when will we listen and learn?

in a rare report from sri lanka nick payton walsh of england’s channel 4 reported from an internment camp in vavuniya where tamil refugees have been taken by the sri lankan army and where there walsh reports on everything from shortages of food and water to sexual abuse. this report is rare because of the media blackout in sri lanka that does not allow anyone to report on anything other than the military’s point of view (think gaza):

gethin chamberlain’s article in the guardian today about the sri lankan government’s war against the civilian tamil population reveals more devastation including the inability of the red cross to function and the continuing media blackout (also checkout chamberlain’s video on the guardian’s website):

The scale of the fighting forced doctors to abandon the last hospital in the so-called no-fire zone. One medic described how they were sheltering in a bunker, unable to reach the dead and injured lying inside the hospital.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said civilians trapped inside the war zone were finding it even more difficult to get water and food.

“Our staff are witnessing an unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe,” said the ICRC operations director, Pierre Krahenbuhl. “No humanitarian organisation can help them in the current circumstances. People are left to their own devices.”

Douglas Alexander, Britain’s international development secretary, issued an angry statement expressing his outrage that the scale of the fighting had prevented the Red Cross from evacuating the wounded.

“I am utterly appalled that the ICRC is no longer able to continue its operations in northern Sri Lanka,” he said. “This deplorable situation rightly brings international condemnation of both parties to the conflict. There is simply no justification for allowing such needless suffering.”

One unconfirmed report suggested that some of the latest injuries were caused by the use of white phosphorus. The Sri Lankan military released pictures on Thursday claiming to show that the Tamil tigers had rigged phosphorus bombs around areas where tens of thousands of civilians are trapped.

There is no way of confirming the reports because independent media are prevented from entering the war zone.

interestingly it seems as though the united nations is actually trying to intervene here, though that remains to be seen. notice, however, that hillary clinton is applying pressure to sri lanka in ways she and her government refuses to do with respect to the zionist colonial terrorist regime in palestine as chamberlain continues:

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, sent his chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, to Sri Lanka for a second time to try to bring the conflict to a peaceful conclusion.

A UN spokesman, Gordon Weiss, said Nambiar planned to meet senior government officials after he arrived today and would push for ways “to secure the safety of the 50,000 to 100,000 civilians remaining inside the combat zone”.

The US applied pressure on Colombo by questioning Sri Lanka’s application for a $1.9bn loan from the International Monetary Fund.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said: “We think that it is not an appropriate time to consider that until there is a resolution.”

in contradistinction, the united states is rewarding the zionist colonist terrorist regime for its ongoing massacres and ethnic cleansing with more military aid–which you can work to stop by clicking on the link below to the u.s. campaign to end the occupation’s website and signing their petition:

Last week, President Obama sent his FY2010 budget request to Congress and, as expected, included in it $2.775 billion in military aid for Israel, an increase of $225 million from this year’s budget.

The budget request now goes to the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs for hearings and “mark-ups”.

This request for an increase in military aid to Israel comes despite the fact that Israel consistently misuses U.S. weapons in violation of the Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts.

During the Bush Administration, Israel killed more than 3,000 Palestinian civilians who took no part in hostilities, including more than 1,000 children. During its December-January war on the Gaza Strip alone, Israel killed nearly 1,200 Palestinian non-combatants.

Especially during this acute economic crisis, is this how you want Congress to spend your taxes? If not, then take action by clicking the link above.

but the link between palestine and the tamils of sri lanka is best viewed from the lens of the imposed silence, the refusal to let the media in, and our refusal–those of us on the outside–to listen and learn from the tamil people as john pilger explains in an important article in dissident voice this week:

In the early 1960s, it was the Irish of Derry who would phone late at night, speaking in a single breath, spilling out stories of discrimination and injustice. Who listened to their truth until the violence began? Bengalis from what was then East Pakistan did much the same. Their urgent whispers described terrible state crimes that the news ignored, and they implored us reporters to “let the world know.” Palestinians speaking above the din of crowded rooms in Bethlehem and Beirut asked no more. For me, the most tenacious distant voices have been the Tamils of Sri Lanka, to whom we ought to have listened a very long time ago.

It is only now, as they take to the streets of western cities, and the persecution of their compatriots reaches a crescendo, that we listen, though not intently enough to understand and act. The Sri Lankan government has learned an old lesson from, I suspect, a modern master: Israel. In order to conduct a slaughter, you ensure the pornography is unseen, illicit at best. You ban foreigners and their cameras from Tamil towns like Mulliavaikal, which was bombarded recently by the Sri Lankan army, and you lie that the 75 people killed in the hospital were blown up quite willfully by a Tamil suicide bomber. You then give reporters a ride into the jungle, providing what in the news business is called a dateline, which suggests an eyewitness account, and you encourage the gullible to disseminate only your version and its lies. Gaza is the model.

From the same master class you learn to manipulate the definition of terrorism as a universal menace, thus ingratiating yourself with the “international community” (Washington) as a noble sovereign state blighted by an “insurgency” of mindless fanaticism. The truth and lessons of the past are irrelevant. And having succeeded in persuading the United States and Britain to proscribe your insurgents as terrorists, you affirm you are on the right side of history, regardless of the fact that your government has one of the world’s worst human rights records and practices terrorism by another name. Such is Sri Lanka.

This is not to suggest that those who resist attempts to obliterate them culturally if not actually are innocent in their methods. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have spilt their share of blood and perpetrated their own atrocities. But they are the product, not the cause, of an injustice and a war that long predates them. Neither is Sri Lanka’s civil strife as unfathomable as it is often presented: an ancient religious-ethnic rivalry between the Hindu Tamils and the Buddhist Sinhalese government.

Sri Lanka as British-ruled Ceylon was subjected to a classic divide-and-rule. The British brought Tamils from India as virtual slave labor while building an educated Tamil middle class to run the colony. At independence in 1948, the new political elite, in its rush for power, cultivated ethnic support in a society whose real imperative should have been the eradication of poverty. Language became the spark. The election of a government pledging to replace English, the lingua franca, with Sinhalese was a declaration of war on the Tamils. The new law meant that Tamils almost disappeared from the civil service by 1970; and as “nationalism” seduced parties of both the left and right, discrimination and anti-Tamil riots followed.

The formation of a Tamil resistance, notably the LTTE, the Tamil Tigers, included a demand for a state in the north of the country. The response of the government was judicial killing, torture, disappearances, and more recently, the reported use of cluster bombs and chemical weapons. The Tigers responded with their own crimes, including suicide bombing and kidnapping. In 2002, a ceasefire was agreed, and was held until last year, when the government decided to finish off the Tigers. Tamil civilians were urged to flee to military-run “welfare camps”, which have become the symbol of an entire people under vicious detention, and worse, with nowhere to escape the army’s fury. This is Gaza again, although the historical parallel is the British treatment of Boer women and children more than a century ago, who “died like flies,” as a witness wrote.

Foreign aid workers have been banned from Sri Lanka’s camps, except the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has described a catastrophe in the making. The United Nations says that 60 Tamils a day are being killed in the shelling of a government-declared “no-fire zone.”

In 2003, the Tigers proposed a devolved Interim Self-Governing Authority that included real possibilities for negotiation. Today, the government gives the impression it will use its imminent “victory” to “permanently solve” the “Tamil minority problem,” as many of its more rabid supporters threaten. The army commander says all of Sri Lanka “belongs” to the Sinhalese majority. The word “genocide” is used by Tamil expatriots, perhaps loosely; but the fear is true.

India could play a critical part. The south Indian state of Tamil Nadu has a Tamil-speaking population with centuries of ties with the Tamils of Sri Lanka. In the current Indian election campaign, anger over the siege of Tamils in Sri Lanka has brought hundreds of thousands to rallies. Having initially helped to arm the Tigers, Indian governments sent “peacekeeping” troops to disarm them. Delhi now appears to be allowing the Sinhalese supremacists in Colombo to “stabilize” its troubled neighbor. In a responsible regional role, India could stop the killing and begin to broker a solution.

The great moral citadels in London and Washington offer merely silent approval of the violence and tragedy. No appeals are heard in the United Nations from them. David Miliband has called for a “ceasefire”, as he tends to do in places where British “interests” are served, such as the 14 impoverished countries racked by armed conflict where the British government licenses arms shipments. In 2005, British arms exports to Sri Lanka rose by 60 percent. The distant voices from there should be heard, urgently.

only on the stage is there justice for palestinians

palestinian children in gaza put on a theatrical performance last week of a war crimes tribunal against the zionist entity for the massacre it committed in gaza. the play entitled murder of children was performed in gaza city by the young journalists club and was written by ghassan radwan. unfortunately one audience member seems to have summed up a tragic fact about the representation of justice in the play:

As they walked out of the building after hearing the guilty verdict announced, audience members had mixed reactions. “It was nice to hear the words ‘Israel you have been found guilty’” one woman said outside the theatre. Another audience member, however, voiced what was on everyone’s minds when he asked, “but are we ever going to hear those words outside of a play house?”

and, of course, it’s not just about war crimes committed during the massacres committed by israeli terrorists in gaza. it is the ongoing siege and its related problems. this week’s “focus on gaza” on al jazeera with imran garda features an important report by ayman mohyeldin on the way that israeli terrorists abuse palestinian medical patients by forcing them to become collaborators in exchange for medical treatment. it is part of the divide and rule policy that erodes trust within palestinian society among other things. here is the episode:

dividing and ruling until there is no one left to divide, nothing left to rule

more and more in my daily life here, my conversations with students and friends, and my observation of the political situation around me that if something is not done soon, if there is not significant unity (among the people, i mean, not in terms of political parties that meet no one’s needs) and resistance palestinians will be removed to jordan. jordan would be the palestinian state that the zionists have always been pushing for. i have posted here in other posts videos of them saying that “palestine is jordan.” they don’t make any secret about this. the thing is that all of their crimes are so patently obvious, written about in the memoirs of israeli terrorists’ from david ben-gurion to ariel sharon. and they widely announce their criminal acts in their media. and there are of course many historians who have documented these crimes: crimes of massacre, of land theft, of ethnic cleansing.

i’ve been reading jonathan cook’s brilliant new book disappearing palestine and one of the many things he documents here are the ways in which patterns of colonialism and its controlling regimes were first in place in 1948 palestine later became the practice in 1967 palestine. he quotes raja shehdeh’s memoir, palestinian walks, who made an important observation about the fact that palestinians in the 1967 territories should have taken their cue and learned their lessons from their kin in 1948 palestine:

They would tell us: “You don’t know a thing about Israel. We can tell you what is coming: land expropriations, biased zoning that will strangle your towns, and unfair taxation that will impoverish you.” And we would look with condescension at them and think they had lived for so long under Israel that they had become colonized unable to think beyond their narrow claustrophobic reality. (83)

cook documents this reality in the aftermath of an nakba and an naksa. one of the first colonial bits of business the zionists had to attend to given that they did not succeed in ethnically cleansing all of historic palestine was to figure out how to control the population:

Israel worked quickly to “de-Palestinianize” the minority, who were officially referred to as either “the minorities” or as “Israeli Arabs.” State policy was to encourage group identification at the sectarian and ethnic levels–in a classic strategy of divide and rule–by accentuating communal differences. In 1949, for example, the Education Ministry was advised to “emphasize and develop the contradictions” between the Druze, Christian and Muslim populations to diminish their Arab and Palestinian identities. (31)

these were the first steps of divide and rule, common to all colonial regimes. the second step was no more unique:

Severe restrictions on the minority’s freedom of movement did offer many benefits, however, even if most were unrelated to security. Any danger of relations developing between Palestinian and Jewish populations could be averted by isolating the minority; expulsions of Palestinians from areas intended for Jewish settlement were made easier; Palestinian workers could be prevented from competing for jobs with Jewish workers; and the minority’s votes could be bought by the governing party through its powers of patronage. But the two most important benefits to the state related to land. First, by exploiting the need of travel permits to work and see family, the military government was able to recruit an extensive network of informers and collaborators who helped in altering the authorities to attempts by the external refugees to “infiltrate” and return to their villages. And second, having confined most Palestinian citizens to their communities, the military government was able to carry out unopposed the confiscation of large tracts of outlying farming land. (36)

you get the picture? palestinians in 1948 palestine have lived in these bantustans for 61 years. they have lived through the imprisonment inside ghettos, while their land continued to be confiscated. they have lived through this system of huge numbers of its population becoming collaborators with the israeli terrorists. this has been the blueprint for the west bank and gaza as well. but also, like in 1948, israeli terrorists wanted to ethnically cleanse the west bank and gaza as they had done in 1948 palestine. during an naksa there were 250,000–1/4 of the population in the west bank and gaza–fled in terror. cook cites the israeli terrorists who planned this ethnic cleansing as they had done consistently over the decades:

A quarter of a century later, the president of Israel, Chaim Herzog, admitted that he had secretly organized the expulsion of 200,000 Palestinians as the first military governor of the West Bank. Men aged between 20 and 70 were rounded up and put on buses to take them to the border with Jordan. In a separate interview, Uzi Narkiss, who was in charge of the Central Command in 1967, alluded to the same, or related expulsions: “The number began with 600 and 700 persons a day, and then it began to decline until it reached a few scores, and after two or three months the operation stopped. (51)

through much of the book cook traces the developments of various strains of zionist thinking in the zionist entity’s regime. one of the issues they went back and forth on, with essentially the same results in practice, was whether they wanted “separation” (= apartheid) or “transfer” (= ethnic cleansing). of course in the end they have done both. but always in the most surreptitious ways possible so as not to upset the international community, to always make it seem as if they have a veneer of abiding by international law, all the while behaving criminally at every level. and we can see the seeds of forcing all palestinians into jordan and egypt respectively–which remain in israeli terrorist discourse–in the blueprint for what they wanted to do–and did–with their newly conquered territories of palestine in 1967. we can see this on the economic level (which is why boycott is essential) and we can see this on the level of land and people. cook lays out the roots of moshe dayan and yigal allon’s plans for the region starting with allon:

Agricultural settlements “camouflaged as military strongpoints” would be erected on the annexed land, while the Palestinians inside their enclaves would live autonomously under what Allon called “home rule.” He argued that “the integration of civilian settlement in the defense plan, especially for outlying locales and the vulnerable regions, will provide the state with permanent advance outlooks.” The settlers could stop a surprise attack or at least “delay the enemy’s progress until the army takes control of the situation.” The result would be “the Whole Land of Israel strategically and a Jewish state demographically.”

Moshe Dayan, the defense minister, proposed an alternative strategy: Israel would take control of the mountain ridge above the Jordan Valley, the spine of the West Bank and the location of its water aquifers and major cities, creating five large army bases next to which would be built civilian settlements connected to Israel by roads. The two nationalities–Israelis and Palestinians–would live side by side, connected to different countries, with the Palestinians remaining Jordanian citizens. The goal of Dayan’s plan, unlike Allon’s, was to break up the continuity of Palestinian areas so that the inhabitants would never be in a position to unite and demand independence. Then, he hoped, Israel would be able to win over the Palestinians by offering them employment servicing the economy of the settlements, or, as he expressed it, “bind[ing] the two economies so that it will be difficult to separate them again.” Over the next decades the settlement project would draw on both plans for inspiration. (57-58)

what is laid out above is essentially what happened in 1948 palestine as well. the way that colonies were built as well as the way that palestinians their were prevented from having their own economy so that they were forced into a service sector serving the colonial regime, though not in some ways as much as in other colonial regimes. partially this is because continual plans of expulsion have always been on the devious minds of israeli terrorists, for instance cook cites the prime minister levi eshkol after 1967 to force palestinians to be expelled to iraq and jordan (59). dayan, also worried about the demographic bomb of palestinians because of the people living in the newly conquered territory, had a solution called “creeping annexation.” here is cook explaining this plan:

The solution, in Defence Minister Dayan’s view, was “creeping annexation.” If it was carried outwith enough stealth, the illegality of Israel’s actions under international law would go unnoticed and the army would also have the time and room to “thin out” the Palestinian population. As Dayan observed in the early 1970s, creeping annexation would give the Palestinians a blunt message:

You shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wants to can leave–and we will see where this process leads…In five years we may have 200,000 less people–and that is a matter of enormous importance.


just as the quoted bit from raja shehdeh’s memoir above points out the warning from palestinians in 1948 to palestinians in 1967, slowly but surely the same schemes emerged here. under the euphemism of “civilian administration,” for instance, which is really the colonial military administration for the west bank, the zionists have been able to control palestinian life in every imaginable way just as they had done previously in 1948 palestine:

In this way, the Civil Administration was able to control and manage the details of Palestinian life, such as seizing most of the West Bank’s substantial water resources; restricting the import and export of agricultural produce to favour Israeli producers by creating a captive Palestinian market; banning political meetings and the publication of newspapers to prevent dissent; holding Palestinians without trial in “administrative detention”; levying special taxes, the proceeds of which are unaccounted for but impoverish Palestinian society; and withholding money from organizations Israel defines as hostile, also exploited as a way to retard the emergence of civil society. Much like the earlier military rule inside Israel, the immediate benefit to Israel of these controls was to recruit a large class of Palestinian collaborators who depended on favours from the military administration to survive the deprivations of occupation. (63)

these are more ways in which israeli terrorists seek to divide the palestinian people. they do it physically by eroding the continuity of the territory and they do it by dividing the people on a social level so as to erode trust and defy unity. meanwhile the fact that the zionist entity is unified when it comes to devising ways to remove palestinians from the land, oftentimes through economic means (again: boycott! need i say it again?) through an apartheid system:

Shmuel Toledanao, a former Labor Party government adviser on Arab affairs, observed in 1977: “All the economic positions in this country are filled by Jews, the Jews control all the banks, all the corporations. In politics and the Histadrut, they have all the power.” (103)

of course, the zionist entity’s support for apartheid stretches way back, which cook documents including their cooperation on nuclear arms (funnily enough barack obama only ever seems to mention the possibility of iran obtaining nuclear weapons in the region without ever acknowledging that the zionist entity is the only one to already have them on hand). cook explains the recent evolution of apartheid thinking, planning, and acting in the israeli terrorist regime as well:

Apartheid’s abiding influence on Sharon’s thinking was explained by Avi Primor, vice-president of Tel Aviv University, in September 2002. He noted that Sharon and his generation of generals had always harboured an especial fondness for South Africa’s solution to its own demographic problem: a series of sham black homelands known as Bantustans. In these small homelands, termed “independent states” by white South Africans, the country’s black population was supposed to exercise its political and civil rights. Writing two ears after Camp David, when construction of the wall was just beginning, Primor argued that Israel was intending to establish, in line with apartheid policies, a set of bogus homelands for the Palestinians:

A process is under way establishing a “Palestinian state” limited to the Palestinian cities, a “state” comprised of a number of separate, sovereign-less enclaves, with no resources for self-sustenance. The territories of the West Bank and Gaza remain in Israeli hands, and its Palestinian residents are being turned into “citizens” of that “foreign country.”

Primor was not alone in noting Sharon’s affection for the Bantustans. The influential journalist Akiva Eldar reported that Sharon had long dreamt of an independent state of “Hamastan” in Gaza. “In his house, they called it a bantustan, after the South African protectorates designed to perpetuate apartheid.” Eldar pointed out that Massimo D’Alema recalled a meeting a few years before Sharon was elected prime minister in which he confided that the Bantustan model was the right one for the Palestinians. What appealed to him was the fact that the Bantustans were designed not only to separate the white minority from the black majority to the latter’s detriment, but also to divide the blacks from each other, isolating them in a series of separate and potentially antagonistic “states.” Following Camp David, Eldwar added, the Israeli leadership had agreed on a programme to cantonize the Palestinians, breaking up the putative Palestinian state into a series of disconnected ghettoes:

Alongside the severance of Gaza from the West Bank, a policy now called “isolation,” the Sharon-Peres government and the Olmert-Peres government that succeeded it carried out the bantustan program in the West Bank. The Jordan Valley was separated from the rest of the West Bank; the south was severed from the north; and all three areas were severed from East Jerusalem. The “two states for two peoples” plan gave way to a “five states for two peoples” plan: one contiguous state, surrounded by settlement blocs for Israel, and four isolated enclaves for Palestinians. (105-106)

the map i posted the other day, which you can see below or by clicking this link, shows that these plans have largely been successful. in other words there are these islands in which palestinians are separated from one another, from their land, from any possibility of uniting and meeting and organizing successful resistance strategies. but, of course, they need help enforcing that in these little walled in ghettos in which we live. this is, of course, the job of the palestinian authority. here is what cook has to say about how this evolved as yet another mechanism of colonial divide and rule:

Israel derived a major benefit from Arafat’s presence in the territories. In his new role as head of the Palestinian Authority he represented only a fraction of the Palestinian population: those living int he West Bank and Gaza. His other role, as head of the PLO, in which he represented all Palestinians, including those inside Israel and in the refugee camps of the Middle East, was fatally compromised by his return on Israel’s terms. Using the Oslo process, Israel successfully marginalized the question of justice for the entire Palestinian people by concentrating on the far more limited question of justice for Palestinians living under direct occupation.

His power entirely dependent on Israeli goodwill, Arafat’s task as leader of the Palestinian Authority would soon become clear: to enforce Israel’s security in the West Bank and Gaza, just as dozens of other Arab rulers had done before in their own territories on behalf of Western colonial powers. He was, in essence, Israel’s security contractor. (111)

we know what happens inside 1948 palestine when palestinian leaders refuse to do the dirty work of israeli terrorists: they get expelled. azmi bishara is exhibit a on this one. but there are countless others, less famous, less discussed. cook also discusses the ways in which the pa became further fragmented through the entrance of the united states as another layer of colonialism in palestine–a kind of neocolonialism here–that actively created further fragmentation between fatah and hamas. the u.s.-israeli terrorist boycott of the democratically elected hamas government and the infighting it created was what they both hoped would lead to a civil war here as cook explains:

A leaked report from Alvaro de Soto, the retiring UN envoy for the Middle East peace process, highlighted the American mood as Hamas and Fatah prepared to meet in Mecca over forging a national unity government:

The US clearly pushed for a confrontation between Fatah and Hamas, so much so that, a week before Mecca, the US envoy [David Welch] declared twice in an envoys meeting in Washington how much “I like this violence,” referring to the near-civil war that was erupting in Gaza in which civilians were being regularly killed and injured because “it means that other Palestinians are resisting Hamas.”

In June 2007 the unity government collapsed when Hamas launched what it claimed was a pre-emptive strike in Gaza against a coup planned by forces loyal to Fatah strongman, Mohammed Dahlan. According to Hamas, Dahlan, who had been cultivated by US officials for several years, was plotting with Washington to overthrow the elected government. Hamas was widely condemned for its violent actions, though six months later its claims that it had foiled a Fatah coup were finally confirmed. Drawing on official US documents, an article in Vanity Fair revealed that the White House had been conspiring with Hamas to topple the Hamas government. (113-114)

so the divide and rule has been increasingly cultivated not only by the zionist entity, but also by its partner in crime, the u.s. but while they are actively working towards these facts on the ground that separate palestinian people, they are also still conspiring to figure out methods of mass expulsion. on the one hand the geography of little ghettos across all historic palestine, where palestinians are locked inside, this is not enough for the israeli terrorists. thus, cook cites yet another renewed plan to expel palestinians to jordan:

Reuven Pedatzur, a leading scholar on Israel’s strategic policies in the Middle East, noted similar developments in summer 2007. He reported that senior figures in the Jordanian regime were considering a “confederation” between Jordan and the Palestinians. If Israel agreed to the creation of a Palestinian state, they argued, the two neighbours could be run by a federal government presided over by the Jordanian king. Joint security services would also come under the control of the federal government–a move designed to placate both Israeli and Jordanian concerns about the creation of a Palestinian army on their doorsteps. Pedatzur pointed out that a former Jordanian prime minister, Abdel Salaam Majali, apparently with the blessing of the late Hussein’s son, King Abdullah, had been sounding out support in the US for a plan. Amman was reported to have shown renewed interest because it feared that the simmering tensions between Fatah and Hamas might eventually spill over into Jordan: either parallel struggles might develop inside its own borders among the Palestinian population there or fighting int he West Bank might lead to a large exodus of refugees pouring across the Jordan River. (119)

whether palestinian refugees have yet another exodus or not, this plan is clearly one designed to remove any possibility of palestinians receiving any form of justice on their land, on their terms. once again we have jordan conspiring about the status of palestinians with the zionists and their partners in crime behind the backs of palestinians. in the meantime, because of palestinians being forced into their isolated bantustan ghettos they are mostly prohibited from working inside the zionist entity as they used to do. no longer a slave labor market for the zionists they are now merely a captive market (again: boycott!):

But Israel’s other main economic relationship with the Palestinians has not been shed so easily. Until very recently Israel continued to rely heavily on the economic benefits of exporting its goods and produce to a captive market of nearly 4 million Palestinians under occupation. In 2006, for example, some 6 percent of all Israel’s exports–excluding diamonds–went to the territories, a trade worth some $2 billion, making the Palestinian Authority Israel’s second biggest customer after the United States. According to Ilan Eshel, head of the Israeli Fruit Growers’ Association, 10 per cent of all Israeli fruit was exported to Gaza, usually third-class produce that could not be sold elsewhere. (123)

all of these economic, social, and political divisions have the same constant effect whether expulsion or separation. they all work towards the same colonial goal of the zionist entity: to remove palestinians from their land, to make it impossible to ever have any semblance of a state, even if that state were the west bank (but, of course, the west bank is only a small fraction of palestine). there is much more in his book, i strongly recommend this and all of cook’s books. interestingly, on al jazeera’s “inside story” yesterday kamal santamaria addressed some of these issues with his guests, particularly my colleague abdul sattar qassem (he also had an israeli terrorist professor named gerald steinberg and an egyptian man hassan issa who seems to be in cahoots with the zionist). santamaria is a good interviewer, but abdul sattar is especially worth watching and listening to as always.

what you see in the above program is abdul sattar giving you some sense of the fact that there is no state possible, no state in existence. he says what we have is a palestinian “entity.” or more accurately entities given the bantustanization of palestine. moreover, those who have been following the words of israeli terrorist in chief benyamin netanyahu know that rather than talking about a palestinian state now he talks about a palestinian economy (review above for what that will mean for palestinians: in short a captive market). this is the reality. and this reality must be dealt with in a way that alters the discourse so people cannot be deluded into wasting their time on any more bogus so-called “peace processes” which invariably create more of the same apartheid and expulsion of palestinian land and people respectively.

divide and rule at work

nablus district map (passia)
nablus district map (passia)

increasingly, i live days in a constant state of frustration here. part of it comes from teaching, like when i ask my students if they know what yom al ard is and not one of my 200 students can tell me the specifics of that date and why it should be commemorated every year. i spend my time reading palestinian history, much of it oral history, for the current chapter i’m writing. and much of what i read i share with my students. none of which they know. but this is not the most frustrating part because i know why the palestinian authority does not include such material in their curriculum. the frustrating part is that the more you read and know about palestinian history, the more you can see it playing out over and over and over again. 122 years of zionist land theft and murder. same methods, same acts. and i feel that not knowing this, not connecting to this, contributed to the zionist entity’s ability to constantly fragment palestinians. divide and rule is their m.o. like all colonists throughout history. i can’t help but think about it right now as so many villages and areas throughout palestine are in the process of becoming ethnically cleansed. yet again. some palestinians will be made refugees for a second or third time. others for the first. either way it is the same story. one of my students is from the village of aqraba, which has about 20 homes, 1 mosque, and 1 school slated for demolition. the two maps here–the first one from passia and the second one an israeli terrorist colonial map–show the areas around nablus and the intense colonization process affecting the families and their livelihood here.

israeli colonial map of its illegal settlements
israeli colonial map of its illegal settlements

but i want to think about this process of divide and rule here for a minute before i share my experience in aqraba today. because there are so many ways that colonists do this. they do it on the level of family, often religion, on the level of village, political affiliation, and through the recruitment of collaborators. some collaborators do their work in secrecy, and others do so in the form of a so-called government. but i want to think about it on the level of family. because it struck me today that these families in aqraba are all alone. no palestinians from other cities or villages have come in solidarity with them. no one is coming for friday prayer to pray in their mosque that is expected to be demolished by israeli terrorists, though this is not true for those palestinians in silwan whose homes are slated for destruction. but al quds is on the international stage. people report on it. people go there. people care about it. but as in 1948 the fellahin are on their own. they have no support from the people in the cities. this was true in 1948 and it is true today. i’ve written before about this disjuncture and divide and rule policy between urban and rural before. i want to talk about division on the micro level, on the family level. rosemary sayigh in her amazing book the palestinians: from peasants to revolutionaries shares one particular story from an nakba that resonates for me currently:

Survivors from the Deir Yaseen massacre (some of whom were driven in a triumphal procession round Jewish Jerusalem and then shot) gave chilling descriptions of individual atrocities to investigating Red Cross and British Mandate officials. The British investigator, Richard Catling, describes how difficult it was to persuade terrified and humiliated girls and women to describe what had been done to them, and others who did not survive:

I interviewed many of the women folk in order to glean some information on any atrocities committed in Deir Yaseen but the majority of those women are very shy and reluctant to relate their experiences especially in matters concerning sexual assault and they need great coaxing before they will divulge any information. The recording of statements is hampered also by the hysterical state of the women who often break down…whilst the statement is being recorded. There is, however, no doubt that many sexual atrocities were committed by the attacking Jews. Many young schoolgirls were raped and later slaughtered. Old women were also molested. One story is current concerning a case in which a young girl was literally torn in two. Many infants were also butchered and killed.

An atrocity particularly calculated to horrify Arab peasants was the cutting open of the womb of a nine months’ pregnant woman. This was the clearest of messages warning them that the Arab codes of war, according to which women, children and old people were protected, no longer held good in Palestine. Men now had to choose: their country or their family. It was through such methods that a people with a thirty-year history of resistance to British occupation and Zionist immigration were terrorized into flight.

the difference between area b and area c roads
the difference between area b and area c roads

what i think about when i read this passage is the structure of society: the family. when people have a family they act in ways to protect that family first. sometimes this is to protect them physically. sometimes economically. but the family comes first. sure families often raise their children to be in the resistance, but unfortunately in the west bank they are few and far between. but this idea that one must protect their family during an nakba in 1948 made palestinians have to make an unimaginable choice: their family or their county. and i feel like i am watching the same thing play again in front of my eyes. after i returned from aqraba today i called a few activist palestinian friends to see if they could help me organize a massive mobilization to aqraba for friday prayer. all of them were pessimistic. they think maybe i can fill a bus, but not more than that. they tell me that people are afraid of getting arrested, getting shot, having hospital bills as a result of getting shot. families in nablus don’t want their daughters to go because they worry about them more than their sons. and so there is no solidarity among palestinians. divide and rule is working. i can’t help but think if these same families will feel differently when it is their village or their house slated for destruction. because israeli terrorists will never stop. they won’t stop until they reach baghdad.

aqraba shepherds
aqraba shepherds

so as i posted over the last week, aqraba is scheduled to have several of its homes, one elementary school, and one mosque demolished by israeli terrorists. media reports have some discrepancies in them according to the families i spoke with today. reports say that there are only 6 houses scheduled to be demolished, but the families told me that 20 homes with 200 people living in them will be destroyed. the reports also say that this will happen on march 26th, but i was told today that this is the date for their day in the colonial court, not for the demolition itself. half of aqraba is in area c and half in area b. area b is administered by the palestinian authority, and area c, which comprises 59% of the west bank, is controlled by israeli terrorists (area c generally covers rural areas).

elementary school in aqraba
elementary school in aqraba

aqraba is about 20 km away from nablus and about 50 km from the apartheid wall, the wall that separates palestinians in 1948 palestine from palestinians in the west bank. the village center is located on a mountain top and its valley in the jordan valley. it is so close to jordan that palestinian cell phones don’t work here unless you want to pay the roaming rates as if you are in jordan. you know that you are coming into the area c part of the village as you drive down the mountain because the paved road stops and the dirt road begins. all of the people who live in aqraba, however, at one point owned and farmed land or grazed their livestock in this valley at one point in time. in fact, the story of the ethnic cleansing in aqraba does not begin in 2009. it begins in 1968. i heard time and time again today the same stories from different families. in 1968, shortly after the 1967 war or an naksa, hundreds of families fled from this village and went to jordan because they heard stories of massacres in neighboring villages. most of the families i met today have relatives living in palestinian refugee camps in jordan.

palestinian home in aqraba
palestinian home in aqraba

starting in 1968 israeli terrorists began confiscating aqraba’s land for military training. a few years later the first settlement on their land was built on a mountaintop overlooking the village. this settlement, gitit, which apparently has a website, makes no mention, of course, that they are on palestinian land. in fact, the word palestine is nowhere to be found on its website whatsoever. not surprising. they don’t mention, for instance, that part of their so-called love for the land and agriculture includes stealing aqraba’s land and removing the indigenous products of the village–fava beans, lentils, and wheat–and planting grapes instead. it is not surprising that they fail to mention the fact that palestinian shepherds die every year in aqraba because these illegal colonist terrorists murder them. there was a well publicized murder of one of these shepherds, but mostly they go unnoticed in the media. but this case, in september 2008 of 18 year old shepherd yahia ateya fahmi bani maneya, elicited some media attention (in contradistinction whenever foreigners come to palestine in solidarity with palestinians and s/he gets shot or murdered everyone knows their name forever, such is the racism of the media). shepherds in aqraba were under attack especially between 1975-1982 when they were routinely arrested and their sheep confiscated. it would cost them 10jds per sheep to get them back.

yousef nasrallah's unfinished home in aqraba
yousef nasrallah's unfinished home in aqraba

so aqraba has been under attack for decades. my student and the taxi driver who took us around have their stories, too. they both live on top of the mountain, but their families historically lived below and own land. my student’s family has land where they plant wheat, but they have not been allowed to access this land since the start of the second intifada. our driver told me that in 1974 his family was attacked by rockets, one of which hit their house. as a result they fled to the mountaintop and lost 30 dunums of land where israeli terrorist colonists now plant grapes. i heard again and again these stories from aqraba from different people of a constant internal and external displacement. of a constant state of refugeedom. from people fleeing in 1967 to a constant process of their land being confiscated and families having to move up to the top part of the village. it is the same story over and over again. ethnic cleansing. land theft. colonialism.

mosque in aqraba
mosque in aqraba

as we drove down into the valley of this village we came upon the school that is slated to be destroyed first. we saw shepherds grazing in the area as aqraba is famous for having some of the best land for animals to graze. the village is 250 years old and all of the homes in the valley document the longevity of the village. originally these families slept in the caves with their sheep next to their homes hundreds of years ago. then as they began building homes they did so next to these caves. as their families grew over the generations they added onto their homes. so you can see the evolution of their homes and of their lives quite easily. part of the issue of building houses for palestinians in area c, like in al quds, 1948 palestine, or anywhere else, is that they cannot obtain building permits. to give you an idea of the difficulty, here is what my passia diary has to say about this (quoted from arij):

Figures from Israeli Civil Admin. show that between 2000 and Sept. 2007, only 5.5% of Palestinian requests for building permits in Area C were approved (or 105 out of 1,890 applications). Forced to build without license, Palestinian construction became subject to house demolition: in the same period, 4,820 demolition orders were issued, 1,626 of which were executed. While Palestinians were denied building permits in Area C, Israeli settlements were granted them at an annual rate of 1,000 or a total of 6,945 between 2000-2006 (as compared to 95 permits for Palestinians in the same period!) (355)

fatima & maher anas' home
fatima & maher anas' home

after you drive past the school you see the mosque slightly down the road. this mosque is scheduled to be demolished too. as is the foundation of a house across the street. this house is owned by yousef nasrallah. he started building his house a year ago and the israeli terrorists immediately came and ordered him to stop. like so many in aqraba, he had to sell all his sheep and move to the top of the village. like so many before him since 1968. since then he has found no work. this is one of the primary issues for fellahin refugees for the last 61 years: how do you maintain a livelihood when your livelihood is tied to the land? his sister still lives on this land, though, up the road a bit, as does her husband’s brother and his two wives. their families–the anas family–has lived on this land for generations. and like most of the other families, many relatives fled in terror in 1967 and now live in zarqa refugee camp in jordan.

anas home in aqraba
anas home in aqraba

fatima anas welcomed us into her home and kept us busy consuming tea, coffee, and a special tea i’ve never had before made with this flower called بابونج which was absolutely amazing. i was asking my student if he thought it was better than tea with maramiyya and he said yes: he was right. fatima made us an amazing lunch, too, including the most incredible cheese i’ve ever tasted, which she makes herself. she told me that the reason she thinks that the house demolition orders were issued was really because the israeli terrorists want to build a road through their village to connect the surrounding israeli terrorist colonies: gitit, itamar, hamra, and yitzhar that surround their village. already there is a road running through their agricultural land that the israeli terrorists made, but it is a dirt road. and now they have spray painted some markings on rocks on that road indicating that this may indeed be the case.

homemade cheese from the anas family
homemade cheese from the anas family

their homes and their lives seem so removed from the consciousness of palestinians more generally. even the part of the paved road in area b was only put in two years ago, as well as electricity, by the palestinian authority. but mostly they are ignored. partially it is because the palestinian authority does not control area c. but this is also because the pa is a tool of the israeli terrorist regime and does not resist its colonial masters’ wishes. water remains a difficult issue for them, too. they have a well that they built which collects rain water, but they do not have a generator to pump the water into the tanks on top of their houses. so every day fatima has to go and carry buckets from the well to the house to fill it up by hand.

the rest of the photographs tell the story, i think. this latest chapter in the latest nakba in palestinian history. and the lessons of the past have not yet been learned. palestinian children are not taught it. and those who know it seem to think they cannot make a difference by resisting. that may be true. but it is clear from speaking to the anas family today that seeing some solidarity from their brothers and sisters in the area would certainly go a long way to helping them to remain steadfast. what is especially scary about this latest chapter is not just the families and their displacement, but it is quite clear that if their houses are indeed destroyed and they, too, have to move up to the top of the mountain, the generations of farmers and shepherds from aqraba will be no more. palestinians can sit idly by and think they cannot make a difference. or they can try. they can set up a tent here as in al quds. they can maintain a presence here and visit regularly on solidarity visits. or they can wait until it is their village, their house. this is why the lesson of yom al ard is so important: because palestinians in sakhnin resisted. and this is the message that needs to be both remembered and honored with the same sort of actions again and again. israeli terrorists will never give up. no one fighting for the rights of palestinians should either.

anas family's home
anas family's home
lubna & maram anas
lubna & maram anas
anas family water well
anas family water well
blue tank where water must be carried to from well
blue tank where water must be carried to from well
old anas family home
old anas family home
aqraba cave where families used to live
aqraba cave where families used to live
fava beans/ful in aqraba
fava beans/ful in aqraba