a not-so-holy land grab

those of us active in the struggle for the right of return for palestinian refugees and justice for palestinians in general are well acquainted with article 49 of the geneva convention, which reads:

Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.

Nevertheless, the Occupying Power may undertake total or partial evacuation of a given area if the security of the population or imperative military reasons do demand. Such evacuations may not involve the displacement of protected persons outside the bounds of the occupied territory except when for material reasons it is impossible to avoid such displacement. Persons thus evacuated shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased.

The Occupying Power undertaking such transfers or evacuations shall ensure, to the greatest practicable extent, that proper accommodation is provided to receive the protected persons, that the removals are effected in satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health, safety and nutrition, and that members of the same family are not separated.

The Protecting Power shall be informed of any transfers and evacuations as soon as they have taken place.

The Occupying Power shall not detain protected persons in an area particularly exposed to the dangers of war unless the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand.

The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

what remains troubling for me about how this is interpreted is why the entirety of historic palestine is not also considered occupied filled with settler colonists of that occupying power. every home where zionist colonists live in palestine was acquired either through the initial nakba, which was a uni-directional war on the region, or through the importation of foreign zionist terrorists ever since. and none of these zionist terrorists are civilians. all of them are heavily armed and are required not only to do military service but also to do reserve duty throughout their lifetime.

but even if you buy the line that it is only the colonies in the west bank that are disputed, of course those are only expanding. they are not being “frozen” despite so-called protests form the united states as in this report from ma’an news:

The US demand that Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank must cease includes East Jerusalem, a State Department spokesperson said on Monday.

In response to a question from Israel’s Jerusalem Post newspaper, State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly said, “We’re talking about all settlement activity, yeah, in the area across the line,” he said, referring to the 1948 armistice line, or Green Line.

Speaking at a Washington press briefing, Kelly had no immediate response to the proposed Israeli government 2009-2010 budget that allocates 250 million dollars over the next two years for settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Tens of millions of dollars are specifically earmarked for settlements like Har Homa, which, while they are built on occupied Palestinian land, are within Israel’s expanded municipal boundaries for Jerusalem.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem along with the rest of the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights in June 1967. In 1980 Israel annexed the eastern half of Jerusalem, declaring the whole of the city it ‘eternal capital,’ a step rejected by the UN Security Council.

International law makes no distinction between settlements built in Jerusalem and those in the rest of the West Bank. US policy has also historically not drawn a distinction. In a 1991 Letter of Assurances, entered in the official record of the Madrid Peace Conference, the US said, “We do not recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem or the extension of its municipal boundaries.”

Israel and the US are currently at odds over President Barack Obama’s demand that all construction in settlements must cease as a precondition for renewed peace talks.

apparently, france is also calling for the so-called “freeze,” much to the zionist entity’s dismay as al jazeera reports:

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has rejected a call by the French president to halt settlement activity in the occupied West Bank.

Nicolas Sarkozy had on Wednesday made the plea to impose a “total freeze” on Israeli settlements after holding talks with Netanyahu in Paris, but the Israeli leader signalled that the settlements will remain.

“We will not build new settlements and we will not expropriate additional lands for settlements. We know that our people are living there and, pending a final, political settlement, they have to live a normal life,” Netanyahu said.

Paris, like Washington, wants a complete halt to Jewish settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, but the Israeli leader has already said he will allow for “natural growth” within existing settlements.

The international community considers all settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, which Israel seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, to be illegal.

this whole discourse about the “freeze” is disturbing. basically this means that the colonies cannot be expanded as families grow or in netanyahu’s words so they can “live a normal life.” but what of palestinians? for 122 years they have not been able to live a “normal life” since the zionists began colonizing their land. palestinians cannot build, cannot obtain building permits, and they find their home and their farmland destroyed day after day, year after year. and most importantly palestinian refugees cannot return to their villages and continue to live in exile in refugee camps.

al jazeera’s jacky rowland has done an excellent documentary called “holy land grab” that puts a microscope on this recent process of ethnic cleansing in the city of al quds:

here are two shorter and related clips of the same piece by rowland:

but of course the story is not only about al quds. there are many other parts of palestine where palestinian farmland and homes are destroyed every day by zionist terrorists. yesterday they destroyed palestinian olive trees near ramallah:

Israeli settlers from the illegal Hallamish settlement set fire to olive trees near Deir Nidham west of Ramallah Wednesday afternoon.

According to citizens from the village the fire burnt 120 olive trees on fifteen dunums of local land owned by Samir Dieb Tamimi, Jamil Abdel Qader Tamimi, Karm Mohamed Tamimi and Yousif Nemar Tamimi.

and near nablus more of the same destruction to palestinian property:

Israelis from the settlement of Yizhar, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, raided a Palestinian construction staging area for the third time on Wednesday.

Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Dughlus, who is charged with monitoring settler activity in the northern West Bank said that the settlers destroyed water wells and smashed wood and other materials at the site, located in the Sahal area. The site is owned by Ibrahim Eid, 32, and Abdel Kareem Eid ,40, the official said.

for palestinians who are refugees and who live outside palestine’s ever shrinking borders, the situation is not much better. by now the siege of gaza is on everyone’s tongue, but who remembers the palestinians of nahr el bared? who is fighting for their right not only to return to their camp in north lebanon, but also to return to their original homes and villages in 1948 palestine? nahr el bared, like gaza, continues to be besieged for over two years now. and yet i don’t see people marching in the streets of london or washington dc to fight for their rights. nor do i see anyone in ramallah fighting for their right to return. but the a-films collective consistently provides a platform for their voices to be heard and known. here is their latest film followed by a description of it:

Two years after the outbreak of the war in Nahr al-Bared, the camp’s fate
remains unclear. The reconstruction of the official camp might start soon,
but the army keeps its tight grip on the camp. Several checkpoints, barbed
wire and military posts cut Nahr al-Bared off from its surroundings.

Nahr al-Bared Camp used to be a thriving marketplace in the northern
Lebanese region of Akkar and about half its costumers were Lebanese.
During the war, the Lebanese army has not only defeated the militant group
Fatah al-Islam, but also completely destroyed the refugee camp. Its
businesses were looted, smashed and burnt, even after the war had ended.
The camp’s once flourishing economy was physically eliminated.

Two years later, about half the camp’s population has returned to its
adjacent area. Hundreds of businesses have re-opened, but economic
recovery is seriously hampered by the tight siege imposed by the Lebanese
army. Thus, suspicions have risen that the war’s actual target wasn’t
Fatah al-Islam, but Nahr al-Bared’s economic life.

In this 10-minute film, the co-owner of an ice cream factory, the
president of the local Trader’s Committee and the Imam of the al-Quds
Mosque speak out on the siege and its economic consequences.

a walk through beit jala and then some…

gilo colony with building crane in center
gilo colony with building crane in center

this afternoon my friends wanted to take a walk. we went to cremsian, a church with a vineyard in beit jala. we went for a walk here once before, but it was late at night and so i couldn’t see as much as we could see today. this church is in the middle of a beautiful palestinian forest and farmlands. but it also has a view of zionist terrorist colonies all around it, which are on land stolen from beit jala. we also had a view of the jewish-only roads connecting the zionist terrorist colonies, which are a part of the apartheid wall and its regime which you can see in the distance. the end of the road on our walk gave us a view of one of my friend’s villages, malha, which now includes a shopping mall (with burger king among other american businesses) and a sports stadium on her land, land which she is not allowed to even visit. as we walked along this beautiful road through beit jala, with a view of the zionist terrorist colony of gilo across from us along the way i could see cranes building new homes and one lone palestinian home in the valley between (all pictures here from the walk this evening).

jewish only road cutting through beit jala with apartheid wall & sniper towers in distance
jewish only road cutting through beit jala with apartheid wall & sniper towers in distance

walking through this land i kept thinking about the news yesterday about an increase in funding for more colonies by the zionist entity:

Israel plans to allocate 250 million dollars over the next two years for settlements in the occupied West Bank despite US pressure to halt settlement activity, army radio said on Sunday.

The figure is contained in the 2009-2010 budget, which passed its first reading in the Knesset parliament last week, it said.

Some 125 million dollars (90 million euros) is to be used for various security expenses, with most of the rest destined for housing construction, it said.

interestingly, while the government continues its colonial expansion, apparently there are no buyers for these new homes:

The Israeli TV aired a report on Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, and revealed that while word leaders might believe Israel had stopped the construction of settlements, more units are being built with no buyers in sight.

of course these houses are not really for people, but for the zionist entity to continue its colonial enterprise. a new court case reveals the extent to which the government is complicit in this process (though for those who are in the know this seems like merely stating the obvious):

One document that has just been exposed in the courtroom is a real estate transaction that exemplifies the process involved in hundreds of thousands of cases of Israeli settlers who have illegally taken over Palestinian land. The document is a contract showing that the World Zionist Organization, working on behalf of the Israeli government, took private land belonging to Palestinians in the West Bank and rented it to Jewish settlers (nearly all of the land inside Israel is owned by the Jewish Agency and rented on 99-year leases to Israeli Jews, who can only rent the land with the stipulation that only Jews will be allowed to live there).

In one such case presented to the court, Netzach and Esther Brodt, a young Jewish couple, were issued a lease for land on Ofra settlement, but were not told that the settlement was illegal under Israeli law and had been scheduled for demolition. When the Palestinian owners of the land, along with allies in the Israeli human rights movement, went to court to demand that the Israeli government enforce its own court’s order to demolish the illegal outpost, the court gave the government two weeks to explain why demolition had not yet occurred. Instead of replying to the court, the government took the two weeks to hastily complete construction of eight houses, including the one sold to Netzach and Esther Brodt. Once the houses were completed, the Israeli government froze the demolition order on the settlement, and allowed the outright theft to take place, despite even the orders from their own courts.

This is just one example of the multitude of cases in which the World Zionist Organization, working as an agent of the Israeli government, willfully defied Israeli court orders, signed agreements with the Palestinian Authority, and Israel’s obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention in order to establish more ‘facts on the ground’ of Israeli homes built on Palestinian land, calculating that the Israeli government would be less likely to approve the land theft if the houses were already built.

DSC00038

as a part of this colonial expansion, palestinians are either having to demolish their own homes (otherwise their home will be demolished by israeli terrorist forces and the palestinian family will still have to pay the bill for the demolishing of their own home) or their houses will be demolished anyway. one such family had to demolish his home in al quds:

Muhammad Najib Al-Ju’ba, who has lived with his family for generations on Virgin Street near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, was forced by Israeli troops to demolish his own home this weekend, making the third home demolished in this way this week alone.

Israeli demolition orders in Jerusalem have increased exponentially since Binyamin Netanyahu, a right-wing Israeli leader who campaigned on ‘no compromise’ with the Palestinians, came to power in March.

The military allegedly acted on orders from the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem (there are currently two Jerusalem municipalities – one Israeli, one Palestinian, but only the Israeli one has armed enforcement agents and a military).

Al-Juba was told that he must demolish his home or pay 13,000 Israeli shekels to the Israeli Jerusalem Municipal government. The reason given was the extra room that Al-Juba had constructed to accommodate his growing family.

near qalqilia it is palestinian farm land that is being destroyed by israeli terrorist forces:

Israeli authorities notified farmers in the village of Azzun Atma on Sunday that their agricultural infrastructure will be destroyed, according to Palestinian source.

Azzun Atma, near Qalqiliya, is a small community cut off from the rest of the West Bank by Israel’s separation wall and wedged between two Israeli settlements. The villager’s only access to the outside world is through a military checkpoint.

The demolition orders condemn stables, barns, and water tanks which were provided by the Agriculture Institutions Union four years ago.

there have been demonstrations this week protesting this ethnic cleansing policy of the zionist apartheid regime like the one in al quds yesterday:

A group of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, including lead clerics with the Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem, held a non-violent demonstration Sunday in the Al-Bastan neighborhood in Silwan, an area scheduled for takeover by Israeli authorities. According to documents made public by the Israeli Jerusalem municipality, Israel plans to destroy 88 Palestinian homes and apartment buildings in the neighborhood – a move that would displace up to 1500 Palestinians.

and then later sunday evening palestinians in al quds received even more house demolition orders:

The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem handed out on Sunday evening more demolition orders to 65 Palestinian families all over east Jerusalem.

According to local sources some of these families had received the same notices before.

The orders were issued under new legislation, Israeli law 212. Law 212 allows homes to be demolished or evacuated without any formal legal charges being brought forth or any party to be convicted of any alleged violation of the Israeli Planning and Building Law. Hateem Abed al Kader, the Minister of Jerusalem Affairs in the Palestinian Government said the demolition orders were political.

“The high number of demolition orders indicates they are political, their objective is to force Palestinians out and tip the demographic balance towards the settlers. The number of homes that are set for demolition in Jerusalem is now 1,200 homes.” Abed al Kader told IMEMC over the phone.

nour odeh’s report on al jazeera today about the case of bil’in fighting the confiscation of their land by zionist colonist terrorists is taking on resistance in a new direction by fighting the canadian corporations funding the colonies built on their land:

and while i’m on the subject of canda here i think it is worth pointing out that it is not only companies in canada, but the government itself that is complicit with the zionist terrorist colonial project in palestine as jonathan cook reported in electronic intifada last week:

Canada’s chief diplomat in Israel has been honored at an Israeli public park — built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law — as one of the donors who helped establish the park on the ruins of three Palestinian villages.

Jon Allen, Canada’s ambassador to Israel, is among several hundred Canadian Jews who have been commemorated at a dedication site. A plaque bearing Allen’s name is attached to a stone wall constructed from the rubble of Palestinian homes razed by the Israeli army.

Allen, who is identified as a donor along with his parents and siblings, has refused to talk about his involvement with the park.

Rodney Moore, a Canadian government spokesman, said the 58-year-old ambassador had not made a personal donation and that his name had been included as a benefactor when his parents gave their contribution. It is unclear whether he or they knew that the park was to be built on Palestinian land.

Canada Park, which is in an area of the West Bank that juts into Israel north of Jerusalem, was founded in the early 1970s following Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in the 1967 war. It is hugely popular for walks and picnics with the Israeli public, most of whom are unaware they are in Palestinian territory that is officially a “closed military zone.”

Uri Avnery, a former Israeli parliamentarian who is today a peace activist, has described the park’s creation as an act of complicity in “ethnic cleansing” and Canada’s involvement as “cover to a war crime.”

About 5,000 Palestinians were expelled from the area during the war, whose 42nd anniversary is being marked this month.

Israel’s subsequent occupation of the West Bank, as well as East Jerusalem and Gaza, is regarded as illegal by the international community, including by Canada. The country has become increasingly identified as a close ally of Israel under the current government of Stephen Harper, who appointed Allen as ambassador.

About $15 million — or $80m in today’s values — was raised in tax-exempt donations by the Canadian branch of a Zionist organization, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), to establish the 1,700-acre open space following the 1967 war.

The Canadian government spokesman declined to say whether an objection had been lodged with the fund over its naming of Allen as a donor, or whether Allen’s diplomatic role had been compromised by his public association with the park. The spokesman added that the park was a private initiative between Israel and the JNF in Canada.

That view was challenged by Dr. Uri Davis, an Israeli scholar and human rights activist who has co-authored a book on the Jewish National Fund.

“Canada Park is a crime against humanity that has been financed by and implicates not only the Canadian government but every taxpayer in Canada,” he said. “The JNF’s charitable status means that each donation receives a tax reduction paid for from the pockets of Canadian taxpayers.”

Davis and a Canadian citizen are scheduled to submit a joint application to the Canadian tax authorities next week to overturn the JNF’s charitable status. He said they would pursue the matter through the courts if necessary.

there are other corporate partners in the colonization of palestine as well (which are complicit in all sorts of horribile neo-colonial projects in africa as well as i’ve written about many times on this site). adri nieuwhof wrote a new article about this in electronic intifada today:

Africa-Israel is the latest target of a boycott campaign by Palestine solidarity activists because of the company’s involvement in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. American and European financial institutions hold a substantial stake in Africa-Israel Investment, investigations reveal.

Africa-Israel Investment is an international holding and investment company based in Israel whose subsidiary, Danya Cebus, has been deeply involved in the construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). According to research by the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace, the company executed construction projects in the Israeli settlements of Modi’in Illit, Ma’ale Adumim, Har Homa and Adam. In addition, Africa-Israel offers apartments and houses in various settlements in the West Bank through the Israeli franchise of its real estate agency, Anglo Saxon, which has a branch in the Ma’ale Adumim settlement.

Diamond mogul Lev Leviev is Chairman of the Africa-Israel Investment Board of Directors, and holds roughly 75 percent of the company. On 8 March, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Lev Leviev does not have a problem with building in the OPT “if the State of Israel grants permits legally.”

Leviev and his brother-in-law Daviv Eliashov own the company Leader Management and Development (LMD). According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, LMD requested and was granted approval to expand the Zufim settlement with approximately 1,400 housing units. The company has begun construction and in the process, orchards and agricultural lands belonging to the Palestinian village of Jayyus have been bulldozed, and their water wells and greenhouses confiscated.

a view of the palestinian village of malha
a view of the palestinian village of malha

but the problem remains that in all these reports, aside from people like jonathan cook, there continues to be a focus on colonies as only existing in the west bank. they exist all over historic palestine in the villages and cities where palestinian refugees have the right to return. today the organization adalah in 1948 palestine released a statement challenging the sale of palestinian homes in 1948 palestine to zionist colonists:

Adalah sent a letter to the Attorney General, Menachem Mazuz; the Director-General of the Israel Lands Administration (ILA), Yaron Bibi; the General Director of Amidar (a state-owned and state-run housing company), Yaakov Brosh; and Ronen Baruch, the Custodian of Absentees’ Property in May 2009 demanding the cancellation of tenders issued by the ILA for the sale of Palestinian refugee property in Israel. Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara submitted the letter.

Recently, the ILA has been publishing tenders for the sale of “absentee” properties held by the Development Authorities of municipalities such as Nazareth, Haifa, Lydd (Lod), Akka (Acre), Rosh Pina and Beit She’an in Israel. In 2007, the ILA issued 96 tenders; in 2008, 106 tenders; and to date in 2009, 80 tenders.

The Custodian for Absentees’ Property transferred these properties to the Development Authority; these properties are classified as absentees’ property under the Absentees’ Property Law – 1950. The Absentees’ Property Law was the main legal instrument used by Israel to take possession of the land belonging to the internal and external Palestinian refugees. Under this law, any property belonging to absentees was taken and passed to the Custodian of Absentee Property for guardianship of the properties until a political solution for the refugees was reached. This law provides a very broad definition of who is an “absentee”; it encompasses Palestinians who fled or who were expelled to neighboring countries during and after the War of 1948. During the War of 1948, as many as 800,000 Palestinians were expelled or forced to flee outside the borders of the new state of Israel.

In the letter , Attorney Bishara argued that selling these absentee properties to private individuals is illegal under Israeli law. It contradicts the essence of the law which provides that the Custodian of Absentee Properties is the temporary guardian of these properties, until the status of the Palestinian refugees is resolved. “These tenders also contradict the Basic Law: Israel Lands – 1960 which prohibits the sale of lands defined as “Israeli lands”, which include, among others, the properties of the Development Authority,” she emphasized in the letter. She further argued that the sale of Palestinian refugee properties contradicts international humanitarian law which stipulates the need to respect the right of private property and explicitly prohibits the final expropriation of private property following the termination of warfare.

This latest step furthers Israel’s continued denial of the rights of the Palestinian refugees, and marks the final stages of an aggressive policy of creating facts on the ground that will frustrate any attempts to solve the Palestinian refugee problem. By selling these properties to private individuals, legal or political remedies for the refugees become increasingly difficult to implement. This measure is to the ultimate disadvantage of all parties involved; it further entrenches political discontent in order to profit from the refugees’ plight.

dan nolan did a report on this issue today for al jazeera showing the palestinian homes in haifa being sold to zionist terrorist colonists. he interviews abdel latif kanafani, a palestinian refugee in lebanon, whose home is one of those up for sale. this issue is significant because if the homes are owned by individuals instead of held by the state it could make the right of return all the more difficult for palestinian refugees.

some of these homes belong to palestinian refugees some of whom are living in tents yet again as a result of the american invasion and occupation of iraq. nisreen el shamayleh reported on the status of palestinian refugees who fled iraq to syria who are living in tents yet again:

adalah also released a new interactive map on its website today that shows all of the palestinian villages listed on it by district. it’s a great tool and worth exploring. you can see the villages where palestinian refugees come from and where they have a right to return to. just like the one below in beit jala that i took a photograph of on my evening walk today.

one palestinian house squeezed out by colony of gilo
one palestinian house squeezed out by colony of gilo

the latest move to make palestinian homes available for sale in 1948 palestine should be seen in tandem with the spate of racist laws that the zionist entity continues to forward to the knesset. azmi bishara has a great analysis of this in his article “loyalty to racism” in al-ahram this week:

I would say that two developments are unfolding in tandem. On the one hand, Israel is experiencing a deepening of and expansion in the concept and exercise of liberal political and economic civil rights (for Jewish citizens). At the same time, there is an upsurge in ultranationalist and right-wing religious extremism accompanied by flagrant manifestations of anti-Arab racism. As a consequence, the Jewish citizen endowed with fuller civil rights (than those that had existed in earlier phases when Zionist society was organised along the lines of a militarised quasi- socialist settler drive) is simultaneously an individual who is more exposed to and influenced by right-wing anti-Arab invective.

The contention that Israel had at one point been more democratic and is now sliding into fascism is fallacious. It brings to mind our protest demonstrations in the 1970s and the earnest zeal with which we chanted, “Fascism will not survive!” Our slogans were inspired by the Spanish left before the civil war in Spain and by the Italian left in the 1930s. But, in fact, the context was entirely different. Israel was the product of a colonialist settler drive that came, settled and survived. Fascism is a very specific form of rule, one that does not necessarily have to exist in a militarised settler society that founded itself on top of the ruins of an indigenous people. Indeed, that society organised itself along pluralistic democratic lines and it was unified on a set of fundamental principles and values as a basis for societal consensus. As militarist values figured prime among them, there was no need for a fascist coup to impose them. Even Sharon, who, from the perspective of the Israeli left, seemed poised to lead a fascist coup was one of the most ardent advocates of women’s rights during his rule. He also proved one of the more determined proponents of implementing the rulings of the Israeli Supreme Court, which is a relatively liberal body in the context of the Zionist political spectrum and within the constraints of Zionist conceptual premises. Israel has grown neither more nor less democratic. The scope of civil rights has expanded, as has the tide of right-wing racism against the Arabs.

Among the Arabs in Israel there have also been two tandem developments. The first is an increasing awareness of the rights of citizenship and civil liberties after a long period of living in fear of military rule and the Israeli security agencies, and in isolation from the Arab world. That period was also characterised by attempts to prove their loyalty to the state by dedicating themselves to the service of the daily struggle for material survival and progress in routine civic affairs. At the same time, however, the forces of increasing levels of education, the growth of a middle class, the progress of the Palestinian national movement abroad, the advances in communications technologies, the broadening organisational bonds among the Palestinians in Israel, and the cultural and commercial exchanges between them and the West Bank and Gaza combined to give impetus to a growing national awareness.

The Arab Israelis’ growing awareness of rights has paved the way for an assimilation drive to demand equality in Israel as a Jewish state. Such a demand is inherently unrealisable, as it would inevitably entail forsaking Palestinian national identity without obtaining true equality. Instead of assimilation there would only be further marginalisation. However, this danger still looms; there are Arab political circles in Israel that are convinced that this is the way forward. At the same time, there is the danger that truly nationalist forces could lose their connection with the realities of Palestinians’ civil life, by stressing their national identity exclusively with no reference to their citizenship or civil rights, or the conditions of their lives. This tendency threatens to isolate the nationalist movement from its grassroots, and this danger, too, persists although to a lesser extent.

The flurry of loyalty bills and the like reflects another phenomenon that has taken root among Arabs in Israel and that the Israeli establishment regards as a looming peril. This peril, from the Israeli perspective, is twofold. Not only can Palestinians exercise their civil rights in order to fight for equality, they can also take advantage of their civil rights in order to express and raise awareness of their national identity by, for example, commemorating the Nakba and establishing closer contact with the Arab world. Commemorating the Nakba — the anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel and the consequent displacement and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians — is a relatively new practice for Arabs inside Israel, dating only to the mid-1990s. Before this — until at least the end of the 1970s, before the spread of national awareness gained impetus among Arabs inside Israel — many of them participated in the celebrations of Israel’s independence day and offered their congratulations to Israelis on the occasion. There were no laws against commemorating Nakba Day, not because Israel was more democratic but merely because there was no need for such laws in the eyes of the Israeli establishment, since the Arabs were not commemorating it anyway. In fact, open demonstrations of disloyalty to the state as a Zionist entity were very rare.

But since that time, change did not affect Israel alone. The political culture of broad swathes of Arabs inside that country shifted towards more open expressions of their national identity. To them, there is no contradiction between this and the exercise of their civil rights. Indeed, they felt it their natural right to use the civil liberties with which they are endowed by virtue of their citizenship to engage in forms of political expression that the Israeli establishment regards as contradictory to its concept of citizenship. Naturally, the clash became more pronounced with the growing stridency of right-wing Zionist racism.

The citizenship of Arabs inside Israel has a distinct quality that I have been attempting to underscore for years. Theirs does not stem from ideological conviction or the exercise of the Zionist law of return. Nor is their situation similar to migrant labour or minorities who have chosen to immigrate to the country and who accommodate to the status quo, as is the case with immigrant communities in the US or France, for example. Their citizenship stems from the reality of their having remained in the country after it was occupied. They are the indigenous people. It is not their duty to assimilate to the Zionist character of the state and the attempt to transform them into patriotic Israelis is an attempt to falsify history, to distort their cultural persona and fragment their moral cohesion. A Palestinian Arab who regards himself as an Israeli patriot is nought. He is someone who has accepted to be something less than a citizen and less than a Palestinian and who simultaneously identifies with those who have occupied Palestinian lands and repressed and expelled his people.

It is impossible, here, to examine all facets of the phenomenon, but we should also touch upon a third trend, which is the growing degree of showmanship, sensationalism and catering to the forces of popular demand on the part of Knesset members. This trend is to be found in all parliamentary systems since television cameras made their way into parliamentary chambers. Parliament has become a theatre and a large proportion of MPs have become comedians or soap opera stars, depending on their particular gifts and/or circumstances. However, when the favourite drama or comedy theme is incitement against the Arabs, this can only signify that anti-Arab prejudices, fear mongering, abuse and intimidation are spreading like wildfire. This is the very dangerous and not at all funny part about the parliamentary circus. And it’s going to get grimmer yet for Arabs in Israel.

In the Obama era, following the failure of Bush’s policies, the Israeli government will be directing the venom of its right-wing racist coalition against East Jerusalem and Israeli Arabs. After all, it will be easier to focus on domestic matters, such as emphasis on the Jewishness of the state, than on settlements in the occupied territories. Some of the proposed loyalty laws, such as that which would sentence to prison anyone who does not agree to the Jewishness of the state, will have a tough time making it through the legislative process. However, merely by submitting the proposal, the racist MK will have killed two birds with one stone: he will have made a dramatic appearance before the cameras so that his constituents will remember his name come next elections, and he will have stoked the fires of anti-Arab hatred. Other laws may stand a better chance. The proposal to ban the commemoration of Nakba Day could pass like the law prohibiting the raising of the Palestinian flag, or it could fail because even on the right there are those who object to such a ban. It is also doubtful that this country could promulgate a law compelling people to swear an oath of allegiance, because the intended targets are not immigrants but citizens by birth. It would require quite a feat of constitutional re-engineering in order to render citizenship acquired by birth subject to a loyalty oath at some later phase in a person’s life.

Naturally, no state, however totalitarian it may be, can impose love and loyalty for it by force, let alone a colonialist state that would like to force this on the indigenous inhabitants it had reduced to a minority on their own land. Certainly it would be much easier for Israel to prohibit manifestations of disloyalty than to legislate for forced manifestations of loyalty.

For many years I’ve been advocating a Palestinian interpretation of citizenship in Israel that Israel continues to reject, with consequences to myself that readers may well be aware of. According to this interpretation, the Palestinian Israeli effectively tells the ruling authorities, “My loyalty does not go beyond the bounds of being a law abiding citizen who pays his taxes and the like. As for my keeping in touch with Palestinian history and with the Arab world in matters that should be inter-Arab, such things should not have to pass via you or require your approval.” Such talk was previously unheard of in Israel and it came as quite a shock to the ears of interlocutors used to liberal-sounding references to “our Arab citizens” who serve as “a bridge of peace” and proof of “the power of Israeli democracy”. Rejecting such condescension, the new type of Palestinian says, “My Palestinianness existed before your state was created on top of the ruins of my people. Citizenship is a compromise I have accepted in order to be able to go on living here in my land. It is not a favour that you bestow on me with strings attached.”

Apparently, more and more Arab citizens have come around to this attitude, to the extent that Israel has begun to realise that the material exigencies of life or gradual acclimatisation to Israeli ways and political realities will not be able to stop the trend. It has come to believe that only new laws will bring a halt to what it regards as dangerous manifestations of disloyalty. Such laws will be inherently oppressive but they will simultaneously pronounce the failure of Israelification.

turning point 3

i’m wondering what the first two turning points were. the last few days i’ve heard war games in the sky above beit lahem. all day long i’ve heard ominous war planes testing out the zionist entity’s doomsday scenario. here is an al jazeera report on the “defense” strategy it is testing, though for those of us here we know better; this is clearly a test for its next offensive strike:

Turning Point 3 comes just two weeks after the Israeli air force wrapped up a four-day exercise testing its ability to defend against strikes from Syria and Iran.

Israel believes Iran is developing nuclear weapons and has not ruled out a military strike on the country in response.

Iran says its nuclear programme is only for energy production.

Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem correspondent, said that while Israel claims that the drill has “no special significance”, it is likely to be seen in the context of “Israel’s sabre-rattling towards Iran and also towards other neighbouring Arab countries”.

“It was only a couple of weeks ago that Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu was in Washington and he was really pushing the question of Iran and its perceived nuclear threat really to the top of the agenda of his talks with President [Barack] Obama,” she said.

“So, although Israel is saying that this is a defensive drill and it is really practising its ability to defend its civilians against attack from outside, inevitably it has to be interpreted by Israel’s Arab neighbours – and indeed the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank – as a warning, a not so subtle warning of Israel’s offensive capacities to strike should these circumstances arise.”

al jazeera’s “inside story” with kamahl santamaria had a discussion of this series of tests this week and its effect on the various regional players who will be subjected to these weapons in the zionist entity’s next attack:

of course any such impending war must be understood as a joint u.s.-zionist war on the palestinians, lebanese, syrians, iranians in the region given that the obama administration promises to continue funding and supplying the zionist terrorist army as saed bannoura reports:

Robert Wood, US State Department deputy spokesperson, stated Monday that he would not comment on the Times report regarding intentions of the Obama administration to condition its support to Israel with freezing the settlements, but added that the US would maintain its support to Israel in the United Nations.

Wood stated that President Barack Obama and his administration are clear in their stance that all parties involved in the Middle East Peace Process should maintain their obligations to ensure successful peace talks.

He also said that the United States has long worked to ensure that Israel receives what he described as “fair treatment” in the United Nations, and that his country will continue doing so.

Wood further said that Israel is a close friend and ally to the United States, and that the US will remain committed to Israel’s security.

ghassan bannoura reported that there were war sirens going off in 1948 palestine, although here in beit sahour we can only hear the planes overhead. while the zionist entity maintains that this is about “defense” there are many of us who see this as aggression:

According to the Israeli military, the training exercise is meant to prepare the Israeli military and the entire population for a regional war. Sergio Yanni, an Israeli political analyst, told IMEMC the exercise is aimed for butting Israelis in a state of fear.

“The People In Israel after the war in Lebanon and in Gaza don’t buy so much anymore the question that there is a real threat on Israel, there is a big discussion over how much the army should be budgeted, the objective of this drill is for internal propaganda to make people feel that Israel is in a situation of war, we can’t exclude a possible attack on Lebanon or Gaza in the near future this is a permanent question.” Sergio Yanni said.

The exercise comes in the midst of increasing Israeli rhetoric against Iran, and a statement just last week by the Israeli military that the Lebanese Hezbollah group now has possession of more rockets than it did before the 2006 war- although that statement was not backed up with any evidence.

The drill also includes training in how to repress the Palestinian population in the West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel during the three-front scenario. Faouzi Barhum, spokesman of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza told IMEMC via phone that the exercise is a form of attack.

“At first this military exercise could be considered as an attack, because it is to show the military criminal machine that killed children in Gaza and Lebanon, those drills could become a war at any time, because we expect everything from the occupation, it is clear that the division and state of salience among the Arabs have encouraged the Zionist regime of doing this military exercise.” Barhum told IMEMC.

al jazeera reports how this is perceived by others in the region as the zionist entity rationalizes its desire for perpetual justification for war and aggression:

Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from Beersheva, where some of the drills were taking place, said there has been criticism from rights groups inside Israel about the exercises.

“They say it is all part of the militarisation of Israeli society and a way to perpetuate the idea of an ongoing war and ongoing fight that Israel is carrying out against the rest of the world,” she said.

“This has been subject to a lot of criticism because it in some way justifies Israel’s brutal force and the security measures it takes against the Palestinians.”

Israel began its national drills in the aftermath of the July-August 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, which revealed major weaknesses in how Israel dealt with the rocket attacks on its territory.

This year’s exercise comes just days before Lebanon holds a closely-fought election that could see the Hezbollah-led opposition become the new government.

The drills will also coincide with a regional tour by Barack Obama, the US president.

Israel is under pressure from the US to accept a Palestinian state, but it has also voiced fears of a strong Hezbollah in Lebanon and a strong Hamas in Gaza.

Alastair Crooke, director of the Conflict Forum in Beirut, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that there is a sense in the Arab world that Israel is looking toward the right for new solutions to its security concerns.

“It’s the sense of unwillingness for many Israeli leaders to see a Palestinian state pushed on it, at a time when Hamas is strong and when Hezbollah may be getting stronger, When America may be talking to Syria and talking to Iran at the same time,” he said.

“This leaves policy makers in Israel quite nervous and looking for ways to change the political paradigm in a way that will advance the Israeli sense of security.”

and, of course, given that the zionist entity is an apartheid regime, it is the colonists have access to bomb shelters and sirens; palestinians in 1948 palestine, for the most part, do not as saed bannoura reports:

A study conducted and released by the “Mubadarah” Israeli-Arab Rights group, revealed that 70% of the Arabs living in northern Israel do not have shelters or safe rooms, and the 25% of them do not have emergency sirens.

The reported also revealed that 80% of the Arab villages in Israel are not equipped to handle any crisis situation; this includes any sort of military escalation, missile strikes or even a natural disaster Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported.

Haaretz added that 75% of the residents of Nazareth, the largest Arab city in the country, have no access to private shelters, and the 99% of the residents of the Arava area do not have any access to shelters.

The report found that in many of the Arab communities included in the study, the safest places were schools, although they are not built to function as shelters.

It also revealed that in most of the mixed cities, where Arabs and Israelis live, Arab neighborhoods are not equipped to face emergency situations.

The study was conducted as Israel’s so-called Home Front Command of the Israeli military conducted a nation-wide week-long drill to test Israel’s readiness for war or catastrophe.

Part of the drill was testing 2300 sirens and also included requesting to citizens to hide in secure rooms for 10 minutes.

and, of course, it is not just the planning for its next war that is in our midst. it is the ongoing war, particularly the zionist terrorist army’s war against palestinians in gaza as saed bannoura reports about palestinian injuries today:

The Al Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of Fateh movement, reported that two of its fighters were wounded on Wednesday at dawn during clashes with Israeli forces near the Al Hawouz area, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

The brigades added that the two injured fighters were moved to a local hospital.

It stated that its fighters clashes with Israeli forces operating in northern Gaza, and added that the fighters will counter all Israeli assaults and will retaliate to “the ongoing Israeli crimes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”.

The brigades also claimed responsibility for firing thee RPG shells, on Tuesday evening, at a number of Israeli tanks located near the Gaza border.

it is not only palestinian people who are attacked with american-made weapons in the hands of zionist terrorist colonists. it is also palestinian land which is under attack, land which under normal circumstances would provide the food to sustain palestinian people in gaza. erin cunningham’s report in the christian science monitor on the ever-enlarging so-called “buffer zone” inside the gaza strip affects palestinian farmers from producing food and is a part of the on-going savaging of gaza:

Farmers and their families have been displaced, too afraid to return to their fields, while international humanitarian organizations are unable to make an assessment of the needs and damages of the area in the aftermath of the assault.

“We haven’t been able to visit this area. No organization has,” says Mohammed al-Shattali, project manager for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in the Gaza Strip.

“The war increased the amount of land destroyed, particularly in the border areas, and the farmers can’t replant anything because it’s too dangerous,” he says. “The Israeli soldiers, they shoot at everything – dogs, sheep. They are very tense.”

An Israeli-imposed buffer zone in the already narrow enclave was established more than a decade ago to thwart attacks by Palestinian militants, who use the border areas to launch homemade rockets at Israeli towns or dig tunnels to carry out attacks against IDF troops stationed at the border.

But what was previously just a sliver of fortified land on the strip’s northern and eastern perimeters now, in the aftermath of Israel’s January offensive in the territory, swallows roughly 30 percent of Gaza’s arable farmland, according to the FAO.

It stretches as deep as 1.25 miles inside Gaza’s territory in the north and half a mile in the east, despite the 300-meter figure declared on the leaflets, the organization says. Gaza is just 25 miles long and slightly more than six miles wide.

you can see how this affects palestinian farmers on the blog farming under fire and here is a video encapsulating the experience of palestinians under attack by zionist terrorists every day:

but of course these war planes flying above our head, creating a kind of psychological terrorism for people living in palestine who have to hear this throughout the day, are not yet flying over our neighbors in lebanon and syria. nevertheless the fact that the last month or so has seen an extraordinary number of zionist spies in lebanon raises questions about things to come. al jazeera reported on more spies arrested this week:

Lebanon has charged four people with collaborating with Israel, raising to 23 the number of suspected spies who have been charged in the last few months, a court official has said.

Saqr Saqr, the military prosecutor charged the four men on Saturday with providing Israel with information about civilian and military positions and political figures.

General Jean Kahwaji, the Lebanese army commander, vowed to continue the crackdown against Israeli spies in a speech to troops on Saturday, Lebanon’s state news agency reported.

and now as ma’an news reports even an egyptian man has been arrested in lebanon because he has been helping his zionist colonist terrorist friends by spying on them in lebanon:

Lebanon has charged nine more people with spying for Israel, raising the number of formally accused collaborators to 35.

Lebanon’s National News Agency reported on Tuesday that military prosecutor Saqr Saqr charged the nine with collaboration and giving information to Israel about military and civilian installations and political figures, according to AP.

Separately, an Egyptian man and a Lebanese have been arrested for spying, security sources told AP.

wwjd?

beitlahem apartheid wall graffiti
beitlahem apartheid wall graffiti

so palestine is buzzing about pope benedict xvi’s visit. all i can say is that i’m staying as far away from al quds and beit lahem as i can until he leaves. my friend from beit lahem came to spend the weekend with me and on her way out of town thursday night she told me that the israeli terrorist soldiers were near rachel’s tomb and aida refugee camp painting over the anti-colonial graffiti with gray paint for the pope’s visit. when i was in beit lahem two weeks ago people i know were in aida refugee camp building a stage next to the apartheid wall for a program they were organizing for the pope’s visit. they were building it for the second or third time as the israeli terrorist soldiers came in and destroyed it a couple of times. and now it seems that they will not be allowed to host the pope there in that venue at all. the israeli colonial terrorist government has made it forbidden as ha’aretz reported:

A Palestinian official says the Palestinian Authority has scrapped plans to host Pope Benedict XVI next week on a stage near the West Bank separation fence.

Palestinian say they had hoped that receiving the pope next to a towering cement wall and military watchtower inside the Aida refugee camp would highlight their suffering under Israeli occupation.

But Palestinian lawmaker Essa Qaraqie said Thursday that the location had been changed to a United Nations school after Israeli military officials forbade them to erect the stage near the barrier. The pope’s convoy will, however, still pass close to the barrier.

the pope is al quds at the present moment and when he arrived he listened to a speech by war criminal shimon peres. and i kept thinking: would jesus be willing to sit there and listen to the words of a man with so many thousands of palestinians’ blood on his hand when jesus himself was palestinian? but it seems to me that the pope, not surprisingly, does not care about what jesus would have done. i am also struck by the massive hypocrisy coming from the pope himself given that he keeps saying this is not a political visit, but a spiritual one. spiritual visits do not include meeting with heads of state in the first place let alone make speeches in a political context as the pope did today. here is part of the pope’s speech:

Mr President, the Holy See and the State of Israel have many shared values, above all a commitment to give religion its rightful place in the life of society. The just ordering of social relationships presupposes and requires a respect for the freedom and dignity of every human being, whom Christians, Muslims and Jews alike believe to be created by a loving God and destined for eternal life. When the religious dimension of the human person is denied or marginalised, the very foundation for a proper understanding of inalienable human rights is placed in jeopardy.

Tragically, the Jewish people have experienced the terrible consequences of ideologies that deny the fundamental dignity of every human person. It is right and fitting that, during my stay in Israel, I will have the opportunity to honour the memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Shoah, and to pray that humanity will never again witness a crime of such magnitude. Sadly, anti-Semitism continues to rear its ugly head in many parts of the world. This is totally unacceptable. Every effort must be made to combat anti-Semitism wherever it is found, and to promote respect and esteem for the members of every people, tribe, language and nation across the globe.

During my stay in Jerusalem, I will have the pleasure of meeting many of this country’s distinguished religious leaders. One thing that the three great monotheistic religions have in common is a special veneration for that holy city. It is my earnest hope that all pilgrims to the holy places will be able to access them freely and without restraint, to take part in religious ceremonies and to promote the worthy upkeep of places of worship on sacred sites. May the words of Isaiah’s prophesy be fulfilled, that many nations shall flow to the mountain of the house of the Lord, that he may teach them his ways, that they may walk in his paths — paths of peace and justice, paths that lead to reconciliation and harmony.

of course the pope understands nothing of justice when he talks about nazi germany and does not mention an nakba. of course his reference to peace and justice fall on death ears when he is standing among the war criminal colonists who are the reason there is no peace or justice here. for instance, these same white, european settler zionist colonists who terrorize palestinians have turned beit lahem, and the rest of palestine, into a prison. a new report details this city that i love so much, which he will visit this week:

The UN has voiced concern over Israeli measures in Bethlehem that have rendered only 13 per cent out of 660sq km of the West Bank city’s land at the service of Palestinians, much of it fragmented.

The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says in its May report, released on Thursday, that Israel’s separation wall, settlements and road closures have affected Palestinian livelihoods, development and residential expansion in the Bethlehem governorate, both in the urban and rural areas.

In its finding, OCHA said Israeli measures such as the continued expansion of illegal Jewish settlements and construction of the barrier have severely reduced access to East Jerusalem and weakened the historic, religious, economic and cultural connection between Bethlehem and the holy city.

OCHA said that 66% of the Bethlehem governorate is designated Area C, where Israel retains security control and jurisdiction over building and planning.

“The barrier route in the Bethlehem governorate reaches 10km into the West Bank and if completed, it will cut off from the urban centre, approximately 64sq km of some of the most fertile cultivated land in the governorate as well as 21,000 Palestinians residing in villages west of the planned route,” the report says.

There are approximately 175,000 Palestinians living in the Bethlehem governorate.

Since 1967, some 86,000 Israelis have been settled in the governorate and they live in 19 settlements and 16 settlement outposts.

but visits to palestine can never be apolitical because one if confronted by politics at every turn. and again i wonder would jesus sit by silently if he saw the apartheid wall? the confiscated land? the ethnically cleansed population? and ghassan bannoura reported today that in al quds the palestinian press office was shut down by the israeli terrorist colonists:

In Jerusalem, where the Pope is expected to visit on Tuesday, the Israeli police closed down a Press office that was set up by Palestinians in the city to provide Press services for local and international Media.

The police came to the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem where the center was located and closed it down, organizers reported.

Ahmad Al Ruwidi, the head of the center, told reporters that the center was set up to distribute information and nothing more. He added that the center was just set up for the Pope’s visit and was not going to be a permanent press office.

and as proof of the pope’s unwillingness to adhere to the principles of justice as practiced by jesus christ he walked out of a meeting with palestinians today who expressed their concerns about life under colonization:

Pope Benedict XVI left an interfaith meeting in Jerusalem early on Monday following a harshly worded attack on Israel by an Islamic judge, according to Israeli news reports.

The chief Islamic judge of the Palestinian Authority, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, had criticized Israel for “murdering women and children in Gaza and making Palestinians refugees, and declared Jerusalem the eternal Palestinian capital,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

Following his remarks, and before the meeting had officially ended, the pope reportedly left, although Israel’s Army Radio said that the pope shook Tamimi’s hand before leaving.

Tamimi was apparently not actually on a list of speakers for the event, but took the podium anyway. According to Father Deferico Lombardi, the director of the Holy See’s press office, Tamimi’s remarks were “not previewed by the organizers of the interreligious meeting.”

some of these issues were discussed on al jazeera’s “inside story” with shiulie ghosh last night with her guests sean lovett of vatican radio, bethlehem’s mayor victor baterseh, and nihad awad of the council for american islamic relations:

one thing missing from the program, however, was a discussion of what a christian spiritual journey means to the holy land. does it mean abiding by the teachings of jesus? does it mean behaving according to what he preached? jesus was a prophet who preached about social justice and freedom. not exactly what the pope is doing here so far. here, for example are some readings of jesus’ beliefs, values, and preachings in an article by virigina smith from the american catholic magazine:

Luke records what amounts to an inaugural address opening Jesus’ public life. Like presidential speeches in our own time, this one laid out Jesus’ priorities—where he could be expected to concentrate his efforts in the days ahead. Reaching back into that honored prophetic tradition of commitment to social justice, Jesus spoke to his hometown neighbors, reading in the Nazareth synagogue from the writings of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Is 61:1-2).

Jesus’ commitment to the disenfranchised was foretold at his birth by the visit of the shepherds. These are not the majestic magi of Matthew’s Gospel. Neither are they the well-groomed figures of many Christmas cards. To the contrary, they represented one of the lowest rungs on the social ladder. In making them the first to acknowledge Jesus, Luke is indirectly highlighting those who will benefit most from the coming of God incarnate. There would be others.

Years later, when John the Baptizer sent his disciples to establish Jesus’ true identity, Jesus replied, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them” (Lk 7:22b).

and while “inside story” touched on the dwindling population of palestinian christians, they did not get into the context of why in enough detail. an article electronic intifada by jonathan cook from a couple of years ago outlines the main issues with this population being ethnically cleansed by the colonial zionist entity’s policies:

There are no precise figures, but the Israeli media suggests that Christians, who once constituted as much as 15 per cent of the occupied territories’ Palestinians, are now just 2 or 3 per cent. Most are to be found in the West Bank close to Jerusalem, in Bethlehem, Ramallah and neighbouring villages.

A similar pattern can be discerned inside Israel too, where Christians have come to comprise an ever smaller proportion of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. In 1948 they were nearly a quarter of that minority (itself 20 per cent of the total Israeli population), and today they are a mere 10 per cent. Most are located in Nazareth and nearby villages in the Galilee.

Certainly, the continuing fall in the number of Christians in the Holy Land concerns Israel’s leadership almost as keenly as the patriarchs and bishops who visit Bethlehem at Christmas — but for quite the opposite reason. Israel is happy to see Christians leave, at least of the indigenous Palestinian variety.

(More welcome are the crazed fundamentalist Christian Zionists from the United States who have been arriving to help engineer the departure of Palestinians, Muslims and Christians alike, in the belief that, once the Jews have dominion over the whole of the Holy Land, Armageddon and the “End Times” will draw closer.)

Of course, that is not Israel’s official story. Its leaders have been quick to blame the exodus of Christians on the wider Palestinian society from which they are drawn, arguing that a growing Islamic extremism, and the election of Hamas to lead the Palestinian Authority, have put Christians under physical threat. This explanation neatly avoids mentioning that the proportion of Christians has been falling for decades.

According to Israel’s argument, the decision by many Christians to leave the land where generations of their ancestors have been rooted is simply a reflection of the “clash of civilisations”, in which a fanatical Islam is facing down the Judeo-Christian West. Palestinian Christians, like Jews, have found themselves caught on the wrong side of the Middle East’s confrontation lines.

Here is how the Jerusalem Post, for example, characterised the fate of the Holy Land’s non-Muslims in a Christmas editorial: “Muslim intolerance toward Christians and Jews is cut from exactly the same cloth. It is the same jihad.” The Post concluded by arguing that only by confronting the jihadis would “the plight of persecuted Christians — and of the persecuted Jewish state — be ameliorated.”

Similar sentiments were recently aired in an article by Aaron Klein of WorldNetDaily republished on Ynet, Israel’s most popular website, that preposterously characterised a procession of families through Nazareth on Eid al-Adha, the most important Muslim festival, as a show of strength by militant Islam designed to intimidate local Christians.

Islam’s green flags were “brandished”, according to Klein, whose reporting transformed a local troupe of Scouts and their marching band into “Young Muslim men in battle gear” “beating drums”. Nazareth’s youngsters, meanwhile, were apparently the next generation of Qassam rocket engineers: “Muslim children launched firecrackers into the sky, occasionally misfiring, with the small explosives landing dangerously close to the crowds.”

Such sensationalist misrepresentations of Palestinian life are now a staple of the local and American media. Support for Hamas, for example, is presented as proof of jihadism run amok in Palestinian society rather than as evidence of despair at Fatah’s corruption and collaboration with Israel and ordinary Palestinians’ determination to find leaders prepared to counter Israel’s terminal cynicism with proper resistance.

The clash of civilisations thesis is usually ascribed to a clutch of American intellectuals, most notably Samuel Huntington, the title of whose book gave the idea popular currency, and the Orientalist academic Bernard Lewis. But alongside them have been the guiding lights of the neocon movement, a group of thinkers deeply embedded in the centres of American power who were recently described by Ynet as mainly comprising “Jews who share a love for Israel”.

In fact, the idea of a clash of civilisations grew out of a worldview that was shaped by Israel’s own interpretation of its experiences in the Middle East. An alliance between the neocons and Israeli leaders was cemented in the mid-1990s with the publication of a document called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”. It offered a US foreign policy tailor-made to suit Israel’s interests, including plans for an invasion of Iraq, authored by leading necons and approved by the Israeli prime minister of the day, Binyamin Netanyahu.

When the neocons rose to power with George Bush’s election to the White House, the birth of the bastard offspring of the clash of civilisations — the war on terror — was all but inevitable.

Paradoxically, this vision of our future, set out by American and Israeli Jews, is steeped in fundamentalist Christian religious symbolism, from the promotion of a civilised West’s crusade against the Muslim hordes to the implication that the final confrontation between these civilisations (a nuclear attack on Iran?) may be the End Times itself — and thereby lead to the return of the Messiah.

If this clash is to be realised, it must be convincing at its most necessary confrontation line: the Middle East and more specifically the Holy Land. The clash of civilisations must be embodied in Israel’s experience as a civilised, democratic state fighting for its very survival against its barbarian Muslim neighbours.

There is only one problem in selling this image to the West: the minority of Christian Palestinians who have happily lived under Muslim rule in the Holy Land for centuries. Today, in a way quite infuriating to Israel, these Christians confuse the picture by continuing to take a leading role in defining Palestinian nationalism and resistance to Israel’s occupation. They prefer to side with the Muslim “fanatics” than with Israel, the Middle East’s only outpost of Judeo-Christian “civilisation”.

The presence of Palestinian Christians reminds us that the supposed “clash of civilisations” in the Holy Land is not really a war of religions but a clash of nationalisms, between the natives and European colonial settlers.

Inside Israel, for example, Christians have been the backbone of the Communist party, the only non-Zionist party Israel allowed for several decades. Many of the Palestinian artists and intellectuals who are most critical of Israel are Christians, including the late novelist Emile Habibi; the writer Anton Shammas and film-makers Elia Suleiman and Hany Abu Assad (all now living in exile); and the journalist Antoine Shalhat (who, for reasons unknown, has been placed under a loose house arrest, unable to leave Israel).

The most notorious Palestinian nationalist politician inside Israel is Azmi Bishara, yet another Christian, who has been put on trial and is regularly abused by his colleagues in the Knesset.

Similarly, Christians have been at the core of the wider secular Palestinian national movement, helping to define its struggle. They range from exiled professors such as the late Edward Said to human rights activists in the occupied territories such as Raja Shehadeh. The founders of the most militant wings of the national movement, the Democratic and Popular Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine, were Nayif Hawatmeh and George Habash, both Christians.

This intimate involvement of Palestinian Christians in the Palestinian national struggle is one of the reasons why Israel has been so keen to find ways to encourage their departure — and then blame it on intimidation by, and violence from, Muslims.

In truth, however, the fall in the number of Christians can be explained by two factors, neither of which is related to a clash of civilisations. The first is a lower rate of growth among the Christian population. According to the latest figures from Israel’s Bureau of Census Statistics, the average Christian household in Israel contains 3.5 people compared to 5.2 in a Muslim household. Looked at another way, in 2005 33 percent of Christians were under the age of 19, compared to 55 percent of Muslims. In other words, the proportion of Christians in the Holy Land has been eroded over time by higher Muslim birth rates. But a second factor is equally, if not more, important. Israel has established an oppressive rule for Palestinians both inside Israel and in the occupied territories that has been designed to encourage the most privileged Palestinians, which has meant disproportionately Christians, to leave.

This policy has been implemented with stealth for decades, but has been greatly accelerated in recent years with the erection of the wall and numerous checkpoints. The purpose has been to encourage the Palestinian elite and middle class to seek a better life in the West, turning their back on the Holy Land.

Palestinian Christians have had the means to escape for two reasons. First, they have traditionally enjoyed a higher standard of living, as city-based shopkeepers and business owners, rather than poor subsistence farmers in the countryside. And second, their connection to the global Churches has made it simpler for them to find sanctuary abroad, often beginning as trips for their children to study overseas.

Israel has turned Christian parents’ financial ability and their children’s increased opportunities to its own advantage, by making access to higher education difficult for Palestinians both inside Israel and in the occupied territories.

Inside Israel, for example, Palestinian citizens still find it much harder to attend university than Jewish citizens, and even more so to win places on the most coveted courses, such as medicine and engineering.

Instead, for many decades Israel’s Christians and Muslims became members of the Communist party in the hope of receiving scholarships to attend universities in Eastern Europe. Christians were also able to exploit their ties to the Churches to help them head off to the West. Many of these overseas graduates, of course, never returned, especially knowing that they would be faced with an Israeli economy much of which is closed to non-Jews.

Something similar occurred in the occupied territories, where Palestinian universities have struggled under the occupation to offer a proper standard of education, particularly faced with severe restrictions on the movement of staff and students. Still today, it is not possible to study for a PhD in either the West Bank or Gaza, and Israel has blocked Palestinian students from attending its own universities. The only recourse for most who can afford it has been to head abroad. Again, many have chosen never to return.

But in the case of the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank, Israel found it even easier to close the door behind them. It established rules, in violation of international law, that stripped these Palestinians of their right to residency in the occupied territories during their absence. When they tried to return to their towns and villages, many found that they were allowed to stay only on temporary visas, including tourist visas, that they had to renew with the Israeli authorities every few months.

Nearly a year ago, Israel quietly took a decision to begin kicking these Palestinians out by refusing to issue new visas. Many of them are academics and business people who have been trying to rebuild Palestinian society after decades of damage inflicted by the occupying regime. A recent report by the most respected Palestinian university, Bir Zeit, near Ramallah, revealed that one department had lost 70 per cent of its staff because of Israel’s refusal to renew visas.

Although there are no figures available, it can probably be safely assumed that a disproportionate number of Palestinians losing their residency rights are Christian. Certainly the effect of further damaging the education system in the occupied territories will be to increase the exodus of Palestine’s next generation of leaders, including its Christians.

In addition, the economic strangulation of the Palestinians by the wall, the restrictions on movement and the international economic blockade of the Palestinian Authority are damaging the lives of all Palestinians with increasing severity. Privileged Palestinians, and that doubtless includes many Christians, are being encouraged to seek a rapid exit from the territories.

From Israel’s point of view, the loss of Palestinian Christians is all to the good. It will be happier still if all of them leave, and Bethlehem and Nazareth pass into the effective custodianship of the international Churches.

Without Palestinian Christians confusing the picture, it will be much easier for Israel to persuade the West that the Jewish state is facing a monolithic enemy, fanatical Islam, and that the Palestinian national struggle is really both a cover for jihad and a distraction from the clash of civilisations against which Israel is the ultimate bulwark. Israel’s hands will be freed.

it is also worth remembering of the context in which the new testament was written as david wildman, a priest with the methodist church, does in an electronic intifada article:

The New Testament was written in a context of Roman colonial rule, discrimination, and military occupation in Palestine. It also took place in the midst of an active armed resistance movement (the Zealots) against colonialism and occupation. So, if we want to understand fully the meaning of biblical texts for today, it is helpful to listen to Palestinians who are facing the same dynamics of military occupation, colonial control of their land and apartheid-like discrimination.

One of the goals of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries is: “Seek Justice, Freedom and Peace.” This is at the heart of the United Methodist Church’s priority to end poverty. It expresses the kind of solidarity needed today: “We will participate with people oppressed by unjust economic, political and social systems in programs that seek to build just, free and peaceful societies.” Instead of blaming the victim, or offering charity to the victim, this goal challenges us to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and follow their lead in demanding justice. The call by hundreds of Palestinian civil society organizations for nonviolent action of boycott, divestment and sanctions embodies such a demand for justice.

One unjust system that we must confront today is the US use of the veto at the UN. Since 1970, half of US vetoes blocked the international community from criticizing Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians. One third of US vetoes blocked international criticism of apartheid regimes in southern Africa. Thus the US has repeatedly used the veto to protect military occupation and colonial rule from international criticism and sanction at great cost to civilians in southern Africa and Palestine. The 2008 United Methodist General Conference declared, “The United Methodist Church call[s] upon the United States, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to accept the authority of Security Council resolutions, to refrain from vetoing resolutions, and abide by Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, as well as all other relevant UN resolutions and International Court of Justice rulings, that provide a framework for bringing this conflict to a just and permanent end.”

Just as the anti-Apartheid movement turned to boycott and divestment as nonviolent, moral, economic measures by churches, universities and trade unions to end unjust corporate support for South African Apartheid, so too churches and activists today are taking up nonviolent, moral actions like divestment to end corporate support for Israel’s longstanding violations of international law.

wildman makes the link between the bible, what christianity teaches, what jesus preached and fights for boycott, divestment, and sanctions as a response. as a way to end colonial rule in palestine. just as jesus fought against roman colonial rule in palestine. and this is not what jesus would do. it is what he did. clearly, the pope just doesn’t get it.

rahm israel emanuel & north american mossad

okay, i posted this below at the bottom of my previous post, but i think it needs its own post because it is too frightening. first this piece on emanuel as connected to mossad:

Rosen is also tied to Ted Olson, Coca Cola copyright controversy and a scandal now developing which will link Rosen to Rahm Emanuel and the Mossad in the sale of and transfer of PROMIS Software involving the alleged Russian spy Robert Hanson and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and laundered profits to both Israel and the Russian Federation.

and then this longer piece on his relationship to mossad, from the Wayne Madsen Report (subscriber only)

November 6, 2008 — Obama faced with security problem at outset of transition process
WMR has learned from informed U.S. intelligence sources that prospective Barack Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has an active FBI counter-intelligence file maintained on him. Emanuel’s rise to the Chief of Staff position may pose a significant security problem for President-elect Obama if the FBI insists on conducting the full background security investigation normally required for senior White House officials.

Questions about Emanuel’s links to the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad, were allegedly so great that President Bill Clinton was forced to dismiss Emanuel from the White House staff in 1998. One of the FBI agents who discovered Emanuel’s dealings with Israeli intelligence was, according to our sources, the late FBI counter-terrorism Assistant Director John O’Neill. O’Neill retired after being set up in a smear operation involving a temporarily stolen brief case in 2001. O’Neill and another FBI agent who still works for the bureau and shall remain nameless at this point to protect him and his career discovered that Emanuel was heavily involved in the decision to place intern Monica Lewinsky close to President Clinton. O’Neill accepted the top security position for Kroll Associates at the World Trade Center. O’Neill was killed in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. WMR has also reported that O’Neill was a close friend of slain retired Houston CIA station chief Roland V. “Tony” Carnaby, who was similarly investigating Israeli intelligence operations in the Houston area when Houston police shot and killed him last April.

Emanuel reportedly had knowledge of Israeli intelligence penetration of White House communications systems and Lewinsky, in sworn testimony before the Office of Independent Counsel, stated: “He [Clinton] suspected that a foreign embassy [it is now known that embassy was that of Israel] was tapping his telephones, and he proposed cover stories.” Lewinsky continued, “If ever questioned, she should say that the two of them were just friends. If anyone ever asked about their phone sex, she should say that they knew their calls were being monitored all along, and the phone sex was just a put on.”

WMR has learned from U.S. intelligence sources that Emanuel was discovered to be part of a political intelligence and blackmail operation directed against Clinton by Israel’s Likud Party and Binyamin Netanyahu to sink Clinton’s proposed Middle East peace deal. We have also learned that the FBI investigation of Emanuel is part of a file code-named the “Mega file.” “Mega” is a reference to a top-level Mossad agent in the Reagan administration who was said to have run a number of Israeli agents, including U.S. Navy spy Jonathan Pollard.

change means: organize, organize, organize

Yesterday on Flashpoints JR & the Block Report featured an interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal, live from death row in Pennsylvania, to discuss the recent elections (or as JR calls them “selections”). Much of what both JR and Mumia said echoed Bill Fletcher and Ali Abunimah’s comments that I wrote about yesterday: that the response to this election should not be resting on one’s laurels, but to organize, organize, organize. JR and Mumia began by talking about a comment Fred Hampton, Jr. made the day before equating the election of Barack Obama to that of Nelson Mandela in South Africa whereby “nothing changed but the color of white people’s representative.” This was specifically in reference to the ways in which Mandela’s presidency meant no substantive change for poor people, for people living in ghettos, which represents large percentage of South African people. Thus, the fear is that given Obama’s silence until now on poverty in the U.S. the same could hold true now. Of course, that remains to be seen. But in order to prevent that from happening people invested in issues like poverty and homelessness need to organize and put pressure on the new government to ensure that doesn’t happen as Mumia said, “it depends on us. if people organize then they can make change.” Of course the two discussed the problems with education and the prison industrial complex (and you can click on the link above to listen to the entire interview), but I want to highlight the part of the interview about organizing because this is what is needed now. The situation of so many crucial issues is too urgent to wait and see.

JR: Some people in the revolutionary community feel that Obama being president is a setback because it will allow the establishment to deny that racism still exists in America. But the late great Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, said that: “neocolonialism is the last stage of capitalism.” What are your thoughts on the issue?

Mumia: People can’t take shortcuts to organize. Well, even with the Obama victory, if you recall the republican convention after the democratic convention, one of the best mocking lines that they used–and I remember specifically the former mayor of New York, Rudy Guiliani–they joked about Obama being a community organizer. Well, in point of fact he was a community organizer. And he used those skills to beat the hell out of anybody who was his opponent. No one expected him–I mean–I remember in 2007 no one expected him to beat Hillary Clinton. Hillary was going to be the next democratic nominee. No one expected this guy to beat ’em. And when you looked at the republican convention and how the polls changed after it everybody expected John McCain to be a stronger candidate coming out of the convention. But this was a community organizer so people who call themselves revolutionaries, who are organizers, who are activists and agitators: take the lesson about what community organizing really is. That’s talking to people, organizing people, and making change. I mean that’s where change really happens. You know, talking to real people, changing their minds, bringing them over, and organizing. Kwame Ture used to say every time you spoke to people you must say “organize, organize, organize.” I mean, he would beat that drum until it was deeply embedded in consciousness. He understood that unless people understood how to organize and then did that then there would be no change. I’m not just talking about political change. I’m talking about real, social change. so our people need to organize.

When JR asked Mumia who he would have voted for if he were not unjustly incarcerated in a federal penitentiary, Mumia said:

Mumia: I would probably have voted for Cynthia McKinney. I mean here was a true radical alternative. Here was a Black woman, who stood up very strongly in Congress against the Iraq war and against the PATRIOT Act, and against a lot of the repressive measures that her fellow democrats voted for. Well, because she stood up she was isolated by the democratic party. And really I think she suffered two electoral defeats because she was so outspoken. It was the Green Party that was a fit for her. And, you know, this was a Black woman. If a Black man is progress, a Black woman is real progress. But again, I mean, organize, organize, organize. We can’t understate the importance of organizing.

There are so many domestic and international issues that need to be organized around. There is certainly no shortage. But I think what this analysis and the analysis I posted yesterday shows us is that the lesson of this election is what Mumia also expressed in the interview: “the lesson we have to take–this is about a victory for community organizing not for change.” In other words, change doesn’t come while we sit back passively, we must actively participate in the process.

I was actually reading Kwame Ture’s book, Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokley Carmichael, today where he talks about his role as an agent of change when he worked in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). There is a part of the book where he shares the story of how SNCC came to support Palestinians. He provides some background first of his upbringing in New York when he worked with various youth Socialist and Communist groups:

Here I learned to sing “Hava Nageela” and to dance the hora. During the fifties, these young-left groups were unquestioningly pro-Zionist. Stalin had given arms to Zionist factions in 1948, and Israel was said to be progressive and socialist. End of story. There was no discussion at all of the rights of the Palestinian people. None. Not in those circles. So it never occurred to me then, that there might be another side to the story. (557)

In the early sixties Ture first read about Palestinian rights and resistance in Muhammad Speaks, the Nation of Islam newspaper. After the assassination of Malcolm X, SNCC began a study group on Palestine where they read and discussed a book a month, and not just from pro-Palestinian or anti-Zionist perspectives, as Ture details:

We also read the principal Zionists–Herzl, Ben-Gurion, Begin, documents from the Stern Gang, etc., etc. As a matter of fact, these Zionist ideologues provided the strongest evidence against Israeli policies by openly revealing the naked colonialist intention at the heart of the Zionist enterprise. That was my second surprise. The third, and this was the shocker, was discovering the close military, economic, and political alliance between the Israeli government and the racist apartheid regime in South Africa. Now this was a real shock since I knew that during World War II, the Afrikaner nationalists had fervently supported the Third Reich and had cultivated close associations with and had even organized themselves along the lines of the German Nazi Party. (558)

Ture grounds his context for this SNCC reading group in one of its mantras, that “knowledge is power.” After two years with this group Ture became chair of SNCC and wanted to put that knowledge into action in some way, but then as now there were so many issues they faced: Vietnam War in addition to a host of issues affecting the Black Power movement. But his last act as chair was to write a position paper for internal distribution in SNCC. But the paper was leaked to the press and SNCC was subsequently labeled as anti-Israel, anti-Semitic. In retrospect Ture has some useful thoughts on that episode, especially in light of the way Obama failed to face the challenge of standing by Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, or Rashid Khalidi. Ture says:

Look, when we took on white supremacy and the Klan, we were attacked. But we survived. We took on the president and the National Democratic Party and survived that. When we opposed the war and the draft, we were really attacked, but survived even that. But dare to open our mouths on Zionism? That one, you don’t mess with and survive. That was the lesson the Zionist thought police meant for us to learn in 1967. But we are still here. On this one, history will certainly be the judge. That, you can depend on. Since those (1967) events, I am proud to say that I have never ceased to speak out and work for justice for the Palestinian people. (561)

Ture’s work on this matter was not at the exclusion of other revolutionary struggles. It was connected to those struggles and a part of those struggles, whether fighting apartheid in South Africa or domestic issues in the U.S. And his understanding of all these issues came from first-hand experience as well as reading and discussing books on the subject. And he connected these issues through the rubric of imperialism or militarism or imprisonment depending on the set of issues he struggled against. Ture identifies his position as one of supporting human rights, justice, and international law. This was as important in 1967 as it is today. And what I think we can learn from people like Mumia or Ture is to connect issues related to revolutionary movements of change. Because whether we like it or not, just as the issue of apartheid in South Africa or in Palestine today was connected by the same cash flowing from the Zionist state and the U.S. among others, we can continue to trace the same economic, military, political supporters of issues that defy justice, international law, and human rights.

But we need to work for those goals–to learn about our issues, to educate others, and to fight for them. That is what brings change. Unfortunately, one of the disappointing things about Obama is that many seem to see the election of him as the end of their struggle. As if electing Obama is the change not what he promised to do. But Obama and change–these two words–are a bit odd together. I mean, if he can spend years listening to and befriending Palestinians in Chicago only to abandon them–and let them get viciously attacked in the most racist ways during the campaign without ever apologizing–for a staunch, hardlined approach embodied in Rahm Israel Emanuel. One of Obama’s campaign promises has been to end the war in Iraq. But I have always doubted this campaign pledge for a number of reasons. First, there are some sixteen permanent U.S. military bases there that I do not expect will be evacuated and expect will remain staffed with American military officials. Second, Obama has never spoken about the 150,000 mercenaries working for Blackwater or other private contractors. So even if he pulls out American troops that doesn’t mean that the occupation of Iraq will end. Moreover, Emmanuel himself said in January 2007 to the Washington Post that he wanted to “let this war go on for two more years so we can run against it again.” This was reported on The Real News today. And I wonder, does this sound like change?

Audre Lorde famously wrote, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” So to expect that someone embedded in the epitome of master’s house will bring change is misleading at best. And in the euphoria or disappointment of the election other issues that were on American ballots have largely gone under- or unreported, including by me. One of the reasons I wanted to vote when I was in the U.S. last month was not just to cast a ballot for Cynthia McKinney. It was also to vote on Proposition 8, which failed to pass, and unfortunately rendered gay marriage illegal in California. But in California gay rights activists are already taking to the streets and protesting as well as taking legal action to fight against this. They are organized and organizing. But how much more powerful would their organizing be if they worked in solidarity with other progressive groups? For instance, one of the targets of the protests yesterday was against the Mormon Church in Los Angeles, which actively campaigned to outlaw gay marriage. The Mormon Church, is by definition a Zionist church in its theology, and it hosts a university–Brigham Young University–on occupied land in occupied East Jerusalem. Imagine if we could get Palestinian activists to collaborate on this issue. But such collaboration has to come from genuine solidarity on both sides. And this is a tremendous failure in the U.S. as it is in much of the world. But it is strange to me nevertheless that many pro-Palestinian activists and gay rights activists alike voted for Obama because they believe he symbolized change for them and the issues they care about. And yet organizing together on the specific changes they want to see doesn’t seem to emerge unless the issue is somehow intensely personal, as in for lesbian and gay Palestinians living in California.

There are other ways in which organizers can work together for change and to encourage an Obama administration to take on issues related to human rights violations and struggles head on. For instance, 7.2 million Palestinian refugees remain the oldest refugee population that has not been resolved, in spite of UN Resolution 194 that states Palestinian refugees have a right to return to their homes. But there are other refugee populations and issues related to refugee issues that could work together for refugee rights in the U.S. One of the most constant refugee populations are the Congolese refugees, the result of a number of factors, not the least of which is U.S. meddling. Kambale Musavuli explains this context:

In reality, the source of the conflict in Congo for most of its history has been the scramble for its enormous wealth, not the internecine, ethnic bloodletting more commonly blamed. In the late 1990s, Congo was invaded twice by Rwanda and Uganda with the backing and support of the United States, as documented in the 2001 congressional hearings held by Reps. Cynthia McKinney and Tom Tancredo. It was these invasions that unleashed the tremendous suffering that exists in Congo today.

But it is not just history that needs to be re-examined. From copper, tin and cobalt to coltan – a mineral found in cell phones, video games and other gadgets we have come to rely on – American corporations stand to make millions at the expense of the people of Congo. Dan Rather’s recent report on Phoenix-based FreePort McMoRan’s odious contract in acquiring what many say is the world’s richest copper deposit is but a window into the systemic exploitation of Congo’s wealth.

As with colonialism in Palestine or in Congo there are multinational corporations that must be fought in order to change the lives of people on the ground, most importantly the lives of the refugees, or in the case of the Congo, the newly Internally Displaced People (IDPs). While the boycott against Israeli companies as well as American and European companies that heavily invest in the Zionist state is taking off, many of these companies and their desire to rape countries of their natural resources overlap. This requires solidarity, research, analysis, and then, yes, organizing. But I especially think that the situation between the Congo and Palestine is an interesting one. A journalist friend who spends a lot of time in the Congo has had some interesting conversations with Congolese people when they describe repeated incursions, invasions by Rwanda into the Congo. They claim that the Rwandans are trying to change the border, to steal land, and as a result Congolese people have spent the last decade as either refugees or IDPs related to this and larger regional wars. Here is a bit of context from Lenin’s Tomb:

The Rwandan ruling class, whose political expression is the Rwandan Patriotic Front, now simply depends upon the mineral resources of the Congo, as it lives well above the means that its own country’s resources could provide. The exploitation of Congolese resources is built into government policy and is directed by a component of their External Security Organization. There was no way they were going to accept being deprived of leverage in the Congo, and this was the main cause of the war that then erupted in 1998. Kabila successfully galvanised substantial layers of the population against his former allies, but his rhetoric verged on genocidal as he called on them to “erase the enemy”, lest they “become slaves to these little Tutsis”. The US, for its part, backed the alliance of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Banyamulenge in order to get a new regime more aligned to its own priorities, with the justification being that the Banyamulenge were merely engaged in a legitimate revolt, while Rwanda and Uganda were intervening to protect the security of their own borders. (A subsidiary justification was that sponsoring Rwanda and Uganda would help contain the Sudanese state). In fact, Rwandan and Ugandan forces had plotted the overthrow of Kabila and directed the first rebellions in Goma and Kinshasa that marked the beginning of the war, and they were decisive in founding the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), which unites a disparate array of forces around an inchoate programme.

Here is a report on the recent suffering in the Congo that was on Al Jazeera today as the negotiations get underway in Nairobi for some sort of resolution.

Likewise, militarization in general–and the political and economic structures that make militarization possible could also be usefully mobilized as one entity to fight American imperialist adventures. Regardless of what Obama promises, we don’t know what will be the reality whether in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, or the U.S. military bases in 130 different countries around the world. Or the military “aid” the U.S. gives to the Zionist state and other states to enact gross human rights violations. We need resistance to these systems of power. We need to read, understand, and to not use Obama’s model of backing down to difficult subjects, difficult issues, because it may disturb the Israel lobby. Silence is complicity. The silence in the U.S., for instance, over the fact that we have regularly invaded and are ostensibly at war with Pakistan is sickening. Here is a visual representation of that reality:

War and invasion from this side of the Atlantic is viewed the same. Because we see where the military materiel comes from. We know who flies the drones, who shoots the missiles, who does the torturing. Even when one is blindfolded:

Israeli Television, Chanel 10, showed on Thursday a video footage taken by Israeli soldiers filming themselves humiliating a bound and blindfolded Palestinian man at a military roadblock in the occupied West Bank, Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported.

In all the media buzz about Rahm Israel Emanuel he appears to have earned a nickname: Rahmbo. This does not bode well, nor does a blatantly racist statement by his terrorist father in the Jerusalem Post yesterday:

Emanuel, who served in the Clinton White House, has Israeli family and spent significant amounts of time in Israel. He now serves as the fourth-highest member of the House of Representatives, is known as a skilled political operator who helped engineer the gains the Democrats made in Congress in 2006.

In an interview with Ma’ariv, Emanuel’s father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, said he was convinced that his son’s appointment would be good for Israel. “Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel,” he was quoted as saying. “Why wouldn’t he be? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House.”

Emanuel is the sort of person Ture was talking about–the sort who tar and feather those who speak about the reality of Israeli state terrorism every day against Palestinians. And like Ture said sometimes the Zionists themselves reveal the most about the reality of the situation as in these quotes from a Ha’aretz article today:

“Rep. Emanuel is also a good friend of Israel, coming from good Irgun stock, davening at an Orthodox synagogue, and sending his children to Jewish day schools,” Daroff concluded….

“Emanuel has deep Jewish roots and strong ties to the Jewish community. Emanuel, the son of an Israeli immigrant, has a proven commitment to Israel’s security and served as civilian volunteer on an Israeli military base during the Persian Gulf War of 1991,” the statement continued.

And here is one more confirmation about who Emanuel is and where he comes from (I don’t think I’ve seen any American newspaper use the word to accurately describe Emanuel’s father yet. I don’t expect to either.):

Emanuel’s father: An Israeli terrorist?

The appointment of Rahm Emanuel triggered widespread interest in Israel, the native country of his former Jewish underground fighter father.

The older Emanuel, a paediatrician born in Jerusalem, was a member of Irgun, the hard-line militant group which fought for Jewish independence until 1948. It was described as “terrorist” at the time by Britain. Mr Emanuel’s appointment could reassure Israel that Mr Obama will continue America’s close alliance. The Ynet news service quoted Michael Kotzin, a leader of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, as saying Mr Emanuel is a frequent attender at Israel-related events.

He co-sponsored a Bill defending Israel against a world court advisory opinion in 2004 criticising the route of the military’s separation barrier for cutting deep into the West Bank, and co-sponsored another Bill congratulating Israelis and Palestinians who work together for peace. He is credited with choreographing the famous handshake between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn in 1993.

And one more disturbing bit of information about Emanuel, which deserves to be noted from the Wayne Madsen Report:

November 6, 2008 — Obama faced with security problem at outset of transition process
WMR has learned from informed U.S. intelligence sources that prospective Barack Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has an active FBI counter-intelligence file maintained on him. Emanuel’s rise to the Chief of Staff position may pose a significant security problem for President-elect Obama if the FBI insists on conducting the full background security investigation normally required for senior White House officials.

Questions about Emanuel’s links to the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad, were allegedly so great that President Bill Clinton was forced to dismiss Emanuel from the White House staff in 1998. One of the FBI agents who discovered Emanuel’s dealings with Israeli intelligence was, according to our sources, the late FBI counter-terrorism Assistant Director John O’Neill. O’Neill retired after being set up in a smear operation involving a temporarily stolen brief case in 2001. O’Neill and another FBI agent who still works for the bureau and shall remain nameless at this point to protect him and his career discovered that Emanuel was heavily involved in the decision to place intern Monica Lewinsky close to President Clinton. O’Neill accepted the top security position for Kroll Associates at the World Trade Center. O’Neill was killed in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. WMR has also reported that O’Neill was a close friend of slain retired Houston CIA station chief Roland V. “Tony” Carnaby, who was similarly investigating Israeli intelligence operations in the Houston area when Houston police shot and killed him last April.

Emanuel reportedly had knowledge of Israeli intelligence penetration of White House communications systems and Lewinsky, in sworn testimony before the Office of Independent Counsel, stated: “He [Clinton] suspected that a foreign embassy [it is now known that embassy was that of Israel] was tapping his telephones, and he proposed cover stories.” Lewinsky continued, “If ever questioned, she should say that the two of them were just friends. If anyone ever asked about their phone sex, she should say that they knew their calls were being monitored all along, and the phone sex was just a put on.”

WMR has learned from U.S. intelligence sources that Emanuel was discovered to be part of a political intelligence and blackmail operation directed against Clinton by Israel’s Likud Party and Binyamin Netanyahu to sink Clinton’s proposed Middle East peace deal. We have also learned that the FBI investigation of Emanuel is part of a file code-named the “Mega file.” “Mega” is a reference to a top-level Mossad agent in the Reagan administration who was said to have run a number of Israeli agents, including U.S. Navy spy Jonathan Pollard.

Clearly, we have a lot of work to do. To investigate, to keep our eye on the ball. Alliances must be built. Connections must be made. And there is no time to sit back and just breathe.