palestine and absurdism

elia suleiman, one of my favorite palestinian filmmakers has a new movie out entitled “the time that remains.” the film premiered at cannes and i’m hoping it comes to a theater near me very soon. here is a clip from the film, though it is in arabic with french subtitles:

here is a synopsis:

THE TIME THAT REMAINS is a semi biographic film, in four historic episodes, about a family -my family – spanning from 1948, until recent times. The film is inspired by my father’s diaries of his personal accounts, starting from when he was a resistant fighter in 1948, and by my mother’s letters to family members who were forced to leave the country since then. Combined with my intimate memories of them and with them, the film attempts to portray the daily life of those Palestinians who remained in their land and were labeled « Israeli-Arabs », living as a minority in their own homeland.

one of the reasons i love his films so much is that absurdism as a style (think samuel beckett) is the best at capturing the insanity that sometimes contextualizes this history and its present. absurdism captures zionist crimes as well as its collaborating allies in the palestinian authority. a recent article in electronic intifada by ali abu nimah and hasan abu nimah lays out the absurdity, for instance, of salam fayyad trying to declare a palestinian state in its current and ever shrinking archipelago form:

Late last month, Salam Fayyad, the appointed Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister in Ramallah, made a surprise announcement: he declared his intention to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip before the end of 2011 regardless of the outcome of negotiations with Israel.

Fayyad told the London Times that he would work to build “facts on the ground, consistent with having our state emerge as a fact that cannot be denied.” His plan was further elaborated in a lengthy document grandly titled “Program of the Thirteenth Government of the Palestinian National Authority.”

The plan contains all sorts of ambitious ideas: an international airport in the Jordan Valley, new rail links to neighboring states, generous tax incentives to attract foreign investment, and of course strengthening the “security forces.” It also speaks boldly of liberating the Palestinian economy from its dependence on Israel, and reducing dependence on foreign aid.

This may sound attractive to some, but Fayyad has neither the political clout nor the financial means to propose such far-reaching plans without a green light from Washington or Tel Aviv.

Fayyad aims to project an image of a competent Palestinian administration already mastering the craft of running a state. He boasts, for instance, that the PA he heads has worked to “develop effective institutions of government based on the principles of good governance, accountability and transparency.”

But what is really taking shape in the West Bank today is a police state, where all sources of opposition or resistance — real or suspected — to either the PA regime, or the Israeli occupation are being systematically repressed by US-funded and trained Palestinian “security forces” in full coordination with Israel. Gaza remains under tight siege because of its refusal to submit to this regime.

In describing the Palestinian utopia he hopes to create, Fayyad’s plan declares that “Palestine will be a stable democratic state with a multi-party political system. Transfer of governing authority is smooth, peaceful and regular in accordance with the will of the people, expressed through free and fair elections conducted in accordance with the law.”

A perfect opportunity to demonstrate such an exemplary transfer would have been right after the January 2006 election which as the entire world knows Hamas won fairly and cleanly. Instead, those who monopolize the PA leadership today colluded with outside powers first to cripple and overthrow the elected Hamas government, and then the “national unity government” formed by the Mecca Agreement in early 2007, entrenching the current internal Palestinian division. (Fayyad’s own party won just two percent at the 2006 election, and his appointment as prime minister by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas was never — as required by law — approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council, dozens of whose elected members remain behind Israeli prison bars.)

From 1994 to 2006, more than eight billion US dollars were pumped into the Palestinian economy, making Palestinians the most aid-dependent people on earth, as Anne Le More showed in her important book International Assistance to the Palestinians after Oslo: Political Guilt; Wasted Money (London, Routledge, 2008). The PA received this aid ostensibly to build Palestinian institutions, improve socioeconomic development and support the creation of an independent state. The result however is that Palestinians are more destitute and aid-dependent than ever before, their institutions are totally dysfunctional, and their state remains a distant fantasy.

PA corruption and mismanagement played a big part in squandering this wealth, but by far the largest wealth destroyer was and remains the Israeli occupation. Contrary to what Fayyad imagines, you cannot “end the occupation, despite the occupation.”

A telling fact Le More reveals is that the previous “programs” of the PA (except those offered by the Hamas-led governments) were written and approved by international donor agencies and officials and then given to the PA to present back to the same donors who wrote them as if they were actually written by the PA!

Everything we see suggests Fayyad’s latest scheme follows exactly the same pattern. What is particularly troubling this time is that the plan appears to coincide with a number of other initiatives and trial balloons that present a real danger to the prospects for Palestinian liberation from permanent Israeli subjugation.

Recently, the International Middle East Media Center, an independent Palestinian news organization, published what it said was the leaked outline of a peace plan to be presented by US President Barack Obama.

That plan included international armed forces in most of the Palestinian “state”; Israeli annexation of large parts of East Jerusalem; that “All Palestinian factions would be dissolved and transformed into political parties”; all large Israeli settlements would remain under permanent Israeli control; the Palestinian state would be largely demilitarized and Israel would retain control of its airspace; intensified Palestinian-Israeli “security coordination”; and the entity would not be permitted to have military alliances with other regional countries.

On the central issue of the right of return for Palestinian refugees, the alleged Obama plan allows only an agreed number of refugees to return, not to their original homes, but only to the West Bank, particularly to the cities of Ramallah and Nablus.

It is impossible to confirm that this leaked document actually originates with the Obama administration. What gives that claim credibility, however, is the plan’s very close resemblance to a published proposal sent to Obama last November by a bipartisan group of US elder statesmen headed by former US national security advisors Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Moreover, recent press reports indicate a lively debate within the Obama Administration about whether the US should itself publish specific proposals for a final settlement once negotiations resume; so there is little doubt that concrete proposals are circulating.

Indeed there is little of substance to distinguish these various plans from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s concept of “economic peace” and a demilitarized Palestinian statelet under overall Israeli control, with no right of return for refugees. And, since all seem to agree that the Jordan Valley — land and sky — would remain under indefinite Israeli control, so would Fayyad’s airport.

Similar gimmicks have been tried before: who remembers all the early Oslo years’ hullabaloo about the Gaza International Airport that operated briefly under strict Israeli control before Israel destroyed it, and the promised Gaza seaport whose construction Israel forbade?

There are two linked explanations for why Fayyad’s plan was launched now. US Middle East envoy George Mitchell has repeatedly defined his goal as a “prompt resumption and early conclusion” of negotiations. If the kinds of recycled ideas coming from the alleged Obama plan, the Scowcroft-Brzezinski document, or Netanyahu, are to have any chance, they need to look as if there is a Palestinian constituency for them. It is Fayyad’s role to provide this.

The second explanation relates to the ongoing struggle over who will succeed Mahmoud Abbas as president of the PA. It has become clear that Fayyad, a former World Bank official unknown to Palestinians before he was boosted by the George W. Bush Administration, appears to be the current favorite of the US and other PA sponsors. Channeling more aid through Fayyad may be these donors’ way of strengthening Fayyad against challengers from Abbas’ Fatah faction (Fayyad is not a member of Fatah) who have no intention of relinquishing their chokehold on the PA patronage machine.

Many in the region and beyond hoped the Obama Administration would be a real honest broker, at last bringing American pressure to bear on Israel, so that Palestinians might be liberated. But instead, the new administration is acting as an efficient laundry service for Israeli ideas; first they become American ones, and then a Palestinian puppet is brought in to wear them.

This is not the first scheme aimed at extinguishing Palestinian rights under the guise of a “peace process,” though it is most disappointing that the Obama Administration seems to have learned nothing from the failures of its predecessors. But just as before, the Palestinian people in their country and in the Diaspora will stand stubbornly in the way of these efforts. They know that real justice, not symbolic and fictitious statehood, remains the only pillar on which peace can be built.

nablus, where i lived last year, is being held up as a sort of model for this. last month in the independent ben lynfield reported on this:

The shopkeepers in Nablus, the West Bank’s toughest town, are smiling for a change. But no one knows for how long.

Dubbed “the mountain of fire” by Palestinians for its part in the revolt against the British mandate during the 1930s, Nablus is usually known for its violent uprisings, choking Israeli clampdowns and prowling Palestinian gunmen extorting protection money.

It is difficult to reconcile that reputation with the reality on the streets today. The centre of town is filled with shoppers picking up everything from new trainers and perfumes to armloads of dates for Ramadan, the Muslim festival which began on Saturday.

Nablus now has its first cinema in more than 20 years, grandly called “Cinema City”, which offers a diet of Hollywood blockbusters such as Transformers and Arabic romantic comedies, complete with cappuccinos and myriad flavours of popcorn.

Israel has eased its chokehold of army checkpoints around the city, particularly the one at Huwwara in the south. It was once one of the worst West Bank bottlenecks, with long queues and copious permits required. But now Israeli soldiers wave cars through with the minimum of fuss.

Store owners in Nablus’s ancient casbah say sales are up 50 or even 100 per cent since the beginning of the year. Much of the upswing in trade can be attributed to the fact that, for the first time in eight years, Israel now allows its Arab citizens to drive into Nablus on a Saturday .

“It’s a better feeling when you sell more,” said Darwish Jarwan, whose family store sells toys, clothes and perfumes. “You are happier.”

The reminders of unhappier times are all around. There are bullet holes on the steps of the shop and he had to fix the door three times over the past eight years after it was damaged during Israeli army operations.

The Israeli easing at certain checkpoints is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s effort to demonstrate he is serious about encouraging Palestinian economic improvement in order to build peace “from the bottom up”. Israeli army officials credit the work of US-trained Palestinian Authority security forces, which have allowed them to lift the checkpoints.

The Israeli and PA moves have produced the most positive economic indicators for years, with the International Monetary Fund saying last month that growth could reach 7 per cent provided there was a more comprehensive easing of restrictions on Palestinian trade and movement.

But critics say Mr Netanyahu’s approach is aimed at evading the broad political concessions needed to really defuse the Israeli-Palestinian powder keg. Nablus residents are themselves cautious, especially given the Jewish settlements that surround the town. Back at his shop, Mr Jarwan says the economic boost alone will not be enough to satisfy his countrymen.

“Buying and selling isn’t everything,” he explains. “We want our own Palestinian country and to get our freedom. If the settlements continue to go on like this, I’m sure there will be another explosion.”

Nablus is known for its pastries, especially knafeh, a sweet made out of goats’ cheese. The Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, was the first to sample the “largest knafeh in the world”, which was prepared to draw attention to the city’s revival and as a celebration of the new sense of security and relative normalcy.

But at the city’s most revered bakery, al-Aksa Sweets, there was a sour after-taste as an unemployed teacher declared after finishing his helping: “The lifting of checkpoints is all theatre, nothing substantial, a show for the Americans and Europe. All of this is for a limited time.”

Another resident stressed that Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement that swept municipal and legislative elections in Nablus in 2005 and 2006, is still popular, although that is not visible since its leaders are in jail and its activities suppressed.

At the new Cinema City, the owner’s son, Farouk al-Masri, was also hesitant about painting too rosy a picture. “Things are better,” he says. “There is more security, police are keeping law and order, there are less Israeli incursions and less restrictions at checkpoints. The great number of Palestinians from Israel who are coming have breathed life into the city. We’ve been living in this fear, being isolated and not being able to go in and out but now there is more room to move.” But he added: “It’s all very flimsy. We saw it during the years of the Oslo agreement. There were signs of great things ahead and it all collapsed in the blink of an eye.”

The cinema is often cited as a symbol of the new Nablus, although at £4 a seat, tickets are beyond the reach of many residents. Nonetheless, the current bill, an Egyptian romantic comedy called Omar and Salma has sold out every night since it opened 10 days ago.

“They love comedy here,” said Mr al-Masri. “We had one movie that was very bloody. People didn’t accept it and only a few came to see it. Blood – we’ve had enough of that.”

but today it was reported that 55 palestinian homes in nablus will be demolished. and herein lies the absurdity of this model of palestinians trying to create “facts on the ground” or economic security rather than fighting for liberation and the right of return:

Despite the outcry raised by Palestinian and international human rights organizations, the Israeli military announced this weekend it plans to go ahead with 55 home demolitions in Nablus — a city deep inside the West Bank which is supposed to be under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

The homes in question are located in the Sawiya district in the city of Nablus, in the northern West Bank, an area with few Israeli settlements — although Israeli settlers have announced plans to expand the settlements located there.

“The Israeli decision constitutes a serious turning point in the development of Israeli attacks on Palestinian human rights,” said the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in a statement released on Friday. The group said that it is concerned that these 55 demolitions will set a precedent for further demolitions in areas that are supposed to be under Palestinian control.

on labeling food

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last week i went to the downtown amman souq to go grocery shopping. i wanted some fresh fruits and vegetables and i loathe supermarkets. i thought that i mind find the market to be free of foreign goods, but i was wrong. and worse: much of the foreign imports were unmarked. i did find a few products to have stickers–such as watermelon from syria, bananas from saudi arabia, and apples from the united states (photos below). but buying local proved to be very difficult. even one of the main products of jordan–olive oil–was no where to be found. but i did find regional olive oil from syria, so that was fine with me. apparently, friends who are in the know tell me that big jordanian olive oil producers seeking to get rich are exporting their olive oil to the u.s. and the zionist entity in lieu of leaving enough around for local consumption.

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but when i shop i’m also always looking to see what is there from the zionist entity. i couldn’t find any stickers or anything that looked like it might be from there. although i am told that “luxury” items like kiwis and mangoes are the sorts of products that tend to come from there. i did not see anything nor did anyone offer that as the place of origin when i inquired about where un-stickered fruits and vegetables came from. but that was last week. things have changed since then. i wrote about a major jordanian protest at the ministry of agriculture recently where people here were protesting the fact that produce from the zionist entity was unlabeled and so no one knew what to boycott at the market. well, that has all changed. on wednesday, jordan made a new law saying that fruits and vegetables from the zionist entity must be labeled. a small step towards victory:

أكد وزير الزراعة المهندس سعيد المصري على قرار الوزارة القاضي بإلزام التجار المتعاملين مع إسرائيل بتبيان بلد المنشأ، وذلك بتدوين كلمة “منتج إسرائيلي” على المحاصيل الزراعية المستوردة من الدولة العبرية.

ويأتي قرار الوزارة للحيلولة دون التغرير بالمواطن ببيعه منتجات إسرائيلية على أن منشأها محلي أو دولة أخرى، وبحيث يكون المستهلك حرا باختياره، إما “الشراء أو المقاطعة”.

وأكد الوزير بأن من يخالف القرار سيتعرض”لعقوبات مشددة”، وبأن هناك إجراءات مشددة من قبل الأجهزة الرقابية على المستوردين ومنافذ بيع الخضروات لإلزامها بوضع بيان منشأ البضاعة والمعلومات الخاصة بها، كما ستجري ملاحقة التجار الذين يقومون بإخفاء بلد المنشأ على الخضروات والفاكهة بهدف بيعها وترويجها بشكل غير قانوني.

وقد أفاد مدير عام اتحاد المزارعين محمود العوران بأن الإجراء يصب كذلك في صالح حماية المزارع الأردني، ذلك أن استيراد الخضروات والفواكه الإسرائيلية من شأنه أن يؤثر سلبا على المزارعين الذين يعانون أصلا من ظروف صعبة بسبب تكلفة الإنتاج والقروض.

يذكر أن وزير الزراعة كان قد أكد عدم قدرته على إلغاء الاستيراد من إسرائيل، لوجود “اتفاقية تجارة بينية” وقعتها المملكة معهم، ووقف الاستيراد يرتب عليها التزامات حيث تعد المملكة جزءا من منظمة التجارة العالمية.

وصرح الوزير “لا أملك صلاحية منع الاستيراد من أية دولة معترف بها أو بيننا وبينها اتفاقيات”، لكنه أشار بأن الوزارة تمنع استيراد أية منتجات يكون مصدرها” المستوطنات الإسرائيلية”.

وكانت المملكة قد استوردت نحو 1488 طنا من الخضروات و442 طنا من الفاكهة الإسرائيلية خلال النصف الأول من 2009، مقابل 4300 طن خضروات و260 طنا من الفاكهة في 2008 و 11 ألف طن خضروات و5400 طن فاكهة عام 2007.

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but still, i wanted to see where the fruit and vegetables being imported from the zionist entity are. so i went to carrefour–france’s version of walmart–near my house to see if they label fruits and vegetables, particularly from the zionist entity. apparently, in france, they were the target of the boycotters who went did a terrific de-shelving campaign a few months ago. but at the carrefour in amman there seems to be no indication of any zionist products. not only that: this is the first store i’ve seen where all the produce is labeled with good-sized signs above each item (see below). so shoppers know exactly what they are buying and where it is from. now i need to check and see if other markets have this. and, i cannot wait to see the first stickers on fruits and veggies saying that they are from the zionist entity. so i will be on the lookout for that.

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this focus here on buying local, which is something i always do wherever i live, is something that i want to do as a tactic (and hopefully part of a national campaign at some point…) to boycott items from the zionist entity while also supporting jordanian farmers. and while i’m at it avoiding buying american products would be good, too. the farmers in jordan, especially in the ghor or the jordan valley, are under siege from all sides it seems. they are often under attack from the zionists who make demands such as not allowing them to use natural fertilizer, and then, because of zionist collaboration with the government here, they have forced the farmers to buy american fertilizer. it’s a handy triad of imposing foreign rule over the farmers, the people who deserve our respect the most for their hard work and for feeding us even when it can barely bring them enough cash to feed their families. because of all these foreign agricultural imports in jordan the farmers are getting paid a pittance, but then the mark up at the supermarket is high, so that they farmers receive the least amount of money for their hard work in producing the fruits and vegetables in the first place.

but it doesn’t stop there. the devil is in jordan too. by that, i mean, of course, monsanto. here is the scant bit of information they provide on their website about their operations here:

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although monsanto doesn’t say much about what they are doing in jordan, of course, we know they are up to their old tricks here (i’ve written about them elsewhere). like everywhere else they work around the world, they deceive farmers into using their seeds, to which only monsanto “owns” as they treat it as if it were intellectual property. and then the farmers cannot re-harvest their seeds. thus, they are forced to keep buying seeds from the monsanto people each year. it is a never-ending cycle. it is reminds me of a drug dealer-druggie relationship. or perhaps monsanto is just like a cockroach: something that you can never get rid of no matter how hard you try to exterminate it.

but it is not just monsanto who harms the farmers here. it is also usaid. i’ve quoted my dear friend rami zurayk’s long article on the dangers of usaid before. for those who haven’t read it yet, it is strongly advised to understand why there are many of us who refuse to have anything to do with it. it turns out that usaid has been doing its best to intervene in jordanian farming here. a friend was at an international conference here in amman that focused on environmental and agricultural issues in jordan. this was a conference for the farmers and the people who support them. for conservationists and people who actively work to help–local, activist people not foreign imperialists trying to intervene. but a man named john smith-sreen showed up and spoke on behalf of usaid at the end. no one who organized the conference knew he was going to be here and he was not welcomed by those in attendance (which was made abundantly clear to him). why? because he was from usaid in the office of water resources and environment. rather than say anything about the way in which agriculture is suffering because zionists steal water and because of the 1994 “peace” agreement with the zionist entity jordanians must cooperate economically by doing things like importing produce from zionist terrorist colonists and how these things affect jordanian farmers, instead this smith-sreen person decided to tell the audience that there should not be any agriculture in jordan any longer. and this is one of usaid’s tactics. they do things like destroy the agriculture so they can force its produce on foreign markets. and this is one of many reasons why they are so dangerous.

and usaid just creeps in all over the place–even in places where you’d least expect it. last month i noticed in jo magazine an add for souk jara, an outdoor craft and food fair that goes on throughout the summer in amman. the ad had a list of sponsors at the bottom and one of them was usiad (see photo below):

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jordan times reported their sponsorship too, but last night when i went there to help my friends out with their booth i did not see any such usaid logo on the entrance sign:

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hopefully the souk jara organizers realized what a colossal mistake they made by allowing usaid to sponsor their already successful weekly market. it will be a beautiful day when entities like usaid, monsanto, and the zionist entity no longer exist. until then, the struggle must go on.

settlement freeze my ass

i am certain i have written a post with this title before. certainly with the same or similar content. such is the case with falasteen: always the zionist terrorist colonists say one thing and do the opposite. here is a classic example:

In direct violation of international law, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved permits on Sunday and Monday to build 455 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank.

The new housing, which was ordered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will be built in six settlements. The settlements in question include Har Gilo (on the outskirts of Bethlehem), Modi’in Illit (built on the land of the village of Bil’in) and Ariel (deep in the West Bank south of Nablus).

Israel says it intends to keep each of these settlements in any eventual peace agreement with the Palestinians.

They permits are first ones issued since Netanyahu took office in March. Later this week, Netanyahu is expected to announce a partial reduction in the construction of illegal Israeli settlements.

you see, they tell obama they wil have a freeze, but only after building gazillions more housing units in the colonies. but wait! there’s more! they are building an entirely new colony on stolen palestinian land, too:

Work began on a new Israeli settlement in the Jordan Valley on Sunday to house settlers who were removed in 2005 from one of Israel’s former colonies in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that workers began working on the first 20 units in the new settlement, called Maskiot, in the northern Jordan Valley.

and here are some numbers to ponder in relation to these and other colonies on palestinian land:

The decision to approve the construction of hundreds of housing units before the settlement freeze goes into affect means that in the coming year the total number of apartments to be built in the settlements will be the same as the number built before limitations were placed on construction over the Green Line.

Central Bureau of Statistics data show that the completion of 2,500 housing units and an immediate start to 455 new units continues the growth trend of recent years.

According to Central Bureau of Statistics publications, from 2005 to the end of 2008, when no special limitations on construction in the settlements were imposed and the American demand to freeze construction was not yet on the agenda, 7,015 housing units were built in the West Bank settlements. Thus during those four years, the average rate of housing starts in the settlements was 1,771 a year.

The number of new housing units will not actually decline compared to previous years. The only difference is that now, that instead of construction permits being given gradually throughout the year, the government intends to issue hundreds of permits within a few days, before the official announcement of the “freeze” is made.

here’s an idea president obama: why not sanction that zionist entity as should have been done decades ago when they forbade the return of palestinian refugees. paul craig roberts lays it all out for you:

In Israel, a country stolen from the Palestinians, fanatics control the government. One of the fanatics is the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Last week Netanyahu called for “crippling sanctions” against Iran.

The kind of blockade that Netanyahu wants qualifies as an act of war. Israel has long threatened to attack Iran on its own but prefers to draw in the US and NATO.

Why does Israel want to initiate a war between the United States and Iran?

Is Iran attacking other countries, bombing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure?

No. These are crimes committed by Israel and the US.

Is Iran evicting peoples from lands they have occupied for centuries and herding them into ghettoes?

No, that’s what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians for 60 years.

What is Iran doing?

Iran is developing nuclear energy, which is its right as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran’s nuclear energy program is subject to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which consistently reports that its inspections find no diversion of enriched uranium to a weapons program.

The position taken by Israel, and by Israel’s puppet in Washington, is that Iran must not be allowed to have the rights as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty that every other signatory has, because Iran might divert enriched uranium to a weapons program.

In other words, Israel and the US claim the right to abrogate Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy. The Israeli/US position has no basis in international law or in anything other than the arrogance of Israel and the United States.

The hypocrisy is extreme. Israel is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and developed its nuclear weapons illegally on the sly, with, as far as we know, US help.

As Israel is an illegal possessor of nuclear weapons and has a fanatical government that is capable of using them, crippling sanctions should be applied to Israel to force it to disarm.

Israel qualifies for crippling sanctions for another reason. It is an apartheid state, as former US President Jimmy Carter demonstrated in his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

The US led the imposition of sanctions against South Africa because of South Africa’s apartheid practices. The sanctions forced the white government to hand over political power to the black population. Israel practices a worse form of apartheid than did the white South African government. Yet, Israel maintains that it is “anti-semitic” to criticize Israel for a practice that the world regards as abhorrent.

What remains of the Palestinian West Bank that has not been stolen by Israel consists of isolated ghettoes. Palestinians are cut off from hospitals, schools, their farms, and from one another. They cannot travel from one ghetto to another without Israeli permission enforced at checkpoints.

The Israeli government’s explanation for its gross violation of human rights comprises one of the greatest collection of lies in world history. No one, with the exception of American “christian zionists,” believes one word of it.

The United States also qualifies for crippling sanctions. Indeed, the US is over-qualified. On the basis of lies and intentional deception of the US Congress, the US public, the UN and NATO, the US government invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and used the “war on terror” that Washington orchestrated to overturn US civil liberties enshrined in the US Constitution. One million Iraqis have paid with their lives for America’s crimes and four million are displaced. Iraq and its infrastructure are in ruins, and Iraq’s professional elites, necessary to a modern organized society, are dead or dispersed. The US government has committed a war crime on a grand scale. If Iran qualifies for sanctions, the US qualifies a thousand times over.

No one knows how many women, children, and village elders have been murdered by the US in Afghanistan. However, the American war of aggression against the Afghan people is now in its ninth year. According to the US military, an American victory is still a long ways away. Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared in August that the military situation in Afghanistan is “serious and deteriorating.”

Older Americans can look forward to the continuation of this war for the rest of their lives, while their Social Security and Medicare rights are reduced in order to free up funds for the US armaments industry. Bush/Cheney and Obama/Biden have made munitions the only safe stock investment in the United States.

What is the purpose of the war of aggression against Afghanistan? Soon after his inauguration, President Obama promised to provide an answer but did not. Instead, Obama quickly escalated the war in Afghanistan and launched a new one in Pakistan that has already displaced 2 million Pakistanis. Obama has sent 21,000 more US troops into Afghanistan and already the US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, is requesting 20,000 more.

Obama is escalating America’s war of aggression against the Afghanistan people despite three high profile opinion polls that show that the American public is firmly opposed to the continuation of the war against Afghanistan.

Sadly, the ironclad agreement between Israel and Washington to war against Muslim peoples is far stronger than the connection between the American public and the American government. At a farewell dinner party last Thursday for Israel’s military attache in Washington, who is returning to Israel to become deputy chief of staff of the Israeli military, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, and and Dan Shapiro, who is in charge of Middle East affairs on the National Security Council, were present to pay their respects. Admiral Mullen declared that the US will always stand with Israel. No matter how many war crimes Israel commits. No matter how many women and children Israel murders. No many how many Palestinians Israel drives from their homes, villages, and lands. If truth could be told, the true axis-of-evil is the United States and Israel.

Millions of Americans are now homeless because of foreclosures. Millions more have lost their jobs, and even more millions have no access to health care. Yet, the US government continues to squander hundreds of billions of dollars on wars that serve no US purpose. President Obama and General McChrystal have taken the position that they know best, the American public be damned.

It could not be made any clearer that the President of the United States and the US military have no regard whatsoever for democracy, human rights, and international law. This is yet another reason to apply crippling sanctions against Washington, a government that has emerged under Bush/Obama as a brownshirt state that deals in lies, torture, murder, war crimes, and deception.

Many governments are complicit in America’s war crimes. With Obama’s budget deep in the red, Washington’s wars of naked aggression are dependent on financing by the Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Saudis, South Koreans, Indians, Canadians and Europeans. The second this foreign financing of American war crimes stops, America’s wars of aggression against Muslims stop.

The US is not a forever “superpower” that can indefinitely ignore its own laws and international law. The US will eventually fall as a result of its hubris, arrogance, and imperial overreach. When the American Empire collapses, will its enablers also be held accountable in the war crimes court?

oh and if i have trouble updating this site, but you want new information about the ongoing daily nakbas in palestine, read zionist land grab.

yes, boycott works.

a couple of weeks ago i posted about the campaign to write to amnesty international in order to get them to comply with the boycott and pull out their funding of a leonard cohen concert in the zionist entity. well, it worked. here is the official statement reporting this victory from the palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of israel:

Amnesty International has announced today that it will abstain from any involvement in the Leonard Cohen concert in Tel Aviv and will not be party to any fund that benefits from the concert‘s proceeds. A number of media accounts had reported that Amnesty International was to manage or otherwise partner in a fund created from the proceeds of Cohen’s concert in Israel that would be used to benefit Israeli and Palestinian groups. Amnesty International’s announcement today followed an international outcry over the human rights organization’s reported involvement in the Leonard Cohen concert fund, and an earlier international call for Cohen to boycott apartheid Israel.

Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) commented, “We welcome Amnesty International’s withdrawal from this ill-conceived project which is clearly intended to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. By abandoning the Leonard Cohen project in Tel Aviv, Amnesty International has dealt Cohen and his public relations team a severe blow, denying them the cover of the organization’s prestige and respectability.”

A statement confirming Amnesty‘s withdrawal has now been posted on the Amnesty International website.

boycott, divestment, and sanctions is picking up steam in british unions as well as asa winstanley reported in electronic intifada a couple of weeks ago:

The international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel has won several important victories in recent months. At this summer’s trade union conferences in Britain, BDS activists have made significant progress.

While the campaign has been building momentum in unions globally since the 2005 Palestinian call for BDS, Israel’s winter invasion of Gaza has spurred several trade unions and union federations in Britain and Ireland to pass motions more explicitly in favor of BDS. Several are calling for BDS for the first time.

Tom Hickey, a member of the University and College Union’s (UCU) national executive committee, said, “The question of the moral rightness or wrongness [of BDS against Israel] has effectively already been decided.”

Although the Trade Union Congress (the British union federation) has not yet passed a BDS motion, affiliated unions have begun taking up the Palestinian call themselves. So far this summer, the public sector union PCS, the UCU and the Fire Brigades Union have all passed strong motions explicitly calling for a general policy of boycott of Israeli goods, divestment from Israeli companies and government sanctions against the state.

Unions such as public sector union UNISON, the National Union of Teachers, USDAW and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have this summer passed softer motions calling for elements of BDS. These are usually calls for a boycott of settlement goods, or for the government to suspend arms sales to Israel. The CWU and others have condemned the infamous 13 January 2008 statement of the Israeli trade union federation in support of Israel’s invasion of Gaza, which read: “The Histadrut recognizes the urgent need for the State of Israel to operate against the command and control centers of the organizational terror network …”

In addition, a report has been circulating on the Internet that the rail workers’ union, the RMT, has reversed an earlier policy of “solidarity not boycott” and passed a motion in favor of some sort of BDS policy at their July Annual General Meeting. The official AGM report has yet to be released to the general public, but the RMT’s media office confirmed the report was probably accurate. However, they did not return calls for official confirmation in time for publication.

and folks in ann arbor are taking the bds campaign to their local city council making important arguments about americans funding apartheid in palestine (not to mention occupations and massacres in afghanistan, iraq, and pakistan) rather than using those funds to rebuild cities like detroit where a majority african americans live. palestine think tank posted a video of their city council hearing (and you can use this model to do the same at your municipal level):

Vodpod videos no longer available.

there is also good news about a british bank, blackrock, divesting from the africa-israel company (that has a horrific record of land theft as well as massacres in palestine as well as in africa, as the name indicates):

When the British Embassy in Tel Aviv was looking for new premises and was offered the opportunity of occupying a building owned by the investment company Africa-Israel Investments, the ambassador refrained. The reason was that the company was also responsible for settlements on the occupied West Bank. Africa-Israel Investments’ main owner is Israeli diamond magnate Lev Leviev.

Now the UK bank BlackRock has followed in the footsteps of the ambassador.

The bank was for a while the second largest shareholder in the Israeli investment company. Africa-Israel Investments is, among other things, in on the construction of the settlement Ma’aleh Adumim (above). The construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian territory is in conflict with international law.

It was Norwatch who this past spring revealed BlackRock’s investments in the controversial company and how private investors in Norway could invest in the project by means of the fund BlackRock Emerging Europe.

This was possible through Norwegian insurance company Storebrand, Norwegian-Swedish bank Skandiabanken, and the Norwegian-Danish Danica Pensjon.

But after all 3 banks have taken action, the British bank has now announced its divestment from the Israeli company. This must have happened sometime between June and August, possibly as late as this week.

“We have received confirmation from BlackRock that Africa-Israel Investments no longer is part of their portfolio,” Johnny Anderson, Information Manager of Skandiabanken, confirmed to Norwatch. The confirmation of the divestment was sent to Skandiabanken the day before yesterday, on 18 August.

“The way I interpret the e-mail I have received, Africa-Israel is no longer to be found in any of BlackRock’s funds,” Anderson said.

The e-mail from BlackRock to Skandiabanken was sent after the Swedish-Norwegian bank had approached BlackRock with regard to the controversial Israel involvement. That is the first time that Skandiabanken had contacted BlackRock about the case. Also the bank Danica Pensjon end of last week contacted BlackRock about the matter, confirmed Geir Wik, Sales and Marketing Director of Danica Pensjon to Norwatch yesterday.

and the big surprise was to open my local newspaper the other morning, the los angeles times, where i found a prominent op-ed from a zionist terrorist colonist advocating the boycott of the zionist entity. the article is generally good, though this professor, neve gordon, still believes in zionism and his right to be a colonist on palestinian land. but given that he came this far, perhaps an acknowledgment that he does not have a right to land that once belonged to palestinians who are now refugees will be forthcoming. here is the op-ed:

Israeli newspapers this summer are filled with angry articles about the push for an international boycott of Israel. Films have been withdrawn from Israeli film festivals, Leonard Cohen is under fire around the world for his decision to perform in Tel Aviv, and Oxfam has severed ties with a celebrity spokesperson, a British actress who also endorses cosmetics produced in the occupied territories. Clearly, the campaign to use the kind of tactics that helped put an end to the practice of apartheid in South Africa is gaining many followers around the world.

Not surprisingly, many Israelis — even peaceniks — aren’t signing on. A global boycott can’t help but contain echoes of anti-Semitism. It also brings up questions of a double standard (why not boycott China for its egregious violations of human rights?) and the seemingly contradictory position of approving a boycott of one’s own nation.

It is indeed not a simple matter for me as an Israeli citizen to call on foreign governments, regional authorities, international social movements, faith-based organizations, unions and citizens to suspend cooperation with Israel. But today, as I watch my two boys playing in the yard, I am convinced that it is the only way that Israel can be saved from itself.

I say this because Israel has reached a historic crossroads, and times of crisis call for dramatic measures. I say this as a Jew who has chosen to raise his children in Israel, who has been a member of the Israeli peace camp for almost 30 years and who is deeply anxious about the country’s future.

The most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state. For more than 42 years, Israel has controlled the land between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean Sea. Within this region about 6 million Jews and close to 5 million Palestinians reside. Out of this population, 3.5 million Palestinians and almost half a million Jews live in the areas Israel occupied in 1967, and yet while these two groups live in the same area, they are subjected to totally different legal systems. The Palestinians are stateless and lack many of the most basic human rights. By sharp contrast, all Jews — whether they live in the occupied territories or in Israel — are citizens of the state of Israel.

The question that keeps me up at night, both as a parent and as a citizen, is how to ensure that my two children as well as the children of my Palestinian neighbors do not grow up in an apartheid regime.

There are only two moral ways of achieving this goal.

The first is the one-state solution: offering citizenship to all Palestinians and thus establishing a bi-national democracy within the entire area controlled by Israel. Given the demographics, this would amount to the demise of Israel as a Jewish state; for most Israeli Jews, it is anathema.

The second means of ending our apartheid is through the two-state solution, which entails Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders (with possible one-for-one land swaps), the division of Jerusalem, and a recognition of the Palestinian right of return with the stipulation that only a limited number of the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return to Israel, while the rest can return to the new Palestinian state.

Geographically, the one-state solution appears much more feasible because Jews and Palestinians are already totally enmeshed; indeed, “on the ground,” the one-state solution (in an apartheid manifestation) is a reality.

Ideologically, the two-state solution is more realistic because fewer than 1% of Jews and only a minority of Palestinians support binationalism.

For now, despite the concrete difficulties, it makes more sense to alter the geographic realities than the ideological ones. If at some future date the two peoples decide to share a state, they can do so, but currently this is not something they want.

So if the two-state solution is the way to stop the apartheid state, then how does one achieve this goal?

I am convinced that outside pressure is the only answer. Over the last three decades, Jewish settlers in the occupied territories have dramatically increased their numbers. The myth of the united Jerusalem has led to the creation of an apartheid city where Palestinians aren’t citizens and lack basic services. The Israeli peace camp has gradually dwindled so that today it is almost nonexistent, and Israeli politics are moving more and more to the extreme right.

It is therefore clear to me that the only way to counter the apartheid trend in Israel is through massive international pressure. The words and condemnations from the Obama administration and the European Union have yielded no results, not even a settlement freeze, let alone a decision to withdraw from the occupied territories.

I consequently have decided to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that was launched by Palestinian activists in July 2005 and has since garnered widespread support around the globe. The objective is to ensure that Israel respects its obligations under international law and that Palestinians are granted the right to self-determination.

In Bilbao, Spain, in 2008, a coalition of organizations from all over the world formulated the 10-point Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign meant to pressure Israel in a “gradual, sustainable manner that is sensitive to context and capacity.” For example, the effort begins with sanctions on and divestment from Israeli firms operating in the occupied territories, followed by actions against those that help sustain and reinforce the occupation in a visible manner. Along similar lines, artists who come to Israel in order to draw attention to the occupation are welcome, while those who just want to perform are not.

Nothing else has worked. Putting massive international pressure on Israel is the only way to guarantee that the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians — my two boys included — does not grow up in an apartheid regime.

nevertheless his op-ed is getting quite a bit of airtime in the zionist entity’s media. thus, yet another sign of their fear of how much the boycott campaign is working. there was one article in today’s ha’aretz in which the education minister slammed gordon. and los angeles jews seem to be foaming at the mouth as this second article in ha’aretz today shows that they want to boycott a university in the zionist entity (a win-win situation! ) there was yet another article responding to gordon’s piece in a zionist rag called the jewish journal, which takes the threats even further: to boycott he arabs.

gordon’s ben gurion university is no different than any other university in the zionist entity that participates in the production of knowledge that enables the colonization of palestine. recently soas authored a report on the extent of tel aviv university’s collaboration in the savaging of gaza (if you follow the link you can download the entire study):

As part of Tel Aviv’s centenary celebration, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London hosted a Tel Aviv University Special Lecture Series from January to March 2009.

Taking place in the midst of Israel’s war on Gaza — which had already mobilized SOAS students to organize a number of activities in solidarity with Gaza, including the first student occupation in the UK — students and a number of lecturers expressed their opposition to the lecture series.

The student union overwhelmingly passed a motion criticizing the lecture series’ attempt to whitewash Tel Aviv’s colonial past and present and called for the end of SOAS’s collaboration with Tel Aviv University (TAU) in hosting the series on the grounds of its role in giving key legal, technological and strategic support for maintaining and expanding Israel’s colonial occupation. The School’s Director, Professor Paul Webley, opposed the cancellation and defended the continuation of the lecture series by invoking a prerogative of freedom of speech and citing the pedagogic value of diversities of opinion. Conspicuously absent in the Director’s defense was any engagement with the nature and scope of TAU’s research portfolio.

In response to the director’s failure to acknowledge the serious implications of collaboration with TAU that undermined the reputation, integrity and fundamental ethical principles of SOAS, the SOAS Palestine Society prepared a briefing paper for him and the Governing Body outlining TAU’s intensive, purposive and open institutional contributions to the Israeli military. While the signatories of the briefing paper recognized the importance of freedom of speech, they were also keenly aware of the need to uphold the rights of the oppressed and expressed that no right reigns absolute over the fundamental right to life. It is precisely therefore that it is wholly untenable that partnerships with institutions facilitating, advocating and justifying ongoing war crimes can be legitimized with recourse to an ideal of academic freedom.

compare soas to harvard university’s invitation to a bona fide war criminal of the zionist entity last month as maryam monalisa gharavi and anat matar wrote in electronic intifada last month:

On 9 July Harvard University’s Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR) invited Colonel Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, former Israeli military legal adviser, to their online Humanitarian Law and Policy Forum. The stated aim was to bring “objective” discussion to the principle of distinction in international humanitarian law, or what the forum organizers called “combat in civilian population centers and the failure of fighters to distinguish themselves from the civilian population.”

Although billed as a lecturer in the Law Faculty at Tel Aviv University — and therefore as a detached humanitarian law analyst — Colonel Sharvit-Baruch was in fact deeply involved in Israel’s three-week onslaught in Gaza in December and January, that counted its 1,505th victim found under rubble earlier this month. With the devastating operation condemned and mourned worldwide, many asked why a ranking member of an occupying army that flouts its legal obligations should herself receive safe havens at two major universities.

What troubled many of the 200 or so participants who “attended” the talk via a virtual chatroom was that Sharvit-Baruch was cut off from public or legal scrutiny as she relayed her PowerPoint presentation. Questions were posed by the moderators, sanitized of any critical content. Yet the indisputable fact is that the army for which Sharvit-Baruch worked has been accused by all major human rights organizations of committing war crimes in Gaza. Some wondered why Sharvit-Baruch was being given the opportunity to offer a carefully prepared presentation unchallenged in an academic setting, rather than giving testimony to a tribunal or inquiry such as that being conducted Judge Richard Goldstone, the South African jurist heading an independent fact-finding mission into human rights violations during Israel’s attack at the request of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Since the event organizers did not ask pointed questions about Colonel Sharvit-Baruch’s actual role in Gaza, it is worth doing so here. As head of the International Law department (ILD) at the Israeli Military Advocate General’s office, Sharvit-Baruch is known for green-lighting the bombing of a police graduation ceremony in Gaza that killed dozens of civil policemen. This was no ordinary airstrike. It was premised on a legal sleight-of-hand: that even traffic cops in Gaza could be considered “legitimate targets” under international law. In a conversation with conscripts at a military prep academy in Israel, school director Danny Zamir noted, “I was terribly surprised by the enthusiasm surrounding the killing of the Gaza traffic police on the first day of the operation. They took out 180 traffic cops. As a pilot, I would have questioned that.”

Further, the Israeli army used heavy artillery and white phosphorus munitions in densely populated areas of Gaza, against the UNRWA’s headquarters and a UN school in Beit Lahiya. As reported by Judge Goldstone, Gazans trying to relay their civilian status were also hit. Even though the Israeli military tried several times to deny its use, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on white phosphorous use in Gaza quotes an unnamed Israeli official: “at least one month before [white phosphorus] was used a legal team had been consulted on the implications.” HRW found that “in violation of the laws of war, the [Israeli army] generally failed to take all feasible precautions to minimize civilian harm” and “used white phosphorus in an indiscriminate manner causing civilian death and injury.”

Such reckless disregard for the lives of civilians and pathological cover-ups of military operations are recognized by many Israelis within the system itself. According to one Israeli jurist speaking to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the ILD is considered “more militant than any other legal agency in Israel, and willing to adopt the most flexible interpretations of the law in order to justify the [Israel army’s] actions.” Although the ILD personnel “are now very proud of their influence upon the combat” in Gaza, human rights groups have stated that “residents weren’t advised then as to which places were safe, and the roads by which they fled were bombed and turned into death traps.”

One of the most indelible perspectives about Israel’s legal gymnastics to justify its actions comes from Colonel Sharvit-Baruch’s predecessor, Daniel Reisner. “What is being done today is a revision of international law,” Reisner has said, “and if you do something long enough, the world will accept it. All of international law is built on that an act which is forbidden today can become permissible, if enough states do it.” In expressing how the ILD moves forward by turning back the pages of legal jurisdiction, Reisner says, “We invented the doctrine of the preemptive pinpoint strike, we had to promote it, and in the beginning there were protrusions which made it difficult to fit it easily into the mold of legality. Eight years later, it’s in the middle of the realm of legitimacy.”

Sharvit-Baruch herself explained her vision of international law at a presentation for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: “International law is developed according to practices. It changes based on what is happening in the field. These laws must be based on precedents, what already exists. There is flexibility in every law.” By this law of flexibility, the more aberrations of international law a state can legitimize, the more hoary actions it can continue to execute and justify.

Since the attack on Gaza, numerous testimonies of Israeli soldiers published in Israel, have corroborated the accounts of Palestinian witnesses and human rights organizations that serious war crimes were endemic.

Despite the blunt admissions of Israeli soldiers widely published in the Israeli press, it was clear from her calm presentation that Sharvit-Baruch and her cohort live in their own rhetorical universe where even language is assaulted. In the Colonel’s own terminology, non-existent vocabulary in international law such as “capacity builders” and “revolving doors” is coined to pass over accepted terms such as “civilians” and “non-combatants.” Like the US government’s “torture memo” authors — who in contrast to Israel’s were not uniformed ranking members of the army — the Israeli military attempted to reclassify a “civilian” in a manner making it easier to strip them of protections provided by international humanitarian law. “Architecture of words,” said one participant

Despite all this, by her own standards, Sharvit-Baruch and her team could not be faulted for their efficiency: in Gaza, banning all media from entering; assaulting the population with air missiles, sniper ground troops, and white phosphorus; condemning all criticism of military actions as contrary to state security; keeping a chin above the law; attaining a teaching position at Tel Aviv University and finally a prestigious opportunity to address Harvard students and faculty.

but in england they are far more advanced than the united states when it comes to responding to war crimes against palestinians. consider the new (albeit partial) arms embargo against the zionist entity as a penalty for its war crimes in gaza as ian black reported in the guardian:

Britain has revoked export licences for weapons on Israeli navy missile boats because of their use during the offensive against the Gaza Strip.

The licences apparently covered spare parts for guns on the Sa’ar 4.5 ships, which reportedly fired missiles and artillery shells into the Palestinian coastal territory during the three-week war, which started in late December.

Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, shrugged off what he called one of “many embargoes”. The foreign office in London insisted the rare move did not constitute an embargo but was the application of normal UK and EU export licensing criteria. Still, it linked the decision directly to Operation Cast Lead – the Israeli codename for the attacks – and described it as similar to action taken against Russia and Georgia after their conflict last year.

A spokesman for Amnesty International, citing the “weight of evidence” that Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza, said: “It’s a step forward but it doesn’t go nearly far enough.”

Israel’s defence ministry made no comment but Lieberman told state radio: “We’ve had many embargoes in the past. This shouldn’t bother us.”

Israel gets the bulk of its military requirements from the US, more than 95% according to some estimates. The UK accounts for less than 1% or about £30m worth of exports a year.

but there is also more bds activism emanating from the zionist entity itself, particularly in the queer community as the monthly review zine reported today:

Contrary to the mediated attempt to describe Israel as a force of liberation and progress, we see objecting to apartheid Israel as an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people, including LGBTQ Palestinians. LGBTQ Palestinians are not going to be “saved” by a so-called gay-friendly Zionist state. Organized LGBTQ Palestinians reject the myth of Israel as an “oasis of tolerance.”

We are disturbed by the cynical manipulation of these deaths to bolster support for the Israeli state and its violent policies. When Israeli politicians say that this is an unprecedented level of violence, and promise to create safety for LGBTQ people in Israel, they are using the promise of safety to hide the violence and domination that is foundational to the Israeli state. When Zionist groups emphasize the growing gay nightlife in Tel Aviv, they are using the illusion of safety to draw support and funding to Israel from liberal queer and Jewish people around the world. We reject these lies, as well as the manipulation of our communities for profit and to increase military and political support for Israel.

Just as we reject the lie that Zionism is premised on the safety of Jews, we reject the lie that Israel prioritizes and values the safety of LGBTQ citizens of Israel. The safety Israel claims to extend to LGBTQ people is false; we do not accept an illusion of safety for some at the expense of self determination for others. No matter who Zionism claims to save or value, nothing can justify the targeting, suppression and oppression of the Palestinian people.

We call on LGBTQ communities to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle against Israeli violence. Putting words into action, we call on LGBTQ communities across the world to endorse the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with full international law, including an immediate end to the occupation and colonization of Palestine, a dismantling of the wall, an end to war crimes against the people of Gaza, and for the Palestinian Right of Return.

Specifically, we call on these communities to boycott international LGBTQ events held inside of Israel; to abstain from touring Israel as is marketed to LGBTQ people — with the exception of solidarity visits to Palestine; and to counter and boycott the promotion of Israeli LGBTQ tourism, and Israeli cultural and academic events in the countries in which we reside — unless they are in clear and undivided solidarity with Palestine. By these actions, we show a commitment to justice and humanity consistent with our outrage against this hateful and deadly attack that occurred in Tel Aviv.

This statement was drafted by members of the following organizations:

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, Toronto
Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism

and

The following BDS activists from Israel:

Ayala Shani
Edo Medicks
Emily Schaeffer
Hamutal Erato
Leiser Peles
Liad Kantorowicz
Moran Livnat
Nitzan Aviv
Noa Abend
Rotem Biran
Roy Wagner
Segev (Lilach) Ben- David
Sonya Soloviov
Tal Shapira
Yossef/a Mekyton
Yossi Wolfson
Yotam Ben-David

these actions are all essential in promoting the reality that bds is the only thing that is breaking the zionist entity and that will continue to help it fall to its knees. faris giacaman’s brilliant piece in electronic intifada illustrates precisely why bds is the best mode of solidarity among activists who are against apartheid in palestine:

Upon finding out that I am Palestinian, many people I meet at college in the United States are eager to inform me of various activities that they have participated in that promote “coexistence” and “dialogue” between both sides of the “conflict,” no doubt expecting me to give a nod of approval. However, these efforts are harmful and undermine the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel — the only way of pressuring Israel to cease its violations of Palestinians’ rights.

When I was a high school student in Ramallah, one of the better known “people-to-people” initiatives, Seeds of Peace, often visited my school, asking students to join their program. Almost every year, they would send a few of my classmates to a summer camp in the US with a similar group of Israeli students. According to the Seeds of Peace website, at the camp they are taught “to develop empathy, respect, and confidence as well as leadership, communication and negotiation skills — all critical components that will facilitate peaceful coexistence for the next generation.” They paint quite a rosy picture, and most people in college are very surprised to hear that I think such activities are misguided at best, and immoral, at worst. Why on earth would I be against “coexistence,” they invariably ask?

During the last few years, there have been growing calls to bring to an end Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people through an international movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). One of the commonly-held objections to the boycott is that it is counter-productive, and that “dialogue” and “fostering coexistence” is much more constructive than boycotts.

With the beginning of the Oslo accords in 1993, there has been an entire industry that works toward bringing Israelis and Palestinians together in these “dialogue” groups. The stated purpose of such groups is the creating of understanding between “both sides of the conflict,” in order to “build bridges” and “overcome barriers.” However, the assumption that such activities will help facilitate peace is not only incorrect, but is actually morally lacking.

The presumption that dialogue is needed in order to achieve peace completely ignores the historical context of the situation in Palestine. It assumes that both sides have committed, more or less, an equal amount of atrocities against one another, and are equally culpable for the wrongs that have been done. It is assumed that not one side is either completely right or completely wrong, but that both sides have legitimate claims that should be addressed, and certain blind spots that must be overcome. Therefore, both sides must listen to the “other” point of view, in order to foster understanding and communication, which would presumably lead to “coexistence” or “reconciliation.”

Such an approach is deemed “balanced” or “moderate,” as if that is a good thing. However, the reality on the ground is vastly different than the “moderate” view of this so-called “conflict.” Even the word “conflict” is misleading, because it implies a dispute between two symmetric parties. The reality is not so; it is not a case of simple misunderstanding or mutual hatred which stands in the way of peace. The context of the situation in Israel/Palestine is that of colonialism, apartheid and racism, a situation in which there is an oppressor and an oppressed, a colonizer and a colonized.

In cases of colonialism and apartheid, history shows that colonial regimes do not relinquish power without popular struggle and resistance, or direct international pressure. It is a particularly naive view to assume that persuasion and “talking” will convince an oppressive system to give up its power.

The apartheid regime in South Africa, for instance, was ended after years of struggle with the vital aid of an international campaign of sanctions, divestments and boycotts. If one had suggested to the oppressed South Africans living in bantustans to try and understand the other point of view (i.e. the point of view of South African white supremacists), people would have laughed at such a ridiculous notion. Similarly, during the Indian struggle for emancipation from British colonial rule, Mahatma Gandhi would not have been venerated as a fighter for justice had he renounced satyagraha — “holding firmly to the truth,” his term for his nonviolent resistance movement — and instead advocated for dialogue with the occupying British colonialists in order to understand their side of the story.

Now, it is true that some white South Africans stood in solidarity with the oppressed black South Africans, and participated in the struggle against apartheid. And there were, to be sure, some British dissenters to their government’s colonial policies. But those supporters explicitly stood alongside the oppressed with the clear objective of ending oppression, of fighting the injustices perpetrated by their governments and representatives. Any joint gathering of both parties, therefore, can only be morally sound when the citizens of the oppressive state stand in solidarity with the members of the oppressed group, not under the banner of “dialogue” for the purpose of “understanding the other side of the story.” Dialogue is only acceptable when done for the purpose of further understanding the plight of the oppressed, not under the framework of having “both sides heard.”

It has been argued, however, by the Palestinian proponents of these dialogue groups, that such activities may be used as a tool — not to promote so-called “understanding,” — but to actually win over Israelis to the Palestinian struggle for justice, by persuading them or “having them recognize our humanity.”

However, this assumption is also naive. Unfortunately, most Israelis have fallen victim to the propaganda that the Zionist establishment and its many outlets feed them from a young age. Moreover, it will require a huge, concerted effort to counter this propaganda through persuasion. For example, most Israelis will not be convinced that their government has reached a level of criminality that warrants a call for boycott. Even if they are logically convinced of the brutalities of Israeli oppression, it will most likely not be enough to rouse them into any form of action against it. This has been proven to be true time and again, evident in the abject failure of such dialogue groups to form any comprehensive anti-occupation movement ever since their inception with the Oslo process. In reality, nothing short of sustained pressure — not persuasion — will make Israelis realize that Palestinian rights have to be rectified. That is the logic of the BDS movement, which is entirely opposed to the false logic of dialogue.

Based on an unpublished 2002 report by the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, the San Francisco Chronicle reported last October that “between 1993 and 2000 [alone], Western governments and foundations spent between $20 million and $25 million on the dialogue groups.” A subsequent wide-scale survey of Palestinians who participated in the dialogue groups revealed that this great expenditure failed to produce “a single peace activist on either side.” This affirms the belief among Palestinians that the entire enterprise is a waste of time and money.

The survey also revealed that the Palestinian participants were not fully representative of their society. Many participants tended to be “children or friends of high-ranking Palestinian officials or economic elites. Only seven percent of participants were refugee camp residents, even though they make up 16 percent of the Palestinian population.” The survey also found that 91 percent of Palestinian participants no longer maintained ties with Israelis they met. In addition, 93 percent were not approached with follow-up camp activity, and only five percent agreed the whole ordeal helped “promote peace culture and dialogue between participants.”

Despite the resounding failure of these dialogue projects, money continues to be invested in them. As Omar Barghouti, one of the founding members of the BDS movement in Palestine, explained in The Electronic Intifada, “there have been so many attempts at dialogue since 1993 … it became an industry — we call it the peace industry.”

This may be partly attributed to two factors. The dominant factor is the useful role such projects play in public relations. For example, the Seeds of Peace website boosts its legitimacy by featuring an impressive array of endorsements by popular politicians and authorities, such as Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, George Mitchell, Shimon Peres, George Bush, Colin Powell and Tony Blair, amongst others. The second factor is the need of certain Israeli “leftists” and “liberals” to feel as if they are doing something admirable to “question themselves,” while in reality they take no substantive stand against the crimes that their government commits in their name. The politicians and Western governments continue to fund such projects, thereby bolstering their images as supporters of “coexistence,” and the “liberal” Israeli participants can exonerate themselves of any guilt by participating in the noble act of “fostering peace.” A symbiotic relationship, of sorts.

The lack of results from such initiatives is not surprising, as the stated objectives of dialogue and “coexistence” groups do not include convincing Israelis to help Palestinians gain the respect of their inalienable rights. The minimum requirement of recognizing Israel’s inherently oppressive nature is absent in these dialogue groups. Rather, these organizations operate under the dubious assumption that the “conflict” is very complex and multifaceted, where there are “two sides to every story,” and each narrative has certain valid claims as well as biases.

As the authoritative call by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel makes plain, any joint Palestinian-Israeli activities — whether they be film screenings or summer camps — can only be acceptable when their stated objective is to end, protest, and/or raise awareness of the oppression of the Palestinians.

Any Israeli seeking to interact with Palestinians, with the clear objective of solidarity and helping them to end oppression, will be welcomed with open arms. Caution must be raised, however, when invitations are made to participate in a dialogue between “both sides” of the so-called “conflict.” Any call for a “balanced” discourse on this issue — where the motto “there are two sides to every story” is revered almost religiously — is intellectually and morally dishonest, and ignores the fact that, when it comes to cases of colonialism, apartheid, and oppression, there is no such thing as “balance.” The oppressor society, by and large, will not give up its privileges without pressure. This is why the BDS campaign is such an important instrument of change.

for those who feel inspired to carry on the bds campaign there is a new campaign to initiate. you can start with locating where wine from the zionist entity is sold, which is, of course, made from stolen grapes in from occupied palestine and syria:

Israel exports roughly $22 million dollars worth of wine a year, according to the Central Statistics Bureau.

Founded in 2002, the family-owned Pelter winery in the Golan Heights benefits from the cool climate and water-rich soil of the plateau, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed in 1981 – a move rejected by the United Nations.

Sam Pelter, whose son Tal founded the winery after extensive wine-making studies in Australia, says he combines Australian techniques and technology with Golan grapes. His wines sell at $18-$50 a bottle and are sold in the United States and Europe.

Some 18-20 percent of Israeli wine comes from the Golan, according to wine critic Rogov, though wines made on disputed land can sometimes invite controversy.

Last December, Syria protested to UN leaders that Israel had distributed Golan wine as year-end holiday gifts to UN staff. In 2006, Israel complained that Sweden was labelling Golan wines as coming from Israeli-occupied Syrian territory.

Israeli settlers also make wine on Arab land in the West Bank, sometimes drawing boycotts by peace activists.

Political sensitivities have not stopped Pelter’s wines making a splash abroad.

los ziongeles

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driving down ventura boulevard today, which is the main street near my grandma’s house, i was bombarded with cartoon images of what dear ayah calls the “fizz fizz” (personally i prefer the image that kabobfest posted last week of a fizz fizz being chased down the street). these images line a few miles with these the multi-colored posters which are advertising a chabad telethon on a local los angeles television station, ktla, raising money for their religious ministry, which openly and actively proselytizes to recruit jews to make them more jewish among other things.

but there are other posters confronting me in los angeles this week. the other day my friend wendy and i went for a walk in santa monica and passed by a beauty supply store selling zionist colonist terrorist products, marketed by none other than sex and the city’s kristen davis:

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there was a code pink protest of selling these ahava products in los angeles the day i arrived here and here is a photograph that a friend of mine took at it:

ahava los angeles protest

i’m happy that code pink is taking up the cause of boycott through its stolen beauty campaign as the movement certainly needs more energy pumped into it and code pink has a huge base in the u.s. at the same time, i find it disturbing that medea benjamin still thinks that only the west bank and gaza belong to palestine as she says in this brief news report on ahava and how the zionist entity profits from occupying palestine (but that is true of all of historic palestine and products made all over occupied palestine whether in al majdal or in the jordan valley). here is the clip which is well worth watching to see precisely how they profit from just one company:

there is material on code pink’s website that offers information about this particular aspect of the bds campaign and also what you can do to create a boycott ahava action in your community. i recommend not using ahava products, however, if you want to replicate the spreading mud on your body aspect of code pink’s action as that undermines the boycott action you are trying to educate people about. there are plenty of other companies (remember estee lauder and all of the many companies it swallowed up are included in the boycott campaign) that produce similar sorts of products–or use regular mud.

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adri nieuwhof wrote a piece about ahava for electronic intifada a couple of weeks ago contextualizing it in terms of the zionist terrorist colony it is produced in:

Israel enjoys free trade of industrial goods with Europe under the Association Agreement it signed with the European Union in 2000. Yakov Ellis, chief executive officer of the Israeli cosmetics company Ahava, told the BBC radio program Today on 5 November 2008 that his company has benefitted from the free trade with the EU. Ahava owns stores in London and Berlin, and signed a contract in 2008 with the leading French perfumery chain Sephora, which has stores all over Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East.

Ahava manufactures its cosmetics in the occupied West Bank, using minerals from the Dead Sea. The company’s skin care products are imported into the EU as originating from “The Dead Sea, Israel.” Israeli products originating in the West Bank are not supposed to benefit from the duty-free import to the EU.

Ahava is firmly rooted in the settlements of Mitzpe Shalem and Kaliya in the occupied West Bank. The kibbutzes of the two settlements own 34 percent and six percent of the shares of Ahava, respectively. Both Mitzpe Shalem and Kaliya are close to the shores of the Dead Sea, exploiting it for tourism.

Although one-third of the western shore of the Dead Sea lies in the occupied West Bank, Israel has closed off the entire shore of the Dead Sea and its resources to Palestinians in the West Bank. Kaliya was established as a military outpost shortly after the 1967 war in which Israeli forces occupied the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, along with Egypt’s Sinai peninsula and Syria’s Golan Heights.

According to the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace, Ahava manufactures its products in the Ahava Dead Sea cosmetic factory in Mitzpe Shalem settlement. The company also runs a visitors center for tourists in the same settlement. In its authoritative ruling in 2004, the International Court of Justice reaffirmed the illegality of settlement construction, which includes the construction of industrial sites in the settlements. Ahava’s factory and tourist visitors center exist therefore in violation of international law.

Ahava CEO Ellis told the BBC that his company can circumvent the rule that products from the Occupied Palestinian Territories are excluded from the duty-free import to Europe, because Ahava maintains its offices near Tel Aviv, in Israel. However, the EU rules of origin of product refer to the place where the product, or most of it, was manufactured, not to the place where a company’s offices are based.

Despite this subterfuge, Ahava is bound to pay import taxes to EU countries. British customs officials expressed to the BBC their strong concerns that Israeli-produced goods made in settlements in the occupied West Bank may be circumventing import taxes en-route to British high streets.

It is not clear if and how EU member states police the free trade agreement. If the practice in the UK is common in EU countries, the situation is disturbing.

UK Member of Parliament from the governing Labor Party, Dr. Phyllis Starkey, raised questions on the issue to Business Minister Stephen Timms on 17 November 2008. Timms replied that more than 75,000 consignments from Israel entered the UK annually from February 2005 until January 2008. During this period, Israeli exporters were bound to indicate the place of production on the proof of origin documents.

i think that part of the problem of this fixation on just west bank colonies as if there are not colonies all over historic palestine filled with zionist terrorists illegally occupying palestinian land is related to the fact that people rely upon sites like the zionist “who profits” website that, of course, has a vested interest in making sure that those boycotting do not harm to the colonies that the zionists organizing in so-called “peace” groups in the rest of occupied palestine. they need to make sure that their colonies are protected so that palestinian refugees cannot return and reclaim their land and homes that belong to them and have been promised to them under united nations resolution 194. nancy kricorian’s article in alternet continues in this vein of thinking that the bds movement is only about zionist terrorist colonists profiting off the theft of palestinian resources in the west bank and not in the rest of their land. but she misses some key points as she focuses on ahava’s celebrity spokesperson, kristen davis:

While doing research on the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement for Palestine, I came across the web site Who Profits, a project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace. On that site I found a list of Israeli and international companies that are directly involved in and profit from the occupation of the Palestinian West Bank. It seemed strategically and morally important to select for our campaign a corporation whose practices were clearly in contravention to international law. Many of the corporations on the Who Profits list were either unfamiliar to me, discouragingly huge, or didn’t seem like obvious targets for a women’s peace group. But I saw one name that I recognized: Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories. In fact, I knew there was a plastic bottle of Ahava Eucalyptus Mineral Bath Salts sitting on the windowsill next to the tub in my bathroom.

If you take a look at Ahava’s web site, you can read about the company’s environmentally responsible practices: “Our manufacturing processes are non-polluting and environmentally conscious. No animals are involved in testing phases and all of our products are encased in recyclable tubes, bottles and jars.” Ahava’s spokeswoman is fresh-faced Sex & The City actress Kristin Davis, whose commitment to doing good is evidenced by her status as an Oxfam Goodwill Ambassador and her position on the advisory board of The Masai Wilderness Conservation Fund. On the Ahava site, Davis is quoted as saying, “My personal beliefs, which include treating both animals and the environment with respect, are equally important to AHAVA.”

If you navigate around the web site you will see pristine images of the Dead Sea, enticing products with beautifully designed labels, and a photo of a water lily leaf with the caption, “This leaf has nothing to hide.” But, unfortunately, Ahava does have something to hide—an ugly secret about its relationship to a brutal occupation. The Hebrew word “Ahava” means love, but there is nothing loving about what the company is doing in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. Ahava is an Israeli profiteer exploiting the natural resources of occupied Palestine.

it is worth targeting a celebrity spokesperson, i suppose, to try to educate them and encourage them to join the boycott campaign as it seems to garner more publicity. even fox news picked up on this story, which highlights the ways in which davis’ work with oxfam is also becoming problematic given that oxfam, like code pink, fights against colonies in the west bank, but not in the rest of historic palestine:

Davis, 44, has stepped down from her post as a spokeswoman for the human rights organization Oxfam International because of her endorsement of Ahava, an Israeli cosmetics line, according to a report in the New York Post.

Ahava is manufactured by Dead Sea Cosmetics, which is based in the Mitzhe Shalem Jewish settlement in the West Bank — which Oxfam considers “disputed territory.”

Davis signed a multi-year contract with Ahava in 2007. As part of the agreement, the Emmy-nominated actress appears in the global advertising campaign, on the brand’s Web site and in various marketing initiatives.

Davis has said she is “honored” to be “part of a beauty legend that dates back to Cleopatra.” She also stressed her shared beliefs with Ahava in treating animals and the environment with respect.

But the partnership has caused quite a headache for the actress.

“This has been a huge thing,” a source told the Post. “Ahava has factories on disputed land. From Ahahva’s perspective, they are not doing anything wrong. From an Oxfam perspective, Ahava is a polarizing company and Kristin shouldn’t be involved with it.”

A representative from Ahava was not immediately available for comment.

In a statement, Oxfam said Davis has “done great work” and that they highly value her support. Still, the organization says they “remain opposed to settlement trade, in which Ahava is engaged. Both Kristin and Oxfam do not want this issue to detract from the great work we have done in the past and plan to do in the future.”

Davis’ spokeswoman told the Post that the actress is “passionate about her relationship with Oxfam, and she intends to work with them and other humanitarian causes for years to come.”

but what i find compelling is yet another argument illustrating the hypocrisy of davis. clearly she doesn’t believe in the rights of human beings, but she does speak about the rights of animals and the environment on the ahava website:

My personal beliefs, which include treating both animals and the environment with respect, are equally important to AHAVA.

so this leaves me wondering if a different argument were made, say, about the environment, would davis then cancel her contract with the zionist colonist terrorist company? because the zionist entity’s theft of minerals from occupied palestine is leading to serious environmental damage:

The level of the Dead Sea continues to drop at the rate of about one metre per year and has lost about a third of its volume, mainly in the last 30 years. Besides being a unique ecosystem and rich with minerals, the sea is known in Hebrew as the “Salt Sea” for its remarkably high salt content.

Environmentalists say excessive mineral mining from the sea, and the dehydration and pollution of its natural water source, the River Jordan, have contributed to the drop.

notice that this environmental damage is something that this irin news report dates back 30 years–which is, of course, a time in which the zionist entity came to control and destroy this sea, not to mention its general destruction of environmental resources, especially water.

ah, yes, water. which brings me to yet another los angeles-zionist entity connection. my home town’s mayor, antonio villaraigosa, decided to embark on a campaign to supposedly save the environment in california by collaborating with zionist terrorist colonists. i find this so ironic for so many reasons. first of all, as a mexican american he is well aware of the fact that california is occupied land in layers. california used to be mexico. and yet villaraigosa told aipac:

Villaraigosa said Israel’s struggle in the Middle East echoes his own Hispanic community’s “struggle for civil rights” and said that when it comes to the Jewish state, “my roots run deep” — recounting visiting his Jewish neighbors while growing up in East Los Angeles.

here is what the los angeles mayor had to say about his visit to the zionist entity last summer in an op-ed for the jewish journal:

Los Angeles has long had a special relationship with the state and the people of Israel. It is a partnership founded on innovation and common hopes; a bond defined by shared dreams for a future of peace, security, and sustainability; a connection that grows stronger each time we establish new ties with our counterparts in the Jewish state.

Over the past week, I led a delegation of civic, faith, business and community leaders on a trip that will help make Los Angeles stronger, safer, more secure and better stewards of the environment — and all Angelenos stand to reap the benefits of our efforts.

In just a few days, we signed agreements to strengthen security at our airport and enhance our counterterrorism capabilities. We initiated partnerships to protect our ports and reduce our carbon footprint. We took a series of steps to revitalize the L.A. River, expand the city’s water conservation and recycling initiatives and invest in the technologies of tomorrow. From homeland security and public safety to environmental innovation and green development, Los Angeles is set to receive the best Israel has to offer in the fields where the Jewish state leads the world — and Los Angeles will be better off as a result.

Some of the most memorable and moving moments of the mission came in our meetings with Israel’s top political leaders. President Shimon Peres told us about Israel’s drive to grow green and continue to rededicate its efforts to make the desert bloom. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert outlined the challenges of leading a democratic nation in a neighborhood of dictators and despots. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni engaged us in a discussion on the ongoing struggle for peace, while former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained what must be done to secure his country and develop a vibrant economy. Finally, the mayors of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv shared their visions for prosperity and vitality in Israel’s largest cities.

Beyond the lasting impact of our security and green technology exchange, and beyond the extraordinary sessions with living political legends, there was one experience — one set of images — that will remain etched in my memory forever.

During the second day of the mission, we traveled to Sderot — a city devastated by years of rocket attacks and red alerts, and a town representing the front line of Israel’s fight against indiscriminate violence and causeless hatred. There, in the midst of the terror we all see on the nightly news and at the epicenter of fear for so many families, children expressed their desire for normalcy before a backdrop of bomb shelters in their schoolyards. Students demonstrated a commitment to a strong education in schools forced to invest in reinforced rooftops instead of new books and materials. Parents looked on with joy and pride as their kids got the opportunity to dance and sing and perform for their guests. And when we looked into the eyes of Sderot’s youth, we could see the hope, spirit, innocence and exhilaration that emanate from the hearts of so many young people worldwide.

After this visit to Sderot and throughout the entire state of Israel, I came away with a powerful reminder of the unique character and incredible story of the Jewish people. It is a tale of resilience in the face of adversity; of a determination to succeed despite impossible odds; of a commitment to innovation; of a will to preserve their homeland; of an unflagging and unwavering faith in “tikkun olam” and “tzedakah,” in repairing the world and pursuing justice, in the values that have sustained Jews for thousands of years and made Israel a true “light unto the nations.”

After 60 years of constant threat and endless challenges, I can safely say that Israel today is stronger than ever. It is a state that remains a beacon of light and a bastion of promise for nations and communities across the globe. It is a country that believes in what’s possible and never falters in its struggle for a brighter future. This mission and these experiences brought the history of the Jewish state into focus and gave us all reason to join our brothers and sisters halfway around the world in the hope — hatikvah — that, one day soon, Israel would once again be a free nation, a secure state and a peaceful homeland.

his trip to the zionist entity, unfortunately, solidified the stance he now takes with respect to support the colonial project on occupied palestinian land. here is what he had to say about the zionist entity’s savaging of gaza to the los angeles times:

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa threw his support behind Israel this afternoon, backing the country in its latest strikes against Hamas and its invasion of the Gaza Strip.

The announcement, made during a news conference, pleased Jewish leaders in Los Angeles but sparked anger among local Muslim groups.

“I’ve been to Sderot and seen the wreckage caused by a constant barrage of rocket attacks,” Villaraigosa said of the city in southern Israel. “I’ve met parents afraid to let their kids play in the streets and students unable to go to school each day. I’ve walked along empty roads, visited vacant buildings and witnessed the sheer destruction of a town decimated by eight years of missile strikes.”

The mayor wasn’t alone in his backing. He was joined by City Council members Wendy Greuel, Janice Hahn, Jack Weiss and Dennis Zine. Jacob Dayan, Israel’s consulate general to the southwestern United States, thanked the mayor and council members for their support at the news conference at the Jewish Federation’s Goldsmith Center, on Wilshire Boulevard.

“At a time like this, in a fight like this, where the odds and the deck are stacked against Israel, thank God Los Angeles and thank God Mayor Villaraigosa are there to stand with Israel,” said Councilman Weiss, who represents the city’s 5th District.

The council members said they too have visited Sderot over the last few years so they could see for themselves the destruction that Villaraigosa had told them about after his trips.

The mayor took the stance that Israel is not the aggressor in this latest battle, which started 11 days ago and expanded to a ground invasion of Gaza on Saturday. The operation has left hundreds of Palestinians dead and thousands wounded in the Gaza Strip.

“No country would sit silently while innocent families are threatened and civilian lives are at risk,” he said. “Israel is no different. It must act against the Hamas leaders targeting the innocent. And it must be allowed to exercise its right and responsibility to defend itself.”

Villaraigosa said he personally has kept in touch with officials at the Israeli Consulate since the recent conflict began.

When asked why he didn’t reach out to the city’s Palestinian community personally as he did with Israeli Consulate officials and the city’s Jewish community leaders, Villaraigosa said he would be willing to sit down with members of Los Angeles’ Palestinian and Muslim communities to address any issues.

The mayor’s news conference was followed by a news conference held by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a national Muslim advocacy group, questioning why Villaraigosa would want to take a side on a battle about 6,000 miles away.

“Why is the mayor of Los Angeles dragging himself and his constituents into international conflicts in the Middle East?” the council’s executive director, Salam Al-Marayati, said in a statement. “We elected the mayor to represent all Angelenos, not to take the side of a specific group of citizens on a foreign issue.” The council’s news conference was held at the Islamic Shura Center of Southern California, on Vermont Avenue.

The center also issued a statement challenging Villaraigosa’s stance on Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

“The Islamic Shura Council is disappointed and feels betrayed by the Mayor’s one-eyed perspective on the tragedy of colossal proportions in Gaza,” the statement said. “While we grant the right for the Mayor to his opinion, we also believe he is obligated to recognize all perspectives to any situation. The Mayor failed Los Angelenos in this regard and we hold him responsible.”

The Islamic Shura Council of Southern California is an umbrella organization for mosques and other Muslim organizations, and the Jewish Federation is an umbrella group for Jewish organizations.

but back to the water issue. one of the reasons for the trip to the zionist entity last year was to sign a deal with a zionist terrorist colonist water company:

The City of Los Angeles signed an agreement with an Israeli water technology company.

On a visit to Israel last week, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed a cooperation agreement with the Kinarot-Jordan Valley Technology Incubator, the Israeli business daily Globes reported.

The agreement will allow the technology start-up to launch pilot projects at the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. Los Angeles has suffered from chronic water shortages.

“Israel is a global leader in high-tech and environmental solutions. As such, we intend to utilize the know-how of our Israeli friends to deal with the challenges we face from drought and global warming,” Vilaraigosa told Globes.

While in Israel, Villaraigosa also signed a security and anti-terrorism agreement between Los Angeles International Airport and Ben Gurion Airport.

The mayor was forced this week to defend the cost of traveling to Israel with a delegation while the city faces a possible $300 million budget shortfall.

the zionist terrorist colonist company, kinrot, villaraigosa is collaborating with is located in the jordan valley, the same region of occupied palestine where ahava sits and steals on palestinian land. and like ahava kinrot steals palestinian water in order to run its operation, as well as land and a host of other resources. these zionist companies–like the zionist entity where they exist on occupied palestinian land–rupture and distort language much like the zionist entity itself by inverting reality. so a company that profits by depleting the dead sea somehow becomes an environmentally aware company.

it is not just the los angeles mayor who is helping the colonial project in palestine. it’s also wealthy zionists like irving moskowitz who has a bingo parlor in los angeles; he uses the profits to hep build new colonies in palestine, for jews only, of course. here is a piece by chris mcgreal that was in the guardian a few weeks ago on this casino in the hawiian gardens neighborhood:

For the winning punters chancing their luck at Hawaiian Gardens’ charity bingo hall in the heart of one of California’s poorest towns, the big prize is $500. The losers walk away with little more than an assurance that their dollars are destined for a good cause.

But the real winners and losers live many thousands of miles away, where the profits from the nightly ritual of numbers-calling fund what critics describe as a form of ethnic cleansing by extremist organisations.

Each dollar spent on bingo by the mostly Latino residents of Hawaiian Gardens, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, helps fund Jewish settlements on Palestinian land in some of the most sensitive areas of occupied East Jerusalem, particularly the Muslim quarter of the old city, and West Bank towns such as Hebron where the Israeli military has forced Arabs out of their properties in their thousands.

‘The majority of bingo customers don’t realise where their money is going’ Link to this audio

Over the past 20 years, the bingo hall has funnelled tens of millions of dollars in to what its opponents — including rabbis serving the Hawaiian Gardens area — describe as an ideologically-driven strategy to grab land for Israel, as well as contributing to influential American groups and thinktanks backing Israel’s more hawkish governments.

But the bingo operation, owned by an American Jewish doctor and millionaire, Irving Moskowitz, has taken on added significance in recent weeks as President Barack Obama has laid down a marker to Israel in demanding an end to settlement construction, which the White House regards as a major obstacle to peace. “Moskowitz is taking millions from the poorest town in California and sending it to the settlements,” said Haim Dov Beliak, a rabbi serving Hawaiian Gardens and one of the Jewish religious leaders in California who have campaigned to block the flow of funds to the settlers.

“The money Moskowitz puts in to the settlements has changed the game. Moskowitz has helped build a hardcore of the settler movement that may number 50-70,000.

“He’s not paying for all of it but he puts the money up front for the vanguards that get things off the ground. That ties Israel’s hands. That ties the hands of the Obama administration. If the administration wants to be serious about stopping the settlers it has to begin in Hawaiian Gardens.”

Moskowitz is an 80-year-old retired doctor and orthodox Jewish millionaire who built a fortune buying and selling hospitals. In 1988 he also bought the faltering bingo hall in Hawaiian Gardens which, under California law, can only be run as not-for-profit operation so Moskowitz brought it under the wing of a charitable foundation he had established in his own name.

The foundation, which did not respond to requests for an interview, bills the bingo operation as of great benefit to the local community through donations to a number of groups, such as the Hawaiian Gardens food bank, as well as scholarships. It has also given money for disaster relief in Central America, Kosovo and parts of the US.

But tax returns show that the bulk of the donations go to what the foundation describes as “charitable support” to an array of organisations in Israel.

and one final zionnazi tale from los angeles for the night. today santa monica hosted some zionist terrorist colonist musical act called the idan raichel project. the zionist entity’s ministry of culture (also known as the ministry of cultural theft) sponsored the event. a friend of mine involved in the boycott movement in seattle led the protest up there the other night. here is what she wrote in an email about it:

The Idan Raichel Project protest last night turned out to be interesting in a somewhat unexpected ways. I will try and summarize that evening briefly.

First, even though our local (Seattle) Palestine activism listserv is infiltrated, with some recipients on it who clearly have signed on just to find out what we’re up to, and bring on the haters to our events, this time, there were no counter-protesters.

The concert was scheduled to start at 7 p.m., this is in a venue (the Triple Door) which is not a concert hall, but a cozy restaurant with a stage, so we knew people would be trickling in early, to have a table/booth and drinks/appetizers before the performance. We were there at 5:45 p.m, handing out two different types of handbill, one specifically about the IRP (whitewashing Israeli war crimes), another about the situation in Gaza. There were quite a few of us, and I’d say we gave out the literature to most of the audience 🙂

Shortly after we had gotten there, none other than Idan himself (with his bodyguard) came out to talk to us, because someone had told him there were protesters outside the venue. I immediately recognized him when I saw a small-ish young man with brown-not-black dreadlocks coming out and looking around, and I went straight to him and asked “Are you Idan,” he said “Yes, I was told there were protesters outside, so I would like to talk to you about what I do, who I am….”

We shook hands, I told him I appreciated his coming out to talk to us, and explained that we were protesting him as part of the boycott of Israeli “cultural ambassadors” who whitewash Israeli war crimes.

He responded with “Let me tell you about the Idan Raichel Project. We are a very large group, reaching about 85 musicians at times, some are Arab, others are ultra-right wing Zionists, and we are not political, we are strictly about Israeli culture, I want to present my culture, Israeli culture, and I steer away from politics.”

I told him that, from my readings about him, he wants to project Israeli culture as a culture of tolerance and multiculturalism, and he nodded eagerly, saying he felt that his contribution was to push his society further into “tolerance and multiculturalism,” hence his inclusion of Arabs in the band. He loves introducing Israelis, who otherwise homogenize all Arabs as “Hamas,” to such wonders as Mahmoud Darwish, Fairuz, and Umm Kulthum.

We talked for quite a while, and all he kept repeating was that he is not political, strictly cultural, and I tried hard to make him grasp that the two are inseparable, and that, besides, he is fully political in many ways that we have researched. I told him that we have read his support for the Gaza assault, and he denied that. Here’s the quote, in a March 2009 article in the Forward: “While Raichel’s music bears explicit and implicit messages of love, Raichel is perhaps a bit more realpolitik than his dreadlocks suggest. He defends Israel’s recent Gazan incursion: “Israel had to protect cities in southern Israel from being bombed — and they’d been bombed not for eight hours, and not eight days, and not eight months, but eight years. For eight years, Hamas was bombing five cities in Israel. I think that the Palestinian people are victims of the Hamas organization.”

I told him about the damning Gush Shalom press release about him, and he said he doesn’t care what Gush Shalom says. I told him he should care.

At some point, we talked about settlements, and he says he only plays in settlements that, by International Law, would eventually be part of Israel. I told him every single settlement is illegal, according to International Law, and he acted like he didn’t know that. Then we somehow got onto the two-state (dis)solution, and I said something about “what, the 17% of historic Palestine that would make up the Palestinian state?” and he said he doesn’t know what percent of historic Palestine remains, to the Palestinians. I told him he should know that.

Basically, it was all denial of statements he has made (such as the one in Forward), claims of ignorance, and claims of being all about culture, not politics. Eventually, he needed to go in to his show, and offered me a free ticket, and I said no, I have not been convinced that he is not whitewashing Israeli crimes, and that I/we will continue to protest and boycott his shows until he denounces Israel’s crimes. He insisted that he refuses to make any political statement, and I quoted him Arhundati Roy: “The trouble is, once you see it, it can’t be unseen. And once you see it, saying nothing, doing nothing becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no neutrality. Either way, you are accountable.”

So…. he gave me his email address, after making me promise I would not share/publicize it, and said he would be happy to continue the conversation. I most certainly will contact him.

I do have to say, to his credit, that he is NOT arrogant at all, and that he actually asked his bodyguard to basically shut up, when his bodyguard aggressively (tone and posture) yelled at me “You support the Khamas suicide bombers.” But he is most certainly an intellectual lightweight.

He’s playing tonight also, and we will be there, to convey the message that he has not convinced us he is all culture, no politics.

love the accent my friend captured in the paragraph above. the article my friend referred to above, by gush shalom from a couple of years ago, offers a bit more context about this group which should be boycotted if they come to a city near you. unfortunately, no one in los angeles had their act together to get anything going. code pink wanted to do it, but took too long to respond to the emails. here is the article that illustrates at least one way in which this group is not just cultural, but decidedly political:

Singers Idan Reichal, Ehud Banai, Ety Ankary and the Madreygot Group are scheduled to perform at the festival planned by the Gush Etzion settlers (in the Bethlehem Region of the West Bank) during the Sukkot Holiday, in order to “celebrate” forty years to the creation of settlements there. As explicitly stated in the settlers’ own website, this is part of a campaign aimed at legitimizing these settlements in the Israeli public opinion, i.e. preventing a peace agreement which would necessitate their dismantling.

Use of the name “Gush Etzion” (The Etzion Bloc) in itself constitutes an attempt to cheat the public. “Gush Etzion” was the name of a cluster of four small kibbutzim which stubbornly resisted Arab forces in 1948 until being destroyed and around which a heroic myth developed in Israel. There might have been a legitimate claim for recreating them (had israel been willing to recreate in exchange four Palestinian villages destroyed in the same war). However, nowadays this name is applied to dozens of small and big settlements which take up enormous territory all around the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, and bear no connection or resemblance to the pre-1948 “Gush Etzion”, including the ever – expanding settlement-city of Efrat.

The one and only purpose for the creation of these settlements is to cut the West Bank to pieces, cut the cities of Bethlehem and Hebron off from each other, and deny to the Palestinians the territorial continuity which is vital for genuine statehood. On these very days, inhabitants of villages in this area such as Umm Salamuna conduct, with the help of Israeli and international peace volunteers, a persistent struggle against the Separation Fence, which cuts deeply into their land and pass it into the possession of the Gush Etzion settlers . The settlers themselves, however, are displeased with the route of the fence, and demand to change it so as to gain even far more Palestinian land.

The Israeli artists who had avoided military service, have been already for months the target of an intensive hate campaign in the media. But the artists who for monetary gain collaborate with the settlers in a project aimed at preventing any chance for peace, at perpetuating hatred and bloodshed – about them nobody is talking.

The artists Idan Reichal, Ehud Banai, Ety Ankary and the Madreygot Group have made themselves into mercenaries and lackeys of the settlers – not even out of ideology, but simply after getting considerable amounts of money. They are all scheduled to appear at the “Israeli Home” festival organized by the settlers on the forthcoming Sukkot Holiday. Idan Reichel is due to appear on the “central stage” to be erected at the settlement of Nokdim – home of the arch – racist demagogue Avigdor Lieberman.

Artists who have prostituted themselves in such a shameful way do not deserve to have Israeli peace seekers come to their performances or spend money for their CD’s.

wanted: zionist palestinians

carlos latuff
carlos latuff

yesterday ali abunimah and hasan abu nimah co-authored a brilliant analysis of benjamin netanyahu’s speech in electronic intifada. here is their article in full:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a peace plan so ingenious it is a wonder that for six decades of bloodshed no one thought of it. Some people might have missed the true brilliance of his ideas presented in a speech at Bar Ilan University on 14 June, so we are pleased to offer this analysis.

First, Netanyahu wants Palestinians to become committed Zionists. They can prove this by declaring, “We recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in this land.” As he pointed out, it is only the failure of Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular to commit themselves to the Zionist dream that has caused conflict, but once “they say those words to our people and to their people, then a path will be opened to resolving all the problems between our peoples.” It is of course perfectly natural that Netanyahu would be “yearning for that moment.”

Mere heartfelt commitment to Zionism will not be enough, however. For the Palestinians’ conversion to have “practical meaning,” Netanyahu explained, “there must also be a clear understanding that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside Israel’s borders.” In other words, Palestinians must agree to help Israel complete the ethnic cleansing it began in 1947-48, by abandoning the right of return. This is indeed logical because as Zionists, Palestinians would share the Zionist ambition that Palestine be emptied of Palestinians to the greatest extent possible.

Netanyahu is smart enough to recognize that even the self-ethnic-cleansing of refugees may not be sufficient to secure “peace”: there will still remain millions of Palestinians living inconveniently in their native land, or in the heart of what Netanyahu insisted was the “historic homeland” of the Jews.

For these Palestinians, the peace plan involves what Netanyahu calls “demilitarization,” but what should be properly understood as unconditional surrender followed by disarmament. Disarmament, though necessary, cannot be immediate, however. Some recalcitrant Palestinians may not wish to become Zionists. Therefore, the newly pledged Zionist Palestinians would have to launch a civil war to defeat those who foolishly insist on resisting Zionism. Or as Netanyahu put it, the “Palestinian Authority will have to establish the rule of law in Gaza and overcome Hamas.” (In fact, this civil war has already been underway for several years as the American and Israeli-backed Palestinian “security forces,” led by US Lt. General Keith Dayton, have escalated their attacks on Hamas).

Once anti-Zionist Palestinians are crushed, the remaining Palestinians — whose number equals that of Jews in historic Palestine — will be able to get on with life as good Zionists, according to Netanyahu’s vision. They will not mind being squeezed into ever smaller ghettos and enclaves in order to allow for the continued expansion of Jewish colonies, whose inhabitants Netanyahu described as “an integral part of our people, a principled, pioneering and Zionist public.” And, in line with their heartfelt Zionism, Palestinians will naturally agree that “Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel.”

These are only the Palestinian-Israeli aspects of the Netanyahu plan. The regional elements include full, Arab endorsement of Palestinian Zionism and normalization of ties with Israel and even Arab Gulf money to pay for it all. Why not? If everyone becomes a Zionist then all conflict disappears.

It would be nice if we could really dismiss Netanyahu’s speech as a joke. But it is an important indicator of a hard reality. Contrary to some naive and optimistic hopes, Netanyahu does not represent only an extremist fringe in Israel. Today, the Israeli Jewish public presents (with a handful of exceptions) a united front in favor of a racist, violent ultra-nationalism fueled by religious fanaticism. Palestinians are viewed at best as inferiors to be tolerated until circumstances arise in which they can be expelled, or caged and starved like the 1.5 million inmates of the Gaza prison.

Israel is a society where virulent anti-Arab racism and Nakba denial are the norm although none of the European and American leaders who constantly lecture about Holocaust denial will dare to admonish Netanyahu for his bald lies and omissions about Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s “vision” offered absolutely no advance on the 1976 Allon Plan for annexation of most of the occupied West Bank, or Menachem Begin’s Camp David “autonomy” proposals. The goal remains the same: to control maximum land with minimum Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s speech should put to rest newly revived illusions — fed in particular by US President Barack Obama’s Cairo speech — that such an Israel can be brought voluntarily to any sort of just settlement. Some in this region who have placed all their hopes in Obama — as they did previously in Bush — believe that US pressure can bring Israel to heel. They point to Obama’s strong statements calling for a complete halt to Israeli settlement construction — a demand Netanyahu defied in his speech. It now remains to be seen whether Obama will follow his tough words with actions.

Yet, even if Obama is ready to put unprecedented pressure on Israel, he would likely have to exhaust much of his political capital just to get Israel to agree to a settlement freeze, let alone to move on any of dozens of other much more substantial issues.

And despite the common perception of an escalating clash between the Obama administration and the Israeli government (which may come over minor tactical issues), when it comes to substantive questions they agree on much more than they disagree. Obama has already stated that “any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state,” and he affirmed that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.” As for Palestinian refugees, he has said, “The right of return [to Israel] is something that is not an option in a literal sense.”

For all the fuss about settlements, Obama has addressed only their expansion, not their continued existence. Until the Obama administration publicly dissociates itself from the positions of the Clinton and Bush administrations, we must assume it agrees with them and with Israel that the large settlement blocks encircling Jerusalem and dividing the West Bank into ghettos would remain permanently in any two-state solution. Neither Obama nor Netanyahu have mentioned Israel’s illegal West Bank wall suggesting that there is no controversy over either its route or existence. And now, both agree that whatever shreds are left can be called a “Palestinian state.” No wonder the Obama administration welcomed Netanyahu’s speech as “a big step forward.”

What is particularly dismaying about the position stated by Obama in Cairo — and since repeated constantly by his Middle East envoy George Mitchell — is that the United States is committed to the “legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.” This formula is designed to sound meaningful, but these vague, campaign-style buzzwords are devoid of any reference to inalienable Palestinian rights. They were chosen by American speechwriters and public relations experts, not by Palestinians. The Obama formula implies that any other Palestinian aspirations are inherently illegitimate.

Where in international law, or UN resolutions can Palestinians find definitions of “dignity” and “opportunity?” Such infinitely malleable terms incorrectly reduce all of Palestinian history to a demand for vague sentiments and a “state” instead of a struggle for liberation, justice, equality, return and the restoration of usurped rights. It is, after all, easy enough to conceive of a state that keeps Palestinians forever dispossessed, dispersed, defenseless and under threat of more expulsion and massacres by a racist, expansionist Israel.

Through history it was never leaders who defined rights, but the people who struggled for them. It is no small achievement that for a century Palestinians have resisted and survived Zionist efforts to destroy their communities physically and wipe them from the pages of history. As long as Palestinians continue to resist in every arena and by all legitimate means, building on true international solidarity, their rights can never be extinguished. It is from such a basis of independent and indigenous strength, not from the elusive promises of a great power or the favors of a usurping occupier, that justice and peace can be achieved.

the anti-arab racism they describe above is rampant, though not always caught on camera or reported by the media. here is yet another instance of the common sorts of racist remarks made by zionist terrorist colonists made this week:

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who meant to praise an undercover police agent in Tel Aviv, referred to him as an “Arabush” (Hebrew equivalent of “sand nigger”) Tuesday.

this is the same kind of racism that stems from the jewish supremacist attitude that they can colonize palestine because they are the “chosen people” who “inherited” this land from god. and this racism is not reserved just for palestinians in the west bank and gaza. it is fundamentally a part of the zionist state and its society. it is what helped to create apartheid on both sides of the so-called “green line,” contrary to jimmy carter’s attestations to the contrary. stu harrison’s interview with palestinian member of kenesset haneen zoabi in electronic intifada this week she makes it quite clear how racism and apartheid function in 1948 palestine:

Zoabi said: “The rate of hostility has increased a lot. Seventy-five percent of Jewish people do not want to live in a society with Arabs.”

“On the question of apartheid, most towns are mixed, with both Arabs and Jews. Most of the Jewish population and the authorities in towns like Jaffa and Haifa, are trying their best to transfer Palestinians out so they can become purely Jewish towns.”

“They prevent the Palestinians from renovating their homes and they are trying to push them into giving up their homes so they will leave. Arabs are being attacked a lot more in the streets and in their market shops, comparing the last year to previous years.”

However, Zoabi said such attitudes are nothing new. “We have a special case of racism in Israel. You can’t find this kind of racism in any other country in the world, where the state usually defines itself neutrally.”

“This is not the case in Israel. We don’t struggle simply against discriminating policies or attitudes. We are against the very definition of the state and this is what differentiates our struggle.”

it is this kind of racism that also leads the zionist entity to constantly demolish palestinian homes and build new colonies. this week another spate of both emerged in the news. first, the house demolitions and orders for future demolitions of palestinian homes:

Two Palestinian families were given orders on Tuesday by the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem to demolish part of their homes.

One of the homes is located inside the old city of Jerusalem while the other is located in the nearby Palestinian dominated Silwan neighborhood.

Local sources said that since Friday the Israeli municipality had handed out five such orders to Palestinian families inside the walls of the old city.

and more homes in al quds:

At least a dozen Palestinian families in vireos parts of East Jerusalem received on Wednesday demolition orders issued by the Jerusalem Municipality.

According to the Israeli municipality the homes are built without the needed building permits.

The families started the illegal process by hiring a lawyer to get their case heard in the court, local sources reported.

Since last week the Israeli municipality has forced four families to demolish parts of their homes because they lacked the needed permission.

and another home in another neighborhood al quds:

The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that the home of Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh in Anata, which has already been demolished by the Israeli authorities four times and has become a center for the peaceful struggle against home demolitions, can be demolished yet again.

and in the jordan valley:

Israeli bulldozers demolished 15 animal barns and 3 shacks owned by Palestinian residents of Ein Al-Hilwa neighborhood in the Jordan Valley near Israeli settlement of Masquin, eyewitnesses reported Wednesday morning.

Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors Israeli settlement activity in the northern West Bank, condemned the demolition describing it as part of a clear Israeli policy aimed at emptying the Jordan Valley of all Palestinian residents.

the above news items are part and parcel for palestinians every day, but there is a new report from save the children that ma’an published the other day showing that 300,000 palestinians face house demolitions right now:

Over 300,000 people are facing house demolitions in the occupied Palestinian territories, a report issued this week by the UK charity Save the Children says.

“House demolitions in the OPT have escalated and thousands of families and in some cases entire villages remain under the threat of bulldozers arriving to destroy their homes and being displaced any day,” said Salam Kanaan, Save the Children Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) in a statement.

The new report is titled “Broken Homes,” and was also authored by Palestinian Counseling Centre (PCC), and Welfare Association.

Since house demolitions started in 1967 it is estimated that the Israeli civilian and military authorities have destroyed over 24,000 homes. However, since 2000 the number of homes being destroyed has escalated with an average of more than a 1,000 homes demolished every year, Save the children said.

This year (2009) has seen a massive increase, with more homes being destroyed than at any time since the Israeli occupation began 40 years ago, the organization said. Nearly 4,000 homes were destroyed as a result of the military offensive in Gaza at the start of the year.

“The majority of house demolitions are carried out for so called ‘administrative’ reasons or as a result of military operations,” said Kanaan. “Families lose everything when their homes are demolished; clothes, food and furniture are all buried in the rubble. There is precious little help for these families who are left with nothing, no support, no protection.”

Among the facts stated in the report are:

More than half (52%) of the homes were demolished in a collective demolition where a series of homes or neighborhood was razed

Two people were killed during the demolition of their homes

Only 13% of families had a chance to collect their belongings before demolition began
97% of parents are at risk of a mental breakdown as a result of their homes being demolished

Children whose homes have been demolished show a decline in their mental health, suffering classic signs of trauma, becoming withdrawn, depressed and anxious

The majority of families whose houses were demolished were repeatedly displaced for long periods of time – over half the families (61%) took at least two years to find somewhere permanent to live

Over a quarter of families had to split up so they could all find somewhere to stay.

Once a house is demolished, the family not only loses their home and its contents but is also liable for the costs of the actual house demolition. This can run into thousands of dollars.

East Jerusalem residents, rural communities in the West Bank, Bedouin, and refugees living in camps, communities close to the Separation Wall or settlements, and areas near Gaza’s borders are at the greatest risk of displacement from building or house demolition. More than 300,000 Palestinians live in these areas.

of course the main reason for palestinian home demolitions is to build colonies for jewish zionists who steal the land on which these palestinian homes exist. and expect a great increase in those colonies this summer:

The Land of Israel Faithful group responded to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech by saying that they are planning to construct 30 new outposts in the West Bank. In his speech Netanyahu declared that no new settlements would be built and no extra land would be confiscated from Palestinians for settlement development.

The group told Israeli media that it was “recruiting activists for this summer’s outpost building”. It is planning to create outposts between the settlement of Ofra and Shiloh, in Gush Etzion, near Hebron and near the settlements of Elon Moreh and Bracha.

The settler group has been engaged in building and rebuilding outposts for the past two years. Many of them have been demolished several times by Israeli forces, but the group keeps rebuilding them with determination.

One of the outposts that was destroyed was the Moaz Esther outpost. In the beginning of this month it was taken down, but now it’s almost completely rebuilt again. The group explained that action has to be taken to strengthen the Jewish hold on the West Bank.

supposedly the united states is working to “freeze” the colony building project, but the zionist entity is being defiant and racist as is par for the course:

Visiting Washington, Israeli Foreign Minister of the right-wing extremist Yisrael Beiteinu Party, Avigdor Lieberman, told the US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, that Israel will not freeze the construction and expansion of settlements.

Clinton demanded Israel to stop the settlements as agreed upon with the former president, George W. Bush.

Lieberman said that the “Jewish people were born in Judea and Samaria, and will die there”, his statement totally disregarded the indigenous Palestinian people.

Clinton responded by stating that the United States under the Obama administration wants a freeze to all settlement activities.

The Israeli FM claimed that there was no written or even verbal agreement with Bush regarding the settlements. Clinton “agreed” and said that a compromise could be reached between the United States and Israel.

here is a report on lieberman’s visit with hillary clinton by tom ackerman on al jazeera yesterday:

regardless of what is being reported, it seems as though the obama administration–like all american administrations before it–will yield to the zionist entity and their demand for jewish-only racist colonies on stolen palestinian land:

The US may ease its demand for a total freeze on construction in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Tuesday.

Quoting anonymous Israeli officials, the newspaper said that this possible change in position was expressed during US Envoy George Mitchell’s visit to Israel last week, when he held a four-hour meeting on the settlement issue with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

but glenn kessler pointed out in the washington post the other day that there once was a time when the u.s. was clear–at least rhetorically–about the illegality of colonies (though, unfortunately, the u.s. has always supported the colonies in 1948 palesitne):

Thirty years ago, the State Department legal adviser issued an opinion in response to an inquiry from Congress: The establishment of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories “is inconsistent with international law.”

The opinion cited Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Israel has insisted that the Geneva Convention does not apply to settlers and broadly contests assertions of the settlements’ illegality.

Despite the passage of time, the legal opinion, issued during the Carter administration, has never been revoked or revised. President Ronald Reagan said he disagreed with it — he called the settlements “not illegal” — but his State Department did not seek to issue a new opinion.

But Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is unlikely to bring up the U.S. opinion when she meets today with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the State Department. Lieberman lives in a West Bank settlement, Nokdim, that was established in 1982 as a tent encampment of six families and now has more than 800 residents.

Despite repeated inquiries over the past week, State Department spokesmen declined to say whether the 1979 legal opinion is still the policy of the U.S. government.

and lest you think that the zionist entity’s racism is directed only at palestinians check out this new report on irin news about their human trafficking:

The latest US State Department report on trafficked persons, released on 16 June, says Israel is still a destination for men and women trafficked for forced labour and sexual exploitation.

Women from the former Soviet Union and China are still being trafficked across the border with Egypt into Israel for forced prostitution by organized criminal groups.

According to local NGOs, such as Isha L’iash and Moked, each year several hundred women in Israel – many of them foreigners – are trafficked within the country for commercial sexual exploitation, according to the report.

In 2006 Israel was put on the US State Department’s Tier 2 watch list and has been described as a “prime destination for trafficking” by both the State Department and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

the hypocrisy of a “benevolent” empire (on bushama’s cairo speech)

ashraf omar's "welcome obama"
ashraf omar\’s \”welcome obama\”

i do not have a satellite dish in my new apartment and my internet connection is a bit slow here so i watched barack obama’s speech to the so-called muslim world on al jazeera’s website. as he began his speech today the zionist entity was busy flying american-made f-16s in the sky above palestine in its “turning point 3” test run for its doomsday scenario (read: its next offensive attack on its neighbors). and zionist terrorist colonists attacked palestinian farms for the fourth day in a row as obama got ready to deliver his speech. and back in the united states, american zionists were busy figuring out a new way to scrap any possibility of palestinian sovereignty by finding ways to give palestinian land to jordan and egypt:

As U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to deliver a major foreign policy speech in Cairo and his administration pushes aggressively for a two-state solution in Israel-Palestine, neoconservatives and other foreign policy hawks back home are calling on him to scrap the two-state solution altogether and consider alternatives to Palestinian statehood.

The most prominent alternative they are pushing is the so-called “three-state solution” or “Jordanian option”, in which the West Bank would be returned to Jordanian control and the Gaza Strip to Egyptian control.

Although calls for a “three-state solution” have cropped up periodically over the years and have been dismissed by most Middle East experts as unrealistic, in recent weeks the three-state approach has received an unusual amount of attention and support on the right.

perhaps in keeping with that idea that more and more of palestine will belong to usurping entities, this morning also saw 180 palestinian bedouin losing their homes due to israeli terrorist forces demolishing those houses as a part of their sixty-one year ethnic cleansing project:

The Israeli military began demolishing a Bedouin encampment home to 180 people in the northern Jordan Valley, in the West Bank on Thursday morning.

According to UN officials monitoring events on the ground, 20 Israeli military jeeps, a bulldozer and a container arrived at the Bedouin community of Ras Al-Ahmar at 7:30 on Thursday morning and began destroying homes. The residents of the community evacuated the area on Tuesday, setting up makeshift camps nearby, after demolition orders were issued on Monday.

The military issued demolition orders for Bedouin homes belonging to 34 families, a total of 304 people in Ras Al-Ahmar and nearby Al-Hadidiya. The military gave the residents 48 hours to evacuate on the basis that the area is a “closed military zone”

Al-Hadidya is located near the Israeli settlement of Roi, whereas Ras Al-Ahmar is located north of Hamra military checkpoint east of Tammun.

All of the community of Al-Hadidya received demolition orders except for one family, putting the community’s very existence at risk. In Ras Al-Ahmar, 17 out of 45 families received the orders, some of which are labeled eviction notices and other demolition orders.

in the lead up to obama’s address egyptian blogger hossam el-hamalawy wrote an op ed for the new york times, which he reposted on his blog stating:

THE bridge I take to work in central Cairo was painted overnight. On the roads, colored concrete blocks were installed in turns where car accidents happen daily. Main streets in the neighboring city of Giza are suddenly blossoming with flowers. Street lamps are polished, and they are actually working. This could mean only one thing: our country is receiving an “important” foreign visitor.

President Obama should not have decided to come to Egypt. The visit is a clear endorsement of President Hosni Mubarak, the ailing 81-year-old dictator who has ruled with martial law, secret police and torture chambers. No words that Mr. Obama will say can change this perception that Americans are supporting a dictator with their more than $1 billion in annual aid.

The Western press is clearly excited about Mr. Obama’s “significant” choice of Egypt, and his destination, Cairo University, which the news media seem to consider a symbol of enlightenment, secularism and freedom.

The truth is that for years, Cairo University students have been demonstrating against the rising cost of education, demanding the university subsidize expensive text books, only to be rebuked by the authorities, who claim no funds are available. Yet the university somehow managed to find the money to polish up the building dome that will shine above Mr. Obama’s head when he delivers his address.

As for the other host of the president’s visit, Al Azhar University, one of its students, Kareem Amer, is languishing in prison after university officials reported his “infidel, un-Islamic” views to the government, earning him a four-year sentence in 2007. In advance of the visit, Egyptian security forces have rounded up hundreds of foreign students at Al Azhar.

We do want allies in the West, but not from inside the White House. Our real allies are the human rights groups and unions that will pressure the Obama administration to sever all ties to the Mubarak dictatorship. Their visits to Egypt are more meaningful, even if unlike Mr. Obama, they do not get a lavish reception.

a number of open letters to obama were published today, too, from various groups starting with the cairo institute for human rights studies which outlined how they would like to see him put his money where his mouth is:

For example, the appropriate measures could be taken to end the discriminatory, degrading practices endured by Arabs and Muslims at American airports, for the message that these practices send stands at odds with your declaration in Turkey. Indeed, the message communicated is “We consider you all enemies until proven otherwise.”

Secondly, the new US administration must realize that the failure of the previous administration to address the Palestinian issue fairly and justly has been the primary source of an increasing sense of humiliation among the Palestinian people and other peoples in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Certainly the new administration’s adoption of the right of the Palestinian people to an independent state side by side with Israel is a step in the right direction, but your administration must translate this general principle into real-life policies, first and foremost by abandoning America’s absolute political and diplomatic support for Israel and the war crimes and aggression committed by the this state, the sole remaining example in the world today of a racist, colonial occupation. Your administration must adopt decisive and immediate policies to stop the expansion of settlements, which swallow more land every day and thereby make the two-state solution you advocate impossible.

Thirdly, giving respect and support for human rights and democratic freedoms in this area of the world is the principal avenue by which to foster a sense of dignity for peoples in the Arab and Muslim worlds who are no different from other people in the world. While we affirm that the destiny of these peoples ultimately depends on their own struggles and sacrifices to achieve these rights and liberties, an American foreign policy that embodied and represented human rights and democratic values and ended US support for allied authoritarian regimes in the Arab and Muslim worlds would give a substantial boost to these struggles, given that the majority of ruling regimes in this region are much more sensitive to the international community’s views than they are to public opinion in their own countries.

likewise hamas sent obama a letter via code pink who delivered it to the american embassy in cairo:

The letter was written by Dr. Ahmad Yousef, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the dissolved government in Gaza.

Hamas called on Obama to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, and to stop the ongoing construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The letter called on Obama to communicate with Hamas to prove the seriousness of his administration, and called on him to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the first step towards positive relations between the United States and the Arab and Muslim worlds.

In the letter, Hamas welcomed Obama’s visit to the region and considered it a positive towards bridging the gap between the US and the Arab world.

It added that it is unfortunate the Obama would not be visiting the Gaza Strip to listen to the opinions of Hamas, and observe the conditions in the coastal region.

“We recently received several delegates, congress members, EU parliamentarians, several solidarity groups and Mr. Richard Goldstone, head of the investigation committee of the United Nations, in addition to the Code Pink group”, Hamas says in its letter.

“It is essential to visit Gaza in order to observe the destruction Israel caused during its 22-day offensive, several groups came to Gaza such as AMNESTY international”, the letter reads, “the killing and destruction could not have happened without US support to Israel, weapons and financial support paid for by US taxpayers”.

“You are the owners of the weapons, and the financial support to Israel, you should observe how Israel violated the International Law, and used those weapons against our people”, the letter adds.

“Mr. President, before you took office, you were a very distinguished Law teacher, and your administration said it would boost the role of law in the Arab and Islamic worlds” the letter states, “The International Court ruled in 2004 that all of the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, are occupied territories, and that those territories belong to the Palestinians”.

“The court recognized the Palestinian right of self determination, and independence. Israeli settlements are illegal and not a single judge of the 15 judges of the International Court of Justice, ever objected to this ruling”.

The Hamas letter also states that the United Nations, the General Assembly, and every human rights group agree that the Israeli siege is illegal, and violates the international law because it is a form of collective punishment.

“We at the government formed by Hamas, are committed to a just solution to the conflict, a solution that is coherent with the internal law and the basic principles of human rights, we are willing to hold talks with all parties, with respect, and without any preconditions”.

“What the people are looking for is real change, a change the ends the construction of settlements, a change that adopts a parallel and non biased policy that respects the international law”.

the free gaza movement also published an open letter to obama echoing some of the above concerns:

Tomorrow you travel to Egypt to give one of the most important speeches of your presidency. With the words you deliver you have said that you want to “reset” U.S. relations with the Muslim world and create a fundamental change for the better. We sincerely wish you well. But you have also said that “part of being a good friend is being honest.” Let’s be honest.

Israel’s ongoing occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and the United States’ unquestioned financial, military and political support for Israel is at the heart of the negative perceptions and bitter anger that many Arabs and Muslims have of the United States. Tomorrow, we hope to hear from you a commitment to aligning U.S. policy in the Middle East with U.N. Resolutions and international law.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives everyone the right to freely enter and exit one’s own country. You will exercise this right when you arrive in Egypt tomorrow and then return to the United States. This is a right that Palestinians–particularly those trapped in Gaza–are routinely denied.

* Over 200 Palestinian medical patients in Gaza, many critically ill, are unable to seek adequate treatment because Israeli authorities regularly deny Palestinian patients the right to travel abroad to receive the medical treatment that is not available in Gaza; at the same time import of many medicines and medical equipment into Gaza is prevented by Israel.

* Over 700 Palestinian students in Gaza, many with scholarships, are unable to attend their universities abroad because Israel regularly denies them this right.

* Thousands of Palestinians abroad are unable to visit their families because Israel will not allow them to re-enter their own country.

When you arrive in Egypt you will travel to your accommodations in a car maintained with spare parts banned to Palestinians, powered by gasoline denied to the people of Gaza. You will use electric lights that do not often work in Gaza, because Israel blocks the fuel needed to run Gaza’s electrical grid. You may enjoy a cup of coffee or tea during your visit – commodities Israel will not allow into Gaza.

The truth is that Israel lets in less than 20% of the ordinary supplies needed in Gaza, and allows no reconstruction materials whatsoever to enter. As a consequence over 95% of all industries have collapsed, creating massive unemployment and poverty. The purpose of the Israeli blockade is to punish and break an entire people. Collective punishment is strictly prohibited under international law, yet it remains Israel’s primary policy in regards to the Palestinian people.

On June 25th, the Free Gaza Movement sets sail on our eighth voyage to challenge the brutal Israeli blockade of Gaza. Though we have been threatened and our ships rammed by the Israeli navy, we will not be deterred. We sail in the spirit of the Freedom Riders who, in the year you were born, risked their lives so that African-Americans could travel freely in the United States. We sail in the spirit of international cooperation that helped create the United Nations, in the spirit of the international civil resistance that overcame Apartheid.

President Obama, you have based your political career on what you call the “audacity of hope” – the faith that each of us, individually and collectively, can change things for the better. But faith without action is dead. We too believe in hope, but from our experience we know that hope alone will not change the world. Like you, we know that the price and promise of our mutual humanity demands that each of us treat one another with dignity and respect, and that all of us strive to insure that our sisters and brothers around the world are free to make of their lives what they will, and pursue their full measure of happiness.

Mister President, you led the fight in the U.S. Senate to insure that aid was actually delivered to people after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. A man-made disaster continues to devastate the people of Gaza; due to Israel’s ongoing hermetic closure of the Gaza Strip over 80% of the population there require food assistance just in order to survive. We hope your speech tomorrow in Egypt is successful but, at a minimum, you must use your privilege to demand and secure open access to Gaza for all international humanitarian, reconstruction, and developmental supplies. Words matter, but words are not enough.

We in the Free Gaza Movement will sail to Gaza again and again and again, in vigorous unarmed resistance, until the Israeli blockade is forever shattered and the Palestinian people have free access to the rest of the world.

Please recognize that the fact that we even have to ask (let alone risk our lives) to be allowed to provide food to the hungry, medicine to the sick, and shelter to the homeless is in itself an obscenity. We look forward to hearing from you an uncompromising commitment for the immediate end of the criminal siege of Gaza, as well as an assurance that respect for the human rights, dignity and equality of the Palestinian people will be at the core of your administration’s policy toward the Israeli-Arab conflict.

if you read through the above open letters you will no doubt get a sense of the issues at stake here in palestine as well as in egypt and also for muslim americans. and if you compare these desires and requests above to the text of his speech (see below) you will see the hot air spewed from obama’s lips. it is hot air because whatever small things he may have said that some people in this region may read as hopeful, he will do nothing. nothing will change for the majority of the muslims who live under america’s bombs and who live under american and/or zionist colonialism and occupation. below are excerpts from his speech with my commentary mixed in.

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.” That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.

Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.

As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.

who does he think he is speaking to? is he really addressing muslims? does he really think they do not know this history?

I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, “The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims.” And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers – Thomas Jefferson – kept in his personal library.

what obama fails to mention here is that the first mulism in the united states were brought over from africa to serve as white colonists’ slaves.

So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.

But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words – within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.”

it is interesting how he seems to forget how he played into this islamophobia by allowing rashid khalidi to be tarred and feathered during the election campaign. how soon they forget.

Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores – that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average.

Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.

So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.

Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.

This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.

That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.

The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.

notice as he lists “violent extremist” elements below he fails to mention zionist extremism and american extremism, which primarily targets muslim countries and people.

In Ankara, I made clear that America is not – and never will be – at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.

The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.

Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.

That’s why we’re partnering with a coalition of forty-six countries. And despite the costs involved, America’s commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths – more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.

We also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who have been displaced. And that is why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend upon.

translation: the u.s. is somehow making amends because in addition to the massacres of pakistanis and afghans–not to mention the unprecedented number of refugees the u.s. has created, it will put band-aids on the wounds of these people with “aid.”

Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: “I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”

Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq’s sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq’s democratically-elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraq train its Security Forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.

And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.

if you have been following the news or even my blog you know from journalists like jeremy scahill that this is 100% bull*&$# as americans are going to maintain dozens of permanent military bases and the private contractors are going to be increased. is this what obama means by unique?

So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.

The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.

America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

this is the most deeply offensive part of his speech. he wants to address muslims and he lectures muslims about jewish suffering when most muslims are suffering because of the zionist entity and jewish supremacist ideology forced upon arabs in the region? is he serious here? if he must delve into history why not focus on an nakba? or if he wants to focus on the present how about gaza? is he really incapable of understanding the issues? the jewish problem is a european problem. his logic fails to demonstrate that arabs and muslims should not have to pay the price for europe’s sins.

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 sixty 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.

is it really that difficult to say the words: an nakba? to say the words ethnic cleansing? to say the words un resolution 194 and the right of return?

For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them – and all of us – to live up to our responsibilities.

no that is not in the palestinian people’s interest. it may be in the interest of the zionist-american collaborationist palestinian authority, but it is not in the interest of the 7.2 million palestinian refugees who have the only roadmap they need: un resolution 194.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.

let me get this straight: obama wants us to think there are two equal sides here (of course, there are not) and yet only palestinians are being asked to not use violence to fight for their liberation. from south africa to india armed resistance is precisely what helped people to liberate their land. to pretend that this history does not exist is to read it through a very narrow lens.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel’s legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.

Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.

The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.

This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.

It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America’s interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.

I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.

i don’t think obama does understand: when the bullies of the world, principally, the u.s. and the zionist entity, get rid of their nuclear arsenal then perhaps we can talk.

The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.

I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

so ironic given that obama decided to deliver this speech in a country that suppresses democracy like no other. and that obama refuses to recognize the democratically elected government in palestine.

The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.

Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.

Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of another’s. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld – whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.

you gotta love this massive hypocrisy in the face of the united states sentencing 5 men (the holy land five) to 65 years in prison for collecting money for palestinians in the holy land foundation.

Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.

I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations – including my own – this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities – those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.

This is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas. I am emphasizing such investments within my country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.

On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in on-line learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.

just wondering: for palestinians in gaza who want to study, how exactly are they supposed to leave gaza given that egypt and the zionist entity maintain it as a prison?

On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create jobs. We will open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, and grow new crops. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.

All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.

The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek – a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God’s children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.

you cannot drop bombs on muslims every day and then pretend like you’re going to help with economic development. it just doesn’t work. your words reveal your deep hypocrisy.

I know there are many – Muslim and non-Muslim – who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn’t worth the effort – that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country – you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.

All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort – a sustained effort – to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples – a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us, “O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”

The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

The Holy Bible tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.

for a quick, witty summary of obama’s speech here is what as’ad abukhalil had to say about it:

So let me summarize Obama’s message to Arabs: if Arabs adopt and internalize Gun Zionism, the US will be very pleased.

ali abunimah has a terrific analysis of the speech in the guardian this afternoon appropriately entitled “a bush in sheep’s clothing”:

It was disappointing that Obama recycled his predecessor’s notion that “violent extremism” exists in a vacuum, unrelated to America’s (and its proxies’) exponentially greater use of violence before and after September 11, 2001. He dwelled on the “enormous trauma” done to the US when almost 3,000 people were killed that day, but spoke not one word about the hundreds of thousands of orphans and widows left in Iraq – those whom Muntazer al-Zaidi’s flying shoe forced Americans to remember only for a few seconds last year. He ignored the dozens of civilians who die each week in the “necessary” war in Afghanistan, or the millions of refugees fleeing the US-invoked escalation in Pakistan.

As President George Bush often did, Obama affirmed that it is only a violent minority that besmirches the name of a vast and “peaceful” Muslim majority. But he seemed once again to implicate all Muslims as suspect when he warned, “The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.”

Nowhere were these blindspots more apparent than his statements about Palestine/Israel. He gave his audience a detailed lesson on the Holocaust and explicitly used it as a justification for the creation of Israel. “It is also undeniable,” the president said, “that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation.”

Suffered in pursuit of a homeland? The pain of dislocation? They already had a homeland. They suffered from being ethnically cleansed and dispossessed of it and prevented from returning on the grounds that they are from the wrong ethno-national group. Why is that still so hard to say?

He lectured Palestinians that “resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed”. He warned them that “It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.” (Note: the last suicide attack targeting civilians by a Palestinian occurred in 2004)

Fair enough, but did Obama really imagine that such words would impress an Arab public that watched in horror as Israel slaughtered 1,400 people in Gaza last winter, including hundreds of sleeping, fleeing or terrified children, with American-supplied weapons? Did he think his listeners would not remember that the number of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians targeted and killed by Israel has always far exceeded by orders of magnitude the number of Israelis killed by Arabs precisely because of the American arms he has pledged to continue giving Israel with no accountability? Amnesty International recently confirmed what Palestinians long knew: Israel broke the negotiated ceasefire when it attacked Gaza last November 4, prompting retaliatory rockets that killed no Israelis until after Israel launched its much bigger attack on Gaza. That he continues to remain silent about what happened in Gaza, and refuses to hold Israel accountable demonstrates anything but a commitment to full truth-telling.

Some people are prepared to give Obama a pass for all this because he is at last talking tough on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. In Cairo, he said: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”

These carefully chosen words focus only on continued construction, not on the existence of the settlements themselves; they are entirely compatible with the peace process industry consensus that existing settlements will remain where they are for ever. This raises the question of where Obama thinks he is going. He summarised Palestinians’ “legitimate aspirations” as being the establishment of a “state”. This has become a convenient slogan to that is supposed to replace for Palestinians their pursuit of rights and justice that the proposed state actually denies. Obama is already on record opposing Palestinian refugees’ right to return home, and has never supported the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to live free from racist and religious incitement, persecution and practices fanned by Israel’s highest office holders and written into its laws.

He may have more determination than his predecessor but he remains committed to an unworkable two-state “vision” aimed not at restoring Palestinian rights, but preserving Israel as an enclave of Israeli Jewish privilege. It is a dead end.

There was one sentence in his speech I cheered for and which he should heed: “Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail.”

abunimah rightly pointed out the outrageous logic of lecturing muslims on the european actions during world war two. personally, i find it beyond shocking that this afternoon he headed towards germany to visit sites of that historic war in europe while continuing to refuse to visit gaza just a desert away. medea benjamin’s article in electronic intifada called on obama to visit gaza instead:

But the administration has said almost nothing about the devastating Israeli invasion of Gaza that left more than 1,400 dead, including some 400 children. To many in the Middle East, this is an unfortunate continuation of past policies that condemn the loss of innocent Israeli lives, but refuse to speak out against the disproportionately greater loss of Palestinian lives at the hands of the Israeli military.

The Israeli invasion of Gaza began on 27 December 2008, when Obama had just won the election but had not yet taken office. While he spoke out against the 26 November Mumbai terrorism attack, he refused to even call for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying coldly, “When it comes to foreign affairs it is particularly important to adhere to the principle of one president at a time.”

Once inaugurated, Obama appointed former Senator George Mitchell as a special peace envoy and immediately sent him on a “listening tour” to key places in the Middle East — except Gaza. Mitchell returned for a second trip to the region in late February, visiting Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel and the West Bank but once again bypassing Gaza. The same thing happened on his third trip in April.

Hillary Clinton has never visited war-torn Gaza. She promised $300 million for rebuilding, but the aid won’t get to Gaza as long as the administration insists on dealing only with Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority in the West Bank while shunning Hamas, which controls Gaza and was democratically elected.

one egypian blogger and tweeter اشتراكي ثوري pulled together his responses from the speech in a blog post that gives one a way better sense of what people are thinking and feeling here about his speech (in spite of the insane people al jazeera has been putting on–even marwan bishara seems to have lost his mind calling this speech “historic” today):

Just finished watching Bushama’s booooooooooring speech, you can read the full text here. My expectation that Obama would just recycle old bulls*&^ obviously came true, and if anyone calls his speech “historic” or a “new beginning” they obviously have lost touch with reality. This speech was so bad I thought even from a linguistic standpoint, I mean I could come up with a more articulate speech off the top of my head, but then again, despite what some people say, Bushama is not a good speaker. And he managed to pronounce every arabic word he included wrong.

Here are my tweets about Obama’s speech:

* RT: @DailyNewsEgypt: Obama says Mubarak has “decades of experience,” thanks president for “hospitality” #cairospeech
* mubarak does have years of experience in obeying his american and israeli masters, he also has a lot of “experience” in torture #cairospeech
* el azaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar? whats that obama??? #cairospeech
* mentioned “extremists” within a minute of starting #cairospeech
* obama will fight stereotypes against islam…er while killing as many muslims as possible #cairospeech
* RT: @amansour87: RT @3arabawy RT @wael : NDP Stooges must stop clapping in #cairospeech
* how many people has the us killed in the last 7 years? at least in the millions #cairospeech
* “military force will not solve the problem alone”…er but we will try #cairospeech
* why do americans always have to go on and on about the holocaust and 9/11?? #cairospeech
* have some courage coward and mention zionist holocaust of palestinians #cairospeech
* “the pain of dislocation” ah I think the pain of death, torture and beating would be more accurate #cairospeech
* “shoot rockets at children” so what the US and israel do every day? #cairospeech
* Israel has no “legitamacy” bushama! #cairospeech
* “this is not simply about america’s interests” yes it is, if it isn’t give up a few million of ur nuclear weapons, bushama #cairospeech
* oooooh democracy how exciting #cairospeech
* “we will support them everywhere” except if the dictators are our puppets #cairospeech
* no the us does not respect dissenting voices #cairospeech
* of course obama takes the white man stance: must preach those ayrabs about women’s rights #cairospeech
* RT: @norashalaby: Obama’s speech is completely patronizing #CairoSpeech
* Now: capitalism, obama will surely praise it #cairospeech
* “the issues I have addressed” will be solved through brutal capitalism and bloody imperialist violence #cairospeech
* stop with the religious crap! If he mentions “god’s children” again I am going to go insane #cairospeech
* “if we choose to be bound by the past we will never move forward” how clever! how original! #cairospeech
* RT: @mar3e: i know more muslim students who deported from usa for supportting the resistance in lebanon , afghanistan, palestine
* RT: @3arabawy: Obama will promote child and maternal health. This means more money for Mama Suzi the guardian of Egyp Motherhod #Cairospeech
* now the talmut! and the bible! stop with the religious crap! #cairospeech
* speech definitely was horrible even worse than I thought it would be, if anyone says tom it was good or even ok they are insane #cairospeech
* RT: @3arabawy: IS that it??!!!! What a historical speech indeed?!! #Cairospeech

as’ad abukhalil had an additional, lengthy response to the speech and here is part:

So Obama is asking for a bargain: to end Western racism (but not wars) against Muslims, Muslims need to stop attacking US foreign policy and wars. This is chicanery–don’t you like those old fashioned words? He talks about the US as a force of “progress.” How untrue for Obama’s audience: the US has consistently opposed forces of progress and advancement in the Middle East: in every conflict between an oil Sheikh or a polygamous prince against progressive socialists or Arab nationalist secularists, the US has always sided with the polygamous princes who have been in alliance with religious kooks and advocates of “holy wars.” Hell, he just came from Saudi Arabia where he praised the wisdom of the Saudi king and he wants to talk to me about “force of progress”? Maybe if you can bring up the issue of Wahhabi fanaticism I would believe you. He said that his personal story as an African American (with an African Muslim name) who was elected president is not unique. Yes, it is: and it was not easy: and his name was mocked during his campaign, and he made his best to distance himself from anything Muslims. So here, Obama is assuming that his Cairo audience are a bunch of idiots who did not follow his campaign and the reactions that it generated. He adds that Muslims in America enjoy education and income above average Americans. Yes, that is true, and I hate when people say that: the reasons is due to the racist/classist rules for the immigrants from Muslims/Middle East countries: only those who high degrees are allowed into the country, while poor people from other countries are allowed. If you are in the Middle East, your chances of being allowed into the US are related to the high degrees you hold. He said that there are mosques in the US but does not mention that many communities fight tooth and nail against those mosques. His references to Iraq and Afghanistan are largely apologetic: and he does not mention that his past critiques of the invasion of Iraq was asking to the criticisms of the Israeli occupation of West Bank and Gaza in Tikkun: that it is based on what is good or bad for Israel, and not for what it does to the victims. He talks about Taliban and Al-Qa`idah’s killing of Muslims (and Muslims know that they have killed Muslims) but he does not mention that Bush administration and Obama administration have also been killing innocent Muslims: if anything, the rate of bombing from the air may have increased over Afghanistan under Obama: the advocate of the surge in Afghanistan versus Bush, the advocate of surge in Iraq. What a difference. I was offended by his lecturing to Muslims about Jewish suffering: as if the audience is entirely anti-Semitic. There are anti-Semites in the US and he does not lecture to them. He spoke about the repugnant practice of Holocaust denial but did not mention that the literature is entirely Western in that regard. And he then moves from a discussion of the Nazism to the Arab-Israeli conflict. What is his point here: that because of Nazi crimes, the Palestinians need to accommodate Zionist crimes on their lands? This is the most offensive section of course: he talks about the Palestinians without identifying who was doing those bad things to them. Look at this sentence: “have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation.” So their suffering is due to their pursuit of a homeland: so they should stop the pursuit and the suffering will go away. He then mention the “pain of dislocation.” What is that o Obama? Is that like a shoulder dislocation? He refers to Palestinian reference to “for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding” but never mentions Israeli wars, attacks, and invasions and yet he makes specific references to Palestinian violence thereby making it clear that adheres to White Man standards: that only Israeli lives matter. I mean, if you compare the killing and terrorism between the two sides, the Israeli side clearly comes out on top in terrorism, wars, and aggression. He then lectures the Palestinians: “Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed.” I read that and thought: wait. Did you not in the early part of the speech bragged about how the US fought (non-violently, I may add) against British Empire? I should lecture Obama here: why didn’t the US resort to non-violent resistance against the British Empire? How could he speak about nuclear weapons without even mentioning the Israeli arsenal? That was another insult to the intelligence of the audience: maybe Jeffrey Feltman and Daniel Shapiro told him that Arabs don’t know that Israel has nuclear weapons.

there will be more responses in the coming days, i’m sure. but this is enough to give you a sense of the deeply offensive, deeply hypocritical speech by bushama.

what obama reads (or should read)

the other day amira hass had an article in ha’aretz, which i suspect barack obama did not read. in it she articulates the obvious: that the israeli colonial terrorist state has never been invested in peace, only in war and in a never-ending series of negotiations:

Successive Israeli governments since 1993 certainly must have known what they were doing, being in no hurry to make peace with the Palestinians. As representatives of Israeli society, these governments understood that peace would involve serious damage to national interests.

Economic damage:

The security industry is an important export branch – weapons, ammunition and refinements that are tested daily in Gaza and the West Bank. The Oslo process – negotiations that were never meant to end – allowed Israel to shake off its status as occupying power (obligated to the welfare of the occupied people) and treat the Palestinian territories as independent entities. That is, to use weapons and ammunition at a magnitude Israel could not have otherwise used on the Palestinians after 1967. Protecting the settlements requires constant development of security, surveillance and deterrence equipment such as fences, roadblocks, electronic surveillance, cameras and robots. These are security’s cutting edge in the developed world, and serve banks, companies and luxury neighborhoods next to shantytowns and ethnic enclaves where rebellions must be suppressed.

The collective Israeli creativity in security is fertilized by a state of constant friction between most Israelis and a population defined as hostile. A state of combat over a low flame, and sometimes over a high one, brings together a variety of Israeli temperaments: rambos, computer wizards, people with gifted hands, inventors. Under peace, their chances of meeting would be greatly reduced.

Damage to careers:

Maintaining the occupation and a state of non-peace employs hundreds of thousands of Israelis. Some 70,000 people work in the security industry. Each year, tens of thousands finish their army service with special skills or a desirable sideline. For thousands it becomes their main career: professional soldiers, Shin Bet operatives, foreign consultants, mercenaries, weapons dealers. Therefore peace endangers the careers and professional futures of an important and prestigious stratum of Israelis, a stratum that has a major influence on the government.

Damage to quality of life:

A peace agreement would require equal distribution of water resources throughout the country (from the river to the sea) between Jews and Palestinians, regardless of the desalination of seawater and water-saving techniques. Even now it’s hard for Israelis to get used to saving water because of the drought. It’s not difficult to guess how traumatic a slash in water consumption to equalize distribution would be.

Damage to welfare:

As the past 30 years have shown, settlements flourish as the welfare state contracts. They offer ordinary people what their salaries would not allow them in sovereign Israel, within the borders of June 4, 1967: cheap land, large homes, benefits, subsidies, wide-open spaces, a view, a superior road network and quality education. Even for those Israeli Jews who have not moved there, the settlements illuminate their horizon as an option for a social and economic upgrade. That option is more real than the vague promises of peacetime improvements, an unknown situation.

Peace will also reduce, if not erase entirely, the security pretext for discriminating against Palestinian Israelis – in land distribution, development resources, education, health employment and civil rights (such as marriage and citizenship). People who have gotten used to privilege under a system based on ethnic discrimination see its abrogation as a threat to their welfare.

if there were really “peace,” which of course will never happen without justice (read: right of return for palestinian refugees), then the zionist entity would not be able to dump toxic waste on palestinian land as mel frykberg reported in ips:

“Israel has been dumping waste, including hazardous and toxic waste, into the West Bank for years as a cheaper and easier alternative to processing it properly in Israel at appropriate hazardous waste management sites,” Palestinian Environmental Authority (PEA) deputy director Jamil Mtoor told IPS.

Shuqbah, a village of 5,000, lies near the border of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, not far from Ramallah. Israeli companies have been using land owned by a Palestinian middleman in the village to dump tonnes of garbage for as little as 30 dollars per tonne, significantly cheaper than dumping it at Israeli waste sites.

“For several years Israeli companies have been dumping solid and hazardous waste there,” Mtoor told IPS. “The subsequent burning of toxic waste including items such as x-ray films releases carcinogens into the environment, and this has affected the population, with many people developing asthma and related illnesses.”

The Israelis earlier buried the carcasses of thousands of chickens infected with the avian flu virus near Nablus in the northern West Bank, said Mtoor. The PEA also uncovered 500 barrels of insecticide in Hebron in the southern West Bank. Again, a Palestinian middleman had been paid off to accept the barrels on his property.

if there were an end to colonialism in palestine, which is the only way that a real solution could be maintained, then the zionist entity would have to do something about its maps, including those in its textbooks (see second image below), but also its tourist industry maps as per the one below that they are posting all over london:

wiping palestine off the map: zionist entity's ad campaign in london
wiping palestine off the map: zionist entity's ad campaign in london

the palestine solidarity campaign is asking for people to write letters to protest these ads, which you can do by clicking the link below:

Posters have recently appeared in London Underground tube stations advertising Israel as a tourist destination. The map on the advert depicts Israel as incorporating the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights.

Please write to London Underground, the Advertising Standards Agency and CBS Outdoors – the company which manages the poster sites – asking for the removal of these posters, which deliberately deny the existence of Palestine.

zionist entity's textbook showing what it considers to be its borders
zionist entity's textbook showing what it considers to be its borders

of course the zionists, along with their buddy hillary clinton, love to go on and on about palestinians recognizing them and their rights to colonize palestinian land as well as the mythology of palestinian textbooks inciting violence. a lot of this discussion over palestinian textbooks has been about maps–that they don’t recognize borders as delineated by the zionist entity. of course, they never mention the fact that their textbooks–and their colonizing terrorist state in general–have never marked such borders. and palestinians, because this is their land, must show the borders from the river to the sea: this is their history and their future. in any case, yesterday with obama, benjamin netanyahu decided to bring up the textbooks again:

If, however, the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, if they — if they fight terror, they educate their children for peace and to a better future, then I think we can come to a substantive solution that allows the two peoples to live side by side in security and peace. And I add prosperity (inaudible).

for those who still believe this zionist propaganda about the textbooks, you should check out the german georg eckert institute’s study on this, which put to rest several years ago these bogus claims in spite of hillary and company.

but obama was offered another sort of lesson from netanyahu yesterday in the form of a book. not the sort of book that hugo chavez gave to obama–eduardo galeano’s open veins of latin america. the ever inspirational rania blogged about this last month:

Chavez’s gift was a very wise way (if accidental) to get the book international attention and increases its sales and readership — and thus increase awareness on the centuries of colonization and theft of Latin America and thus increase understanding and, potentially, solidarity. Chavez explained: “This book is a monument in our Latin American history. It allows us to learn history, and we have to build on this history.”

but the book netanyahu gave to obama was none other than mark twain’s orientalist tale of traveling in the holy land otherwise known as the innocents abroad:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with a copy of “Pleasure Excursion to the Holy Land,” from Mark Twain’s book “The Innocents Abroad,” when they meet in Washington today. Netanyahu received the book, along with a newly published version in Hebrew (translated by Oded Peled), from the Kinneret Zmora-Bitan publishing house.

In his travel memoir, Twain describes a 1867 trip to the Land of Israel, which he finds a backward and desolate place devoid of culture or law. “Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village,” he states, calling it a country where prosperity had died out, a place of lost splendor and beauty where joy has turned to sorrow, and where silence and death prevail in its holy places.

actually, while i have serious problems with much of twain’s writing about the arab world in this book, an astute reading of it requires one to also see the irony in it. i wonder, for instance, what obama would make of this passage of twain’s travelogue to the region:

This morning‭, ‬during breakfast‭, ‬the usual assemblage of squalid humanity sat patiently without the charmed circle of the camp and waited for such crumbs as pity might bestow upon their misery‭. ‬There were old and young‭,‬ brown skinned and yellow‭. ‬Some of the men were tall and stalwart‭, (‬for one hardly sees any where such splendid-looking men as here in the East‭,)‬ but all the women and children looked worn and sad‭, ‬and distressed with hunger‭. ‬They reminded me much of Indians‭, ‬did these people‭. ‬They had but little clothing‭, ‬but such as they had was fanciful in character and fantastic in its arrangement‭. ‬Any little absurd gewgaw or gimcrack they had they disposed in such a way as to make it attract attention most readily‭. ‬They sat in silence‭, ‬and with tireless patience watched our every motion with that vile‭, ‬uncomplaining impoliteness which is so truly Indian‭, ‬and which makes a white man so nervous and uncomfortable and savage that he wants to exterminate the whole tribe‭.

twain’s entire text, by the way, can be downloaded for free from project gutenberg in six parts (the link above is to part five where this excerpt comes from). but this description of the palestinians–in comparison to indigenous americans–is telling for a number of reasons most notably the reaction colonizers–both american and zionist–have to the indigenous. while perhaps white man in chief, netanyahu, in the zionist entity is not “exterminating” palestinians right now, they are certainly finding other methods of removal from their ethnic, exclusive, colonial, racist, apartheid regime. building jewish-only colonies that force palestinians out of their homes and off of their land is one such method:

Shortly after the meeting between US President, Barack Obama, and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli sources said that a new Jewish only settlement would be constructed in the Jordan Valley, less that 20 kilometers away from the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

The new settlement plan was seen by several Palestinian and international officials as a clear Israeli message to the US administration that the country does not intend to halt the construction and expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The plan comes while Israel is formulating more plans to link major Israeli settlements in the West Bank with Jerusalem in spite of the increasing international condemnation.

and yet another eviction and new colony in al quds:

Israel plans to build 250 units of settlement housing after it forcibly evacuates two East Jerusalem families, a lawyer for the Palestinian president’s office said on Tuesday.

Attorney Ahmad Ar-Ruwaidi said Israel plans to level a total of 27 homes on the family’s Shiekh Jarrah properties after the families are removed, “while the world talks about human rights, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.”

“Once again, Israeli judiciary proved that it is a tool in the hands of Israeli settlement organizations which are conducting settlement programs in Al-Bustan and other neighborhoods of Jerusalem,” he said.

The remarks come after the Israeli district court decided on Sunday to fine each family 50,000 US dollars, with a further fine of 50,000 shekels (12,500 US dollars) if they do not evacuate by 19 July, the date of a court hearing.

The eviction order was issued by “Hotza Laphoal” the Israeli institution that executes court orders.

The families are two of the 27 that live in a 28-building complex in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The court ruled in favor of a settler organization, Nahalat Shimon, which claims it is the owner of the buildings. The Palestinians are accused of not paying rent to these self-proclaimed landlords.

but in the meeting between obama and netanyahu yesterday it became clear–or perhaps before yesterday?–that it is not any longer the dismantling colonies that the united states advocates; rather, it just wants them to stop building. good luck with either of those. here is ha’aretz’s take on the meeting:

Obama also reminded Israel of its commitment, under a 2003 U.S.-backed peace road map agreement to cease settlement activity in the West Bank.

“We talked about restarting serious negotiations on issues of Israel and the Palestinians,” Obama said, adding that it was in the interests of both sides “to achieve a two-state solution.”

Netanyahu, in his remarks, reiterated that he supported self-government for the Palestinians but made no mention of a state, a position underscoring a rare rift in U.S.-Israeli relations.

“We don’t want to govern the Palestinians. We want them to govern themselves,” Netanyahu said, echoing statements he has made in the past.

for a real justice-based solution, of course, colonies everywhere in historic palestine must stop. it’s not just about the west bank. it is about historic palestine and justice for refugees. but of course we never hear these words from the zionist entity or the u.s. now it’s just about the colonies (u.s.) or iran (zionist entity). here is jacky rowland’s report for al jazeera laying out these issues before netanyahu went to washington:

but the elephant in the room remains palestinian refugees and their right of return. if obama wants to seek justice, which would lead to peace, in the region then he should read are stories like this one of palestinian nakbas and refugee rights as suleiman abu jazzar tells rami almaghari narrates in electronic intifada:

“Only if we return to our homeland, can there be peace. But as long as [Israel] keeps us refugees, we have no choice to resist them now and for generations to come, until we are back in Beir al-Saba,” said 75-year-old Suleiman Abu Jazzar in his home in the Brazil refugee camp in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip.

Along with more than 700,000 other Palestinians, Abu Jazzar was forced from historic Palestine by Zionist forces in 1948, a period referred to by Palestinians as the Nakba (catastrophe) and commemorated in mid-May while Israel celebrates its “Independence Day.” During 1947-48, Zionist paramilitary groups — which later formed the Israeli army — attacked and destroyed more than 450 Palestinian towns and villages. Abu Jazzar’s town of Beir al-Saba was given the Hebrew name of Beersheva by its conquerers.

Abu Jazzar and his family are amongst the more than 4.5 million registered Palestinian refugees living in camps in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon — unable to return to their land, though their right to return is enshrined in international law. There are millions of other Palestinians scattered around the globe comprising the Diaspora, a nation in exile.

“Prior to 1948, we used to live peacefully and happily in our hometown of Beer al-Saba. All out of a sudden, armed Jewish groups attacked the town and displaced my family including myself, as well as many other families,” recalled Abu Jazzar.

“In that period, we fled [to the outskirts of] Beir al-Saba, leaving behind us heaps of barley, our main harvest at that time. When night falls, I recall that myself and other youths of the town, used to sneak into these heaps to bring food for hungry children and women.

“After a while, the Jews began to spot us, and finally we were all displaced form the whole area, leading us to the Gaza Strip, where me and my family were settled in the Rafah area here,” Abu Jazzar said while laying on a sofa in a traditionally-decorated room.

Asked whether residents of Beir al-Saba resisted the Zionist forces, Abu Jazzar put much blame on the Arab countries and armies for the Palestinian refugees’ situation.

“There were no Israeli warplanes at that time, only tanks. Also, their numbers were not that big, but unfortunately we had no guns or weapons. I only recall that someone from the Barahma tribe had a gun. I really blame the Arab armies, which failed us. Their weapons were not that effective. These armies did not even train us how to fight; we were merely farmers and had nothing to do with armament. They are to be blamed for our plight.”

Abu Jazzar endured not only the 1948 dispossession, but he witnessed and survived other Israeli wars and conflicts that he described as more Nakbas for the Palestinian people.

“In 1956, the occupation forces invaded our towns here in Gaza, using tanks and armored vehicles. Also, in 1967, they invaded us again and continued to occupy us until recently. They are not leaving us, they don’t want us to live peacefully,” he said.

More recently, Israeli army launched a three-week comprehensive attack on the Gaza Strip, killing more than 1,400 Palestinians — the majority of them civilians. During this war, Abu Jazzar’s asbestos-roofed house was partially damaged, as Israeli forces destroyed many houses in his neighborhood.

“Only God saved us during the Gaza war, the [Israelis] only want to destroy us completely. I didn’t go anywhere during the war; my family and I remained at the house. Where to go? … In 1948, we left our house and left our farm lands, thinking we would return in a few days. But as you see, son, we are here for 61 years now, and who knows how long we will remain so?”

Umm Salah, Abu Jazzar’s 70-year-old wife, sang a Palestinian folk song about the events of 1948: “You have made us refugees. When we fled al-Ramla and Beir al-Saba, heading to Gaza, carrying our luggage on our shoulders, we wondered: what did you do for us, Ben Gurion [Israel’s first prime minister], you brought us a Nakba!”

Sighing deeply, she said that only God protects them, but she hopes for peace, nevertheless.

“It is true that they are more powerful than us, but where can we go — where? We just resist them by our steadfastness on this land, sticking to our homes,” Umm Salah said.

Both Abu Jazzar and Umm Salah said that they would refuse to take monetary compensation instead of a return to their town of origin. “Our history is there in Palestine,” they said together, “in Beir al-Saba. How could we sell our history?”

The now elderly refugees have evidently passed down their profound connection to their land to their 28-year-old daughter, Laila, who said with great emotion:

“What peace are they talking about? Every day they kill us, our families have lived the suffering for 61 years now. … If there is a truce, this truce cannot last, as they aim to destroy us completely. Look at the last Israeli war on us, they killed many people. We should keep steadfast, until we return to our hometown of Beir al-Saba. We can never accept any compensation, even if we all die one after another.”

on the crimes of apartheid

i posted yesterday my dear friend nora’s interview with another friend of ours hazem jamjoum on her show flashpoints in audio form. i decided to spend today transcribing the interview because it is so amazing and important. hazem is amazing at speaking–and for sure it’s better to listen to the interview–but i think there is too much crucial information packed into this interview to not have it available in text form as well. here is the raw transcript of the interview. i’ve added some links to some of hazem’s statements.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: I wanted to interview you because you’ve been researching in exquisite detail how Israel practices apartheid on the ground here in occupied Palestine. And this is an area that I think the United States corporate mainstream media definitely is not touching. But it is becoming more and more relevant, more and more visible as this entrenched occupation grinds on. So I was wondering if you could maybe start by talking about what apartheid is and what it isn’t under the guidelines of international law.

Hazem Jamjoum: Alright, well first of all the word apartheid is an Afrikaans word, which means apartness or to separate, separateness. It was introduced to kind of the international language as a result of the regime that was implemented by white settlers in South Africa after the 1948 election. The regime in South Africa, essentially–and this has roots from before 1948: the British [sic] had instituted laws and practices which displaced indigenous Black communities off of their land, squeezing them into about 13% of the territory of South Africa. And what the national party did, which was largely representative of the Afrikaners who are descendants of Dutch settlers in South Africa, the body of laws they implemented after 1948 came to be known as the apartheid laws. And these laws included such things as pass laws, which restricted the freedom of mobility; things like the Group Areas Act, and the various bodies of laws that kind of outlined who belonged to which group in the country, where you were allowed to be based on that group, and what kinds of rights and privileges you had. Really what that system was was a system of laws that was designed to maintain the supremacy and domination of the white settler group over the Black community, which was the majority.

Now in the mid-1970s, after the Soweto uprising, and the massacre of the demonstrators in Soweto, what the international community did was there was a proposal, bill kind of at the United Nations General Assembly, and was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, called the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment for the Crime of Apartheid. And in this convention what the United Nations did, or what the international community did, was it defined the crime of apartheid and then detailed a set of consequences if a state was found or if a regime was found to be guilty of the crime of apartheid. And these consequences range from being legally prosecuted if a member or an institution that is part of the implementation of this regime sort of goes into a territory or a country which is a signatory to the convention, they can be prosecuted. The international community is supposed to essentially isolate this regime and do whatever it can to stop this crime of apartheid from continuing to be implemented. And now there’s some confusion with for some whether apartheid can only, is limited to South Africa during the period of 1948 to 1994. Actually, if you read the convention it’s quite clear. It stems from an understanding of what’s happening in South Africa at the time in the mid-1970s, but it’s a crime of general applicability. It can, any state can commit the crime of apartheid. And the definition of the crime–of course later there are other conventions that also talk about what the crime of apartheid is, most notably the 2002 Rome Statute, which establishes the International Criminal Court. It’s also mentioned in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. And I bring up the Rome Statute because it was passed in 2002 well after racial apartheid ends in South Africa. So it’s quite clear that by defining apartheid and by saying that this is a crime, the international community is saying apartheid is still a crime and any state that commits it will be punished as an internationally-defined criminal act or an international crime. So the crime itself–even though you have different wording in these different conventions–the idea is generally the same. The idea is that you have one group that institutes institutionalized racial discrimination or institutionalized discrimination against another group for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination and commits inhumane acts in order to maintain that domination. Inhumane acts are generally, basically human rights violations and crimes against humanity, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and actually in the international convention from the mid 70s you have a complete list of what these crimes or apartheid practices are, and they range from the denial of life and liberty to the denial of return to the exploitation of labor to banning mixed marriages. And what we find is that actually Israel is practicing all of these. The entire list of the practices that are considered apartheid practices.

If we want to talk about Israel as an apartheid regime what we have to show is there is one group that has institutionalized discrimination against another group for the purposes of establishing and maintaining domination. With the case of Israel it’s actually what they call a “no brainer.” It’s actually quite obvious and in Israeli laws themselves. As far as Israel is concerned there is a group called Jewish people. It’s defined in such things as the Law of Return and the Citizenship Act, so basically as far as Israel is concerned anyone who is Jewish anywhere in the world is automatically a national, is a part of the Jewish nation and a national of Israel and entitled to be here and be part of the dominant group. And then there’s another group, which in Israeli laws you would generally kind of see it as non-Jews, but as far as the facts on the ground are concerned, that means the Palestinians. And so these are Palestinians who are Muslims and Christians, atheists and agnostics, it doesn’t matter. As far as Israel is concerned, if you don’t fit that definition of Jewish, that is debated within Israel, but generally that’s the group, then you fall into that subservient group. And so it’s actually quite clear that Israel is committing this crime of apartheid.

NBF: That’s the voice of Hazem Jamjoum of the Badil Resource Center here in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem. We’re talking about how Israel, as a state, practices the crime of apartheid. Okay, give us some examples. And I want maybe to start with how Israel practices apartheid in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and then we’ll move into maybe inside the Green Line itself and then talk about Jerusalem, which I think is kind of an anomaly within historic Palestinian area. So talk about how Israel practices apartheid in the West Bank and Gaza.

HJ: Alright, if you’ll excuse me, I think it actually works the other way around. The core of Israeli apartheid is what’s practices against the majority of Palestinians. Seven out of ten Palestinians are refugees. And the Israeli apartheid system comes into being with the creation of the state of Israel and as this new settler colony begins to implement its laws. By the early 1950s the key laws that make up the Israeli apartheid regime were already in place. And these laws are the Law of Return, which essentially says any Jewish person anywhere can come and become a citizen, which defines essentially the dominant group. But then you have the policies and practices that deny the return of the refugees. So in the late 1940s and the 1948 nakba you have the forced expulsion of the majority of Palestinians who become refugees. The denial of their return is essentially like the prime apartheid crime as far as Israel is concerned. The fact that you have a group of people with an internationally enshrined right to return to their homeland, to the places from which they were expelled, but because they are of a certain type, they are of a certain group, which is non-Jewish, then they have no right. Israel does not recognize their right to return. In fact, it actively denies their right to return. And in fact passes laws to that effect. Over and above the policies and practices on the ground that may or may not be written. And so this is kind of point number one as far as Israeli apartheid is concerned.

The second place you look is within the Green Line. Within what is called Israel proper. Because there you have, I mean, when people talk about Israeli apartheid, the Israeli response is, “no we cannot be an apartheid regime because we have Palestinian citizens and these citizens can vote and run for the Knesset, for the Israeli parliament. And this is pointed out particularly because in South Africa the indigenous community was not allowed to vote. In the early 80s sort of these other groupings that the South African apartheid regime created, like coloreds and Indians, the apartheid regime started to create new–they created something called the tri-cameral parliament and tried to modify things so it looked like Indians and coloreds could vote. It was largely a sham and it wasn’t very long lasting. But the case of Palestinian citizens inside Israel, Israeli apartheid is quite clear for anyone who wants to look. Actually, one of the earliest books dealing with the issue dealing with Israeli apartheid is called Israel an Apartheid State: Possibilities for the Struggle Within by Uri Davis who’s a Jewish Israeli who identifies as a Palestinian Jew. And he has a–this book is very interesting–and he focuses entirely on land, on the issue of land. He talks about the Law of Return and he talks about the refugees, particularly because 80% of the land inside Israel proper, within the Green Line, is refugee land. So by the early 1950s, with the passing of such things as the Absentee Property Law, where refugees were called “absentees,” they were kind of classified within Israeli law as “absentees,” their lands–80% of the land of Israel–was automatically transferred to the state. To the Israeli state. This includes what is today around 300,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel who were displaced from their villages but stayed within the state of Israel, within the Green Line. So they are internally displaced. So they lost their lands through the Absentee Property Law, but they’re not really “absentees.” They’re still in the country. They’re citizens. So Israel created their own legal classification, which I think doesn’t exist anywhere in the world: they are called “present absentees.” Present physically in the country, with citizenship, absent because they’re not allowed to get their land back.

Since 1948–between 1948 and 1966–Israel implemented a very important, and not very often talked about, regime on those Palestinians who remained. Those Palestinians who somehow managed to stay. Through the extremely violent ethnic cleansing of the 1948 nakba. It was, it is often referred to the military regime because what happened was you had two bodies of law operating within Israel. You had one body of law for Jewish Israelis, which were the regular laws passed through the parliament, they are called the Basic Laws, and then the various policies that you’d have at a municipal level, at a regional level. But then for Palestinians you had something called military law. And essentially what military law is, is that the military commander of the region in which you live is judge, jury, executioner, police force. Sort of, can essentially issue edicts that then become law automatically. And some of these laws, through their use over time, become kind of entrenched. So for example, a military law like Military Order 125. This is a very important one. This declares an area a Closed Military Zone. And what that means is that any Palestinian in the area has to leave the zone. Any person has to leave if you’re not a military person. Of course, the land that were declared Closed Military Zones were all Palestinian land. And this is something very important. If you look at Israeli laws–if you’re reading Israeli laws–and this is something Uri Davis does a really good job explaining–you won’t, other than the Law of Return, which says that any Jewish person anywhere in the world can become a citizen, the way they talk about it is aliyah, you ascend to becoming a citizen of Israel. Other than that law, the way that Israel distinguishes between Jew and non-Jew and the practicing of the laws is through the practice itself. It’s not written in the laws. So this Military Order 125 declaring an area a Closed Military Zone is a good example. You have Palestinian areas that are thousands of acres declared Closed Military Zones so people are kicked off their land. And then you have another law, for example, that says if your land is left uncultivated for three years it becomes property of the state. So that means you get kicked off–the military physically kicks you off, saying this is a Closed Military Zone–and three years later you get a piece of paper from the court saying “We’re taking your land. It’s now state land because you haven’t been there for three years. You haven’t cultivated it.” And if you go to challenge, like the thousands of Palestinians who tried to go to Israeli courts to challenge this, you’ll be told by the court that, “It’s none of our business that the military kicked you off your land, you can deal with the military for that. We’re just implementing the law.” Right and so on its face Israel looks like a regular, democratic regime that’s implementing its very benign looking laws, it’s very regular looking laws.

Another example is a very important law called the 1965 Planning and Construction Law. This law essentially lists all the towns, cities, and villages inside Israel. And so when you read the law it’s saying “this area is an archaeological area, this place is for roads, this place is for residents, this place is commercial” in each of these towns, cities, and villages, but it is what is left out that’s important. You have dozens of Palestinian villages that are simply not listed. And because this law is supposed to list all the communities that exist, so therefore, any community that’s not listed is by definition illegal. Not only does it not exist, it’s not supposed to exist. And so these villages that pre-date the existence of Israel, sometimes by centuries, simply no longer exist. They don’t appear on any Israeli maps, official maps. They receive no municipal services–we’re talking water, electricity, sewage, waste collection, clinics,–let alone hospitals–schools, nothing. They live in the fourteenth century as far as services are concerned. And because they don’t exist none of the houses are legal, which means that the houses can be demolished at any time. Again, these are citizens of the state of Israel. These are the examples of how great Israeli democracy is and yet these people on a weekly basis–and this is not an exaggeration–on a weekly basis we have home demolitions, mosque demolitions. You can just put up–because they have no water and electricity, they buy generators, that’s how you get electricity. You buy water tanks and then you buy water from anywhere you can get water. And so if you have a water tank it gets destroyed. If you have a pen for your cattle it gets destroyed. Any structure–any two bricks on top of each other is the way that we say it–you have two bricks on top of each other, that becomes an illegal structure.

Now beyond that is what happened in the cities. The interesting thing that happened in Palestinian cities that were occupied in 1948 like Yaffa, Ramla, Lydd, Akka–now some cities like Safad and Beer Saba’ or Beer Sheva were completely emptied out of their Palestinian residents. Other cities where Palestinians stayed became called “mixed cities.” And what happened was that the Israelis squeezed those Palestinians who managed to stay, or who were displaced from villages nearby and ended up in the city, squeezed them into one neighborhood. And often that neighborhood was surrounded with barbed wire with a checkpoint at the gate. And you needed a military permission in order to enter or leave this neighborhood. Of course you had these European Jewish refugees coming in from the Nazi holocaust who had only one word for this kind of neighborhood: which is ghetto. And until today, and this is one of the thousands of ironies of Palestine today, until today Palestinians who live in these neighborhoods think that the word “ghetto” actually means Arab neighborhood in Hebrew. So they call their own neighborhood “the ghetto” thinking it’s just the Hebrew word for what an Arab neighborhood is. Now these are still around today.

After 1966 you had no more of this military regime–[though] still in the south until 1970–but for the most part the military regime was disbanded only because it was exported into the West Bank and Gaza and I’ll talk about that a little more later. But what we have in these cities–these “mixed cities”–is an intensive process of expelling the Palestinians from their land, from their homes. And it doesn’t happen the way that it happened in 1948. You don’t necessarily have a military force coming in knocking houses over, collecting people into the middle–you know a big square–shooting into a crowd until it disperses and runs out of the city, or you know picking out men who are involved in the resistance and executing them the way that we had in 1948. What you have is the workings of Israel’s “democratic” laws. So each city it’s a different story. In Lydd and Ramla, for example, the entire Palestinian neighborhoods have been zoned as agricultural land so in Lydd, for example, you have 1,000 Palestinian homes with demolition orders because they are residential buildings, again many of which pre-date the state of Israel, which are illegal because they are built on agricultural land. And so the state comes in–and this is one of the interesting things–when your house is going to be demolished they make you pay for it. So basically you have two choices: either you go and get someone who owns a bulldozer to come and destroy it for you–as in destroy your own house and clean up the rubble–or the army will come, or the police or whatever authority in that particular place is running the demolition business, will come in and destroy it for you, and then fine you. And it’s actually–the fine is more expensive than building a house in many of these cases. So you’re caught in this impossible position: to destroy your own house or pay a fine that’s larger than the cost of building a new house and then if there’s rubble remaining they make you pay for removing the rubble, or again, they come and remove it and they make you pay a fine for the removal. I mean, so if anything it’s just cruel. It’s cruel and it’s inhuman. And as many South Africans who have visited have said, it’s worse than what they witnessed in South Africa. But as far as the crime is concerned, these are practices and policies that very clearly fit the fact that you have an institutionalized regime where over time, across the board, discriminates–it’s institutionalized discrimination–and it’s very clearly for the purposes of Israel being a Jewish state. A state for Jewish people, maintaining the domination, the dominance of this group, which Israel has defined itself as, you know, the Jewish group, and at the expense of, and where the inferior group is, the non-Jews, the Palestinians. In the West Bank and Gaza, I mean it’s just beyond plain for everyone to see.

NBF: And I want to tell people that you are listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio. My name is Nora Barrows-Friedman reporting from the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem in Palestine. We’re sitting here with Communications Director of Badil Resource Center, Hazem Jamjoum. We’re talking about apartheid as Israel practices it. So, Hazem, the West Bank and Gaza.

HJ: So the West Bank and Gaza. First of all, when you had the occupation in 1967, you had a very important strategic goal of maintaining control over these areas and so there were various plans kind of thrown around. First of all, what Israel did was it cleared out, it forcibly expelled over 400,000 Palestinians right off the bat in 1967. Half of them–or just under half of them–were already refugees from 1948. So for many of them this was the second, third, or fourth time they were being displaced. Still in 1967. Some of these people have been been displaced multiple times since. What this meant in the West Bank, and this is something that was developed by an Israeli general who became a minister, and was actually Prime Minister for a while, his name was Yigal Allon. So it’s known as the Allon Plan. The main idea of the Allon Plan is that you close off any access between Palestinian areas and neighboring Arab countries. So Gaza is not to have any border with Egypt with the Sinai and the West Bank is not to have any uncontrolled border with Jordan. And so the entire Jordan Valley is cleared out of its Palestinian residents with the exception of Jericho, but then that border is still controlled. And then the same happened in Gaza. The other aspect of it is that the West Bank is to be split up to be made more controllable, but also because the Zionist movement always saw Jerusalem as its eternal undivided capital. And so what this meant is that the West Bank was split in the middle through the annexation of the Jerusalem area. And so you had a northern West Bank and a southern West Bank with no access to Jordan. So you had essentially two closed-in reservations. And Gaza being the third, closed, completely controlled reservation. Now with the passage of time, especially through the 70s, you had additional kind of developments. It was modified by many different people, most notably Ariel Sharon.

In the late 70s, and especially in the early 80s, you have something that comes up called the Sharon Plan. And the main idea of the Sharon Plan is why cut the West Bank into two parts when we can cut it into many more parts. And so he cuts, he proposes that the northern part of the West Bank be split in two as well. And then that as many settler enclaves be created, the way that–I mean, so Jerusalem was one way that the West Bank was created, eh split up, but further ways that the West Bank is split up is through, essentially Israel exports its civilian population into this occupied territory through the construction of these heavily fortified things that are colonies. And internationally, the media usually calls them settlements. But essentially they are settler colonies with people who are armed to the teeth, full armed guard. I mean, the army spends a lot of money and resources defending these places, even if they are not being attacked, and they are almost always on the hilltops. And they always split Palestinian communities from one another. So if we look at a map of the West Bank today, it’s just extremely plain. One of the most recent ones I’ve seen makes it look like–the color, the non-Palestinian controlled area is blue and the Palestinian-controlled area is green–and it looks like an island archipelago. And the map is called, you know, the Palestinian archipelago. And it looks like a bunch of islands. And that’s what it is.

Now what the peace process, or so-called peace process, enabled Israel to do in terms of geography, was to begin to entrench this archipelago as a fact on the ground by expanding very rapidly through the 90s. And this is during the Labor government, the “left-wing” Israelis as they’re called, so through the Labor Party who’s in power, under Ehud Barak, who is still, I think, considered sort of a “peace dove” for many, especially in `North America who don’t know–I mean he’s the most decorated soldier in Israel, right, and that’s not because he planted a lot of trees. You know, he killed a lot of people and that was his business for most of his life and that’s why he’s so decorated. And so under his reign the settler population essentially doubled. And what Israel began to do in the early part of this millennium was to build a wall and to just entrench this geographic apartheid regime, the Palestinian Bantustan, concretely, literally, by building a wall that largely surrounds Palestinian communities, splitting them up from each other and splitting people from their lands, splitting people’s ability to reach hospitals, and to reach their work, and to reach their schools. And so this is when people began to really look at apartheid just because on the map it began to look like the Bantustans in South Africa, even though if we were to look at the legal definition, Israel’s been an apartheid regime since its inception regarding the refugees and regarding the people who became its citizens–the non-Jews who became its citizens, the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Now in the West Bank and Gaza it’s just that much more obvious because Palestinians living in the occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza do not have Israeli citizenship. They–so they have no vote–so you know that argument about Israeli democracy no longer applies, and then you have the brutality of the occupation, right, and this is something that South Africans who visited Palestine said–you know the South African police, the apartheid police were brutal. There is no question about South African police brutality, the torture in the prisons–it’s just that the intensity of the violence–it’s just that it’s more here as far as they’re concerned. I mean bombing entire communities with F-16s, you know, coming in and just mass house demolitions, mass arrests of entire communities. You know, where the army will come in and say “everyone, every male between the age[s] of twelve and fifty-five come to the school.” You know and if you don’t you’re in big trouble, and if you do then most likely you’re going to jail for a while. So these are the kinds of things that sort of are an intensity of Israeli violence that wasn’t necessarily as common as it was in the apartheid regime in South Africa. The fact that you have one group that has established and that is maintaining its domination over another group using institutionalized discrimination is very obvious. Like I said, the military regime, the military laws were exported here and you have actually two separate laws for two peoples. You have, if you’re an Israeli settler in the West Bank, then you are governed under Israeli civilian law. If you are a Palestinian in the West Bank then you are governed under the military law. And the person who happens to be the military commander in your region, again, reigns supreme. They make the law and they implement the law at whim. And it can be quite whimsical, actually. You know you have military orders in the West Bank that ban the growing of certain kinds of flowers. And it seems absurd at first and then you do a little bit more research and find out that the nearby settlement is growing the same kind–those flowers and they don’t want any competition so they’ve ask the military commander to outlaw the Palestinians who are growing those flowers. You know, so it can be that random.

And there are stories from the original military regime between 48 and 66 where you have the military commander punishing people by telling them they have to stand on one leg under a tree for like, say this many hours. So I mean there’s all kind of absurdity and there’s all kind of anecdotal stuff, but the big picture of the implementation of a crime, which is the crime of apartheid, plus the fact that you have a prolonged military occupation, you know for some, inside the Green Line, is occupied territory since 1948. For the entire world there is consensus that for the past 40 some years you’ve had a military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Plus all of this in the context of the colonial enterprise, right. Zionism came–it was a movement of Jewish people outside of Palestine–to come and colonize Palestine. And in their own language. What’s today called the Jewish Agency, a charitable organization in the United States, one of the–I mean it used to be the government of the Jewish community in Palestine before 1948–subservient to the British government, but it was the authority, used to be called the Jewish Colonization Association. You know, it is very clear and at the time it was more cool to be a colonizer. Since World War I and since the national liberation movements of the global south over the past century or so it’s less in vogue. But still, Zionism is a colonial movement. And all of these practices are basically colonial practices. It’s just that it’s also a military occupation. It’s also an apartheid regime.

NBF: That’s the voice of Hazem Jamjoum. We’re sitting here at the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights in Bethlehem. And now I want you to talk–focus on a little bit about what’s happening in Jerusalem because you have a population, the indigenous population, which is being rapidly ethnically cleansed and squeezed out, the borders are being redrawn. And their status as residents versus citizens is also very indicative of the process of apartheid. Can you talk a little bit more about what’s happening in Jerusalem as its own entity.

HJ: Well I don’t think that Jerusalem is an anomaly so much as it is a microcosm. Essentially most of what you see in the rest of the country over time, over the past sixty years, you also see in Jerusalem. So Jerusalem is a city that was divided between 48 and 67. It was divided because the Zionists wanted–I mean their armed forces went right after trying to get as much of Jerusalem as they could in the 1948 war, during the ethnic cleansing, during the nakba. What they managed to do was to get everything up until the western wall of the Old City. So that part of Jerusalem, which is now referred to as West Jerusalem, that was completely ethnically cleansed. You know there was no–there were very few Palestinian families that were able to remain. All of that land was reverted to absentee property. Most of those buildings are still standing. Any person who comes and visits the city can go and visit the–you know, and they even call them “Arab houses.” If you have an Arab house it’s more expensive because it’s more authentic. It’s older looking. You know and there are certain kinds of Israeli fetishes with the Arab that are quite–I mean, they’re largely quite disgusting, but I mean they’re very interesting. They’re indicative. So you have–I’m going to digress a little, I’m sorry. But you have over 530 Palestinian villages that were destroyed in 1948. Many of them, their rubble is still there, you know, in Jewish National Fund parks and forests, on the lands that has been taken over by kibbutzes and moshavs, you know these socialist utopias that had nothing to do with socialism and much more to do with ethnic cleansing and apartheid practices. But what you have is this movement within Israeli society to go and steal the rocks from the rubble–the stones that these houses were built from and to build your own house using these rocks because it looks more authentic. It makes your house look old. And so when you walk around West Jerusalem you see these beautiful–I mean, it’s one thing, I say this, you know, Palestinian bourgeoisie used to know how to build houses.

There are very beautiful villas that are in West Jerusalem and now they’re inhabited by Jewish families and a story that you will hear from many Palestinians who will go and have tried to go and see their–because the thing with the 1948 nakba also is that many people left in a very big hurry. There were bombs going off. There were bullets within, there were children who were at threat [sic] of dying so, you know, some people left the food on the table, some people left the bread in the oven, but also their belongings, all their photo albums, all their papers, all their books, all their little–you know, the things that you collect over a lifetime, especially when you have houses, and these are houses that are generational houses. These are houses that were passed on from grandparent to grandchild. And so you have several generations of belongings that are in these houses in West Jerusalem and in the other cities and the places where houses were left intact. And so people have tried to go and get their stuff. You know, before 2000 people were able to move at least into Jerusalem and people with Jerusalem IDs–and we’ll talk about this in a second–are able to still go into West Jerusalem. And so people would go and visit their houses and in the vast majority of cases either the door was shut in their faces or the cops were called. You know, the settlers who took over these houses did not want to confront the fact that they were living in someone else’s house and that this someone else was ringing the doorbell and wasn’t asking for the house back, because they knew that this was a much larger story. They wanted to go and get their dad’s picture from over the fireplace. I’m not making this up, right, these are actual–a story that someone told me. They wanted their dad’s picture. Or their grandfather’s picture from over the fireplace. And the door was slammed in their face and when they rang the doorbell again the cops were called. So these are the kinds of–in terms of just mentality–that an apartheid regime will breed and will foster.

Now what you did have was those Palestinians who did manage to remain, like with the other cities, they were crammed into what was called the Baqa’a zone, a ghetto, literally. It was surrounded by barbed wire, you couldn’t enter or leave without permission from the military commander, et cetera, et cetera, like I’ve been describing. In 1967 Jerusalem was one of the most important places for the Israeli military to take control over. And so that was one of the first things they went for, they got it. The Jordanians didn’t put up much of a fight. Of course there were some sort of low-level officers who fought heroically and did put up a fight but as far as the regime was concerned this was a lost battle. And so they just gave up the city for the most part. And as far as Israel is concerned the city was re-unified as Israel’s undivided eternal capital. And it’s not on the negotiating table. You know, people talk about the peace process and the negotiations–as far as–the two things that Israel will not negotiate, will not touch are the refugees, that’s the first issue, and Jerusalem. And that’s why they call them the “thorny issues.” That’s why they call them the “obstacles.” Of course, usually it’s in the context of Palestinians not being flexible enough. You know, they’re not being flexible on their right to go back to their own home. Or they’re not being flexible on the fact that they want the occupation of their city to end. Regardless, what happened after 1967 was Israel began what they call, in its, you know, they call “Judalization.” The idea of Judaization, or in in Hebrew yehud, so the Judaization of places like the Galilee or Jerusalem, or today Yaffa and Akka and Palestinian cities–the idea is that you want to bring up the number of Jewish residents as high as possible and minimize the number of Palestinians, hopefully to zero, but if not at least to have a very strongly entrenched vast majority of residents who are Jewish. And again this idea of Jewish and non-Jewish is very entrenched in Israeli law, policy, and practice on every single level.

Now, in order to Judaize the city of Jerusalem several things were done. The first thing was the establishment of settlements, of colonies. So the first colony in the West Bank is actually Ma’ale Adumim. It’s the settlement that expands Jerusalem eastward and splits the West Bank into north and south and since it’s considered part of Jerusalem, it automatically raises the number of Jews compared to non-Jews in the city. But then you have several other settlements that are established in waves. After the late 1970s you have further expansion of the city. If you look at a map of Jerusalem with its settlements, the settlements are actually built kind of in concentric rings around the Old City with settlements being built inside the Old City. And there have been many sneaky tactics for this. In some cases you have straight up harassment and violence. In some cases you have settler organizations approaching Palestinians and offering massive amounts of money. There’s always stories of blank checks being thrown around. And then you have these stories of heroism where people don’t sell, you know, and they’ll say for no price will I do this. Or, you know I met an old man who told me, “you know they came and offered me a blank check. I said, I don’t want your money. I want you to go around and apologize to every single Palestinian baby and then maybe I’ll reconsider handing over my shop to you.” They had come to take his shop. But I mean usually it’s a multiplicity of tactics used even on the same piece of land–so first it’ll be an offer of money, then it’ll be an offer of much more money, then it’ll be some harassment, and then the police may get involved, then the municipality may get involved, then all of a sudden you’re being taxed for things you didn’t know you could be taxed for, and then, you know, you come to relicense your property and you find that it’s so expensive to relicense, you get the money, and then you find that there all these administrative obstacles to you being relicensed or to renewing your license and then all of a sudden your place is not licensed and so it’s subject to demolition or to you being kicked out of it, evicted. And so you have these cases, right, you have thousands of people facing eviction orders, thousands of people facing home demolition. A new policy, for example, says that if you live in a building where you are renting and it’s not licensed then both the person who is the owner and the person who is the renter get fined. And also you have these policies that gradually–and time is very much on Israel’s side with a lot of these things, right, so maybe international pressure is growing, but on the inside, as far as the power balance is concerned, it’s clear who has the guns, it’s clear who has the weapons. It’s also clear who has international state support. And so time is on Israel’s side.

If they come to demolish a house today and the community comes out and stops the bulldozer from reaching the house, and you know people get beat up, some people get arrested, and the bulldozer doesn’t manage to get to the house, you know then the municipality can just try next week. And if it doesn’t work next week they can try next month. And if it doesn’t work next month, they can try next year or in five years or in ten years. And so with the passage of time you actually have people now being kicked out of their homes–maybe they’re being kicked out of their second or third home–you know, you’ve done stories like on Um Kamel al Kurd who, you know, she was kicked out of her West Jerusalem house and became a refugee in East Jerusalem. Now her house in East Jerusalem, she’s been kicked out of it–settlers have taken over the physical house. She built a tent next door. The tent has been destroyed five, I think now, six times. And she’s still there, right, and so–this is the thing–there’s a certain stubbornness to our people. That stubbornness has become a compliment in a way. It’s become a valued trait because if you’re not stubborn then you’re in the street. If you’re not stubborn then you’re not anywhere near your second or third home. You know we’ve been–people are fighting not to return to their original home, they’re fighting to–I mean everybody’s fighting to return to their original home ultimately–but we’ve reached the point where you’re fighting to go back to the little shed that you’ve been living in and you’ve been kicked out of.

But what’s been happening also is Israel has built its wall and the most interesting, the most intricate, complicated place where the wall runs is in Jerusalem. What they’ve done is they’ve demarcated Jerusalem through the wall. And when I say wall, by the way, the wall and its associated regime, the way that the International Court of Justice talks about it, it’s not just the cement wall. You also have like vast expansive areas of kind of like barbed wire with militarized zones on both sides. You also have the checkpoints and the settlements–this is all part of the associated regime of the wall. It’s essentially a closure regime. Or most appropriately you can describe it as a cage. It cages Palestinians and the communities they’re in and it prevents them from entering other communities. And the most important one, because it’s so close and it’s also the economic, social, cultural, political hub of the West Bank is Jerusalem. And so this Jerusalem area–the Palestinians in Jerusalem for one thing have their own special status in the state. They’re not citizens of Israel, but they don’t have the West Bank Palestinian IDs, which prevent them from entering Jerusalem. They have Jerusalem IDs. They’re non-citizens, but they have the ability to move. The only thing that kind of differentiates them–between them and West Bank or Gaza Palestinians–is that they’re able to move a little bit more freely. Now, but for this Jerusalem ID has become a major burden. Because having a Jerusalem ID enables you also to get such things as social insurance. But what it also means is that you have to remain in Jerusalem to keep it. Now what’s happened with the construction of the wall and the closing off of Jerusalem is that people with Jerusalem IDs who are living without–on the other side of the wall now have to move in. So you have this massive rush of people who are living in areas that became West Bank areas overnight because the wall was put up, because Israel rezoned their area, and these are large areas, like Al Ram, Bir Nabala, Shu’fat refugee camp, Qalandia refugee camp, all these areas that you had Jerusalem ID people living in, all of a sudden, overnight if they stayed where they were living they would lose their Jerusalem residency. They would become West Bank people.

This is another way that Israel kind of on the literal meaning of apartheid has separated between people with different types of–today we talk of a Palestinian refugee, a 48 Palestinian, a Jerusalem Palestinian, a Gaza Palestinian, a West Bank Palestinian, in any case. But what it also meant was that Jerusalem prices were skyrocketing. The value of prices in Jerusalem became so high that you actually had people living in sheds. You had people living in the shack next door where people have kept their tools, you know, in the garden shed. And so it’s become extremely overcrowded. It was overcrowded before in places like Shu’fat refugee camp, like Anata. But now it’s extremely overcrowded. The prices have skyrocketed. And nobody can afford it, you know. There’s a high unemployment rate. And so what it means is that people are being forced to leave. So again you don’t have people–soldiers–coming in necessarily with guns and telling you to leave like in 1948. What you have is the slow working of various political, municipal policy and practice, the economy, so you have financial pressure, you have municipal pressure, you have the cost of renewing your license, the cost of acquiring a license, administrative hurdles–all of these working together to push you out if you’re Palestinian. If you’re Jewish it’s a completely different story. If you’re Jewish most of these things don’t apply to you. You can always go live in a settlement you know. Every few weeks we hear news of this many hundred settlements being built or established or expanded in Jerusalem settlements as well as the settlements that are further away, the colonies. So you have a very clear distinction. Israel doesn’t have to put the word Jewish or Palestinian or non-Jewish on any piece of legislation because it’s all done on the level of policy. It’s all done on the level of practice. Some things are simply not done if you’re Jewish. I have never heard of a Jewish resident of Jerusalem having their house demolished you know. I haven’t heard–you know maybe evictions happen, but it’s probably because you haven’t paid your rent not because, you know, they’ve decided that your presence here is not in the interest of the Jewish state. No: your presence here, if you’re Jewish, is in the interest of the Jewish state. It is the Judaization of the city. And so Jerusalem does operate as a kind of microcosm of the city.

NBF: That’s the voice of Hazem Jamjoum of Badil Resource Center in Bethlehem here in the occupied West Bank in Palestine and you’re listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio. We only have a few minutes left, but I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what’s being done to challenge, to counteract, to eventually bring down this apartheid system that Israel has been practicing over the last sixty-one years. Even longer as it prepared to colonize. And really how the international civil society, how individuals and collectives and communities can get involved. What is being done? And what do you see as maybe some of the most important mechanisms that are being looked at and designed and implemented right now?

HJ: Alright so this is a very massive question for like a few minutes remaining, so just to say Palestinians in very, very, many different ways. Ranging from–I mean in Jerusalem, for example, you have people who are fundraising to submit zoning plans to the municipality and wage these kinds of battles. You have people who are physically trying to stop homes from being demolished. You have people like Um Kamel who has built a tent next to her house just to kind of be there in-your-face, to say I have nowhere else to go. And then in the rest of the West Bank and in the rest of Palestinian–between Palestinian citizens of Israel, Jerusalem Palestinians, refugees, West Bank and Gaza, et cetera you have various forms of resistance.

What I’ll focus on, though, is–I mean, and it’s largely because Palestinians don’t have a choice–like it says on the wall in Qalqiliya, “to resist is to exist and to exist is to resist.” That’s what it means here, right, and to go on living and to go on doing this is even part of the resistance: to try to make a living, to try to just stay on your land is a real act of resistance–something that is as banal as that. And anywhere–in most other places in the world–not all, of course, is an act of resistance. But where there is choice is the rest of the world. I mean, most importantly in the United States, which is the major backer, Israel is not going to be able to do any of this, the only thing that has enabled Israel to do this is the international backing. And international backing takes many forms. At its lowest level you have the straight up complicity. The fact that the world will turn the other way. We just saw Israel massacre over 1,400 people in Gaza, destroy entire neighborhoods, injure thousands. The international community barely lifted a finger, but what it did afterwards is say, okay, I’ll help you rebuild, right. Let’s pay the bill for Israel’s destruction. And of course the money that Israel used to do this, and the military supplies that it used to do this, came from countries like the United States, from Italy, from Switzerland, from the international community. And so–and it’s not just in the form of aid, you know direct aid or military aid–it’s also that these companies that make up the Israeli economy, they thrive off exporting to Europe, off doing business with the United States, off the fact that even unions and left-wing organizations, and civil society invest in things like Israel bonds, invest in corporations that do business with Israel. So Israel has become normal in the international community even though it does these extremely abnormal and abhorrent things. And so what is required is required is very similar to the case of South Africa. And what is required in most cases of oppression where the international community, where the state, government, and armies have turned their backs is that the regular citizen, the regular community organization, the regular union and the worker, and the responsibility begins to fall on our shoulders as regular people. And what this responsibility means is to work towards the isolation of this regime until it implements international law. It kind of–it sounds simple–again, kind of like a no brainer–you’d think it would be very simple for this to happen, but what we’ve also seen is the massive amount of very well-funded pressure to shield Israel from any kind of public scrutiny.

You know we just came out of the Durban Review Conference where many in the international community were trying to say, “hey, what’s happening in Israel is not an issue of people just shooting at each other, it’s an issue of institutionalized racism. This is one of the key issues of racism in the world. And but Israel did everything in its power to make sure that it was not mentioned as an issue of racism: to say that Palestinians aren’t facing any racism, there’s a peace process, you know. And so this peace process has been used as a shield. Because they know that we’re talking. We’re talking with the Palestinians in the way that the South African apartheid regime was talking with its Bantustan administrators. In the way, you know, that Washington talks to tribal band leaders on the reservations, right. And so what we really need is a campaign that was started and called for by the vast majority of Palestinian civil society actors across the board–so whether refugees, citizens of Israel, or in the West Bank or Gaza, saying that we want boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

We want people not to buy Israeli products, for companies to remove their investments from Israel, if you’re investing–or your institution, your church or your union, your school, your university is investing–in Israeli companies or companies doing business with Israel, essentially war profiteers, to withdraw those investments and to work towards governments and countries actually imposing sanctions on Israel until the Israeli people, until the Israeli government feels the heat and says, “okay we’re no longer being treated as a normal country, maybe if we acted like a normal country we’d be treated as one.” And what I mean by normal is implementing the basic, most fundamental rights that everybody already agrees with as far as the international community is concerned. You know you look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it’s pretty basic stuff. It’s like I get to live; I get to be free; I get to move; I get to go back to the country, to the place that I’m from; I get to leave the country if I want to knowing that I can come back; I have the right to keep the things that I–you know, my land, without someone coming and kicking me off of it arbitrarily; and I have the right not to live in an apartheid regime, right. Just because I was born to a certain group doesn’t mean that I have to be a victim of racism for my entire life. And so this is what Palestinians are demanding and this is what we’re asking the rest of the world help us do–is to help us overthrow apartheid in Palestine.

NBF: Where can people go for more information on the BDS movement and maybe some of the history that you’ve been talking about this hour?

HJ: Alright so the boycott campaign’s main hub website is bdsmovement.net. For historical information there’s a really good site that’s run out of Chicago, actually, it’s called palestineremembered.com. And you’re always welcome to come and visit our website as well where you can find links to all kinds of other useful information and that’s badil.org.

hazem talked quite a bit about south africans comparing the crime of apartheid in their country to palestine after having visited palestine. i want to share two recent examples of this. the first comes from a report in ma’an news about zeko tamela, who was in palestine this week and who expressed solidarity with palestinians:

He expressed the importance of international support and coordination especially following the recent Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip and the importance of Palestinians to continue with “struggle on all fronts.”

Tamela urged the Palestinians in the room, addressing them as “comrades,” not to compromise on their vision of full justice and equality. He said that the South African anti-Apartheid movement was pressured to reduce its struggle for a demand for civil rights, a claim that can only be made by citizens, as opposed to the struggle “of an oppressed people for liberation.”

“Because of our work the UN declared Apartheid a crime against humanity. Palestinians must do the same, must insist that Zionism is a crime against humanity,” he said.

“We knew that only a united, non-racial democratic South Africa could satisfy us; nothing in between,” he added.

Asked by a journalist what can be done to convince Jewish Israelis that they are participating in an unjust system, he said, “There is no other solution than struggle on all fronts; once they see the struggle is stronger and international solidarity is stronger they will see their cause is going to die.”

the second comes from a story in electronic intifada by arjan el fassed about a south african man who is having a message painted on the apartheid wall that he authored:

“My dear Palestinian brothers and sisters, I have come to your land and I have recognized shades of my own.” These are the first 20 words of an open letter written by Farid Esack, a South African scholar and political activist known for his role in the struggle against apartheid. The total length of his letter is 1,998 carefully chosen words in which he argues that the situation in Palestine is worse than it ever was in South Africa under apartheid rule. Esack, a black South African who worked closely with Nelson Mandela, is astonished at how ordinary people beat about the bush when it comes to Israel and the dispossession and suffering of the Palestinians. “Do ‘objectivity,’ ‘moderation,’ and seeing ‘both sides’ not have limits?” he asks. “Is moderation in matters of clear injustice really a virtue? Do both parties deserve an ‘equal hearing’ in a situation of domestic violence — wherein a woman is beaten up by a male who was abused by his father some time ago — because ‘he,’ too, is a ‘victim?'”

Almost five years after the International Court of Justice declared the wall that Israel built on Palestinian land “illegal” and ruled that it should be dismantled, Palestinians have started to spray-paint Esack’s letter along a three kilometer (1.85 miles) stretch of the structure. This is done as part of the Dutch-Palestinian collaborative project www.sendamessage.nl.

and to be sure it seems that much of what hazem says is catching on as an op ed in ha’aretz by meron benvenisti pointed out today:

Without a doubt, the intense interest is not solely academic or intellectual in nature. The steep decline in Israel’s standing in the wake of its violent actions has spurred attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the Jewish state – and even the legitimacy of the Jewish collective in Israel – by advocating a binational formula. Those hostile to Israel have discovered that the call for one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, a state based on civil and collective equality, is a powerful propaganda tool, because it is based on universal norms that enable critics to denounce Israel as an apartheid state.

Israelis who seek to earnestly examine various models that could serve as the basis of a future sovereign entity at times find themselves being used as fig leaves to cover up efforts to spread anti-Israel propaganda. But this is always the lot of those who pursue new avenues. We should not rule out participating in such a discussion by denouncing it as illegitimate, because it is taking place in the shadow of the reality that has taken hold in the territories and in the midst of a diplomatic stalemate.

Several factors have combined to rouse greater interest in the binational option. First, there is a growing realization that the chances of establishing an independent, viable Palestinian state no longer exist, aside from an entity along the lines of a Bantustan. Second, the status quo that has emerged, though it appears chaotic, is in practice quite stable and could be characterized as de facto binational. Third, the diplomatic positions of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government inevitably lead to a diplomatic deadlock and a deepening of the policy of annexation.

Under these circumstances, it appears that the continued preoccupation with establishing a Palestinian state is not just hopeless, but also injurious, since the delusions that it fosters enable the continuation of the status quo.

Nothing serves the interests of Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman better than the demand that they recognize the principle of “two states.” What happens if they agree to it? They do not intend to offer the Palestinians any proposals more generous than those Mahmoud Abbas already turned down in talks with Ehud Olmert. And in the meantime, they would have a free hand to expand settlements. Even the impassioned pleas for the Obama administration to finally enforce the “road map” lead to the same smokescreen of imagined progress toward a dead end.

But if the fictitious option is taken off the table, the real dilemmas will finally be revealed. And this is precisely what the talk of a binational state seeks to accomplish.

judaizing al quds “legally”

the other night a dear friend of mine was beaten up by israeli terrorists in the old city of al quds. he and some other friends from his neighborhood in the old city went to defend the home of the jaber family that was being confiscated by israeli colonial terrorists. many of the people were arrested and many were beaten up–more than the ma’an news report reveals below:

Three Palestinians were injured on Sunday evening in the Old City of Jerusalem after Jewish settlers attacked the neighborhood, while Israeli police seized three brothers who tried to confront the settlers.

Ma’an’s Jerusalem correspondent reported that dozens of settlers attempted to reach a home belonging to the Jaber family in Sa’diyya neighborhood, which Jewish groups and Israeli forces occupied on Thursday.

As a result, three Palestinians sustained bruises. They were identified as Talal Nassar, Abddul-Raoof Jaber and Ja’far Jaber.

Furthermore, Israeli police arrested the home’s owners, Naser Jaber, and his brothers Alaa and Rajaei. They were released 24 hours later. As hoards of settlers attacked the home, Palestinian residents of the neighborhood confronted them and clashes erupted as far away as Damascus Gate.

On Thursday morning, dozens of Israeli settlers backed by police originally took over the Palestinian house in the Old City of Jerusalem. A scuffle took place between the owner and the settlers before police intervened, allowing the settlers to take control of the house and sending the owner away.

Israeli police then imposed a neighborhood lockdown, prohibiting residents from entering or leaving their homes. Several youth were seized during ensuing clashes in the tense half hour between the arrival of the settlers and the total closure of the area.

Jaber, the owner, went immediately to the court to put forward his case, saying he was going to demand the removal of the settlers from his residence, which is home to eight residents. Jaber noted that the small area of the Old City is home to seven other families and said there had been a continuous settler presence in the area over the past several months.

al quds is severely under attack this week by israeli colonial settlers and their terrorist army alike. houses are being demolished and the palestinian collaborationist authority is not much help as can be seen below; they want palestinians to live in claustrophobic, small spaces and not enlarge their homes–as necessary for family growth and as an act of resistance as these are their homes on their land:

The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem demolished a stone block house owned by Abd Ar-Rahman Al-Fakhouri in the Burj Al-Laqlaq area in the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday afternoon.

The owner of the house, Um Omran Al-Fakhouri, said she received a demolition notice last Thursday and was scheduled to demolish it herself, but was surprised when municipality staff arrived early on Monday morning and began demolishing the home.

The 120-square-meter house, which was an addition to her 150-square-meter home, was hope to 14 people.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ aide for Jerusalem Affairs Hatem Abdul Qader said that the demolition order came after the family “had exerted every efforts to get a license.”

Abdul Qader had previously appealed to the residents of the Al-Laqlaq area not to construct any additional rooms on to their homes because “this threatens them, as the neighborhood becomes targeted by Israeli authorities, which, for their part, look for any pretext to establish a new settlement there.”

He added that new plans are being drawn up to establish a local committee within the Israeli municipality in order to protect civilian homes in the neighborhood, where hundreds of Palestinian houses and organizations are located.

the aftermath of a house demolition in al quds was captured on film this week. i am not sure who this home belongs to, but you can see the kids in the neighborhood cleaning up the rubble because if they don’t, they will be fined $600 per day. of course, the family still has to pay for the house demolition anyway…

tension in al quds is high and one man took matters into his own hand resisting with his car:

A Palestinian man was shot dead after running down three Israeli border guards at a checkpoint near the now-demolished East Jerusalem family home of a slain construction worker who went on a deadly bulldozer rampage last summer.

A man identified as 20-year-old Iyad Azmi Uweisat ploughed into the scene where dozens of Israeli soldiers and police officers stood guarding the wrecked home of the Dwayat family in the town of Sur Bahir Tuesday afternoon.

Israeli police later raided Uweisat’s home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukkabir.

Local sources in Sur Bahir said it was likely the man was provoked, noting that soldiers had been assaulting and goading residents throughout the morning.

Earlier in the day soldiers forcibly evacuated the family of the first Jerusalem “bulldozer attacker” Husam Taysir Dwayat following the signing of an eviction and demolition order last month.

Amir reportedly drove his small car into the area, lightly injuring three Israeli soldiers, who answered the attack with several direct shots to the young man. He died shortly after receiving the injuries, and was not evacuated to hospital.

Amir died in the same way as Dwayat, who was behind the wheel of the bulldozer that ran into a bus and civilian car near Yaffa Street in Jerusalem on 2 July. The 30-year-old construction worker from East Jerusalem was shot by three different passersby on sight. His family maintained that the incident must have been an accident. A second “bulldozer attack” occurred on 22 July, and a third incident involving a tractor occurred on 6 March 2009.

The Dwayat family, who had been working to have the demolition order overturned, challenged the troops as they worked to pull family members out of the home. Mrs Dwayat fainted during the shouting match, and was treated on scene.

The demolition order, signed by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in an effort to “deter” other Palestinians from “attacking” Israeli targets, includes two apartments owned by Husam’s father; the two buildings are home to 14. Aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for Jerusalem affairs Hatem Abd Al-Qader noted that the family has been trying to overturn the order, or at the least preserve one of the homes, on the grounds that Husam never lived in the apartment.

The family is pleading their case based on declarations that Husam acted independently and that the family had no control over his behavior. According to Abd Al-Qader, a medical report was provided that attests Hussam had lost control over his own actions and acted temporarily insane. The court rejected the report.

Israel is justifying the “deterrent demolition” under the British mandate law number 119 (1945) which allows the demolition of the homes of those acting aggressively against the state.

my friends' kids on the land where their home was pre-1967
my friends' kids on the land where their home was pre-1967

all of this, of course, is happening now. but it has been going on for decades. since 1967 to be precise. in fact, israeli colonial terrorists made al quds their first target of ethnic cleansing after conquering the rest of historic palestine that june. my friend who was beaten by the israeli terrorists saturday night is technically not from the old city. his father is from deir yassin, the village that will forever be tied in the minds of many to the horrific massacre on april 9, 1948. his mother was from zakariya and they wound up making a home for themselves, after an nakba, in the old city of al quds. but they were made refugees again, albeit only a short distance away, because their family’s house–and indeed the homes of their entire neighborhood in the old city–were destroyed immediately after the war of 1967 as part of the new ethnic cleansing project. here is what jonathan cook says about it in his essential book disappearing palestine:

During the night of 19 June, a demolition crew arrived to raze part of the Muslim quarter close by the Noble Sanctuary (Haram al-Sharif), where the ancient al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques are located. The plan was to destroy the homes to clear space for a wide plaza in front of the Western Wall, the embryo of what would soon be a Jewish quarter. But in staking their claim to the prayer wall, it seems, the leadership was also laying further claim to ownership of the raised terrace behind it, on which stood the two mosques. The elevated site, known as Temple Mount to Jews, is believed to contain the ruins of the First and Second Temples, the latter destroyed in 70 AD. As the first Israeli troops entered the Old City, the army’s chief rabbi, Shlomo Goren, rushed towards the Temple Mount clutching a Torah scroll and blowing a ram’s horn–in a foretaste of the new religious nationalism about to be unleashed. Soon the bulldozer would wreck the Mughrabi Quarter, demolishing the first home with the family still inside and terrorizing a further 1,000 Muslim residents into flight. The other Christian and Muslim inhabitants of the Old City might have been evicted from their homes too, had senior cabinet ministers got their way. However, the official put in charge of East Jerusalem, Yehuda Tamir, opposed such a move, arguing it would cause problems with the international community. Instead he chose another path, making it a priority to expropriate Palestinian land closely by the Green Line in East Jerusalem and begin implanting Jewish settlements like Givat Hamivtar, Ramot Eshkol and French Hill.

At the same time the cabinet was holding a heated discussion about how to annex East Jerusalem. It agreed to do so without legislation simply by declaring an enlargement of the western city’s municipal limits to encompass the Palestinian half, in a “municipal fusion” as it was misleadingly referred to. Official annexation would have to wait until 1980, but in the meantime Israel behaved as the new sovereign ruler. The authorities relentlessly confiscated land, “Judaizing” it by building settlements around and between the Palestinian neighbourhoods of the city’s eastern half. Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries were massively enlarged, almost tenfold, annexing by stealth a huge area of extra land, including twenty-eight outlying villages in the West Bank, and moving Israel’s new border deeper into Palestinian territory to point where it virtually reached the Jordan Valley. The municipal boundaries were redrawn from 38 sq km to 108. (52-53)

the creeping annexation that i wrote about in relation to cook’s book yesterday is the same here in al quds. it has been going on for 42 years in al quds. it is down slowly, but always in the same violent colonial way. it is done to make ethnic cleansing an ongoing process that never ends, in contradistinction to the massive one they initiated in 1948. of course all that these colonial usurpers do is illegal, but instead of them being punished for their crimes they make the indigenous people’s presence a crime–their houses, their bodies, their land. and they make this process of criminalizing palestinians legal in its courts as saed bannoura reports:

Just a few days after ruling to force Palestinian homeowner Darwish Hijazi off his land to allow Israeli expansion in his home and property, the Israeli high court has issued a ruling on the cases of two more families who challenged the Israeli demolition orders placed on their homes.

The demolition orders are part of a larger Israeli settlement plan, which the Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem and the city planners have called the ‘E1 Plan’, to tear down thousands of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem to make way for Disney-like theme parks based on biblical themes.

The new mayor of Jerusalem has decided to move forward rapidly with this plan, calling for a complete demolition of all Palestinian homes in the Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhoods so he can build a park that would be off-limits to the Palestinians on whose land it would be built.

The Palestinian population of the area has filed legal papers in individual cases, but the Israeli legal system does no accord them any rights, and their property deeds to their land are not considered legal documents by the Israeli court system, even though most of their ownership documents were issued by Israeli authorities.

In the case decided Sunday, Israeli judges ruled to allow the demolition of the Hanoun and Al-Ghawi families’ homes, whose lawyer presented land ownership documents from the Ottoman empire, which preceded the creation of the Israeli state in 1948.

Hatem Abdul Qader, the Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, said that Sunday’s ruling marks a “black day” for the Israeli courts, proving that they have no interest in justice, but are merely carrying out a political agenda for the expansion of the Jewish state at the expense of the indigenous Palestinian population. He said that this case, and others like it, will be taken to the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

jonathan cook also historicizes this process of the zionist entity’s constant rendering unlawful acts legal in its system in the most devious ways imaginable:

One noted analyst of Israel’s military court system, Lisa Hajjar, points out that the Military Advocate General of the time, Meir Shamgar, later admitted that he had been preparing for the establishment of a military administration from the early 1960s, long before the Six-Day War. Shamgar, who would become president of the Supreme Court, also made several legal innovations in Israel’s rule over the occupied territories. The most notable was his decision in 1968, as attorney general, to allow Palestinians to petition the Supreme Court against the decisions of the military administration. Judicial oversight of the occupation was crucial in persuading many observers that Israel’s rule over the West Bank and Gaza was “benign” or even “enlightened.” But at the same time Shamgar ensured that the court’s ability to safeguard Palestinian rights was severely curtailed.

First, Shamgar ruled that, although the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention did not apply to the occupied territories, Israel would voluntarily abide by the “humanitarian provisions” of the Convention. Shamgar and his successors have never specified which provisions are humanitarian, though the Red Cross, the guardian of the Geneva Conventions, regards the whole body of these codes as humanitarian and considers them to be indivisible. Israel’s official evasiveness, however, has allowed the court to claim in its judgments it is respecting international law, while ignoring it in practice or selectively referring to it in ways helpful to the occupation regime.

Second, Shamgar argued that, as the Palestinians had never enjoyed statehood they could not be considered the rightful sovereigns of the West Bank and Gaza. This meant hat in the court’s view, while the Palestinians were considered to enjoy rights as individuals, protected by the so-called humanitarian provisions of the Geneva Conventions, they did not have any national rights. Hajjar points out: “Shamgar’s focus on the status of land…rather than the population (with national rights to self-determination) was a strategic legal maneuver to separate the land from the people residing there.” In this way the Palestinians in the occupied territories were stripped of their collective and national rights, including to their land as a national resource and asset, just as Israel’s Palestinian citizens had been before them. The Palestinians would now arrive in court as separate individuals, whereas the settlers and the state would be able to claim national rights, particularly in relation to what would soon be called “state land” that they desired for settlement.

Shamgar’s innovation of allowing Palestinian petitions to the Supreme Court became the legal equivalent of Golda Meir’s erasure of the Green Line, annexing the territories to Israel de facto and forcing the Palestinians to legitimize the annexation. Or as two Israeli analysts noted: “It coerced the [Palestinian] inhabitants, who had not other legal recourse, to appeal to these courts in their quest for justice, and thus recognize, whether they wanted to or not…the authority of the Israeli judicial system over them.” Similarly, it persuaded most Israeli Jews that he Palestinians’ rights were being safeguarded and that the occupation was “legal.”

In reality, however, the military courts routinely approve the abuse of the Palestinian population’s civil and political rights, and ignore international law, with little or no effective oversight from the Supreme Court. The myriad military orders sanction various collective punishments: house demolitions, curfews, closures of schools and colleges, restrictions on family unification, confiscations of private land, restrictions on movement enforced through permit systems and checkpoints, and prohibitions on organized activities. (63-65)

in a nutshell if you read through that long passage you can see how the “legal” system works here: palestinians have no rights, but the faux jewish “democracy” makes it appear like they have recourse and this is done not only for the international community, but also for the israeli colonists who can feel like they are the enlightened, civilized colonizers who give the indigenous their rights. really, you need not look past the way that the americans have done this to american indians for centuries to see the blueprint for this model of legal hurdles. i bet hillary clinton would call that “unhelpful,” too, sa7?