hip hop solidarity

here are two inspiring rap songs showing solidarity with palestinians and against colonialism, imperialism and military occupation more generally. the first comes from the palestine education project and the second from rebel diaz:

also check out this interview between minister of information jr and mutulu olugbala, otherwise known to the world as m1 of dead prez in the san francisco bay view news:

M1: See, we going in backwards order. I was in Cairo before we went to Scandinavia, so I want to correct you on that. But we will go straight there in this conversation. What happened before we went on our last trip to Scandinavia, I took a trip into the so-called Middle East, which actually was a term that was created: “the Middle East.” It wasn’t real at all.

M.O.I. JR: What’s the original name, or what is some of the indigenous names for that area? Africa, right?

M1: Yeah, it’s Africa. That’s Northern Africa. Right now, today, they would say that Egypt is Arab. And if anything, it is Arab colonized, of course. But it is definitely Africa. Even that area just above it, where we are talking about, the Middle East, which was basically named that by Henry Kissinger. He gave “the Middle East” the name “the Middle East.” So I was basically in that area.

I started out in Cairo to meet up with an organization called “Existence is Resistance” with Sister Nancy, Fatima and Brotha Aamon. They were hooked up underneath this caravan that was led by a man named George Galloway. What we ended up doing was trying to mount some form of resistance to the Israeli brand of imperialism that was putting a chokehold onto Gaza. So what I ended up doing was joining this caravan, which was making its second attempt to go from Cairo into Gaza, and penetrate the border and stop the siege against the Palestinian people.

So I was informed about this mission by a group of Palestinian organizers, activists and revolutionaries inside the U.S. Like I said, some of the names like Nancy Mansour, Shadia Mansour and other cultural artists who had performed and raised money to support the end of the oppression of the imperialist siege that was happening against the people of the Gaza Strip.

So after doing this work with other cultural artists like Rebel Diaz and Immortal Technique, I was invited to go and take a trip and help to bring some of those resources that had been amassed through donations and whatever people were able to give. I was asked to go and be a part of a caravan that would deliver it. So that is how I ended up in Cairo which became a huge…I mean I journaled it.

Anybody who wants to know where to get it, go to dead prez.com and there’s some other sites like Globalgrind.com (blockreportradio.com and sfbayview.com) that carried the blog or report that I had written, and I had even done some reports back with some of my colleagues in New York who were on the trip with me, like Councilman Charles Barron, a former Black Panther, political leader, activist on the New York City scene, representative of East New York, who was also on the trip as well and, like everybody knows, Cynthia McKinney, who has been developing a relationship to expose the Israeli genocide, which is really what it is, against Palestinian people. And as a courageous fighter in these times, and I am so impressed and so motivated by her spirit in that time too. So those are some of the people that I have been able to report back about. I’m going to continue to report, like we are reporting now, and I could go on, man.

M.O.I. JR: It’s not too many Black people that have made it from the United States, I should say from our Movement, and that are representatives of our Movement that have went to Gaza and spoke on it. Can you speak a little bit about what did you see?

M1: From the border, from Rafa, I was able to see the Israeli controlled Egyptian police who enforced the embargo against Gaza. I saw them form a chain link fence around the border itself, just so that the people who were on the outside of the border who belong inside Palestine, who were the brothers and sisters and daughters, mothers and fathers of people who were in there that had been trapped since the siege locked down the borders, who haven’t been able to get into their homes for months.

They were outside banging on the gates as our bus drove in, and the police formed a chain linked fence to stop them from entering with us as we were entering the immigration zone. As we were able to break through immigration, there were 200 people who were a part of this caravan, the caravan that would bring the resources that was led by Parliament member George Galloway in England, who, like I said previously, led one mission like this one previous to the one I was on, in which 20 or so people had broken through the border to help with some relief as well.

So my first look onto Gaza was welcoming faces, happy faces, joy, jubilant people who knew we were there and had been waiting for days, and who wouldn’t give up hope, just the way we wouldn’t give up hope that we could break through the border and be able to break bread and have a meeting with our comrades on the other side.

So as soon as we got in, I saw of course families reuniting, but I was also able to see the government in action, the government of Hamas was present. I was able to see how those forces are, in leadership. And how that happened, and how our buses were led to the hotel which is the place where we would sit down for the 24 hours that we were allowed to be in there.

As the next day opened, I was able to see a lot of the Israeli destruction from the F-16 Expander Missiles and bombs full of depleted uranium that they drop on the people, that will obviously have long term effects on the Gaza community. I was able to see bombed masjids, or mosques. I was able to see bombed out school buildings, elementary school buildings and government offices.

We were able to be brought into a world of a direct threat from imperialist American-made missiles. It was saddening. It was terrifying. It reminded me much of the communities that we live in – dilapidated Brownsville and the forgotten nooks and crannies in South Central Los Angeles or in Ohio, in Cleveland, or in Kensington in Philadelphia. It felt like the same oppression with the more ever-nearing threat of a bomb exploding in the name of imperialism right in front of your eyes.

The walls were tattooed or muraled with graffiti, with Arafat insignias. You know the support from other organizations, not only Hamas, who was the leadership there, but Fatah who is also the Palestinian representative of the West Bank and other parts of Palestine, who also want to see a freedom for the Palestinian people.

Even people who had been bombed out of their homes, I still saw hope in their eyes. I saw beautiful people. I saw beautiful architecture or what once was architecture, a great coastline with beautiful beaches where even though they had been living in war torn, bombed out areas for the last months of their life with no income or outgoing supplies like gas and food and clothes and the basic needs which we were attempting to bring, they were still able to be resilient.

So that’s some of what I was able to see in Gaza. Like I said, it was because of the pressure of the Egyptian government and Israel in collusion, we were only granted 24 hours to be inside that border and to do the work that we had done, which was to bring the numerous wheelchairs and buckets and school supplies or whatever we could bring with our hands across the border to assist some people who are under the same attack and have the same enemy that I have.

Don’t miss M1’s “24 hours in Gaza.” And get ready for his historic speaking tour Sept. 23-29, “From the Ghetto to Gaza” – seven events in seven days in East and West Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Sonoma, San Jose and Santa Cruz to benefit BlockReportRadio.com and SFBayView.com. Contact Minister of Information JR at blockreportradio[at]gmail.com or the SF Bay View at (415) 671-0789 for more information. Learn more about M-1 and dead prez and their latest album, “Pulse of the People,” at www.deadprez.com and www.myspace.com/m1rbg.

on the limits of solidarity

last month two comrades in the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (bds)–omar barghouti and haidar eid–both of whom i respect a great deal–wrote a statement about the gaza freedom march asking them to adopt a statement of context that addressed palestinian needs and demands rather than impose an american idea of those needs and demands on palestinian people (i quoted it and wrote about it here). a few weeks ago haidar and omar released a new statement saying that the gaza freedom march organizers had adopted their statement and they are now requesting people to endorse the march (click here to endorse it):

Dear supporters of just peace and international law,

We are writing to invite you to endorse the Pledge of the Gaza Freedom March, a creative initiative with historic potential organized by the International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza. The March is aimed at mobilizing active and effective support from around the world for ending Israel’s illegal and immoral siege on Gaza, currently the most pressing of all Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian rights. To endorse the Pledge, please click here and enter your name — or your organization’s name — in the box provided at the bottom.

Also reproduced at the end of this letter, after the Pledge, is the organizers’ Statement of Context which provides the necessary Palestinian context of the siege, namely Israel’s occupation, its decades-old denial of UN-sanctioned Palestinian rights, and Palestinian civil resistance to that oppression.

The Gaza Freedom March has won the endorsement of a decisive majority in Palestinian civil society. Aside from the Islamic University of Gaza, Al-Aqsa University, and tens of local grassroots organizations, refugee advocacy groups, professional associations and NGOs in Gaza, the March was endorsed by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign National Committee (BNC)*, a wide coalition of the largest Palestinian mass organizations, trade unions, networks and professional associaitions, including all the major trade union federations, the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) and the largest network representing Palestinian refugees. Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations, representing the most prominent Palestinian NGOs inside Israel, has also endorsed.

The March, planned for January 2010, to commemorate Israel’s illegal war of aggression against the 1.5 million Palestinians in occupied Gaza, is expected to draw many prominent figures and massive activist participation from across the world. The organizers have shown exceptional moral courage and a true sense of solidarity in drafting the Pledge and the Statement of Context. We salute them all for their principled and consistent commitment to applying international law and universal human rights to the plight of the Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza. We deeply appreciate their solidarity with our struggle for freedom and our inalienable right to self determination.

Anchored solely in international law and universal human rights, the Gaza Freedom March appeals to international organizations and conscientious citizens with diverse political backgrounds on the basis of their common abhorrence of the immense injustice embodied in the atrocious siege of 1.5 million Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip, the overwhelming majority of whom are refugees.

With massive participation of internationals, led by prominent leaders, alongside Palestinians in Gaza the world can no longer ignore its moral duty to end this criminal siege, and Israel can no longer count on its current impunity to last long. We strongly urge you to endorse the Pledge and to help secure more endorsements.

Haidar Eid (Gaza)
Omar Barghouti (Jerusalem)

* The BDS National Committee, BNC, consists of: Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine (all major political parties); General Union of Palestinian Workers; Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions; General Union of Palestinian Women; Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO); Federation of Independent Trade Unions; Palestine Right of Return Coalition; Union of Palestinian Farmers; Occupied Palestine and Golan Heights Initiative (OPGAI); Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW); Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI); National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba; Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (CCDPRJ); Coalition for Jerusalem; Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations; Palestinian Economic Monitor; Union of Youth Activity Centers-Palestine Refugee Camps; among others …

Endorse the Gaza Freedom March! Sign the Pledge Below!

Israel’s blockade of Gaza is a flagrant violation of international law that has led to mass suffering. The U.S., the European Union, and the rest of the international community are complicit.

The law is clear. The conscience of humankind is shocked. Yet, the siege of Gaza continues. It is time for us to take action! On January 1, 2010, we will mark the New Year by marching alongside the Palestinian people of Gaza in a non-violent demonstration that breaches the illegal blockade.

Our purpose in this March is lifting the siege on Gaza. We demand that Israel end the blockade. We also call upon Egypt to open Gaza’s Rafah border. Palestinians must have freedom to travel for study, work, and much-needed medical treatment and to receive visitors from abroad.

As an international coalition we are not in a position to advocate a specific political solution to this conflict. Yet our faith in our common humanity leads us to call on all parties to respect and uphold international law and fundamental human rights to bring an end to the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967 and pursue a just and lasting peace.

The march can only succeed if it arouses the conscience of humanity.

Please join us.

The International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza
For more information, please see the Statement of Context
For a list of endorsers, please click here.

STATEMENT OF CONTEXT

Amnesty International has called the Gaza blockade a “form of collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza, a flagrant violation of Israel’s obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.” Human Rights Watch has called the blockade a “serious violation of international law.” The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Richard Falk, condemned Israel’s siege of Gaza as amounting to a “crime against humanity.”

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter has said the Palestinian people trapped in Gaza are being treated “like animals,” and has called for “ending of the siege of Gaza” that is depriving “one and a half million people of the necessities of life.”

One of the world’s leading authorities on Gaza, Sara Roy of Harvard University, has said that the consequence of the siege “is undeniably one of mass suffering, created largely by Israel, but with the active complicity of the international community, especially the U.S. and European Union.”

The law is clear. The conscience of humankind is shocked.

The Palestinians of Gaza have exhorted the international community to move beyond words of condemnation.

Yet, the siege of Gaza continues.

Upholding International Law

The illegal siege of Gaza is not happening in a vacuum. It is one of the many illegal acts committed by Israel in the Palestinian territories it occupied militarily in 1967.

The Wall and the settlements are illegal, according to the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

House demolitions and wanton destruction of farm lands are illegal.

The closures and curfews are illegal.

The roadblocks and checkpoints are illegal.

The detention and torture are illegal.

The occupation itself is illegal.

The truth is that if international law were enforced the occupation would end.

An end to the military occupation that began in 1967 is a major condition for establishing a just and lasting peace. For over six decades, the Palestinian people have been denied freedom and rights to self-determination and equality. The hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were forced out of their homes during Israel’s creation in 1947-48 are still denied the rights granted them by UN Resolution 194.

Sources of Inspiration

The Gaza Freedom March is inspired by decades of nonviolent Palestinian resistance from the mass popular uprising of the first Intifada to the West Bank villagers currently resisting the land grab of Israel’s annexationist wall.

It draws inspiration from the Gazans themselves, who formed a human chain from Rafah to Erez, tore down the border barrier separating Gaza from Egypt, and marched to the six checkpoints separating the occupied Gaza Strip from Israel.

The Freedom March also draws inspiration from the international volunteers who have stood by Palestinian farmers harvesting their crops, from the crews on the vessels who have challenged the Gaza blockade by sea, and from the drivers of the convoys who have delivered humanitarian aid to Gaza.

And it is inspired by Nelson Mandela who said: “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. … I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

It heeds the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who called his movement Satyagraha-Hold on to the truth, and holds to the truth that Israel’s siege of Gaza is illegal and inhuman.

Gandhi said that the purpose of nonviolent action is to “quicken” the conscience of humankind. Through the Freedom March, humankind will not just deplore Israeli brutality but take action to stop it.

Palestinian civil society has followed in the footsteps of Mandela and Gandhi. Just as those two leaders called on international civil society to boycott the goods and institutions of their oppressors, Palestinian associations, trade unions, and mass movements have since 2005 been calling on all people of conscience to support a non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions until Israel fully complies with its obligations under international law.

The Freedom March also draws inspiration from the civil rights movement in the United States.

If Israel devalues Palestinian life then internationals must both interpose their bodies to shield Palestinians from Israeli brutality and bear personal witness to the inhumanity that Palestinians daily confront.

If Israel defies international law then people of conscience must send non-violent marshals from around the world to enforce the law of the international community in Gaza. The International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza will dispatch contingents from around the world to Gaza to mark the anniversary of Israel’s bloody 22-day assault on Gaza in December 2008 – January 2009.

The Freedom March takes no sides in internal Palestinian politics. It sides only with international law and the primacy of human rights.

The March is yet another link in the chain of non-violent resistance to Israel’s flagrant disregard of international law.

Citizens of the world are called upon to join ranks with Palestinians in the January 1st March to lift the inhumane siege of Gaza.

when the announcement for the march went out i wrote a critique of it, particularly about the racist way in which it seemed to be run (epitomized by the march’s first poster which featured no palestinians and just one white man–norman finkelstein). if you read that earlier post you will not be surprised to learn that with the gaza freedom march’s adoption of a palestinian platform–rather than an american platform pushed on palestinian people–finkelstein withdrew his support. here is what pulse media reported he said in response:

Norman Finkelstein’s withdrawal statement:

The original consensus of the International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza was that we would limit our statement to a pair of uncontroversial, basic and complementary principles that would have the broadest possible appeal: the march to break the siege would be nonviolent and anchored in international law.

I agreed with this approach and consequent statement and decided to remove myself from the steering committee in order to invest my full energies in mobilizing for the march. During the week beginning August 30, 2009 and in a matter of days an entirely new sectarian agenda dubbed “the political context” was foisted on those who originally signed on and worked tirelessly for three months.

Because it drags in contentious issues that—however precious to different constituencies—are wholly extraneous to the narrow but critical goal of breaking the siege this new agenda is gratuitously divisive and it is almost certain that it will drastically reduce the potential reach of our original appeal.

It should perhaps be stressed that the point of dispute was not whether one personally supported a particular Palestinian right or strategy to end the occupation. It was whether inclusion in the coalition’s statement of a particular right or strategy was necessary if it was both unrelated to the immediate objective of breaking the siege and dimmed the prospect of a truly mass demonstration.

In addition the tactics by which this new agenda was imposed do not bode well for the future of the coalition’s work and will likely move the coalition in an increasingly sectarian direction. I joined the coalition because I believed that an unprecedented opportunity now exists to mobilize a broad public whereby we could make a substantive and not just symbolic contribution towards breaking the illegal and immoral siege of Gaza and, accordingly, realize a genuine and not just token gesture of solidarity with the people of Gaza.

In its present political configuration I no longer believe the coalition can achieve such a goal. Because I would loathe getting bogged down in a petty and squalid public brawl I will not comment further on this matter unless the sequence of events climaxing in my decision to resign are misrepresented by interested parties.

However I would be remiss in my moral obligations were I not humbly to apologize to those who, either coaxed by me or encouraged by my participation, gave selflessly of themselves to make the march a historic event and now feel aggrieved at the abrupt turn of events. It can only be said in extenuation that I along with many others desperately fought to preserve the ecumenical vision that originally inspired the march but the obstacles thrown in our path ultimately proved insurmountable.

problems still remain with the new statement of context. it is far from perfect. it represents, however, a significant compromise, and, more importantly, acknowledges the necessity of abiding by palestinian civil society’s goals as guided by international law. three activists, gabriel ash, mich levy and sara kershnar, authored a very important critique of this new context in electronic intifada that is worth considering for activists invested in justice for palestinian refugees and for palestine more generally:

Changing course is never easy. It would have been far better had this discussion taken place before the call went out. That, however, is a lesson for the future. The compromise led a few of the organizers to leave in anger and recriminations. Some argued that the new context document is “sectarian” and will severely damage the potential of the march. While disputes are inevitable in every political endeavor, we call on all parties to cast aside differences and arguments, to respect the compromise and unite on our common objective, ending the siege of Gaza. What is important now is getting the best and most effective march possible.

We see the context document as a thoughtful attempt to bring together for this march those of us who support boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and the full objectives of Palestinian liberation — including the right of return and full and equal rights for Palestinians living in Israel — with those activists whose support for lifting the siege of Gaza is largely humanitarian. Contrary to misrepresentations, the context document does not require marchers to adhere to BDS. But as the march puts nonviolence on its banner and claims inspiration from nonviolent Palestinian resistance, it cannot, without being offensive, ignore the increasing presence and far-reaching international impact of BDS as a Palestinian campaign of nonviolent resistance that is endorsed by all factions, including Fatah and Hamas, as well as more than 100 civil society associations. The growing support for BDS among prominent Western figures and mainstream organizations belies the claim that the mere mention of it is divisive.

Nor does the document commit the marchers to support the Palestinian right of return. It does commit the marchers to recognize the Palestinian Nakba and the historical fact that the refugees’ right of return, recognized by UN resolution 194, has been denied. These refugees make up 75 percent of the population of Gaza and are the recipients of this march’s solidarity. To recognize this history does not compel one to agree to any specific resolution of the conflict. But refusing to recognize it denies the history of the Palestinian people, a denial that is inconsistent with any form of solidarity.

The new document’s only demand is the end of the siege of Gaza. There are no other demands. Nothing in it prevents activists committed to a “two-state solution” and a “Jewish state” from participating. We therefore strongly object to representing the new language as an attempt to limit the scope of the march. We take strong offense at the attempt to label the recognition of the concerns of Palestinian liberation within the context of a solidarity action as “sectarian.” We seriously doubt that the number of individuals willing to fly to Egypt and then march in Gaza, yet who refuse to recognize the history of Gaza, is very large.

We are also heartened by the addition of non-governmental partners in Gaza. As soon as the context statement was added, endorsements came from the University Teachers’ Association in Palestine, Palestinian Student’s Campaign, al-Aqsa University, Arab Cultural Forum-Gaza and al-Quds Bank for Culture and Information-Gaza. We are also encouraged by the addition of the International Solidarity Movement and support from members of the South African Palestine solidarity community. The elected government of Gaza has also endorsed the march and will now hopefully increase its assistance.

In supporting this compromise, we are mindful of the original aim of the organizers for large and “ecumenical” participation. We share that goal. However, our conversation would benefit from honesty about the meaning of “ecumenical.” It never means “everybody.” We don’t just want the maximum number of marchers; we want the maximum number that can be achieved without compromising the visions of the diverse organizers and solidarity groups participating in this particular project.

Where should the line be drawn? This is a difficult decision that haunts every political struggle and always requires deliberation, negotiation and compromise. It is misleading to frame the debate as one between those who want maximum participation and those motivated by ideology, in particular when this framing aims to delegitimize the concerns of Palestinian activists representing significant sections of Palestinian grassroots organizing. We all have political lines that we won’t cross. The lines drawn by those at the very heart of the struggle deserve our particular respect.

We now have a fair and inclusive basis for organizing the march, open to proponents of radically different political visions yet respectful of all, and in particular, respectful of Palestinian history and struggle. We must now all strive to make this march as big and as successful as possible.

but this march and is organizing, as well as the organizing around bds, has made me think a lot about what it means to act in solidarity with palestinians, or any group of people for that matter. i recently received an email from a dear friend who decided, after years of trying to persuade him, to join the academic boycott. he signed the statement, but he is still ambivalent about it as a tactic. why? because noam chomsky has not come out in support of it. and this makes me wonder a lot about why chomsky would be the one to defer to? chomsky, like norman finkelstein, are two scholars whose work i admire a great deal. their thinking and writing has influenced me tremendously over my the course of my life. but in the end there are too many barriers for me to fall in line with their thinking: particularly the fact that neither one has signed on to bds andthat neither one supports the right of return for palestinian refugees. here, for example, is chomsky speaking on the subject of sanctions in an interview with christopher j. lee:

Safundi: So you would apply “apartheid” to that broader situation?

Chomsky: I would call it a Bantustan settlement. It’s very close to that. The actions are taken with U.S. funding, crucially. U.S. diplomatic, military, and economic support are crucial. It cannot be done without that.

Safundi: And that is similar to U.S. support for South Africa during the apartheid period through the 1980s.

Chomsky: Yes. As I’m sure you know, the Reagan Administration-which is basically the current people in power, including people like Colin Powell-found ways to evade Congressional restrictions so that they continued to support the apartheid administration, almost until the end.

Safundi: Connected to that…

Chomsky: In the case of Israel, they don’t have to hide it because there are no sanctions.

Safundi: That’s my question. One of the important tactics against the apartheid government was the eventual use of sanctions. Do you see that as a possibility?

Chomsky: No. In fact I’ve been strongly against it in the case of Israel. For a number of reasons. For one thing, even in the case of South Africa, I think sanctions are a very questionable tactic. In the case of South Africa, I think they were [ultimately] legitimate because it was clear that the large majority of the population of South Africa was in favor of it.

Sanctions hurt the population. You don’t impose them unless the population is asking for them. That’s the moral issue. So, the first point in the case of Israel is that: Is the population asking for it? Well, obviously not.

But there is another point. The sanctions against South Africa were finally imposed after years, decades of organization and activism until it got to the point where people could understand why you would want to do it. So by the time sanctions were imposed, you had international corporations supporting them. You had mayors of cities getting arrested in support of them.

So calling for sanctions here, when the majority of the population doesn’t understand what you are doing, is tactically absurd-even if it were morally correct, which I don’t think it is.

The country against which the sanctions are being imposed is not calling for it.

Safundi: Palestinians aren’t calling for sanctions?

Chomsky: Well, the sanctions wouldn’t be imposed against the Palestinians, they would be imposed against Israel.

Safundi: Right…[And] Israelis aren’t calling for sanctions.

Chomsky: Furthermore, there is no need for it. We ought to call for sanctions against the United States! If the U.S. were to stop its massive support for this, it’s over. So, you don’t have to have sanctions on Israel. It’s like putting sanctions on Poland under the Russians because of what the Poles are doing. It doesn’t make sense. Here, we’re the Russians.

Israel will of course do whatever it can as long as the U.S. authorizes it. As soon as the U.S. tells it no, that’s the end. The power relations are very straight forward. It’s not pretty, but that’s the way the world works.

of course, chomsky has a point: in terms of bds the u.s. should be every bit the target. but not in lieu of the zionist entity, but rather in addition to it. but the fact that paestinians are calling for bds means that those of us who want to work in solidarity with palestinians should support that work. but the fact that some people think we should refer to two american jews on the matter of this is disturbing. would one defer to a slavemaster when abolishing slavery? would one defer to a nazi when fighting against concentration camps? would one defer to white southerners when resisting jim crow segregation in the u.s. south? i find this logic racist and deeply problematic. i’m not at all saying that the work of chomsky and finkstein is not important to read, to listen to, to consider. but i am asking people to consider the logic of looking to them as if they were the leaders of the palestinian people. if we’re looking for leaders we need not look beyond haidar eid and omar barghouti for starters. and there are thousands more where they came from.

on fatah

so just as i left beit lahem the city was preparing for a major fatah conference. the first signs of this were all of the black fatah suvs driving around the city like maniacs. i drove by ma’an news on my way home one night and a ton of them were out front. it turns out that mohammad dahlan was inside giving an interview. sousan hammad’s article in electronic intifada on the conference identified some of the main struggles within the party:

Many of Fatah’s young and old remained cynical about the possibility of overcoming the organization’s infighting, saying they’d heard it all before. Apparently the one true believer was Jibril Rajoub, a former senior Fatah security official and former head of one of the many PA security forces, who is seen as a possible successor to Abbas. Rajoub told the horde of journalists who stuck microphones in his face that the the conference was “a rebirth” that would revitalize Fatah.

But one just had to go outside to see the segregation among the delegates. The old and exiled, wearing khaki-colored uniforms reminiscent of their revolutionary days, gathered together to smoke cigarettes and drink Nescafe, while expressing gratitude to be back in Palestine for the one-week permit that was allowed them by Israel. Then there were the young: former fighters, such as Zakariya Zubeidi, who once led the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, but signed a so-called amnesty deal with Israel. He exuded optimism to the press on the urgency of pacification with Israel.

As one Fatah official, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “There are two planes in this movement: one plane of Dahlanists [Mohammed Dahlan and his cohorts] — those who spout peace and pragmatism, and another plane of resistance — those who want to keep armed struggle alive. But there is so much corruption that is occurring from those who hold high positions that I don’t think we can come together … it’s between them and us.”

No matter that the West Bank and Gaza are becoming increasingly dependent on Western aid organizations to develop their own cities and villages, Abbas insisted on showing the exiled delegates the PA’s “success.” Despite Palestine’s statelessness, Abbas mentioned how he has been improving security for the state. Upon hearing this, Mohamed Edwan (Head Press Officer to the PA who happened to sit beside me) shook his head and said, “This is a police state, not a state of security.”

It is already difficult to see the purpose of such ceremonies, but when Abbas’ very own communicator dismisses what he says as a falsehood, how can we expect Fatah’s central committee, political agenda and electoral decision-making bodies to act in unison with party members, much less the political leaders of other factions, or even Israel? These are the bonfires Fatah faces at the conference.

al jazeera’s ayman mohyeldin reported on other complications and divisions between fatah and hamas in the shadow of the conference:

saed bannoura reported for imemc that at the conference mahmoud abbas asserted palestinians’ right to resistance:

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, stated on Tuesday evening that the Palestinian Authority in committed to the peace process based on the principles of international legitimacy and justice, but added that the Palestinians reserve their right to legitimate resistance guaranteed by the international law.

but where is that resistance, especially from fatah? leading up to the conference and over the past month and a half al jazeera ran a documentary entitled plo: the history of a revolution. it’s well worth watching for its archival footage and historical perspective showing what happens when resistance movements opt out of resistance in order for power and corruption.

on not forgetting gaza

sara roy has a really important article this week aptly entitled “the peril of forgetting gaza”:

The recent meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu generated speculation over the future relationship between America and Israel, and a potentially changed U.S. policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Analysts on the right and left are commenting on a new, tougher American policy characterized by strengthened U.S. demands on Israel. However, beneath the diplomatic choreography lies an agonizing reality that received only brief comment from Obama and silence from Netanyahu: The ongoing devastation of the people of Gaza.

Gaza is an example of a society that has been deliberately reduced to a state of abject destitution, its once productive population transformed into one of aid-dependent paupers. This context is undeniably one of mass suffering, created largely by Israel but with the active complicity of the international community, especially the U.S. and European Union, and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Gaza’s subjection began long before Israel’s recent war against it.. The Israeli occupation—now largely forgotten or denied by the international community—has devastated Gaza’s economy and people, especially since 2006. Although economic restrictions actually increased before Hamas’ electoral victory in January 2006, the deepened sanction regime and siege subsequently imposed by Israel and the international community, and later intensified in June 2007 when Hamas seized control of Gaza, has all but destroyed the local economy. If there has been a pronounced theme among the many Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals who I have interviewed in the last three years, it was the fear of damage to Gaza’s society and economy so profound that billions of dollars and generations of people would be required to address it—a fear that has now been realized.

After Israel’s December assault, Gaza’s already compromised conditions have become virtually unlivable. Livelihoods, homes, and public infrastructure have been damaged or destroyed on a scale that even the Israel Defense Forces admitted was indefensible. In Gaza today, there is no private sector to speak of and no industry. 80 percent of Gaza’s agricultural crops were destroyed and Israel continues to snipe at farmers attempting to plant and tend fields near the well-fenced and patrolled border. Most productive activity has been extinguished.

One powerful expression of Gaza’s economic demise—and the Gazans’ indomitable will to provide for themselves and their families—is its burgeoning tunnel economy that emerged long ago in response to the siege. Thousands of Palestinians are now employed digging tunnels into Egypt—around 1,000 tunnels are reported to exist although not all are operational. According to local economists, 90 percent of economic activity in Gaza—once considered a lower middle-income economy (along with the West Bank)—is presently devoted to smuggling.

Today, 96 percent of Gaza’s population of 1.4 million is dependent on humanitarian aid for basic needs. According to the World Food Programme, the Gaza Strip requires a minimum of 400 trucks of food every day just to meet the basic nutritional needs of the population. Yet, despite a 22 March decision by the Israeli cabinet to lift all restrictions on foodstuffs entering Gaza, only 653 trucks of food and other supplies were allowed entry during the week of May 10, at best meeting 23 percent of required need.

Israel now allows only 30 to 40 commercial items to enter Gaza compared to 4,000 approved products prior to June 2006. According to the Israeli journalist, Amira Hass, Gazans still are denied many commodities (a policy in effect long before the December assault): Building materials (including wood for windows and doors), electrical appliances (such as refrigerators and washing machines), spare parts for cars and machines, fabrics, threads, needles, candles, matches, mattresses, sheets, blankets, cutlery, crockery, cups, glasses, musical instruments, books, tea, coffee, sausages, semolina, chocolate, sesame seeds, nuts, milk products in large packages, most baking products, light bulbs, crayons, clothing, and shoes.

Given these constraints, among many others—including the internal disarray of the Palestinian leadership—one wonders how the reconstruction to which Obama referred will be possible. There is no question that people must be helped immediately. Programs aimed at alleviating suffering and reinstating some semblance of normalcy are ongoing, but at a scale shaped entirely by the extreme limitations on the availability of goods. In this context of repressive occupation and heightened restriction, what does it mean to reconstruct Gaza? How is it possible under such conditions to empower people and build sustainable and resilient institutions able to withstand expected external shocks? Without an immediate end to Israel’s blockade and the resumption of trade and the movement of people outside the prison that Gaza has long been, the current crisis will grow massively more acute. Unless the U.S. administration is willing to exert real pressure on Israel for implementation—and the indications thus far suggest they are not—little will change. Not surprisingly, despite international pledges of $5.2 billion for Gaza’s reconstruction, Palestinians there are now rebuilding their homes using mud.

Recently, I spoke with some friends in Gaza and the conversations were profoundly disturbing. My friends spoke of the deeply felt absence of any source of protection—personal, communal or institutional. There is little in society that possesses legitimacy and there is a fading consensus on rules and an eroding understanding of what they are for. Trauma and grief overwhelm the landscape despite expressions of resilience. The feeling of abandonment among people appears complete, understood perhaps in their growing inability to identify with any sense of possibility. The most striking was this comment: “It is no longer the occupation or even the war that consumes us but the realization of our own irrelevance.”

What possible benefit can be derived from an increasingly impoverished, unhealthy, densely crowded, and furious Gaza alongside Israel? Gaza’s terrible injustice not only threatens Israeli and regional security, but it undermines America’s credibility, alienating our claim to democratic practice and the rule of law.

If Palestinians are continually denied what we want and demand for ourselves—an ordinary life, dignity, livelihood, safety, and a place where they can raise their children—and are forced, yet again, to face the destruction of their families, then the inevitable outcome will be greater and more extreme violence across all factions, both old and increasingly new. What looms is no less than the loss of entire generation of Palestinians. And if this happens—perhaps it already has—we shall all bear the cost.

for an innovative and brilliant visual representation of what roy is talking about check out this new video on the topography and architecture of the savaging of gaza with music by checkpoint 303 called “cartografiando gaza”:

of course palestinians are not forgetting gaza. palestinians are actively working to file lawsuits in various contexts for the most recent onslaught of savagery against gaza:

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), based in Gaza, stated that Palestinian lawyers have prepared 936 lawsuits against the Israeli army for committing war crimes against the Palestinians during the Israeli war on Gaza.

The German weekly, Der Spiegel, published a report on Saturday stating that the PCHR collected testimonies and conducted filed investigations to document the Israeli violations.

Some of the documented incidents are about children who were shot by the army at close range, entire families killed after being buried under the ruble of their homes, incidents regarding women burnt by Israel’s white phosphorus shells, and several other violations.

The Der Spiegel stated that the PCHR is trying to have the cases submitted to the National Court in Madrid.

The Israeli army and Israel’s leadership claim that the so-called internal investigation Israel carried out revealed that the army did not intentionally harm Palestinian civilians during the war which began on December 27, 2008, and ended in January 18, 2009.

and there are others who care enough to pursue leagal proceedings outside the zionist entity where such a trial will get a fair hearing, although the zionist entity is doing its best to obstruct such a process as sharon weill and valentina azarov reported in electronic intifada:

Currently, the fate of one of the only remaining venues that offers a redress mechanism for Palestinians is at stake. It is one that can bring accountability of Israeli officials and decision-makers who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. The amendment of universal jurisdiction laws, often incommensurably restricting access to these mechanisms, is at variance with the effect of certain crimes on humanity as a whole, on which the notion of universal jurisdiction is premised. The pressure exerted on the Spanish government to amend its law is an example of the regrettable phenomenon of the weakening of international law at the price of the individual.

On 22 July 2002, around midnight, an Israeli Air Force plane dropped a one-ton bomb on Gaza City’s al-Daraj neighborhood, one of the most densely-populated residential areas in the world. The military objective of this operation was to target and kill Hamas’ former military leader in the Gaza Strip, Salah Shehadeh, who at that time was in his house with his family. As a result of the operation, Shehadeh and 14 civilians were killed, most of them children and infants, and 150 persons were injured, about half of them severely. Houses in the vicinity were either destroyed or damaged. Seven members of the Matar family, whose neighboring house was totally destroyed, were among the casualties.

More than six years later, in Madrid, just a few days after Israel’s most recent invasion of Gaza ended, Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles decided to open a criminal investigation on the basis of universal jurisdiction against seven Israeli political and military officials who were alleged to have committed a war crime — and possibly a crime against humanity — in the course of that operation. The officials included Dan Halutz, then Commander of the Israeli Air Forces; Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, then Israeli Defense Minister; Moshe Yaalon, then Israeli army Chief of Staff; Doron Almog, then Southern Commander of the Israeli army; Giora Eiland, then Head of the Israeli National Security Council; Michael Herzog, then Military Secretary to the Israeli Defense Ministry; and Abraham Dichter, then Director of the General Security Services.

Although the allegations in the action referred only to war crimes, the court stated that the facts could amount to more serious crimes than what was initially claimed — namely, crimes against humanity. This preliminary legal assessment motivated the legal team to work toward basing a new charge. The lawyers announced that they would redouble their efforts to demonstrate that the al-Daraj bombing was part of a policy of “widespread and systematic” attacks directed against a civilian population, fitting the definition of a crime against humanity.

As the request for Israel to provide information on the existence of any judicial proceedings concerning the military operation was not answered and the state expressed its unwillingness to cooperate with the legal team, the Spanish court thereby ruled that the investigation be conducted by the Spanish jurisdiction. On the same day the decision concerning the commencement of the investigation was rendered, Israeli officials sent a 400-page document to the Spanish legal team, stating that the facts of the complaint regarding the operation were subject to proceedings in Israel, and therefore the Spanish court should have declined to exercise jurisdiction.

but the savaging of gaza has never ended, not only because of the closure and the siege, but also because the israeli terrorist forces continue to attack gaza as they did this week from the sea:

Palestinian sources in Gaza reported on Tuesday morning that Israeli Navy ships and infantry brigades conducted a limited offensive in the Gaza Strip. During the attack several armored vehicles and military bulldozers uprooted farmland and destroyed hothouses.

An area of about 400m surrounding the military base at the Kerem Shalom Crossing was flattened, transformed into free fire zone.

Israeli navy gunships shelled Palestinian fishing boats in the northern and southern parts of the Gaza Strip; fishing boats were damaged , but there were no reported injuries. Dozens of fishermen were turned back due to the navy’s threats.

and the israeli terrorist forces also attacked gaza by land this week:

Israeli soldiers fired on Thursday night several shells at a number of Palestinian homes, east of Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Local sources reported that soldiers stationed at the northeastern border fired rounds of live ammunition and a number of shells at an open area east of Beit Hanoun. No damage or injuries were reported.

On Thursday evening, Israeli soldiers shelled several homes in Al Fahareen Area, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Several residents were treated for shock.

meanwhile the zionist terrorist colonist regime this week made it easier for them to continue its savage attacks on palestinians in gaza:

The Israeli ministerial council decided to give the army “a free hand” to retaliate to any cease fired violation carried out by Palestinians armed groups in the Gaza Strip.

The cabinet decided to hold Hamas responsible for any deterioration in the security situation, and decided to give the Israeli army a free hand to retaliate and to carry out limited offensives.

Israeli sources that Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, adopted this position.

He also held talks on the possibility of opening the crossing terminals in Gaza especially amidst the American and International pressure.

Netanyahu’s office said that the Israeli cabinet discussed the methods that would ease the suffering of the Palestinian in Gaza without harming Israel’s security interests.

the notion that the zionist entity is trying to ease the suffering of palestinians in gaza is laughable, especially when you look at reports that calculate its policies about food it will and will not allow into gaza–and especially the way they calculate it to make sure palestinians are always already on the brink of starvation as reported in ha’aretz:

The policy is not fixed, but continually subject to change, explains a COGAT official. Thus, about two months ago, the COGAT officials allowed pumpkins and carrots into Gaza, reversing a ban that had been in place for many months. The entry of “delicacies” such as cherries, kiwi, green almonds, pomegranates and chocolate is expressly prohibited. As is halvah, too, most of the time. Sources involved in COGAT’s work say that those at the highest levels, including acting coordinator Amos Gilad, monitor the food brought into Gaza on a daily basis and personally approve the entry of any kind of fruit, vegetable or processed food product requested by the Palestinians. At one of the unit’s meetings, Colonel Oded Iterman, a COGAT officer, explained the policy as follows: “We don’t want Gilad Shalit’s captors to be munching Bamba [a popular Israeli snack food] right over his head.”

The “Red Lines” document explains: “In order to make basic living in Gaza possible, the deputy defense minister approved the entry into the Gaza Strip of 106 trucks with humanitarian products, 77 of which are basic food products. The entry of wheat and animal feed was also permitted via the aggregates conveyor belt outside the Karni terminal.”

After four pages filled with detailed charts of the number of grams and calories of every type of food to be permitted for consumption by Gaza residents (broken down by gender and age), comes this recommendation: “It is necessary to deal with the international community and the Palestinian Health Ministry to provide nutritional supplements (only some of the flour in Gaza is enriched) and to provide education about proper nutrition.” Printed in large letters at the end of the document is this admonition: “The stability of the humanitarian effort is critical for the prevention of the development of malnutrition.”

but there are those who are resisting this siege and savagery. the free gaza movement is preparing for another action called “right to read” which they describe as follows:

In partnership with Al-Aqsa University in Gaza, the Free Gaza Movement (FG) is launching its “Right to Read” campaign which will use the FG boats to deliver textbooks and other educational supplies to universities throughout the occupied Gaza Strip.

This is not a charitable endeavor. Rather it is an act of solidarity and resistance to Israel’s choke-hold on Gaza and attempt to deny Palestinians education. According to UNWRA, Israel’s blockade restricts ink, paper, and other learning materials from entering into Gaza.

Our campaign invites individuals to join us at a person-to-person level by contributing one or more books to our shipment as an expression of resistance to the blockade. This effort also allows institutions around the world to support Palestinians’ right to education by donating new and used copies of textbooks to be delivered by the Free Gaza Movement to universities in the Gaza Strip.

We invite you to participate in this expression of resistance to the blockade. Specifically, you can donate funds to purchase books (and/or help offset shipping costs to Cyprus) or you can send new and used books directly for inclusion on an upcoming voyage. While all books are welcomed, we have already received a wish list from the universities in Gaza of books that are most in need.

To review the wish list and get more details on how to contribute to the “Right to Read” campaign, please visit <freegaza.org/right-to-read?lang=en>. Our first shipment will be sent on FG’s Summer of Hope July voyage to Gaza.

Education is a right — a right that has been denied to Gaza’s most precious resource, its young people. Free Gaza is committed to breaking this siege. We welcome people of goodwill, such as yourself, to join us in this campaign.

For more information:

Dina Kennedy: dkennedy [at] freegaza.org
Darlene Wallach: darlene [at] freegaza.org
www.freegaza.org

and of course there is good old fashioned palestinian hip hop resistance as jordan flaherty discovered on his recent trip to gaza:

For Ayman, making music is a form of resistance to war and occupation and also a tool to communicate the reality of life in Palestine. “Most of our lyrics are about the occupation,” he tells me. “Lately we’ve also started singing about the conflict between Hamas and Fatah. Any problem, it needs to be written about.” Rapper Chuck D, from the group Public Enemy, once called rap music the CNN for Black America. For Ayman and his friends, music is their weapon to break media silence. “Most of the world believes we are the terrorists,” he says. “And the media is closed to us, so we get our message out through Hip-Hop.”

One of the first acts to take the stage was a duo called Black Unit Band. Mohammed Wafy, one of the two singers, displays the innocent charm of a teen pop star as he jumps from the stage and into the audience. Tall and skinny with a shock of black hair, Mohammed is 18 and looks younger. Khaled Harara, the other singer (and Mohammed’s next door neighbor) is a few years older and several pounds heavier, but no less energetic on stage.

As the evening progressed, the energy in the room continued to rise. The next act featured six members from two combined groups (DA MCs, and RG, for Revolutionary Guys) now collectively called DARG Team. The crowd was up on their feet, many of them singing along as the performers displayed a range of lyrical stylings.

In Mohammed Wafy’s apartment, the performers waited anxiously for the results of the contest. The call came in on Ayman’s cell phone. Putting it on speaker, everyone listened as the results were announced: DARG team had come in first place, and Black Unit had placed third. There were no hurt feelings apparent for those that didn’t win — for these young performers, every victory is a shared victory. DARG members will now go on to Denmark to produce an album (if they can get out of Gaza).

Fadi Bakhet, a studious and slightly preppy looking Afro-Palestinian in wire-rimmed glasses, is DARG’s manager, and also the brother of one of the members. As the night continued, the gathering moved to his apartment. They celebrated the successful show, which also fell on the last day of exams for many students, and the laughing and conversation continued late into the night. The next day was hot and sunny, and thousands of Gazans gathered on the beach to swim and relax by the Mediterranean.

if you click on the link above to flaherty’s story, you can find links to the various bands as well as videos of a few of the groups he mentioned on youtube. here is one of those video clips from one of my favorite palestinian rap groups p.r. or palestinian rapperz:

sub-contracting occupations

hopeinafghanistan5

i find it disturbing that there are people who seem to think that there was something new or who were impressed by obama’s speech because he used the word “occupation.” here is the paragraph in which obama used that word:

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own. For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive.

the word i want to hear him utter is “nakba.” i want him to acknowledge the root of the problem and the only roadmap that will fix it, united nations resolution 194 that mandates palestinian refugees have a right to return to their land under international law. i find it increasingly problematic to use the word “occupation” because the word automatically signals the false notion that only land stolen by the zionist entity 42 years ago is “occupied.” but the entirety of palestine is occupied. is colonized. not just what is called the west bank and gaza strip. there is little difference between those zionist colonizers who occupy palestinian land whether in haifa or in khalil. and no the two people do not have equal legitimate aspirations.

there was an interesting debate on the speech on the pbs newshour, surprisingly enough, that featured abderrahim foukara from al jazeera, as’ad abukhalil, rami khoury, and some woman named sumaya hamdani whose reading of the speech was rightfully critiqued by the other panelists. this discussion was far more sophisticated and specific than anything i heard on al jazeera english because unlike al jazeera english, the newshour seemed to not make it a priority to find arabs and muslims who were salivating over the speech. you can also hear two good interviews nora barrows-friedman did with ali abunimah and robert knight with sami husseini yesterday on flashpoints that put the speech into its proper context.

helena cobban interviewed hamas leader khaled mesh’al yesterday for ips news in which mesh’al rightly states that palestinians want to see actions not words:

“We need two things from Obama, Mitchell, the Quartet, and the rest of the international community. Firstly, pressure on Israel to acknowledge and grant these rights. The obstacle to this is completely on the Israeli side. Secondly, we need the international actors to refrain from intervening in internal Palestinian affairs. You should leave it to the Palestinians to resolve our differences peacefully. You should respect Palestinian democracy and its results,” he said.

This latter was a reference to the hard-hitting campaign that Israel, the U.S. and its allies have maintained against Hamas ever since its candidates won a strong victory in the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s parliamentary elections in January 2006.

That campaign has included sustained efforts to delegitimise the Hamas-led government that emerged from the elections, attempts by Israel to assassinate the government’s leaders, including during Israel’s recent assault on Gaza, and the mission that U.S. Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton has led in the West Bank to arm and train an anti-Hamas fighting force loyal to the U.S.-supported Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

In his reaction to Obama’s speech, Meshaal referred to the U.S.’s role in this intervention, saying, “Rather than sweet words from President Obama on democratisation, we’d rather see the United States start to respect the results of democratic elections that have already been held. And rather than talk about democratisation and human rights in the Arab world, we’d rather see the removal of Gen. Dayton, who’s building a police state there in the West Bank.”

this issue of american-zionist forces collaborating with the palestinian authority came to a head yesterday as obama delivered his speech. ghassan bannoura reported the events as follows for imemc:

Four Palestinians were reported dead and numbers injured as Palestinian security forces announced that clashes with Hamas fighters ended in the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia on Thursday midday.

The clashes started early morning and lasted till midday, The security forces and the gunmen exchanged fire after the gunmen opened fire at a vehicle that belongs to the Palestinian security forces, officials reported.

A security official in Qalqilia stated that the Hamas fighters hurled a grenade at the security patrol killing one officer and wounding several others. The security forces surrounded a building where three fighters of Hamas barracked themselves. Witnesses speaking under conditions of immunity told IMEMC that security forces stormed the building after heavy exchange of fire and found the three fighters dead.

Tension was high in Qalqilia since the start of the week. On Sunday a group of Hamas fighters clashed with the Fatah controlled security forces in the city. The clash left two fighters, one civilian and three security officers dead.

Meanwhile Fatah security forces in the West Bank and Hamas forces in Gaza arrested members of each other’s factions all week.

here is some footage from the associated press of the gun battle yesterday in qalqilia:

nora barrows-friedman’s interview with diana buttu the other day reveals the important details about these events and its relationship to larger concerns among palestinians more generally. here is nora’s post on her blog and below that is a partial transcript that i typed up from the interview.

Listen to my interview with former PLO advisor Diana Buttu earlier this week about the Palestinian Authority’s moves to:

1) accept “counter-terrorism” training from a US military colonialist-orientalist, Lt. Keith Dayton;

2) use that training to turn against Palestinians trying to resist the illegal occupation and apartheid regime of Israel;

3) further fractionalizing any national unity coalition to fight occupation and subjugation by Israel and the US.

here is a partial transcript of the interview with some revealing and insightful analysis and questioning (the link below is to the actual interview, which i highly recommend listening to):

Nora Barrows Friedman: …The PA placed the entire city of Qalqilia under curfew, which is reminiscent of Israeli tactics as they did their search and seizure mission. Can you give us your assessment of this in the current climate of the Occupied West Bank at this point?

Diana Buttu: Certainly, one of the interesting things about this case is that one of the individuals with Hamas who ended up being killed is somebody who was being sought after by the Israelis and who had gone under cover for a period of nearly 7 years. Rather than–so the irony is that instead of Israel person, the body that assassinates, it ended up that it’s the Palestinian Authority that has killed this man. And so it points to the direction that the Palestinian Authority is heading into: that is being the security sub-contractor to the Israeli Occupation.

NBF: And this also comes just three days after Israel assassinated another Hamas leader, Abed Al-Majid Dudin, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. You know, let’s talk about the timing of all of this. The PA security services have been ramping up their suppression of the civilian population, within the West Bank, and more and more Palestinian civilians are unimpressed, you could say, with the PA’s involvement with the Israeli government and the United States. You know, after this meeting with Obama, what’s the significance really of the timing of all of this under the Abbas leadership?

DB: It’s very significant. The significance of it is that President Abbas wants to demonstrate to the Americans that he is the address, particularly since his mandate expired in January 2009. And the only way he can demonstrate he is the address is–and Salam Fayyad being the prime minister who has now twice been appointed and not been confirmed by the PLC–the only way that they can that is by showing that they can take control of security. In other words, it’s become very clear that the equation is that the Palestinian Authority has to crack down on Hamas and demonstrate that it can actually take control and take charge of security in the West Bank. And in exchange for that there may, perhaps, be some pressure brought to bear on Israel–not to dismantle settlements, but just to simply freeze settlements. It’s becoming clear that this is the equation. Especially in light of the fact that President Abbas’ mandate expired in January of this year.

NBF: Diana, let’s talk also about the training of the PA services by the U.S. contra-style military commander Lieutenant Keith Dayton. Dayton has been employed in the West Bank for a couple of years. His contract was just renewed for another two years. And he’s been tasked to train Palestinian Authority forces in so-called “counter-terrorism tactics,” not against the illegal israeli occupiers, but against their own people in the Hamas movement. What are your thoughts on the appointment and employment of Dayton?

DB: Well this is, again, part of the long-term strategy and the long-term thinking when it comes to this region. Nobody–and certainly not the United States–they do not recognize that this is an occupation. They do not realize that this is a political issue that has some security ramifications. But instead they view it as a lack of security and security only, thinking that this is a security problem and that if we address the security side of things, in other words, approach Israel’s security first, then somehow the political ducks will line themselves up. But that’s clearly not been–that’s proven to be false in the past and, of course, it will be proven to be false in the future. What’s interesting about Dayton and the forces that he’s been training in the West Bank is that when Dayton thought to give his first interview to an Israeli paper, one of the key sentences and one of the messages that he sent to the Israelis was the following: what they were doing is that they were training the Palestinian Authority forces not to combat Israel’s occupation or even to resist Israel’s occupation, but instead they were training the security forces to undermine those very individuals who at any point in time believe that it is alright to resist Israel’s military occupation. In other words: pit Palestinian against Palestinian rather than ensure that the Palestinians are able to resist Israel’s military rule.

NBF: And, Diana, how does this kind of Iran-contra style tactic play out in the Palestinian street?. How are Palestinians looking at what’s going on here?

DB: Well Palestinians are looking at it with a lot of horror and a lot of disgust. I actually remember 15 years ago, when the Palestinian Authority first came into the area. This is an Authority that was greeted with candy, with flowers, people were throwing rice–with a lot of jubilation thinking that somehow there was going to be a Palestinian presence, a Palestinian entity that was going to rule over their lives rather than being an Israeli entity, an Israeli force. You have to contrast that with the demonstration that happened yesterday where people were cursing the Palestinian Authority. People were chanting slogans against the Palestinian Authority–the same slogans that Palestinians once chanted against Israeli Occupation Forces. So you can see the connection that is being made, that people are making between Israel’s occupying forces soldiers and those of the Palestinian Authority. And unless this equation gets broken somehow, unless the Palestinian Authority re-gears itself or re-directs itself, which I don’t think is likely, then you’re going to see a much higher level of cynicism along with much more acts of a police state, which the West Bank is now turning into being.

perhaps it is in this context that you can see why some palestinians call the palestinian authority collaborationist. for instance the palestinian information center reported that the zionist entity is rather pleased with its subcontracted army here in the west bank:

The Israeli occupation authority has expressed extreme satisfaction at the success of Abbas’s security men in assassinating Qassam resistance fighters wanted by the IOF for a number of years.

Occupation military sources described the assassination of Muhammad Atteya and Eyad al-Abtali and the wounding of Ala’ Deyab in the city of Qalqilya as an important operation carried out successfully by Abbas’s security men, especially that this operation comes only two days after the assassination of Qassam commander Muhammad al-Samman and his assistant Muhammd Yassin after a 6-year pursuit by the IOF.

The Israeli occupation army radio said that Abbas’s forces besieged the hiding place of the Qassam fighters, which was in the cellar of a house, and when they failed to make them surrender they poured large quantities of water into the cellar drowning two of them and wounding and arresting the third.

it should come as no surprise, then, that resistance is now promising to turn its guns on the collaborationist authority as imemc reports:

The Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, issued a statement on Thursday calling on all fighters in the West Bank to defend themselves against the security forces of president Mahmoud Abbas, the same way the fighters counter the Israeli occupation.

In a press conference in Gaza, Abu Obaida, spokesperson of the Al Qassam, said that the brigades will prevail in the West Bank “in spite of the aggression of the occupation and its tails”, and that if the security forces think that the Al Qassam is vanishing in the West Bank, “they should know we are here, and here we will prevail, God willing”.

He added that the Brigades considers the security forces of Abbas as “outlawed militias, that violate the morals of the people and the country”, and added that “the only way to deal with them is by resistance; we call on our fighters to fight the gangs of Abbas the same way they fight the occupation”.

He held Abbas and his Prime Minister, Dr. Salaam Fayyad, responsible for the events in Qalqilia, and added that “no talks or future agreements would pardon them or grant them security”.

in spite of all this kenneth bazinet reported in the daily news that obama had to send out an email assuring american jews that he still supports the zionist entity in all its destruction and war crimes that they commit on a daily basis with the help of the palestinian authority and the united states:

The White House tried to ease Israeli concerns over President Obama’s fence-mending speech Thursday to the Muslim world, insisting he remains loyal to the strong U.S. relationship with the Jewish state.

In an e-mail sent to some Jewish groups and the U.S.-based lobby for Israel, the White House insisted Obama’s outreach to the mainstream Muslim majority is no threat to relations with its key Mideast ally.

“The President’s commitment to Israel’s security is as firm as ever, which he has emphasized many times,” the e-mail said.

it seems that they do need reassuring because all one needs to do is take one look at joseph dana and max blumenthal’s video of zionist terrorist colonists in al quds last night after the speech (one view of this video and you’ll see what i mean by terrorists):

oddly enough, in spite of all the racist ranting in the above video, there is a newish restaurant i pass by in between beit lahem and al quds just before you reach the old city that seems to pay homage to the new american president:

zionist terrorist colonist pizza restaurant in al quds
zionist terrorist colonist pizza restaurant in al quds

and today a brand new colony is being built on palestinian land named after barack obama:

Israeli settlers established a new illegal West Bank outpost on Thursday, dedicating it partly to US President Barack Obama.

The settlers, calling themselves the “Land of Israel Loyalists,” named the outpost Oz Yehonatan, near Binyamin, but were calling part of it the “Obama Hut,” according to the Israeli news agency Ynet.

And according to a report from Israel’s Arutz Sheva news agency, the outpost was named “in recognition of the president’s actions, which have led to a dramatic increase in the number of outposts being built throughout Judea and Samaria [the West Bank].”

of course in spite of what those zio-nazis say in the above video, the united states, and obama are firmly supporting only jewish suffering and a jewish state. obama confirmed this today when instead of traveling to nearby gaza to see the damage created by american weapons in the hands of the israeli terrorist army he chose to look back and history to see what europeans did to jews, and in his comments there he reinforced the deeply flawed logic that palestinians should pay the price for european sins as mark smith reported in the star tribune:

President Barack Obama witnessed the Nazi ovens of the Buchenwald concentration camp Friday, its clock tower frozen at the time of liberation, and said the leaders of today must not rest against the spread of evil.

The president called the camp where an estimated 56,000 people died the “ultimate rebuke” to Holocaust deniers and skeptics. And he bluntly challenged one of them, Iranian President Ahmadinejad, to visit Buchenwald.

“These sites have not lost their horror with the passage of time,” Obama said after seeing crematory ovens, barbed-wire fences, guard towers and the clock set at 3:15, marking the camp’s liberation in the afternoon of April 11, 1945. “More than half a century later, our grief and our outrage over what happened have not diminished.”

Buchenwald “teaches us that we must be ever-vigilant about the spread of evil in our own time, that we must reject the false comfort that others’ suffering is not our problem, and commit ourselves to resisting those who would subjugate others to serve their own interests,” Obama said.

He also said he saw, reflected in the horrors, Israel’s capacity to empathize with the suffering of others, which he said gave him hope Israel and the Palestinians can achieving a lasting peace.

this point of view is why most people in this region will never believe the rhetoric coming out of the united states even if the president’s middle name is hussein. zeina khodr’s report for al jazeera on the afghan response to obama’s speech is indicative of this sentiment:

egyptian blogger hossam el hamalawy also spoke out against the obama speech eloquently in an interview with al jazeera’s james bays, although there is some vapid woman sitting next to him who i wish would shut up to enable hossam to have more time to explain his important points:

and natalie abou shakra kindly translated khaled saghiyyeh’s article in al akhbar today on the speech:

People, let’s hear it out for Mr Obama who has just recognized Islam as a religion! Not only so, but he also recited Koranic passages at his University of Cairo speech!

And we, the “colonized” overwhelmed by permissiveness, did not stop clapping every time we heard a sura recited in English. But, frankly, despite this harmonious wonder between cultures and religions, it is worthy to note that the problem with the American administration was never cultural to begin with, and has not been merely a difference in political perspectives.

The difference lies in the bloodshed of hundreds of thousands that were killed in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan…. either by American-made weapons, American support, or by Americans themselves as is the case with war on Iraq for the so-called struggle for democracy, and the war on Lebanon as a passage to a New Middle East.

However, there’s no use crying over spilt milk, for Mr. Obama has thus spoken and has asked us to start over a new beginning. Simply, in a snap of his fingers he asks us to put aside all that without the need for an apology to the victims of these wars. We do not mean to waste the precious time of this new emperor, but is he asking us to be his partners? And, are we supposed to believe him? But, wait a minute… we have a lot to learn from our “big brother.” Not only shall he impose on us his democracy, but also imposed on us what he thinks of human rights… O, Mr. Obama, thank you for reshaping the etiquette.

More so, as the first step to this new recipe, Obama asks of the Lebanese Maronites to look onto themselves as minorities, just as the Copts, and he shall be the one who will defend their rights. As for “Hamas”, who was democratically elected by the way, he thinks they “represent, maybe, some of the Palestinians.” And based on his account of human rights, he emphasized the wrongness of the “violent” resistance. And what is the alternative? The same old talk about the two-state solution and the road map in Palestine, completely ignoring the right of return and the issue of the refugees. As for Iran, it should [according to Obama] abandon its nuclear dreams in the purpose of preventing an arms race in the Middle East- as if Iran was the one who begun the race! Hello Mr. Obama!!

Imperialism did not always come in the form of violent speeches. But, rather, it usually came in with a stronger sense of allure. Well, it seems that “development” rates will hit the ceilings again. Prepare yourselves for more bloodshed and victims to fall… this time in the name of humanity and progress.

and for those readers questioning me yesterday when i doubted the sincereity of obama in reference to his promises about iraq and guantanamo, just click on these recent news stories by jeremy scahill and you will start to understand what i mean:

IN FOCUS: “Little Known Military Thug Squad Still Brutalizing Prisoners at Gitmo Under Obama” (AlterNet): The ‘Black Shirts’ of Guantanamo routinely terrorize prisoners, breaking bones, gouging eyes, squeezing testicles, and ‘dousing’ them with chemicals.

WORLD VIEW: UN Human Rights Council Blasts US for Killing Civilians, Drone Attacks and Using Mercenaries: The UN group is also calling on the US to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate crimes by US officials.

HMMM: Obama Wants $736 Million Colonial Fortress in Pakistan: Critics say the White House wants to use the new “embassy” for “pushing the American agenda in Central Asia.”

SAY WHAT??: Mastercard-istan: Ex-Bush Henchman Wants to be “CEO of Afghanistan” (Literally): Obama may allow famed neocon Zalmay Khalilzad to become the unelected shadow leader of Afghanistan to “push American interests.”

and as for obama and all his words of supporting muslims in the united states one only needs to remember the holy land 5, most recently, or check out this story by cath turner on al jazeera about an egyptian man, youssef megahed, who was found innocent of “terrorism” charges, but who is still being targeted by the american authorities:

welcome to amrika and its empire. oh, and by the way, check out this article on the bbc yesterday that wrote up a piece on those tweeting about obama’s speech. my tweets seemed to have made it onto their radar screen:

Mr Obama also came in for some sharp comments on his treatment of democracy: “How about Mubarak and his ruthless suppressing the rights of others?” tweeted Marcy Newman, who describes herself as a teacher, writer and activist in Palestine.

And “Obama does this mean you will be recognizing Hamas given they were democratically elected?”

taking the struggle into our own hands

ann’s recent post on pulse media reminded me of the beirut-based “never before campaign,” which is one of the most inspirational collectives i’ve seen recently. their videos are amazing and remind us of why resistance is so necessary. they have one new video and two more that must have slipped passed me in the last month or so. here are all three (and here are the others which i blogged about when they were first uploaded on to youtube click here and here).

these videos do such an excellent job of exposing zionist propaganda and revealing the reality on the ground for palestinians. they are really brilliant. and this is the sort of energy that beirut and the people i love there feed my soul. one of my dear friends, rami, often keeps me grounded when we talk about the anti-colonial struggle in this region. these are some words he sent me a few months ago that i return to when i want to be reminded of this struggle in larger terms:

1. We know we are right because we read the facts objectively and dispassionately

2. We also know that the road is long and arduous and that the struggle is difficult

3. We also know that we-I mean our class- are irrelevant, and that the real struggle is between the rulers and the ruled

4. We know which side we are on.

And this is what gives us the desire to wake up, what makes our souls tremble, what replaces food and water and sleep. As for the others, the Mitchells, the Obamas, we should NEVER expect anything from them. NEVER.

exactly. and this goes for those who support or put their faith in such people, too. because those people are part of the colonial/imperial regional problem in the first place. and this goes for those who continue to think that normalization with zionist colonist terrorists will somehow benefit palestinians. as the above videos make clear: there is no partner for so-called “peace.” even the other day when there was a so-called protest against the law criminalizing the commemoration of an nakba, only about 40 zionist colonists showed up. there was an equally abysmal number of americans protesting the “israel day parade” in new york city the other day as mondoweiss reported. in any case, i choose not to put my energy into collaborating with such people, i think there are bigger fish to fry.

but there are others who we can expect to continue this struggle and who are doing just that: palestinian refugees. rami almeghari recently published an interview in electronic intifada with abdullah al-hourani and here is what he had to say about continuing the struggle:

RA: As a veteran Palestinian politician and a refugee, what do you say to upcoming refugee generations?

AH: I would like to apologize to these generations because we failed to achieve any results after these prolonged years of the Nakba [catastrophe], but I would like to emphasize that we have succeeded to keep our people steadfast on their lands and persistent in seeking their inalienable rights. Also, we have succeeded in maintaining the Palestinian identity and convincing the international community that there is a Palestinian people and there are rights for this people, and we succeeded in gaining the recognition of more than 100 countries for our rights. Even though we have not achieved those rights we kept those rights alive. The next generations should continue the struggle and achieve what we have failed to realize.

of course, the struggle is not just about palestine. it is regional. and in iraq dahr jamail has been reporting on increasing iraqi resistance to american imperialism and occupation of their land, which is, tellingly, connected to the salaries of the sahwa, the u.s. method of coopting iraqis away from resistance:

At least 20 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq in May, the most since last September, along with more than 50 wounded. Iraqi casualties are, as usual – and in both categories – at least ten times that number.

Attacks against US forces are once again on the rise in places like Baghdad and Fallujah, where the Iraqi resistance was fiercest before so many of them joined the Sahwa (Sons of Iraq, also referred to as Awakening Councils), and began taking payments from the US military in exchange for halting attacks against the occupiers and agreeing to join the fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq. In early April I wrote a column for this website that illustrated how ongoing Iraqi government and US military attacks against the Sahwa, coupled with broken promises of the Sahwa being incorporated into the government security apparatus or given civilian jobs, would likely lead to an exodus from the Sahwa and a return to the resistance.

Slowly, but surely, we are seeing that occur. While US liaison Col. Jeffrey Kulmayer has called this idea, along with the ongoing controversy from the Iraqi government – led by US-pawn Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki – not paying most of the Sahwa members, while continuing government arrests of and attacks on Sahwa members “overblown,” this does not change reality. Let us recall the telling words of the reporter Caud Cockburn, father of journalist Patrick Cockburn, “Never believe anything until it’s officially denied.”

Not surprisingly, in direct contradiction to Kulmayer’s comment, the Sahwa have warned the Iraqi government not to disregard its commitments to the fighters as far as providing them jobs and payment. On May 28, the independent Saudi-owned United Kingdom-based newspaper, al-Hayat, reported:

“A number of the leaders of the awakening councils called on the Iraqi government to honor its commitments towards the members of the awakening councils by paying their salaries which are three months late. They warned that their fighters might rebel against the government if their demands for their financial rights continue to be disregarded which might have an adverse effect on the security situation. Sheikh Masari al-Dulaymi, one of the leaders of the council in Falahat al-Taji to the north of Baghdad, announced that the committee supervising the national reconciliation process warned the leaders of the councils in and around Baghdad that their salaries would be paid and that a form of cooperation will be agreed upon with the tribes to preserve the security in Baghdad.”

The paper added that al-Dulaymi also pointed out that many council fighters abandoned their duties in protecting their areas because of the delays in receiving their salaries, and “we don’t want the crisis to grow any worse because the council members already distrust government promises.” Al-Hayat also reported that Sheikh Khaled Yassine al-Janabi, a leader of the council in al-Latifiyah in southern Baghdad, warned that the “government’s disregard for the issue of the councils and their demands will have an adverse effect on the security situation.”

Simultaneously, the Iraqi Resistance, whose ranks are growing with disenfranchised Sahwa along with other Iraqis joining for the usual reasons: their countrymen and women being detained, tortured, and raped by occupation forces and their Iraqi collaborators, the destroyed infrastructure and the suffering that accompanies this, among a myriad of other reasons (like the fact that one in four Iraqis lives in poverty), are, at least verbally, preparing to resume full operations.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that a commander in the Iraqi Resistance, who is also a member of the currently besieged Sahwa, said, “If we hear from the Americans they are not capable of supporting us … within six hours we are going to establish our groups to fight against the corrupt government. There will be a war in Baghdad.”

indeed there is a lot to resist in iraq as jeremy scahill reports given the rise on mercenaries in iraq and in afghanistan:

According to new statistics released by the Pentagon, with Barack Obama as commander in chief, there has been a 23% increase in the number of “Private Security Contractors” working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan, which “correlates to the build up of forces” in the country. These numbers relate explicitly to DoD security contractors. Companies like Blackwater and its successor Triple Canopy work on State Department contracts and it is unclear if these contractors are included in the over-all statistics. This means, the number of individual “security” contractors could be quite higher, as could the scope of their expansion.

Overall, contractors (armed and unarmed) now make up approximately 50% of the “total force in Centcom AOR [Area of Responsibility].” This means there are a whopping 242,657 contractors working on these two US wars. These statistics come from two reports just released by Gary J. Motsek, the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Program Support): “Contractor Support of U.S. Operations in USCENTCOM AOR, IRAQ, and Afghanistan and “Operational Contract Support, ‘State of the Union.’”

a parallel american imperial project in the region is right here in the west bank of palestine under the command of american lieutenant general keith dayton who recently delivered a lecture at the washington institute in which he laid out the so-called security apparatus he is building in palestine:

The U.S. administration and Congress provided an additional $75 million last year, bringing to $161 million that the USSC has been able to invest in the future of peace between Israel and Palestinians through improved security. So what have we done? At the risk of boring you, we did it in four major areas. First: Train and equip. Although we work closely with the Presidential Guard even now, we have focused on transforming the Palestinian national security forces into a Palestinian gendarmerie—an organized police force or police units, as it were— to reinforce the work being done by the civilian police advised by the European Union.

The training is a four-month program at the Jordan International Police Training Center—we abbreviate it as JIPTC for short—outside of Amman. It features a U.S.-Jordanian police training cadre and a U.S.-developed curriculum that is heavy on human rights, proper use of force, riot control, and how to handle civil disturbances. The training is also focused on unit cohesion and leadership.

Now, you might ask, why Jordan? The answer is pretty simple. The Palestinians wanted to train in the region, but they wanted to be away from clan, family, and political influences. The Israelis trust the Jordanians, and the Jordanians were anxious to help. Our equipping is all nonlethal and it is fully coordinated with both the Palestinians and the Israelis. Make sure you understand that. We don’t provide anything to the Palestinians unless it has been thoroughly coordinated with the state of Israel and they agree to it. Sometimes this process drives me crazy—I had a lot more hair when I started—but nevertheless, we make it work.

We don’t give out any guns or bullets. The equipment ranges from vehicles to socks. We have also graduated, now, three battalions—an average of five hundred men each—from JIPTC and another battalion is currently in training.The graduates have also been extensively schooled by the Jordanians, who have really stepped up to this task, on loyalty to the Palestinian flag and the Palestinian people.

of course, it is clear from recent events in qalqilia this week that the palestinian police do have bullets. but dayton must remind us that only zionist terrorists are allowed to be supplied not just with bullets, but with cluster bombs, apache helicopters, f16s, and lots of other material to aid them in their massacres. but palestinians get socks. not bullets.

mel frykberg reported for ips on the incident of the american-zionist-palestinian collaborationist authority’s attack on two palestinian men in qalqilia, which, of course, can be considered the work of dayton’s so-called “training”:

A bloody gun battle broke out Sunday morning in the northern West Bank town of Qalqilia between a group of Hamas gunmen and security forces from the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Authority (PA).

The PA had tried to arrest and flush out a group of Hamas gunmen who were hiding in a building in the northern city, just over an hour’s drive north-west of Ramallah.

The exchange of gunfire left two Hamas members and three PA police officers dead. The owner of the building where the Hamas fighters had taken refuge also succumbed to his wounds.

The PA placed Qalqilia under curfew as they searched for additional gunmen in the areas surrounding the building where the clash had taken place.

Palestinian security forces were put on a state of high alert with throngs of soldiers and jeeps surrounding PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s government compound, the Muqata, in Ramallah.

Each side blamed the other for instigating the violence. According to the PA, the Hamas men had refused to surrender or identify themselves, and had opened fire on PA forces first.

However, Hamas spokesmen said the cornered men only returned fire after the PA men refused to back off.

indeed the palestinian information center rightly views this incident as a collaborationist one and highlights the severe, criminal problems of american military involvement in palestine:

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stated Sunday that the assassination of two Qassam fighters in Qalqiliya is a translation of earlier remarks made by former PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in Washington about his commitment to the roadmap plan that criminalizes the resistance against the Israeli occupation.

In a statement to the Aqsa satellite channel, spokesman Abu Zuhri charged that Abbas’s security apparatuses try to repeat the Gaza experience in the West Bank, highlighting that his Movement would study its options for dealing with this crime.

For its part, the Palestinian government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya held Abbas fully responsible for the consequences of the Qalqiliya crime, considering that the assassination of Qassam fighters Mohamed Al-Samman and Mohamed Yassin is natural extension of the crimes committed by the PA security apparatuses against the Palestinian resistance in Al-Khalil.

The PLC’s presidency also held Abbas as well as his unconstitutional government and security leaders responsible for the repercussions of this “heinous crime”, stressing that it is high treason against the Palestinian people and a stab at the back of the Arab and Muslim nation.

In a statement received by the PIC, the PLC warned that this crime which was committed at the behest of Abbas and US officer Keith Dayton cannot be tolerated or goes without punishment.

it is this collaborationist regime that is leading some palestinians to call for dual resistance against the zionist entity and its collaborating palestinian authority partners:

A Palestinian civilian and five security officials – three from the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority security services and two from Hamas’ military wing – were killed in clashes between the two groups in this West Bank city Sunday, as Damascus-based Hamas spokesman Talal Nasser called on Palestinians to fight the PA as though they were fighting the Israeli occupation.

Ismail Radwan, a top Hamas official in Gaza, called on members of the Hamas military wing in the West Bank not to surrender to PA forces and to defend themselves against the aggression of the security services.

who’s got the nukes? (don’t ask, don’t tell)

last week after blogging about his appearance on al jazeera’s “inside story,” i received this email from israeli terrorist colonist dan diker:

I saw your blog in which you refer to me as an “Israeli Terrorist Colonist”. That would be OK if you were simply honest enough to call yourself an angry activist that simply hates Jews and Jewish State. But to call yourself a scholar? You have no command of the dispute between the sides nor do you understand the hatred between Hamas and Fatah. Have you met with the 400 Fatah members in Gaza who have been tortured and tossed off of buildings by Hamas members or the 1,500 fatah families that have had their knees shot through by Hamas. I trust you have not spoken with the Hamas activists that have been equally tortured by Fatah warlords in Gaza and the West Bank.

I’ll be sure to share your blog with my friends in the Fatah in Ramallah who share my assessment of Hamas and Iran. You must hate them too, as well as Egyptian and Jordanian friends who disagree with you, but I am not sure that will absolve you of the ignorance and hatred you express for anything that does not fit your worldview to a tee.

of course, blogging about palestine means that one often receives hate e-mails. i am posting this one for a couple of reasons. first, given the ongoing crackdown on journalists and academics in palestine by the palestinian authority as part of its collaborationist regime, i see this email as an implicit threat. second, the e-mail is a classic case of zionist propaganda and as such i find it instructive. of course, if one reads my blog it is obvious that i have a great deal of anger and rightfully so. when one sees the ongoing ethnic cleansing and brutality that i see every day it is difficult not to be outraged and enraged. also, as is typically zionist he inverts and distorts the truth. if you read the post that i wrote linked at the top of this paragraph you would know that fatah is equally responsible for its brutality against palestinians and other journalists who speak out against the collaborationist regime in ramallah, but of course he would have you believe it is only hamas. and, of course, he would never admit that the divide and rule in palestine that has led to fatah-hamas fighting is the result of an american-zionist scheme. i also find it highly ironic that he accuses me of hating jews and the jewish state when the post he is responding to was in fact entitled “anti-semitism” and all about its mis-uses by zionists and palestinians alike. of course, this is the problem with zionists: they see those of us who hate the jewish state (which i do) and who hate zionists and zionism (which i do) as hating jews (which i don’t). as for me being an academic, one must to read my academic writing before they can make such an assessment; clearly he didn’t read the post i wrote (otherwise he would not be able to claim that i am anti-semitic, though this is not a surprise given that on “inside story” he made it clear he cannot listen either or answer questions posed to him for that matter) and i’m fairly certain that he also chose not to read any of my academic articles or books. to be clear, this blog is an outlet for me. i do not consider it a part of my academic body of work, although some of what i write here is related to my current academic writing. but this is an outlet for me to release my rage, make others aware of what is going on in palestine and other places that are fighting colonial and imperial rule on their soil. and, finally, i’ve never made any attempt to hide that i am an activist. but unlike zionist propagandists i put my agenda out there and up front for the world to see rather than hide behind a veneer of lies and mythologizing.

interestingly diker claims to have friends in egypt, jordan, and ramallah who agree with him. and i have no reason to doubt him; of course the regimes in those three places would befriend colonists on palestinian land; indeed as i have often written here, they are a part of the problem. however, the regimes in ramallah, amman, and cairo do not speak for the masses of arabs in the region when it comes to the colonial zionist entity or the imperial american one. indeed, this week shibley telhami, a professor at the university of maryland and james zogby of zogby international did an opinion poll of arab opinions about barack obama in relation to his so-called promises of change. here was the most interesting result from both polls as reported in howard lafranchi’s article in the christian science monitor:

Among the two polls’ notable findings ahead of Obama’s speech:

•When asked which countries pose the biggest threat to their well-being, Arabs by and large name the same two they have for years: the US and Israel.

of course, diker also had to make sure his anti-iranian bit was front and center given the news about iran’s missile testing this week. zion-nuts are going ballistic, though they didn’t need this news to set them off. check out this hyperbole from dershowitz last week:

Leading American Jewish attorney and civil libertarian Alan Dershowitz on Friday called for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be prosecuted for “incitement to genocide.”

Dershowitz presented his case in a post published Friday on the Weblog of Canadian newspaper the National Post.

Dershowitz, who is well-known as a defender of free speech, argued – using the example of Ahmadinejad – that incitement to genocide should be criminalized because it is an instruction rather than an idea to be debated.

“It is closely analogous to the incitements to genocide that have been punished in Rwanda,” Dershowitz wrote of the Iranian president’s continuous references to Israel’s destruction.

as’ad abukhalil, another “angry” academic had the most concise and apt thing to say about iran in relation to zionist propaganda on the subject:

So Zionist and Saudi media are insisting that people of the world should feel threatened by the Iranian missile test. Saudi media (echoing as usual the Zionist handlers) are citing “experts” (typically in Zionist bastions in the West) to the effect that the missile test is a threat “not only to Israel.” Of course, I don’t trust the Iranian regime–especially on the Palestinian question, but on any other question. But I am a 49-year old Arab and in my own life time Israel has bombed–BOMBED not missile tested–Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq. And you think that you can convince Arabs that Israel is not a threat? I don’t care how much money House of Saud has, it won’t fly. Try again and again and again.

and bill fletcher had a similar point to make in his open letter to obama on black commentator:

I don’t want to push this too far, Mr. President, but when Prime Minister Netanyahu asked you to join forces with him to threaten Iran, why didn’t you ask him when was the last time that Iran invaded and occupied someone else’s territory? When Prime Minister Netanyahu asked you about the alleged nuclear threat from Iran, perhaps you could have fleshed out your answer to the question regarding nuclear threats in the Middle East that you were asked by Helen Thomas in one of your first press conferences after the November election, when you failed to mention – perhaps it was an oversight – that the only nuclear power in the Middle East/Western Asia is Israel?

personally, i am having an unusual reaction to the notion of nuclear weapons in iran (as someone who is normally opposed to them) given the news in ha’aretz that 1 in 4 zionist colonists would leave if this were to happen (now that is what i call deterrence!):

Some 23 percent of Israelis would consider leaving the country if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, according to a poll conducted on behalf of the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University.

Some 85 percent of respondents said they feared the Islamic Republic would obtain an atomic bomb, 57 percent believed the new U.S. initiative to engage in dialogue with Tehran would fail and 41 percent believed Israel should strike Iran’s nuclear installations without waiting to see whether or how the talks develop.

and on those zionist nuclear weapons, dan williams’ report on common dreams reveals that the united states is now going to have a “don’t ask/don’t tell” policy about the zionist entity’s nuclear weapons arsenal:

The U.S. administration of President Barack Obama will not force Israel to state publicly whether it has nuclear weapons, an Israeli official said on Thursday.

He said Washington would stick to a decades-old U.S. policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Obama’s bid to curb Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy has stirred speculation that, as part of a regional disarmament regimen, Israel could be asked to come clean on its own secret capabilities.

and on a regular basis–at least several times a week from what i can tell from what i hear in the skies above me–the zionist entity conducts all sorts of military training tests such as this one:

The Israeli Air Force concluded Thursday a three-day drill which simulates a comprehensive regional war; the drill included interception, attack aircraft, helicopters, refueling aircraft, in addition to testing the air force system and ground force readiness.

Israeli media sources reported that the details of the testings are classified but it was revealed that one of the tested scenarios includes combats on multiple fronts, including Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.

Although the performed tests were part of an annual drill, but this year’s included what Israel described as “current threats” the country is allegedly facing.

Air Force personnel were also briefed on the Iranian Sijjil-2 new missile as Israel says that this missile poses a threat to the country.

The drill reportedly went well, but officials stated that some vulnerabilities still need to be corrected.

Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, described the drill as very important, and the outcome boosted Israel’s confidence.

During the drill, the army set practice targets representing Iranian nuclear sites.

and it’s funny that no one in the u.s.–or anywhere else for that matter–is outraged that the zionist entity is conducting such tests or making such plans. last week obama’s colleague in congress, representative jane harman publicly called for a strategy of divide and rule in iran to help her zionist friends with their divide and rule plans over the region as the national iranian american council reported, though she has since retracted that statement:

Rep. Harman calls ethnic separation of Iran “a good strategy”

UPDATE: NIAC is pleased to announce that Congresswoman Jane Harman has, after discussions with NIAC, retracted her statement and expressed regret for the concern it has caused. Below is NIAC’s press release welcoming the Congresswoman’s retraction.

Rep. Harman’s swift response is a testament to her openness and to the increasing political engagement of the Iranian-American community.

of course, all of this intensification of anti-iran rhetoric has emerged in the shadow of benjamin netanyahu’s meeting with barack obama last week in which instead of discussing a palestinian state (the so-called two-state solution which is, in reality, an intensified colonization solution) netanyahu wanted to divert attention and talk about iran. mondoweiss blogged about this, picking up on netanyahu rhetoric that has abandoned the language of “statehood” in exchange for “side-hood”:

On Tuesday, Benjamin Netanuyahu left his ambiguous meeting with President Obama behind him for greener pastures – the US Congress. There has already been speculation that Netanyahu is planning on using the Congress to block any challenge from the Obama administration and we may have seen the first salvo. It seems congressional leaders are already adopting Netanyahu’s language to distance themselves from the two-state solution.

it is in the video on mondoweiss’s blog where we see this new language of a “side-by-side” scenario instead of two states:

what is interesting about this above video of netanyahu with nancy pelosi is the way that netanyahu seems to be pitting obama against congress.

 President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the Oval Office, 18 May 2009. (Pete Souza/White House Photo)
President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the Oval Office, 18 May 2009. (Pete Souza/White House Photo)

on electronic intifada ali abunimah offers this analysis of the more-of-the-same obama meeting with netanyahu last week:

But Obama offered little new, reaffirming well-worn US positions that view Palestinians, particularly Hamas, as the aggressors, and Israel as the innocent victim. While calling for Israel to halt settlement construction (as US presidents have done for decades), Obama offered no hint that he would back those words with action. Quite the contrary, the president said he would urge Arab leaders to normalize relations with Israel, rewarding it in advance of any renewed peace talks.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that Obama applies unprecedented pressure to force Israel to make a deal with the Palestinians. What would such a deal look like? The outlines were suggested in the recent report sent to Obama by a group of US elder statesmen headed by former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. The document, warning that there was only a “six to twelve month window” before all chances for peace evaporated, called on the US to forcefully advocate the creation of a Palestinian state. But this would be a demilitarized truncated state “based on” the 1967 borders. Israel would annex large West Bank settlements and there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees. This “state” would be occupied indefinitely by a NATO-led “multinational force,” which the Scowcroft group suggests could also include Israeli soldiers (see “A last chance for a two-state Israel-Palestine agreement, 2009).

Of course the Scowcroft proposal does not necessarily represent Obama administration thinking, but it expresses the pervasive peace process industry consensus that views such an outcome as “reasonable,” “pragmatic” and all but inevitable, and it accords with Obama’s own statements opposing the right of return and supporting Israel’s demand to to be recognized as a “Jewish state.”

In other words, what the vast majority of Palestinians would view as a horrifying plan to legitimize their dispossession, grant Israel a perpetual license to be racist, and turn the apartheid regime set up by the Oslo accords into a permanent prison, is now viewed as bold and far-reaching thinking that threatens to rupture American-Israeli bonds.

there are lots of other reasons to see business as usual in washington when it comes to the zionist entity. jonathan cook has a terrific article in electronic intifada this week on uzi arad which is essential reading to get a sense of the obama administration’s complicity in the zionist regime at the expense of american interests (as usual):

As might be expected of a former senior official with Israel’s spy agency Mossad, Uzi Arad — the most trusted political adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister — has become used to being in the shadows as he exerts influence.

But that is fast changing. Arad was prominent in preparing Netanyahu’s tough positions as he headed for Washington this week to meet Barack Obama, the US president, who is seeking to advance a Middle East peace plan.

Arad, recently appointed the head of Israel’s revamped National Security Council, will oversee an organization that Netanyahu regards as the linchpin of the new government’s security and foreign policy.

One military analyst, Amir Oren, has noted that, given Netanyahu’s unstable coalition, Arad “is likely to emerge as a strong adviser to a weak government.”

Arad has been outspoken both in rejecting Palestinian statehood and in promoting the military option against Iran, positions believed to be shared by the Israeli prime minister and that will be at the root of a possible confrontation in the coming months with the Obama administration.

Arad is also one of only a handful of senior figures on Netanyahu’s Iran Task Force, charged with devising a strategy for dealing with Tehran and its supposed ambitions to attain nuclear weapons.

That will make some in Israel uneasy. The hawkish views that have made Arad indispensable to Netanyahu have also earned him several high-profile opponents.

Arik Carmon, founder of the Israel Democracy Institute, has described Arad’s proposal to arrange “territorial exchanges” to strip some of Israel’s Palestinian minority of their citizenship as “racist.”

Alon Liel, a former director-general of Israel’s foreign ministry, has called Arad’s efforts to derail recent talks with Syria by demanding the continuing occupation of the Golan “ridiculous and nasty.”

In 2007, before his rise to public prominence, Arad also fueled worried speculation about Israel’s plans for a military strike on Tehran, after he described it as “easier than you think.” A wide range of non-military Iranian targets were legitimate, he added.

But despite Arad’s espousal of opinions that in many respects accord with those of Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu Party and Netanyahu’s foreign minister, few doubt the prime minister’s fierce loyalty to him.

In a sign of that commitment, Netanyahu pushed through Arad’s appointment as national security adviser, a post in which he will need to be in almost continual consultation with the US, at the risk of provoking a diplomatic crisis with the Obama White House.

He had been barred from entering the US by the Bush administration after implication in a spying scandal. A Pentagon official, Larry Franklin, jailed in 2006 for passing secrets about Iran to the Israel lobby group AIPAC, was reported to have met Arad frequently.

When the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, arrived in Jerusalem in April for meetings with Netanyahu, then prime minister-designate, her staff quietly suggested he remove an official — a hint that Arad’s presence was not welcome. Netanyahu instead sent out Sallai Meridor, the ambassador to the US, who resigned soon afterwards.

The Obama administration has since restored Arad’s visa and agreed to his political rehabilitation, not least so that he will be able regularly to meet his US opposite number, Gen. James Jones.

Arad spent more than 20 years in Mossad, much of it working in the intelligence section, before being appointed as Netanyahu’s foreign policy adviser in his first government in the late 1990s.

He was also closely associated with a leading neoconservative think-tank in New York, the Hudson Institute, in the 1970s.

But paradoxically, his influence on Israeli thinking — both among policy-makers and the public — may have actually increased during his years in political opposition, after the fall of the first Netanyahu government in 1999.

It was then that he established an influential think-tank, the Institute for Policy and Strategy, at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.

The institute stages an annual conference, dedicated to the “balance of Israel’s national security,” that has become the most important event in the Israeli calendar for politicians, generals and diplomats, as well as attracting high-profile US guests.

Since the first meeting in 2000, the conferences have defined the major security issues supposedly facing Israel, closely mirroring Arad’s own key obsessions.

Chief among these have been fears about the demographic threat to Israel’s Jewishness from Palestinian birth rates both in the occupied territories and among Israel’s own Palestinian citizens, and the danger posed to Israeli hegemony in the region from Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear bomb.

In an indication of his implacable opposition to a Palestinian state, Arad recently told an interviewer: “We want to relieve ourselves of the burden of Palestinian populations, not the territories.”

He has suggested that the Palestinians be required to become economically self-reliant, in the hope that their leaders will be forced to promote family planning methods to reduce the population. His motto is that the Palestinians need “one man, one job” before they need “one man, one vote.”

He has also promoted a complex territorial exchange involving Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt that would see many Palestinians relocated to the Sinai so that Israel could take control of chunks of the West Bank.

But his greatest vehemence is reserved for Iran — an antipathy apparently shared by the Israeli prime minister. In the past he has called for “maximum deterrence,” including threats to strike “anything and everything of value” in Iran, including its “holiest sites.”

As Netanyahu’s plane touched down in Washington on Sunday, Arad briefed reporters that Tehran posed an “existential” threat to Israel and that “all options are indeed on the table.”

there are many ways that zionism infects the american body politic. jeremy scahill reveals a new one that is unfolding in as at least one american military leader is now advocating the adoption of media censorship:

A new report for a leading neoconservative group which pushes a belligerent “Israel first” agenda of conquest in the Middle East suggests that in future wars the US should make censorship of media official policy and advocates “military attacks on the partisan media.” (H/T MuzzleWatch) The report for JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, was authored by retired US Army Colonel Ralph Peters. It appears in JINSA’s “flagship publication,” The Journal of International Security Affairs. “Today, the United States and its allies will never face a lone enemy on the battlefield. There will always be a hostile third party in the fight,” Peters writes, calling the media, “The killers without guns:”

Of course, the media have shaped the outcome of conflicts for centuries, from the European wars of religion through Vietnam. More recently, though, the media have determined the outcomes of conflicts. While journalists and editors ultimately failed to defeat the U.S. government in Iraq, video cameras and biased reporting guaranteed that Hezbollah would survive the 2006 war with Israel and, as of this writing, they appear to have saved Hamas from destruction in Gaza.

[…]

Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. Perceiving themselves as superior beings, journalists have positioned themselves as protected-species combatants. But freedom of the press stops when its abuse kills our soldiers and strengthens our enemies. Such a view arouses disdain today, but a media establishment that has forgotten any sense of sober patriotism may find that it has become tomorrow’s conventional wisdom.

The point of all this is simple: Win. In warfare, nothing else matters. If you cannot win clean, win dirty. But win. Our victories are ultimately in humanity’s interests, while our failures nourish monsters.

It is, of course, very appropriate that such a despicable battle cry for murdering media workers appears in a JINSA publication. The organization has long boasted an all-star cast of criminal “advisors.” Among them: Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, James Woolsey, John Bolton, Douglas Feith and others. JINSA, along with the Project for a New American Century, was one of the premiere groups in shaping US policy during the Bush years and remains a formidable force with Obama in the White House.

the way that the u.s. follows the lead of the zionist regime and its american lobbyists is always dangerous regardless of where we see it–media, military, congress. but news today that obama is following in the footsteps of george bush and actually taking netanyahu’s lead in all of this bogus anti-iran rhetoric and planning was revealed today:

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Friday that President Barack Obama had asked him to update the plans for the use of military force against Iran which were prepared during former President George W. Bush’s term.

In an interview to NBC television’s Today show, the American defense secretary explained that “presidents always ask their military to have a range of contingency plans available to them. And all I would say is that, as a result of our dialogue with the president, we have refreshed our plans and all options are on the table.”

Asked whether the military plan for a strike in Iran was not updated, Gates responded that every president wants to be sure that the military plans are up to date.

It should be noted that Gates himself has opposed a strike in Iran since his days in the Bush administration and continues to firmly object to military action against the Islamic republic under the Obama administration as well. Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, also opposes such a move.

palestinian emirates and two-state conflicts

in an article in the australian today john lyons writes that “most israelis want a two-state conflict.” here are a few recent examples of how the zionist entity perpetuates this conflict. first, in beit ummar witness how palestinians are taunted:

A group of Israeli settler youth standing on a hillside near the Palestinian village of Beit Ummar got Israeli soldiers stationed nearby to prevent a group of Palestinian farmers, accompanied by international and Israeli human rights activists, from accessing their farmland.

The farmers, residents of the village of Beit Ummar, near Hebron in the southern West Bank, own farmland near the illegal Israeli settlement of Bet Ayin, which was constructed on illegally-confiscated Palestinian land.

The settlement continues to expand further and further onto Palestinian land, and the Palestinian farmers whose land lies nearby the expanding settlement have experienced increasing harassment over the last several months.

As the children stood on the hillside chanting “Death to all Arabs”, the Israeli soldiers showed the farmers and human rights observers a military order declaring their farmland to be a “closed military zone”, and forced them off their land at gunpoint.

This incident comes on the heels of a violent attack by a gang of masked Israeli settlers against two elderly Palestinian farmers, who were badly beaten on April 26th. One of them, Abdullah Soleiby, age 80, suffered severe head injuries when 30 Israeli soldiers held him down and hit him on the head with rocks.

second, on new palestinian political prisoners:

Palestinian researcher, specialist in detainees’ affairs, former detainee Abdul-Nasser Farawna, stated Monday that the Israeli forces kidnapped since the beginning of this year until the end of April more than 2350 Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

He stated that some of the kidnapped residents were released later on while hundreds of them remained imprisoned in different detention and interrogation centers.

Farawna added that the army kidnapped 1220 Palestinians in January, including 1000 who were kidnapped during the latest offensive on Gaza, and that dozens of the kidnapped residents are still detained.

The army kidnapped 365 Palestinians in February, 395 in March and 370 in April. This includes 13 women and dozens of children in addition to hundreds of workers who were detained in Israeli for “not having the required work permits”.

third, more news of ethnic cleansing in al quds:

While the Pope is visiting the Holy Land, and started his visit to Bethlehem on Wednesday with a call for peace and reconciliation, Israeli occupation authorities continued their violations against the Palestinians and issued more orders to demolish Palestinian apartments in East Jerusalem.

The orders target 31 apartments providing shelter to more than 300 Palestinians.

The office of Hatim Abdul-Qader, Jerusalem Affairs advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas, stated that the Jerusalem municipality decided on Tuesday at night to demolish nine more homes in Al Thoury neighborhood, near Silwan town, south of the Al Aqsa Mosque.

The homes belong to the families of Zayyad, Al Bardaweel, and Aseela, and are providing shelter to more than seventy residents.

The office added that the orders include demolishing old homes and additions to them, and said that it would file a legal appeal at the Israeli High Court of Justice.

Furthermore, the Jerusalem municipality handed an owner of an apartment building an order to demolish his building which includes 22 apartments, and was constructed in 1999. The apartment building provides housing to 250 residents.

of course for anyone who knows about palestine it is obvious that all the zionists have ever wanted is war, conflict; that is all we have seen from them since pre-statehood. meanwhile an israeli terrorist colonist professor offered a different plan, which would, of course, continue the conflict, though maybe it would be an eight-state conflict if he had his way:

An Israeli researcher specializing in Arab-Israeli affairs at Bar-Ilan University, Dr Motti Kedar, asserted on Monday that he would submit to the Israeli Knesset this week a proposal suggesting the establishment of a “Palestinian emirate state.”

Kedar told local Palestinian radio station “Ar-Raya FM,” which is based in Ramallah, that several Knesset members and party leaders welcomed his idea that he has worked on for some ten years studying the nature of Palestinian-Israeli relations.

“Today I promise both peoples that their complicated question will be solved through this proposal. My proposal suggests the appointment of a king or emir or caliph in each Palestinian city or village, which will have its own systems and its own army. These emirates could become richer than the Gulf states if the Palestinians wake up and invest in the gas reserve near the Gaza beaches.”

However, Kedar rejected a withdrawal from Israeli settlements in the West Bank. He said Israel would not allow these hilltops to become bases for Hizbullah.

As for Jerusalem, he said it would never be negotiable, and that if any Israeli prime minister were to seriously negotiate over Jerusalem, he would be assassinated immediately because Jerusalem is a red line “burning anyone who comes close to it.”

and what do palestinians want? ali abunimah’s article in electronic intifada makes that abundantly clear:

The Fafo survey of more than 1,800 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and almost 1,500 in the West Bank offers some real insights into the state of Palestinian public opinion in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (international funders never sponsor surveys of all Palestinians, which would include those inside Israel as well as those in the Diaspora).

Fafo found that just 35 percent of Palestinians still support a two-state solution. One third preferred an Islamic state throughout Palestine, and 20 percent wanted “one state with equal rights for all,” in Palestine/Israel.

Palestinians did not even agree with the common claim that the two-state solution is clearly the more “pragmatic” and “achievable” one. In the West Bank, 64 percent thought the two-state solution was “very” or “somewhat” realistic, as against 55 percent for a single democratic state. In Gaza, 80 percent considered a single democratic state to be “very” or “somewhat” realistic as against 71 percent for a two-state state solution. This is a moment when no vision carries a consensus among Palestinians, underscoring the urgent need for an inclusive debate about all possible democratic outcomes.

The American effort, started by the Bush Administration with European and Arab accomplices, and continued by US President Barack Obama, to impose an Israeli-friendly Palestinian leadership has failed. The Fafo survey indicates that Hamas emerged from Israel’s attack on Gaza with enhanced support and legitimacy.

Palestinian Authority leaders in Ramallah and their Arab, Israeli and Western allies, did all they could to portray the Israeli attack on Gaza as the result of “recklessness” and provocation by Hamas and other resistance factions. This narrative has taken hold among a minority: 19 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip viewed Hamas as having “great” responsibility for the attack on Gaza (this rose to 40 percent among Fatah supporters). Overall, 51 percent agreed that Hamas had no responsibility at all for the attack (48 percent in the West Bank, 58 percent in Gaza). Just over half of those polled agreed with the statement “All Palestinian factions must stop firing rockets at Israel.”

All the financial, diplomatic and armed support given by the West to Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah leader whose term as Palestinian Authority president expired in January, has done little to shore up his standing among Palestinians. Only 44 percent of respondents overall (41 percent in the West Bank) considered him the “legitimate” president of the Palestinians, while 56 percent did not.

Near universal dissatisfaction with the Western-backed Palestinian Authority in Ramallah is reflected in the finding that 87 percent of respondents agreed that it was time for Fatah to change its leadership. Unsurprisingly, 93 percent of Hamas supporters wanted change, but so did 78 percent of Fatah supporters.

Palestinians expressed very low confidence in institutions (by far the most trusted were UNRWA — the UN agency for Palestine refugees — and the satellite channel Al-Jazeera). But a plurality in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — 32 percent overall — considered Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s Western-boycotted Hamas-led government in Gaza to be the legitimate Palestinian government. Only a quarter overall (31 percent in Gaza, 22 percent in the West Bank) thought the Ramallah-based “emergency” government headed by Abbas’s appointed and US-backed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was the legitimate one.

Hamas leaders performed well during and after Israel’s attack on Gaza. Haniyeh had an overall positive rating of 58 percent while Abbas’s was only 41 percent. But among Palestinians who said they would vote in an election, 41 percent would support Fatah against 31 percent for Hamas. If that was out of step with the rest of the survey, there is a clear trend: support for Fatah was down sharply from a year earlier and Hamas doubled its support in the West Bank from 16 to 29 percent, according to Fafo.

There were some issues on which there was a strong consensus. Ninety-three percent of respondents wanted to see a “national unity government” formed, and the vast majority (85 percent) rejected maintaining the West Bank and Gaza Strip as “independent regions” if efforts to form one foundered.

Palestinians still overwhelmingly support a negotiated settlement, but the “peace process” and its sponsors have lost all credibility. Just one percent thought the US had a “great deal” of concern for the Palestinian cause, and 77 percent thought it had none at all. The “Quartet,” the self-appointed ad hoc grouping of US, EU, UN and Russian representatives that monopolizes peace efforts earns the trust of just 13 percent of Palestinians.

Post-Gaza, Palestinians hold jaundiced views of all Western countries and the Arab states aligned with them. Iran and Turkey, which took strong public stands in solidarity with Palestinians, have seen support surge.

If the Fafo poll confirms that the Western-backed effort to destroy Hamas, impose quisling leaders, and blockade and punish Palestinians until they submit to Israel’s demands has failed, a useful conclusion from the One Voice survey is that given a free choice, Israelis reject all solutions requiring them to give up their monopoly on power and to respect Palestinian rights and international law.

The right response to such findings is to support the growing international solidarity campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to force Israel to abandon its illegal, supremacist and colonial practices, and to build a vision of a democratic future for all the people in the country.

welcome to daytonstan

certain words are in my mind and have particular connotations given my experiences. having spent a decade and a half in cincinnati, ohio, just a few miles down the road from dayton, ohio, the word dayton will forever be associated with this small ohio city. but that is is slowly starting to change. keith dayton is an american lieutenant who is based in palestine and who runs the palestinian authority polices forces, which were set up in the first place to do the dirty work of the zionist entity’s regime. when i see these palestinian police (which should really be called american-israeli police) and i think about the work they do here for the colonizer i cannot help but see this new layer of american imperialism layered on top of zionist colonialism. robert dreyfuss has a report on dayton in the nation this week outlining the american money invested in this imperial project and its context, to a certain extent:

Last Thursday, in what was billed as his very first on-the-record address, Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, U.S. security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, spoke to the 2009 Soref Symposium organized by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. WINEP, of course, is the chief think tank for the Washington-based Israel lobby.

And in his talk, Gen. Dayton delivered an important warning.

First, the background. For the past three and a half years, Dayton has lived and worked in Jerusalem and across the West Bank, overseeing the creation of three Palestinian battalions of troops, hand-picked in the West Bank, trained at an academy in Jordan, and then deployed in the occupied territory.

The three 500-man battalions are intended to grow, to as many as ten battalions. Their mission, he said, is to “create a Palestinian state.” Recognizing that many in the WINEP audience were not exactly enamored with the idea of an independent Palestine, Dayton told his audience: “If you don’t like the idea of a Palestinian state, you won’t like the rest of this talk.”

From the detailed description provided by Dayton, it’s clear that the Palestinian forces he’s enabling could certainly be accused of carrying out the self-policing of the West Bank for the Israelis. Because the West Bank is, after all, occupied by Israel and riddled with illegal settlements besides — plus beset by a surrounding wall, 600-plus intrusive checkpoints, and a network of Jews-only highways — the Palestinian troops are utterly at the mercy of the Israelis. Each recruit is vetted by US security forces (i.e, the CIA), then vetted by Shin Bet, the domestic intelligence arm of Israel, and then by Jordan’s super-efficient intelligence service, before they begin their training in Jordan. Dayton made it quite clear that the Palestinian units thus trained are primarily deployed against two targets in the West Bank: against criminal gangs, and against Hamas.

So far, they’ve received $161 million is US funding.

Dayton described how, during the Israeli assault on Gaza last December and January, the West Bank remained quiet — even though some analysts were predicting an upsurge of sympathy for Hamas, which controls Gaza, along with violence, even a third intifada. “None of these predictions came true,” said the general, who added that the Palestinian battalions allowed peaceful demonstrations of solidarity with Hamas, but kept the lid on violent actions. Israel, he said, “kept a low profile,” and not a single Palestinian was killed in the West Bank during the three-week carnage in Gaza.

Most of the work he’s done, Dayton said, occurred in the West Bank after the June, 2007, Hamas takeover in Gaza. “What we have created are ‘new men,'” he added.

Now for the warning. Recognizing that by organizing and training thousands of Palestinian troops, professionally led, he is creating in effect a nationalist army, Dayton warned the 500 or so WINEP listeners that the troops can only be strung along for just so long. “With big expectations, come big risks,” said Dayton. “There is perhaps a two-year shelf life on being told that you’re creating a state, when you’re not.” To my ears, at least, his subtle warning is that if concrete progress isn’t made toward a Palestinian state, the very troops Dayton is assembling could rebel.

Dayton was responding to a question from Paul Wolfowitz, the neoconservative former deputy secretary of defense, who now hangs his hat at the neocon-dominated American Enterprise Institute. “How many Palestinians see your people as collaborators?” Wolfowitz asked. In answering Wolfowtiz, the general acknowledged that Hamas and its sympathizers accuse the Palestinian battalions of being “enforces of the Israeli occupation.” But he stressed that each one of them believes that he is fighting for an independent Palestine. The unstated message: the United States and Israel had better deliver. Thus the two year warning. Which, to me, sounds spot on with the Obama administration’s timetable.

One more thing: General Dayton signed up for another stint in the West Bank. And how long did he agree to serve? Yes–two years.

the recruiting for dayton’s palestinian security forces is very specific. they target palestinian young men who are uneducated, who have not finished high school. they use the fact that people need salaries here, often desperately, to feed their families and to put other family members through school. this way the people who are in dayton’s security forces don’t have critical thinking skills. they don’t ask questions. they are easily influenced to think they are serving their country rather than the colonial occupying regime. or the american empire for that matter. they feed into this system that exists here that keeps people fixated on salaries rather than liberation. salaries, when they come from the palestinian authority, are a way of silencing people so that they don’t say anything that would jeopardize their income. and these fatah-dominated security forces are helping the americans and zionists in their divide and rule policy as a recent ha’aretz article makes clear:

The Palestinian Authority has established a special counter-intelligence squad in its security services to uncover agents working for Hamas and Hezbollah. To date the Palestinian Authority security services have arrested dozens of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with the two radical Islamic groups.

Israeli security sources said that the PA has made a focused effort to uncover foreign agents, noting that the new unit involves a large contingent of officers.

The new organization is part of a group of measures undertaken by the PA to counter Hamas . It is meant, among other things, to stanch information leaks from the various security groups in the PA to the Islamist groups, especially information about plans against them.

ben white had an article in electronic intifada last week that examined various aspects of the daytonization of the palestinian security forces. one of the victims of this has been my friend and colleague abdel sattar al qassim who ben writes about and whose trial is tomorrow morning. here are excerpts of ben’s article, but i strongly recommend clicking on the link and reading the entire thing about other aspects of daytonization of the pa:

Meanwhile, the Israeli military continues to invade PA-controlled areas, particularly at night, an arrangement which was actually a joint Palestinian-Israeli agreement. Moreover, while a weary Palestinian population is grateful for small economic upturns in their occupied cities, they are well aware that the PA’s law and order focus is a welcome part of Israel’s strategy in the West Bank; the BBC noted in December last year how the Israeli army was pleased with the “good job” Palestinian forces were doing.

One of the reasons for Israel’s complimentary report card is the extent to which PA forces have been arresting members of groups who oppose the official “peace process,” and in particular, detaining those who are either openly, or simply suspected, members and supporters of Hamas. According to the International Middle East Media Center, estimates give the number of detainees in Palestinian security forces’ custody at between 500 to 600, many of whom have had no trial.

The secretary general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmad Saadat, himself a prisoner in an Israeli jail, noted just last week in a public statement that it was “impossible” for the PA “to demand freeing the detainees [from Israeli prisons] while the Palestinian prisons are full of prisoners jailed for resistance background or internal disputes.”

On 4 December of last year, Reuters reported on the claims being made of torture at the hands of Mahmoud Abbas’ Preventive Security forces and General Intelligence. The article cited Ghandi Rabei, a lawyer from the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) in Hebron, who told the news agency that “hundreds of civilians have been transferred to military courts without legal procedures in breach of Palestinian law and international norms.” The ICHR’s annual report for 2008 recorded 111 complaints of torture or mistreatment in detention in the West Bank, according to Agence France-Presse.

On 31 January, the British Daily Mail ran a story under the dramatic headline: “Financed by the British taxpayer, brutal torturers of the West Bank.” The paper reported how the British government’s Department for International Development had given 76 million British pounds in 2008 to the PA for what it called “security sector reform.” Once the figure is broken down, 3 million pounds went directly to the PA police, while “17 million [pounds] pays the salaries of the PA’s array of security organizations — including the Presidential Guard intelligence service and the feared Preventive Security Organization.”

One of the most important factors shaping these developments is the US strategy as directed on the ground by Lieutenant General Keith Dayton. Dayton started work with the Palestinian security forces at the end of 2005. While ostensibly charged with general reform of the PA security forces, it became apparent that the US was intent on building up Abbas-loyal PA forces in order to directly confront Hamas should the need arise.

Dayton’s plan involved giving the PA forces an increase in funding, manpower, training and weaponry. In October 2006, The New York Times reported that the US intended to expand Abbas’ Presidential Guard at a cost of $26 million. At the time, it was clear that any such plan — which also included “the transfer of thousands of guns from Egypt” to the Presidential Guard — would only go ahead with a “positive response from Israel,” according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, this “systematic effort to bolster Abbas and his Fatah loyalists to counter the political success of Hamas” suffered an embarrassing setback, of course, when Hamas forces easily triumphed over Fatah in the Gaza Strip in June 2007 and thus “inherited thousands of guns, equipment and vehicles supplied by the United States.”

The only lesson learned, however, seems to have been that the US, Israel and the PA could ill-afford a similar debacle in the West Bank — and therefore Dayton’s work was to be intensified, rather than reconsidered. This, then, is what has been happening with increasing fervor in the West Bank in recent months.

On 27 February 2009, The New York Times’ Ethan Bronner wrote about the 1,600 Palestinians who “have been through American-financed courses in Jordan.” Dayton, the article said, “hopes to have a well-trained battalion based in each of eight West Bank cities” (plans to expand the program were also reported by Reuters this week). The Israelis, needless to say, are content to cooperate: an Israeli officer “inaugurated the firing range” at one of the US-funded Palestinian training camps.

Whether it is the “top brass” training provided by the US for Palestinian security officials in Ramallah, or the special “SWAT” team organized by Dayton, Salam Fayyad and the Jordanians, it is clear that the primary purpose of these forces is not neighborhood crime-busting. As the World Tribune reported in the case of the SWAT team, the “elite” forces can be used against “Hamas squads” and help “protect the PA.” As one critic put it, the PA’s security agencies in the West Bank are trained to “persecute resistance elements and provide Israel with intelligence with which to arrest or assassinate resistance leaders.”

Shawan Jabarin, general director of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, agrees that these training programs are more about internal suppression than “law and order”:

“If the senior officers who train them taught a respect for the rule of law, I’m sure we would feel that — but our feeling is completely different. I’m not saying they are training them how to torture people, but they don’t put any mechanism in place for monitoring these things. For political reasons, the Palestinians are trying to show that they are strong, that they are doing exactly what the others are asking them to do — this happened during [Yasser] Arafat’s time, and it’s also [happening] these days.”

If there was any doubt about the real purpose of these forces, one just needs to listen to Dayton himself. Dayton stressed to The Jerusalem Post in December that “the trainees are taught over and again that ‘you are not here to learn how to fight against the Israeli occupation.'” That’s why Dayton could affirm that he, the Israeli Ministry of Defense and his “IDF [Israeli army] colleagues” are of one mind: “something new is out there” and “it’s worth encouraging.”

It may not be new — one only has to go back to the mid-1990s to find something similar happening — but PA forces are certainly being encouraged to suppress dissent. While Israel was attacking Gaza in January, The Jerusalem Post described how the PA’s crackdown on the opposition in the West Bank was “being carried out in coordination with the IDF and under the supervision of US security experts.”

These were the very same police officers who had “received special training in Jordan and the West Bank as part of a security plan engineered by the US,” and were apparently reporting directly to Salam Fayyad. Israeli “security officials” “praised” Mahmoud Abbas’ “iron-fist policy” in the West Bank, reported The Jerusalem Post and “expressed satisfaction with the coordination between the PA security forces and the IDF and Shin Bet [Israel’s internal intelligence agency].” Sometimes, “Hamas members were detained by the IDF only hours after they were released from PA detention centers.”

So why have key elements within Fatah and the PA decided to go down this path? It seems like the Ramallah-based political and intelligence elite are primarily driven by fear; fear of losing their power and privileges, and fear of Hamas. More specifically, there is a real sense that Hamas’ popularity has not suffered any kind of significant fall since 2006, and if anything, has been consolidated or increased.

At the same time as Hamas has emerged intact and uncompromising from Israel’s recent Gaza onslaught, the Fatah-dominated PA has nothing to show for its strategy of softly-softly negotiations; just an entrenched, apartheid-like Israeli occupation. The “peace process” has brought Israel a degree of peace, but left the Palestinians trapped between Israel’s colonies and wall. The PA’s only card is that it continues to pay the salaries of thousands of desperate Palestinians — money that is only forthcoming from the international community with strings attached.

Meanwhile in Nablus, Professor Qassem, who is considering a run for president in the future as an independent, feels like the PA “is reflecting its inner crisis against the population”:

“So instead of going back to their own people they are trying to punish their own people. Why? Because there is Dayton, and the money of the donor countries, which they cannot sacrifice. If they want to go back to their own people, they will lose their salaries, and the situation in the West Bank will be similar to that in Gaza.”

This is a deal that was made many years ago, but it has meant that there is a class of political leaders in the PA who are seemingly eternally wedded to the idea that the international community is directing the peace process in good faith. For reasons of self-interest, they are desperate to keep the PA, and all the assumptions of Oslo, alive — even while sometimes admitting that in terms of obtaining basic Palestinian rights, there is, and will continue to be, nothing to show for meeting the “benchmarks” and “roadmaps.”

If the US/Jordanian-trained PA security forces are the “stick” in the West Bank, then the manipulation of foreign aid is the “carrot.” This is beyond the scope of this article, but it is worth mentioning in passing two recent Reuters reports on how “ventures backed by President Abbas’s allies have received loan guarantees, grants and agricultural assistance.”

At a critical moment for the Palestinian people, and the prospects for the region as a whole, it is arresting that many in the Palestinian leadership can sound like they are reading from Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s speech notes, when he said that “the path forward” lay in “security” for Israel, an “improved economy” for the Palestinians, and “stability for both,” as reported by The Jerusalem Post. As Shawan Jabarin said to me, “for political reasons you make a compromise and sacrifice human rights. This is what is going on these days.”

These are dangerous developments, something that Professor Qassem was quick to highlight in an interview with the Palestinian Information Center after his recent arrest: “Freedom of speech and expression is a paramount issue over which there can be no compromise … If we tolerate violations of our human rights and civil liberties, then we will be jeopardizing our future as a people.”

in a nutshell the daytonization of the west bank means collaboration with the zionist colonizing terrorizing entity, silencing dissent for those who would disagree with this, squashing resistance that fights for the liberation of palestine, and using american-zionist tactics of torture and repression to carry this out. it helps to divide and rule the country and to extend, rather than limit, zionist-american control of the west bank. welcome to daytonstan.

prisoners (of colonizers & collaborators alike)

i was rather shocked when this article by tim mcgirk from time magazine came across my news reader yesterday. it is a story about palestinian political prisoners through the vantage point of his family members left behind and the difficulty his young daughters have when visiting him in prison. here is how it begins:

Spending time with her dad requires that 6-year-old Jinan undertake a bizarre and arduous odyssey. Usually she travels alone, but last Monday, the Palestinian girl with the rosebud smile and bouncing energy was accompanied by her younger sisters Dania, 4, and Noor, 2, on the journey to the Israeli prison that holds her father.

At home in the beleaguered West Bank town of Qalqilya, as her mother dresses her before dawn in an almond-green blouse and jeans, Jinan asks the same question she always does: “Mommy, why does Daddy have to sleep on the Israeli side?” And her mother Salam Nazal comforts her by saying, “Because that’s where the best Palestinian men go to sleep, and your father is one of them.” The town, which has elected a Hamas mayor, is known as a center of Palestinian militancy, and Israeli security forces conduct raids there on average five times a week.

Salam cannot accompany her daughters because she is on an Israeli security watch list, although she has never learned why she’s on it. Her immediate family lives in Jordan, so she must put the girls on a bus bound for Chattah-Gilboa prison inside Israel and hope that one of the many Palestinian women on board will help Jinan wrangle her sisters. “I’m so worried about having them go without me,” says Salam, as she hoists her girls onto the bus, organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). “But what can I do? This is their only chance to see their father.”

Ali Nazal, 35, who sold clothes from a cart in the streets, is one of more than 10,300 Palestinian detainees currently inside Israeli prisons. Although he has yet to be tried, Nazal has been behind bars for the past two years. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of possessing weapons and harboring a fugitive — charges the family insists are based on false evidence from anonymous informers working for the Israeli security services. Salam says no weapons were found in their home but says the Israeli military demolished it anyway. The Israelis maintain that Ali was an active member of a militant organization and part of a cell that had been planning a terrorist attack.

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Ali and his fellow detainees should never have been transferred to prisons outside the occupied territories. But since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza began in June 1967, more than 650,000 Palestinians have passed through Israeli jails. Nearly every Palestinian family has someone who was locked up in Israel at some point. Prison has become a rite of passage for rebellious teens and, for families seeking to visit detained loved ones, a nightmare of permits, checkpoints and body searches. It’s not an easy journey for an adult, much less three unaccompanied tots carrying their lunch in a Barbie backpack.

my dear friend nora barrows-friedman did a similar story about amani khader a few years ago on flashpoints. amani is the daughter of husam khader, who was recently released from prison (last august). you can listen to her interview by clicking this link. amani describes similar hurdles she had to endure when she went to visit her father in prison and she reads one of her amazing rap songs at the end of interview. i have a special affection for amani because i’ve been tutoring her in balata refugee camp this year. she is one of the brightest and most beautiful people i’ve ever met. i know that if she were at my university now she would surpass even the seniors in college, although she is only a senior in high school. clearly she gets much of this genius from her father, husam, who i was very pleased to read made an important statement that was reported in ma’an news today:

A high-ranking Fatah official on Thursday proposed holding presidential and legislative elections as an alternative to the “useless” Cairo dialogue so that Palestinians can choose between a program led by Fatah and resistance agenda claimed by Hamas but which it “does not practice.”

Husam Khader, a Fatah legislator within the Palestinian Legislative Council, said during a visit to Ma’an News Agency in the West Bank city of Bethlehem that “without agreeing on a decent election program between Fatah and Hamas that will specify the future of the Palestinians, these elections will not be held and the state of division that is supported by western parties and Israel will deepen.”

“Palestinians are qualified more than others for such a situation since there is a geographical barrier between the West Bank and Gaza, which is the [Israeli] occupation,” he added.

Concerning Palestinian President Mahmoud Abass upcoming visit to the United States, Khader downplayed the visit, saying that it will not lead to anything because “the US administration will just assure the promises of previous administrations toward a two-state solution.”

He demanded that President Abbas present a draft to US President Barack Obama dismantling the Palestinian Authority in exchange for a commitment to end popular resistance against Israel. “President Abbas should present this solution, which is the right one, because “the PA useless on the ground and is represented solely by the salary [for public employees] at the end of the month.”

Regarding whether or not Fatah’s sixth conference will go on as planned, he said it was “a big lie,” noting that “there are persons inside Fatah who are afraid of democracy more than the [Israeli] occupation, because they fear for their interests, and will obstruct holding a conference using weak excuses and deceiving the movement’s affiliates.”

my only beef with the above statement is husam’s bit about giving up resistance against the zionist entity. but i highly doubt that this is what he said or that he really means this. i would be shocked if that were true. but the idea that the palestinian collaborationist authority can continue on its path of collaboration and repression is finally penetrating even fatah circles. it is refreshing to say the least.

ben white’s article in electronic intifada today details much of the corruption and collaboration with the zionist entity and its criminal ally the united states. it discusses my friend abdel sattar al qassem and his most recent imprisonment in a palestinian jail. white’s article makes it clear why the sulta (salata) must go:

Last week, less than two weeks after I had talked with him in his an-Najah University faculty office, Abdel Sattar Qassem was arrested by the Palestinian Preventive Security forces in Nablus, occupied West Bank.

Qassem is a 60-year-old professor of political science, and has been at an-Najah University since 1980. Imprisoned several times by the Israeli occupation, he is the author of dozens of books and papers, as well as hundreds of articles, on Palestinian politics and Islamic thought. But Qassem is also an eloquent and prominent critic of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and he has been arrested, and targeted by politically-motivated attacks, on a number of previous occasions.

The most recent of these was in January of this year, when his car was set alight. According to a news report from the Palestinian news agency, Ma’an, claim of responsibility was circulated by an unknown group who accused Qassem of being a “mouthpiece for the Iranian and the Syrian regimes.” As reported by Asharq al-Awsat, Qassem pointed out how the statement was a “hoax,” and thus a cover for individuals who did not want to openly identify themselves. The attack was condemned by a variety of public figures “in the harshest possible words,” according to Ma’an.

This time, the official line is that his arrest was a civil, criminal case, the result of litigation proceedings against Qassem by two figures within the PA’s security forces. The Palestinian Information Center reports that Qassem, who according to his family was arrested hours after he gave an interview to al-Aqsa TV to discuss the shooting of West Bank Hamas leader Hamid al-Bitawi, insists that the charges are groundless and politically motivated. Speaking to me on the telephone after his release, Qassem noted:

“It was evident that they didn’t want to arrest me on a political basis, so they decided to fabricate something against me. Last Thursday, in court, there were many lawyers trying to represent me, because they feel like this is a national issue. They see that this is intimidation, not a genuine civil case.”

The attempts to intimidate a critic of the Palestinian Authority into silence is disturbing, but is only one incident in a growing trend. The Ramallah-based political leadership, dominated by Fatah, and the PA security forces, are becoming increasingly authoritarian, encouraging a culture of militarized policing and a lack of respect for human rights and the rule of law. Now, nonviolent resistance leaders against the Israeli occupation like Sami Awad, based in Bethlehem, are saying that they “have to be ready to face any injustice even if caused by our own people, within the PA.”

One aspect of this phenomenon is an assault on the freedom of the press. Back in December of last year, the Ma’an news agency carried out an investigation into what it described as “an unprecedented campaign of censorship and intimidation against West Bank and Gaza Strip journalists,” carried out by the Palestinian Authority.

The report detailed how independent news agencies had become targets for “President Mahmoud Abbas’s security establishment, particularly the PA’s Office of the Attorney General.” The same month as Ma’an’s investigation, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate demanded that the PA release journalists from West Bank prisons, noting that “some journalists had been in prison for more than three months.”

Criticizing the PA, or even affording Hamas coverage, now seems enough to get on the blacklist, or become a target for the PA’s security apparatus. In fact, a Nablus-based journalist “found himself in a prison cell” in January for reporting the torching of Professor Qassem’s car, according to The Jerusalem Post. In February, the Post reported that “the PA’s crackdown on the local media was aimed at intimidating Palestinian reporters and stopping them from reporting about financial corruption and human rights violations by Abbas’s security forces.”

Another worrying trend in the PA-administered areas is an increasing militarization of civilian policing. During my recent visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, one of the first things several of my friends told me about was an energetic campaign by the PA to clamp down on car-related crime. There were now impromptu checkpoints thrown up on the main roads where drivers’ licenses were checked and the special permission required to drive Israeli yellow-plated cars was requested.

Nobody minded, in theory, increased efficiency in law enforcement; what was troubling was the way the PA forces were going about it. It can seem like a small thing, a friend told me, but “it’s this militarization, this way of asserting a kind of domination over the people.” Many complained of the disrespectful behavior of the gun-toting men checking the cars.

This focus on “law and order” has become a repeated theme in the last few years, particularly in cities like Nablus and Jenin. Just recently, in a fairly typical episode, Ma’an news agency reported that PA forces conducted a “sweep” in a village three kilometers from Nablus, arresting apparent “fugitives” and checking the registration of some 250 cars.

Consistent, genuine complaints about lawlessness and corruption in Nablus had already emerged in 2004-05, but it wasn’t until the end of 2007 that the current campaign was launched by PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, appointed by Mahmoud Abbas, whose official term as PA president expired in January. Beginning in Nablus, the law and order drive was replicated in Jenin in the summer of 2008. Residents have undoubtedly welcomed the increased security, but the nature of the campaign — and the context — is not so straightforward.

For example, the PA’s infrastructure (largely destroyed by Israel in 2001-02) is completely ill-equipped. In April 2008 in Nablus, for example, Reuters reported that only 13 percent of the prison’s inmates had actually been convicted; the restrictions of occupation and the inadequacy of the PA’s legal system mean that many face a long wait before their guilt or innocence can be determined in a court of law.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military continues to invade PA-controlled areas, particularly at night, an arrangement which was actually a joint Palestinian-Israeli agreement. Moreover, while a weary Palestinian population is grateful for small economic upturns in their occupied cities, they are well aware that the PA’s law and order focus is a welcome part of Israel’s strategy in the West Bank; the BBC noted in December last year how the Israeli army was pleased with the “good job” Palestinian forces were doing.

One of the reasons for Israel’s complimentary report card is the extent to which PA forces have been arresting members of groups who oppose the official “peace process,” and in particular, detaining those who are either openly, or simply suspected, members and supporters of Hamas. According to the International Middle East Media Center, estimates give the number of detainees in Palestinian security forces’ custody at between 500 to 600, many of whom have had no trial.

The secretary general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmad Saadat, himself a prisoner in an Israeli jail, noted just last week in a public statement that it was “impossible” for the PA “to demand freeing the detainees [from Israeli prisons] while the Palestinian prisons are full of prisoners jailed for resistance background or internal disputes.”

On 4 December of last year, Reuters reported on the claims being made of torture at the hands of Mahmoud Abbas’ Preventive Security forces and General Intelligence. The article cited Ghandi Rabei, a lawyer from the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) in Hebron, who told the news agency that “hundreds of civilians have been transferred to military courts without legal procedures in breach of Palestinian law and international norms.” The ICHR’s annual report for 2008 recorded 111 complaints of torture or mistreatment in detention in the West Bank, according to Agence France-Presse.

On 31 January, the British Daily Mail ran a story under the dramatic headline: “Financed by the British taxpayer, brutal torturers of the West Bank.” The paper reported how the British government’s Department for International Development had given 76 million British pounds in 2008 to the PA for what it called “security sector reform.” Once the figure is broken down, 3 million pounds went directly to the PA police, while “17 million [pounds] pays the salaries of the PA’s array of security organizations — including the Presidential Guard intelligence service and the feared Preventive Security Organization.”

One of the most important factors shaping these developments is the US strategy as directed on the ground by Lieutenant General Keith Dayton. Dayton started work with the Palestinian security forces at the end of 2005. While ostensibly charged with general reform of the PA security forces, it became apparent that the US was intent on building up Abbas-loyal PA forces in order to directly confront Hamas should the need arise.

Dayton’s plan involved giving the PA forces an increase in funding, manpower, training and weaponry. In October 2006, The New York Times reported that the US intended to expand Abbas’ Presidential Guard at a cost of $26 million. At the time, it was clear that any such plan — which also included “the transfer of thousands of guns from Egypt” to the Presidential Guard — would only go ahead with a “positive response from Israel,” according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, this “systematic effort to bolster Abbas and his Fatah loyalists to counter the political success of Hamas” suffered an embarrassing setback, of course, when Hamas forces easily triumphed over Fatah in the Gaza Strip in June 2007 and thus “inherited thousands of guns, equipment and vehicles supplied by the United States.”

The only lesson learned, however, seems to have been that the US, Israel and the PA could ill-afford a similar debacle in the West Bank — and therefore Dayton’s work was to be intensified, rather than reconsidered. This, then, is what has been happening with increasing fervor in the West Bank in recent months.

On 27 February 2009, The New York Times’ Ethan Bronner wrote about the 1,600 Palestinians who “have been through American-financed courses in Jordan.” Dayton, the article said, “hopes to have a well-trained battalion based in each of eight West Bank cities” (plans to expand the program were also reported by Reuters this week). The Israelis, needless to say, are content to cooperate: an Israeli officer “inaugurated the firing range” at one of the US-funded Palestinian training camps.

Whether it is the “top brass” training provided by the US for Palestinian security officials in Ramallah, or the special “SWAT” team organized by Dayton, Salam Fayyad and the Jordanians, it is clear that the primary purpose of these forces is not neighborhood crime-busting. As the World Tribune reported in the case of the SWAT team, the “elite” forces can be used against “Hamas squads” and help “protect the PA.” As one critic put it, the PA’s security agencies in the West Bank are trained to “persecute resistance elements and provide Israel with intelligence with which to arrest or assassinate resistance leaders.”

Shawan Jabarin, general director of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, agrees that these training programs are more about internal suppression than “law and order”:

“If the senior officers who train them taught a respect for the rule of law, I’m sure we would feel that — but our feeling is completely different. I’m not saying they are training them how to torture people, but they don’t put any mechanism in place for monitoring these things. For political reasons, the Palestinians are trying to show that they are strong, that they are doing exactly what the others are asking them to do — this happened during [Yasser] Arafat’s time, and it’s also [happening] these days.”

If there was any doubt about the real purpose of these forces, one just needs to listen to Dayton himself. Dayton stressed to The Jerusalem Post in December that “the trainees are taught over and again that ‘you are not here to learn how to fight against the Israeli occupation.'” That’s why Dayton could affirm that he, the Israeli Ministry of Defense and his “IDF [Israeli army] colleagues” are of one mind: “something new is out there” and “it’s worth encouraging.”

It may not be new — one only has to go back to the mid-1990s to find something similar happening — but PA forces are certainly being encouraged to suppress dissent. While Israel was attacking Gaza in January, The Jerusalem Post described how the PA’s crackdown on the opposition in the West Bank was “being carried out in coordination with the IDF and under the supervision of US security experts.”

These were the very same police officers who had “received special training in Jordan and the West Bank as part of a security plan engineered by the US,” and were apparently reporting directly to Salam Fayyad. Israeli “security officials” “praised” Mahmoud Abbas’ “iron-fist policy” in the West Bank, reported The Jerusalem Post and “expressed satisfaction with the coordination between the PA security forces and the IDF and Shin Bet [Israel’s internal intelligence agency].” Sometimes, “Hamas members were detained by the IDF only hours after they were released from PA detention centers.”

So why have key elements within Fatah and the PA decided to go down this path? It seems like the Ramallah-based political and intelligence elite are primarily driven by fear; fear of losing their power and privileges, and fear of Hamas. More specifically, there is a real sense that Hamas’ popularity has not suffered any kind of significant fall since 2006, and if anything, has been consolidated or increased.

At the same time as Hamas has emerged intact and uncompromising from Israel’s recent Gaza onslaught, the Fatah-dominated PA has nothing to show for its strategy of softly-softly negotiations; just an entrenched, apartheid-like Israeli occupation. The “peace process” has brought Israel a degree of peace, but left the Palestinians trapped between Israel’s colonies and wall. The PA’s only card is that it continues to pay the salaries of thousands of desperate Palestinians — money that is only forthcoming from the international community with strings attached.

Meanwhile in Nablus, Professor Qassem, who is considering a run for president in the future as an independent, feels like the PA “is reflecting its inner crisis against the population”:

“So instead of going back to their own people they are trying to punish their own people. Why? Because there is Dayton, and the money of the donor countries, which they cannot sacrifice. If they want to go back to their own people, they will lose their salaries, and the situation in the West Bank will be similar to that in Gaza.”

This is a deal that was made many years ago, but it has meant that there is a class of political leaders in the PA who are seemingly eternally wedded to the idea that the international community is directing the peace process in good faith. For reasons of self-interest, they are desperate to keep the PA, and all the assumptions of Oslo, alive — even while sometimes admitting that in terms of obtaining basic Palestinian rights, there is, and will continue to be, nothing to show for meeting the “benchmarks” and “roadmaps.”

If the US/Jordanian-trained PA security forces are the “stick” in the West Bank, then the manipulation of foreign aid is the “carrot.” This is beyond the scope of this article, but it is worth mentioning in passing two recent Reuters reports on how “ventures backed by President Abbas’s allies have received loan guarantees, grants and agricultural assistance.”

At a critical moment for the Palestinian people, and the prospects for the region as a whole, it is arresting that many in the Palestinian leadership can sound like they are reading from Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s speech notes, when he said that “the path forward” lay in “security” for Israel, an “improved economy” for the Palestinians, and “stability for both,” as reported by The Jerusalem Post. As Shawan Jabarin said to me, “for political reasons you make a compromise and sacrifice human rights. This is what is going on these days.”

These are dangerous developments, something that Professor Qassem was quick to highlight in an interview with the Palestinian Information Center after his recent arrest: “Freedom of speech and expression is a paramount issue over which there can be no compromise … If we tolerate violations of our human rights and civil liberties, then we will be jeopardizing our future as a people.”

meanwhile palestine hits the world record today for having the world’s longest political prisoner behind bars of the zionist usurping entity:

Former political prisoner, researcher and specialist in detainees’ affairs, Abdul-Nasser Farawna, has revealed that detainee Na’el Barghouthi now spent 31years behind bars. He was kidnapped by Israeli forces on April 4th 1978.

Farawna said that Barghouthi and other detainees who have spent many years in Israeli prisons and detention facilities have became the symbols of steadfastness, resistance and determination. Their continued imprisonment proves the criminal and immoral nature of the Israeli occupation, the Quds Net reported.

He also said that Palestinian resistance factions should insist on his release and the release of all detainees who have spent so many years behind bars for resisting the occupation and fighting for their country.

On August 25, 2008, detainee Sa’id Al Ataba was released from an Israeli prison after he spent 31 years and 26 days behind bars.

Detainee Barghouthi, born in the central West Bank city of Ramallah in 1957, was kidnapped by the army on April 4, 1978, when he was only 21 years old. He was sentenced by an Israeli military court to one life-term.

for further context on these crimes of the zionist apartheid regime listen to one of nora’s latest interviews with our friend hazem jamjoum on flashpoints. it is an amazing discussion of the apartheid regime.