced ever, at 40:1, up from 30:1 in 2006 and 4:1 from 2000-2005.

This is only a glimpse of what Oslo has had to offer. It is grim; it has been a long, debilitating war that has had many consequences that cannot even be accounted for in numbers. Most notably, the utter failure of those negotiating to deal with the right of return for Palestinian refugees. All of them. And reparations for those who choose not to return. But then again really negotiations are in appropriate. I mean, would the world have expected Jews to sit down and negotiate with the Nazis?