Yes, India, Israel uses water as a weapon

For the past couple of nights I’ve noticed a new commercial on English language television in India. It seems that Israel is currently promoting tourism on occupied land while hiding their reality of their almost 70-year long colonisation of the land. It seems that now that Indians no longer have a stamp in their passport preventing them from travelling to the world’s 2 apartheid states–South Africa and Israel–they’re pushing tourism, making it appear as if it were any European country. It was shocking to see such a commercial, knowing how many Indians will fall for it, travel there, and never even have a glimpse of what life is like for Palestinians in historic Palestine or the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (Here is my response to a similar piece in The Hindu a couple of years ago).

Of course, one would expect that an Israeli agency would promote its own tourism. But what’s even more shocking is that an Indian environmental organisation would fall for such propaganda. And that’s what seemed to happen with India Water Portal. Their piece was lazy–relying solely on the Israeli embassy for their misinformation. And the Indians who published this piece are too enamoured with the mythology of Israelis making the deserts bloom, they credit them with inventions like drip irrigation, which Indians were doing for hundreds–if not thousands–of years before the colony of Israel existed. They seem to be completely oblivious to the realities in Palestine, too, and the way that water is used as a tool of apartheid. Perhaps if they realised, Indian passports would once again be prohibited from entering Israel (wishful thinking, I know).

What bothers me about false reporting on water in India is that so many Indians–Indians who I expect to know better–will repeat this fib about Israel being some agricultural, water genius nation that India should look to as a model. And the Indian government is indeed stepping up its work in that area with collaborative ventures in the agricultural sector.

Israel’s water lies go far back to their early colonisation in the 1940s, but after they accelerated the colonisation of the West Bank, the theft quickened, as Charlotte Silver explains:

The Israeli military has governed all sources of water in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967 and 1974, respectively. Originally gained by military conquest, its control has subsequently been affirmed through the Oslo Accords and, increasingly, the work of the Palestinian Authority and international NGOs. 

vp palestine water infographic

In Gaza, because of the ongoing siege of the world’s largest open air prison, the water situation is even worse than in the West Bank, which is why the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) has been actively involved in helping to create solutions to the lack of drinking water:

In the West Bank and Gaza, the Israeli Occupation systematically denies Palestinian adequate quality and quantities of water. Palestinian communities inside the state of Israel have less access to water than their Jewish counterparts, as well. Water is diverted from Palestinian resources the West Bank (and previously in Gaza) to illegal Israeli settlements and into Israel. Israel denies materials, fuel, and permits to sustain and expand water systems. Military attacks predictably—and often deliberately—destroy wells, water tanks, pipes, treatment plants, and sewage systems. Widespread poverty prevents people from purchasing clean water or repairing their wells and plumbing. The health and well being of virtually every Palestinian child and adult is affected by the shortage of clean, safe water.

The water crisis in Gaza is extreme. When the state of Israel was established in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes in what is now southern Israel to the small and arid Gaza Strip. At the same time, Israel cut off access to water sources around Gaza. The only source available, the Gaza Aquifer, could not support the huge and sudden rise in population, and the water it generates has been steadily deteriorating for more than sixty years. It is currently estimated that 95% of water from the Gaza Aquifer is unfit for human consumption.

It’s pretty simple to surf the Internet and figure out the truth about water in Palestine and Israel’s role in siphoning it for their swimming pools when Palestinians barely get enough to drink, cook, and bathe with. Even Israel’s Ha’aretz has reported on the way Israel creates thirst in Palestinian communities as has the Economist. Amnesty International has published reports on Israel’s use of water as a tool of their apartheid regime.

What will it take for Indians to understand the truth, the reality of what really goes on with water in Palestine? Perhaps a trip, but not to Israel; one to the occupied territories where tourists also get first-hand experiences with inequity and water as well as all the other visible and less visible forms of apartheid.

daily-water

California Travels

For the past  couple of weeks I’ve been traveling across my home state of California. Because I was on the train between Berkeley and Los Angeles I had a lot of time to look out the window and think about the land I was traveling through. The first thoughts that entered my mind were about the indigenous peoples whose land was stolen in order to create all the settlements, military bases, universities, etc. One can begin learning about the history of indigenous California here.

I was also thinking about more recent history because I spent most of my train ride reading Mike Davis’ City of Quartz. After spending so much time studying the Arab World, I’m learning about the history of where I come from, Los Angeles, California. Davis’ book is amazing because it gives so much context to things I only heard about or partially understood growing up. I also watched Gregory Nava’s brilliant film El Norte again, which shows the challenges and the push factors compelling people to leave their land and labor in the U.S. (see trailer below). Apparently there is a new documentary called Harvest of Empire detailing these push factors. One thing is for sure, the economy here, and in most of the U.S. economy would not function without people willing to do all the difficult, dirty work that the majority of Americans are unwilling to do.

I thought a lot about the farm land and farmworkers I watched as my train passed by. This was, of course, not hard to do give how much agribusiness is in the heartland of California. It made me think of the Delano Grape Boycott organized by César Chávez throughout much of my childhood. It also made me think of the important ballot initiative in the upcoming election and California’s Proposition 37, which would require food producers to label all GMOs used in their products.

I traveled north for a book event at the Middle East Children’s Alliance, which turned out to be a terrific event. Lots of teachers showed up, which is what I hoped for. But also there were people from various periods of my life–friends from elementary school, from Boise, and various other periods and places in between.

Upon my return there was another hearing for the renewal of the Veolia contract with the Los Angeles city council. This time we spoke before the entire city council (although they seemed infinitely more interested in playing with their phones or reading the newspaper so I doubt they listened). In any case, they voted unanimously to renew the Veolia contract at the beginning of the meeting. We merely spoke to express our opposition to that vote. Prior to our speaking a woman involved in the Los Angeles sister city program was being honored. I had noticed, for the first time, on my walk to City Hall that there is a street sign (see above) indicating all of the sister cities connected to Los Angeles. One of them is Beirut. But another one is Eilat, an Israeli city in occupied Palestine. This is a city that only a month ago was protesting the inclusion of Sudanese children into their schools. Yet another example of the inherent racism of Zionism. While Los Angelenos seem to think it is a problem to fight racism and apartheid in Palestine, it seems that Quakers do not. Quakers not only voted to boycott Veolia, but Hewlitt Packard as well. There are audio reports about the Los Angeles vote and organizing around it which can be listened to here and here.

My second book event at the Levantine Center, with Mark Levine, Antony Loewenstein, and Saree Makdisi took place in Los Angeles at a church near UCLA.   This event was larger, but it included other people. In any case, the discussion was quite interesting on a number of levels, not the least of which were the Iranian Jews in the audience whose heads were so immersed in Zionist propaganda that one woman denied the existence of the murder of Mohammad al-Durra and the massacre in Jenin refugee camp–two events that I discuss in my book, actually. Of course, it sounded exactly like Nazi holocaust denial, which is what I said to the woman. The event was filmed so if it becomes available I will post it.

How I Failed the Thirsting for Justice Challenge

Yesterday my friend and I decided to take the Thirsting for Justice water challenge of living with 24 liters (that’s about 6 gallons for Americans) of water for 24 hours, which is something Palestinians in Palestine are forced to do every day. The challenge was created to educate people about the ways in which Israeli colonists control the water in Palestine even though all of the water sources are Palestinian. An infographic illustrates the problem quite well:

 

Just yesterday, for example, Israel demolished two Palestinian water cisterns, which, of course, meant that Palestinians who relied upon those water sources now do not have any access to water.

To begin this challenge I researched water consumption to get an idea about how much I might use each day. To be sure, my friend and I chose a difficult day because it was the day to clean the flat. This meant that we needed several buckets of water. We also needed to wash our clothes, but could not because the average washing machine requires between 80-170 liters of water (although we had conflicting information on this, we decided to lean towards the high end of the spectrum). So I had to wear some dirty clothes yesterday as a result.

Through my research about water I found some interesting facts about how much we waste when we don’t have to be conscious about our water usage:

  • the average Briton uses the equivalent of 16 buckets worth of water a day. One third of this goes down the loo
  • many people in the world exist on 10 litres of water or less a day, we use this in almost one flush of the toilet

Growing up in California, which does struggle with water issues, sometimes I was made aware of the hazards of taking long showers or flushing the toilet too much. But the water never ran out and so there is only so much of an impression that this warning had on me. Toilet waste is particularly important to think about given how much water it uses beyond what seems necessary. Consider these figures:

There are two types of toilets in my friend’s house. One is the typical type and the other is the kind that gives you a choice for a full or a half flush. Yesterday morning I opted for the half flush thinking that it might let me count a lower end of 9 liters instead of 16 liters. However, even that, when you realize that you only have 24 to use for the entire 24 hours, is too much. So I wasted around 9 liters too early in the day.

For the average American, here is what their indoor water consumption looks like (check out this link for the actual graphic which has enhanced features on the original):

When I tried to add up and estimate my daily usage, without considering how much water goes into cleaning my flat, I came up with a figure of about 234 liters (61 gallson) per day, 130 liters of which are devoted to toilet flushing. These initial figures are based on calculations that say we use 9.5 liters per minute when a faucet is one (for showering, washing hands, washing dishes, etc.). It also lowballs figures on washing clothes, partially because we use a front-loading machine, unlike the typical American top-loading machines, which seem to require more water.

Ultimately, we decided to use the handy water consumption chart on the Thirsting for Justice website:

Based on these figures here is how I failed the challenge:

I woke up, used the toilet, washed my face, brushed my teeth (with the tap off as usual): 12.4 liters.

I made coffee, drank some water, washed dishes (although I suspect washing dishes they way people do here, with the water off, requires less water than the way Americans do it by leaving the water running): 22 liters.

Then we both took showers. Rather than use the faucet, which according to the cart above, would at best require 35-50 liters for a 3 minute shower and at worst 75-90 liters for a 5 minute shower, we opted for a different option. Because even in the best case scenario above, if we only had 24 liters of water for the day, that would mean no shower at all. So we placed 3 liters of water into a pot and boiled it. We brought it into the shower and then split that amount between the two of us. My friend washed her hair, but I did not. This meant that we each used only 1.5 liters for showering.

But we failed when it came to washing the house. Because my friend has a large 3 bedroom flat, and because it requires about 7 buckets to clean the floors, each of which contains 10.5 liters of water, we used up 73.5 liters cleaning the house. And this only got us to the halfway point in the day.

After the house was clean, we made lunch. We washed vegetables, drank water, washed more dishes, and then brushed our teeth again. This required around 23 liters of water.

We spent the rest of the day outside the home where we drank more water (it is summer after all), ate more vegetables (which were washed), and ate off plates (that would then need to be washed). We went to the bathroom and washed our hands (but also used hand sanitizer at times to save the 1.4 liters it takes to wash one’s hands). We chose not to count this water because the 24 liters for 24 hours is for one’s household.

When we returned home I washed my face, brushed my teeth, drank some more water, which required another 4.4 liters.

My total water usage for the day was: 136.8 liters or 35.9 gallons.

Later this month I will try to do this again to see if I can do it on a day when I don’t need to clean the house. But in some ways I think this is a good way to test oneself because in most Palestinian homes, cleaning the house is a daily part of one’s activities.

I encourage others to try to meet this challenge. To sign up, you need only to visit the Thirsting for Justice website. There are a number of resources and fact sheets on the website to learn more about the way water theft accompanies land theft in Palestine. Also, here is an older Amnesty International report on how Palestinians are denied access to their own water. I also encourage people to donate to the Middle East Children’s Alliance Maia Project, which is helping to bring clean, fresh water to Palestinian children.

For those interested in water as an environmental issue more generally, there is an interesting UNDP report co-authored by youth entitled “Water Rights and Wrongs” that addresses the scarcity of water, the need for water, and water as a human right. Finally, I recommend this film Blue Gold, which explores the topic of water as a human right and an environmental more globally:

indigenous solidarity

i spent the weekend with most of the students in my indigenous american class from ibdaa cultural center in deheishe refugee camp, which i have been teaching here to give the youth more of a background on american colonialism and occupation of native land before a group of american indians come on a solidarity visit to palestine next month. there was a camp last weekend in the village of taibe to gather the kids from other refugee camps and another group that will participate in this solidarity visit.

we stayed at a christian (taibe is the only christian-only village in palestine and it is famous for its palestinian beer, although when i went to a shop one morning and found an “i love taibe beer” sticker on the door i was dumbfounded to find only zionist terrorist colonists’ beer to be the only one for sale there!) retirement home–sort of an odd concept in palesitne where most people actually take care of their elderly loved ones in ways that americans do not. most of the campers slept in tents outside, though the girls had rooms in the guest house where the adults also stayed. for some reason the ibdaa shabab stayed inside too, though in a different building.

the camp was amazing. it reminded me of why i love ibdaa cultural center and the kids in deheishe so much. why they give me the inspiration, strength, energy to fight for the right of return. when i see the faces of these kids i just feel so overwhelmed with love for them that i would do anything to see their rights finally enacted. all the other centers at the camp had been given materials about indigenous americans previously, but only the ibdaa/deheishe kids had read them and have had classes on the subject. in fact, one kid arrived and said the first night that he thought that this project was a normalization project (normalization = normalizing the abnormal, i.e., pushing colonized palestinians to have “normal” relations with their zionist usurping colonizers). this led to a discussion of the word normalization and its meanings, which he did not understand. but part of the problem was that the other kids had not even received the books so they had not read them. so a lot of the burden was put on the kids from deheishe to educate their peers on what they learned. and they did a kick ass job if i do say so myself. they were so amazing and led really important discussions of the vocabulary words–like the differences between occupation, colonialism, and imperialism–that i think all the youth benefited from.

on one of the days we took a bus trip to birzeit to go swimming where one of the kids from deheishe gave me a new gray hair because of the complicated flips he kept doing off the side of the pool. i was sure he was going to crack his head open, and he thought it was hilarious that i was so worried. we also had an amazing cultural night where there was a dabke performance by a local dabke group. they were wonderful, although the kids in the camp got so into it that they began to join the performance. i took some photos of their feet when they were dancing because i love watching the feet of dabke dancers (see below). one of the kids from balata refugee camp in nablus was the most interesting dabke dancer to watch. there was something about the way he moved that made us all sure he also was a break dancer. we asked him afterwards and we were right. so we asked him to dance for us. he was amazing. and he gave a lesson or two to a group of kids who wanted to learn.

there was also a group of fabulous rappers from deheishe who sang a song, a play, and an oud performance. but the best part of the camp was spending more time with the kids from deheishe, talking, learning, and bonding.

below the photos is information about the solidarity visit next month with information about how you can donate to this visit.

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Support the Youth!

The Indigenous Youth Delegation to Palestine, the first-ever delegation of its kind, is scheduled for August 2009. Youth leaders from grassroots indigenous groups in the US, namely Seventh Native American Generation (SNAG) Magazine, Huaxtec, and Native students at Haskell University, will travel to Palestine at the invitation of five Palestinian youth centers. After more than two years of communicating through the internet, these young people will have the opportunity to learn firsthand from each other by sharing tools of empowerment and education.

The trip to Palestine is part of an ongoing process to connect the shared experiences of Indigenous peoples across the world, to build solidarity, justice and peace. The group will create print media, blogs, a Native/Palestinian music CD, video, photo essays, poetry and other forms of media to share their stories and involve their communities in building a national and international movement for indigenous rights.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The US young people, all of who are from low-income, urban, Native American communities have already done a remarkable thing: They have raised all the money for their plane fares.

MECA has given the Palestinian organizations in YSN $18,000 for the youth training they are doing, and to prepare for the delegation.

Now, just one month from the start of the delegation, YSN still needs to raise $12,000 more for food, transportation and accommodations in Palestine.

Click here to make a contribution.

Be sure to put YSN in the “on behalf of” field in the form.

US organizations participating in the delegation:
SNAG Magazine, San Francisco Bay Area
Huaxtec, San Francisco Bay Area
Seventh Generation Indigenous Visionaries, Haskell Indian Nations University, Kansas
Middle East Children’s Alliance (support role)
Palestine Education Project (support role)

Palestinian organizations:
Happy Childhood Club, Balata Refugee Camp, Nablus
Ibdaa Cultural Center, Dheisheh Refugee Camp, Bethlehem
Palestinian Child Center, Shufat Refugee Camp, Jerusalem
Women for Life/Flowers Against the Occupation, Biddia, Salfit
Yafa Cultural Center, Balata Refugee Camp, Nablus

prisons within prisons within prisons within prisons within prisons

holding an american passport, having the privilege of white skin, and living in palestine means that one needs to be conscious of these privileges and also use them strategically to support palestinians. the summer camp last week was one example of using my white privilege to help palestinian refugees learn about their villages and use that knowledge and experience to imagine how to fight for their right of return. i think this is urgent for this generation to be given as many tools as possible to fight for this right and to acquire knowledge from their elders and their own experiences as the risk of losing the generation that holds first-hand memories. one of the youth on the trip has an 89 year old grandfather who recalls acutely every last detail of his village beit ‘itab. part of the next phase of this project is to get the youth to record the oral histories of their elders as well as to use that history as another tool to fight for their right of return. i use the word “project” advisedly. it is not some little program that we are working on here that is temporary or fleeting. it is something that we are hoping to project into the future to help this generation realize their right of return. to break out of their prisons in the refugee camps, in their bantustan cities and villages. to take their land back.

i taught my indigenous american class last night in deheishe, in which some of the same youth from camp are students, and i started to worry a bit about the upcoming delegation. first, here is a description and a way you can support the project by donating to the middle east children’s alliance:

The Indigenous Youth Delegation to Palestine, the first-ever delegation of its kind, is scheduled for August 2009. Youth leaders from grassroots indigenous groups in the US, namely Seventh Native American Generation (SNAG) Magazine, Huaxtec, and Native students at Haskell University, will travel to Palestine at the invitation of five Palestinian youth centers. After more than two years of communicating through the internet, these young people will have the opportunity to learn firsthand from each other by sharing tools of empowerment and education.

The trip to Palestine is part of an ongoing process to connect the shared experiences of Indigenous peoples across the world, to build solidarity, justice and peace. The group will create print media, blogs, a Native/Palestinian music CD, video, photo essays, poetry and other forms of media to share their stories and involve their communities in building a national and international movement for indigenous rights.

i think that this project is hugely important as global indigenous solidarity is necessary. i think the youth can learn a lot from each other. at the same time one of the differences between indigenous youth in the americas and in palestine is time–a few hundred years difference. and i worry that the palestinian youth will look to the american indian youth and see this as their fate: four hundred years of living in refugee camps, of removal from their land, of imprisonment.

one of the more well known american indian political prisoners is up for parole again. leonard peltier, jeremy scahill reminds us, has the possibility of being released from prison in a couple of weeks:

“I AM but a common man, I am not a speaker but I have spoken. I am not all that tall, but I have stood up. I am not a philosopher or poet or a singer or any of those things that particularly inspire people, but the one thing that I am is the evidence that this country lied when they said there was justice for all… I am just a common man and I am evidence that the powers that put me here would like to sweep under the carpet. The same way they did all of our past leaders, warriors and people they massacred. Just as at Wounded Knee, the Fifth Cavalry sought its revenge for Custer’s loss and massacred some 300 Indian men women and children, then gave out 23 Medals of Honor and swept the evidence of their wrongdoing aside… I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in this prison. And I don’t want you to spend the rest of your life in some prison of the mind, heart or attitude. I want you to enjoy your life.

If nothing else give somebody a hug for me and say, ‘This is from Leonard.’”

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier

NOTE: Read Leonard Peltier’s full June 26 statement. Peltier is up for parole on July 28. His supporters and friends have launched a letter-writing campaign to support his release from prison after 34 years.

americans, like their zionist allies, love to lock people and communities up in prisons. they have this, among other things, in common. there are over 11,000 palestinian political prisoners languishing in zionist terrorist colonist jails, among them are some more well-known political leaders and figures. last week the campaign to free ahmed sa’adat issued a letter calling for his release as well as all the other political prisoners:

Dear Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon;

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, call upon you to immediately take action in defense of the lives, health and rights of the over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners held inside Israeli occupation jails. This number includes numerous elected members of Palestinian Legislative Council, among them Ahmad Sa’adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; Marwan al-Barghouthi, Fateh leader; Abdel-Aziz Dweik, Hamas leader and President of the Council, just freed after three years in prison, and dozens of other elected political leaders, in addition to thousands of other Palestinian activists, union members, community organizers, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.

Palestinian prisoners suffer in conditions that violate international standards and norms, and are imprisoned because they refuse to accept a brutal occupation of their land and their people. Ahmad Sa’adat recently waged a nine-day hunger strike in protest of the policy of isolation and solitary confinement that has recently been escalated against Palestinian prisoners. Palestinian prisoners have been denied family visits, at times for years, denied access to all books and magazines, and denied even communication with their fellow prisoners in the isolation units. Palestinian prisoners, including Sa’adat, are currently denied necessary health care and medical treatment.

Palestinian prisoners are placed into isolation because they are national leaders and because the Palestinian prisoner movement has been an inspiration to all Palestinians and all who struggle for freedom. Ahmad Sa’adat’s hunger strike has sparked thousands of people around the world to appeal for his release, as a living example who symbolizes the steadfastness and strength of the Palestinian prisoners amid isolation and dire conditions, and it must compel all of those outside the prisons to act. Many Palestinian and international human rights and social justice organizations have called for the release of Sa’adat and to ensure the safety of his life and health, as well as for freedom and protection for all Palestinian prisoners.

The fate of these 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners is a fundamental issue of justice. Palestinians, in Palestine and in exile, are denied their rights – to return home, to self-determination, and to freedom, and those who seek to secure those rights are subject to imprisonment, whether within the open-air prisons of Gaza under siege or the walled-in West Bank, or the jails of the occupation. The silent, and at times, active, complicity of international agencies, particularly the United Nations, in the denial of Palestinian rights must not continue.

We call upon you to uphold your responsibilities and exert all pressure to end torture, cruel and inhuman treatment of Palestinian prisoners, and to free every Palestinian political prisoner from Israel’s occupation jails.

Sincerely,
http://www.freeahmadsaadat.org/
Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat

the number of palestinian political prisoners grows every month with the zionist terrorist forces’ nightly raids into palestinian refugee camps, villages and cities. here is a report on the month of june alone:

The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees reported that the Israeli army kidnapped more than 380 Palestinians in several parts of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem during the month of June.

The ministry added that the army also kidnapped four Egyptians in the Negev after claiming that they crossed the border and entered a military base.

Hundreds of Palestinian workers were also detained in the Green Line as the Israeli Police claimed they were working there without permits.

Riyadh Al Ashqar, head of the Media Department at the Ministry, stated that last month witnessed a significant escalation in Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, and that the soldiers kidnapped sixteen fishermen.

He added that Israeli security personnel interrogated the fishermen and tried to blackmail them by telling them that they would be allowed to fish in Gaza’s territorial waters should they collaborate and spy for Israel in Gaza.

The minister added that, for the first time, soldiers detained a four-year old child, identified as Mohammad Mousa, after claiming that he hurled stones at police vehicles in Jerusalem. 31 residents, including three children below 12, were detained in Hizma village, near Jerusalem.

The army also kidnapped three women, and tortured one of them at the Atara roadblock, north of Ramallah.

The tortured woman was identified as Nahed Farhat, from Ramallah; the soldiers kicked her, dragged her on the ground and punched her before blindfolding and cuffing her, and took her to a detention facility.

Soldiers also broke into the home of female legislator, Dr. Mariam Saleh, searched the property and kidnapped her son Salah after kicking and punching him and his brother.

Troops confiscated the legislator’s mobile phone and some private documents.

In its report, the Ministry said that Israeli courts issued more than 220 administrative detention orders and imposed high fines on dozens of detainees.

Troops broke into several detention facilities, searched the rooms and attacked a number of detainees.

mohammed ballan compiled a list of some of the palestinian political prisoners’ names, which jasmin ramsey at pulse media reported. however, this is just a small fraction of their names, names that must be spoken, remembered, and the demand for their release must be fought for:

It is also imperative to note that these name are only roughly 200 names when in fact there are over 11, 000 in Israeli prisons. Unfortunately, there is no transparency, and the names of these prisoners remain elusive due to the nature of their imprisonment. No human rights organizations or governmental organizations have access to all of the names and identities of these Palestinians. Although they may be erased from our regular world, we will not forget their existence and let them run through the pages of history.

It should also be noted that of those Palestinians detained, only a minor proportion have actually committed acts of “terrorism” (as defined by Israeli law) or orchestrated attacks against the Israeli civilian and military infrastructure of occupation.

For some of the sources used to compile these names, please visit:

http://addameer.info/
http://sumoud.tao.ca/?q=
http://www.miftah.org/Doc/Factsheets/Miftah/English/Prisoners.pdf
http://palestinianprisoners.blogspot.com/

PALESTINIAN PRISONERS:

10,000 men, 1500 women, 500 children under 12 yrs old.

Mainstream media coverage, including Israeli/Arabic/Palestinian/Western news stations: 0.00 minutes, 0 news articles

Names (a mere fraction of them)

Abdullah Hussein Abdullah Odeh
Samah Abdullah
Muhammad Ouni Muhammad Daadou
Amin As’ad Mustafa Salim
Mahmoud Shukri Abd al-Karim Hamshari
Ali Kamal Hussein Abu Salim
Muhammad Saleem Shaheen
Azzam Yusuf Mahmoud Yasin
Roulan Tawfiq Abdullah Dighlis
Nahed Taysir Tawfiq Abu Diyak
Mu’in Mustafa Musa Feshafesha
Muhammad Bassam Tawfiq Walway
Muhammad Amin Ahmad Yunus
Nadel Khalil Ahmad ‘Aalouna
Adam Ghazzan Ahmad Harami
Khadeer Ali Muhammad Bisharat
Mahmoud Radwan Mahmoud Musleh
Samed Muhammd Hassan Asleem
Ehad Mansur Ibrahim Khleelya
Muhammad Saleh Suleyman Mardawi
Saleh ‘Amer Swey’ad S’aida
Amin Abd Muhammad ‘Arbash
George Ghabi Yusuf Bihnan
Ghassan Nu’man Mahmoud Taha
Jibr ‘Ouda Ali Mukhamra
Nitham Mustafa Sawafta
Samer Mahmoud Karim Haimouni
Ibrahim Muhammad Khalil Dababsa
Khalil Suleyman Khalil Jrouf
Ashraf Hussein Mahmoud Abu Ghlass
Tamer Badr Qubtan Abu ‘Arqoub
Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad ‘Oud
Tawfiq Abd al-Qader Talib Omar
Ziyad Hassan Abd al-Jalil Kahla
Ayman Yaser Khalil ‘Amru
Imad ‘Ezat Muhammad Awlad Muhammad
Mustafa Sawafta
Muhammad Zuhdi Abd al-Rahman Mahfoudh
Muhammad Ahmad Abd Quttamsh
Amru Hassan Muhammad ‘Amru
Osama Muhammad Suleyman Sabateen
Najeh Yusuf Muhammad ‘Amru
Mu’mmar Muhammad Khalil Ta’amra
Ouda Ismail Muhammad Za’anouna
‘Asem Mahmoud Abd al-Rahim Salama
Amna Mouna
Bedran Abd al-Qader Ibrahim Badir
Ahmad Hassan Ahmad Shaqura
Amin Sarhi Salama Abu Mandil
Hussam Suleyman Mustafa ‘Arouq
Omar Mustafa Muhammad Omar
Fadi ‘Essam Sha’ban Saleem
Jum’a Qader ‘Atiya Abu Farha
Mundhir Mahmoud Muhammad Abu Zaghreet
Ala’ Rubhi Hussein Saleh
Muhammad ‘Ayed Muhammad Rub’i
Ghada Jasser
Nayef Ahmad Abd al-Fatah Butran
Khawla Zeitawi
Khaled Ramadan Tawfiq Ismail
Sa’di Mahmoud Hassan ‘Ouda
Ahmad Mahmod Muhammad Saleh
Haitham ‘Asmat Reja’i Zahran
Muhammad Ahmad Fraj Asleem
Asma’ Hussein
Samar Subaih
Bara’ Subaih
Fadi Husni ‘Oud Abu ‘Aoun
Abdullah Qa’dan Khidr Sa’ad
Mutleq Saleh Qassem Bani Jaber
Rasheed Muhammad Rasheed ‘Aql
Ahlam Jawhar
‘Isa Ahmad Amin Abu Eid
Murad ‘Ezzat Muhammad Qassem
Haitham Muhammad Ahmad Baradi’iya
Muhammad Ahmad Shehadeh Farhan
Muhannad Abd al-Fatah Mahmoud Hatataba
Suad Ghazal
Ahmad Mustafa Ali ‘Araj
Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad Abu Jheesha
Ibrahim Mufleh Saleh Abu Jheesha
Muhammad Abd al-Karim Ismail Hameedan
Abdullah Hassan Ahmad Qandil
Muhammad Na’eim Nimr Muhammad
Manal Ghanem
Nor Ghanem
Khayri Nasr Yusuf Wahdan
‘Asem Ahmad Muhammad ‘Isa
Hani Mahmoud Hussein Taneena
Nadeem ‘Aoud Mahmoud Smara
Sa’ad al-Din Muhammad Abd al-Majid Hassoun
Muhammad Ibrahim Ismail Abu Ismail
Sana ‘Amer
Rafet Suleyman Hussein Radaideh
‘Ouni Yusuf Mahmoud Omar
Rasem Suleyman Abu Rayhan
Sameeh ‘Isa Abd al-Haroush
Ismail Hassan Ali Jabour
Jibril Hassan Hassan Jabour
Imad Yunus Suleyman Jabour
Tawfiq Ahmad Za’al Jabour
Arafat Mahmoud Muhammad Abd al-Aziz
Ayman Munir Tawfiq
Sa’eed Wajia Sa’eed Al-Outban
Na’el Saleh Abdullah Barghouti
Fakhri ‘Asfour Abdullah Al-Barghouti
Akram Abdulaziz Sa’eed Mansur
Muhammad Ibrahim Mahmoud Abu Ali
Fu’ad Qassem Aeafat Al-Razem
Ibrahim Fadl Nimr Jaber
Aseel Al-Hindi
Hassan Ali Nimr Salama
Uthman Ali Hamdan Musleh
Sami Khaled Salama Yunus
Karim Yusuf Fadl Yunus
Maher Abd al-Latif Abd al-Qader Yunus
Salim Ali Ibrahim Al-Kayl
Hafedh Nimr Muhammad Qundus
Majd Al-Kokhen
‘Isa Nimr Jibril Abdrabo
Muhammad Abd al-Rahim Sa’eed Mansur
Ahmad Fareed Muhammad Shehadeh
Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad Nasr
Rafe’ Farhoud Mahmoud Kraja
Talal Yusuf Ahmad Abu Al-Kabash
Ziyad Mahmoud Muhammad Ghneimat
Mustafa ‘Amer Muhammad Ghneimat
Khalid Sa’adi Rashed Abu Shamt
Uthman Abdullah Mahmoud Bani Hussein
Heza’ Mahmoud Heza’ Al-Sa’adi
Bashir Suleyman Ahmad Al-Muqt
‘Asem Mahmoud Ahmad Wali
Seitan Nimr Nimr Wali
Sidqi Suleyman Ahmad Al-Muqt
Hani Badwi Muhammad Sa’eed Jaber
Muhammad Ahmad Abd al-Hamid Al-Tus
Nafidh Ahmad Talib Herz
Fayez Mutawwa’ Hmad Al-Khour
Azi Jum’a Muhammad Al-Nams
Ahmad Abdurrahman Hussein Abu Haseera
Muhammad Misbah Khalil ‘Ashour
Nour Al-Hashalamoun
Walid Nimr As’ad Diqqa
Muhammad Abd al-Hadi Muhammad Al-Husni
Tawfiq Ibrahim Muhammad Abdullah
Mustafa Mahmoud Musa Qar’ushi
Marian Saleh
Rashda Hamdan Muhammad Abu Mikh
Ibrahim Nayef Hamdan Abu Mikh
Ibrahim Abd al-Razeq Ahmad Beyadsa
Ibrahim Mustafa Ahmad Baroud
Ali Badr Ragheb Musulmani
Fawaz Qadhem Rashda Bukhtan
Khalid Ahmad Dawoud Muheisen
‘Asem Saleh Ali Jundal
Wasfa Ahmad Abd al-Qader Mansur
Aladdin Ahmad Reda Al-Baziyan
Ahmad Ali Hussein Abu Jaber
Abd al-Latif Ismail Ibrahim Shaqir
Afu Misbah Nufal Shaqir
Saleh Muhammad Yusuf Al-’Abd
Tareq Dawoud Mustafa Al-Hlees
Abd al-Nasser Dawoud Mustafa Al-Hlees
Ibrahim Hussein Ali ‘Elyan
SamirIbrahim Mahmoud Abu Ni’mah
Hazem Muhammad Sabra ‘Asilia
Hamza Nayef Hassan Zayed
Samer ‘Asem Salem Al-Mahroum
Abdurrahman Fadl Abdurrahman Al-Qeeq
Khaled Muttawa’ Muslim Al-Ja’eedi
Ahlam Al-Tamimi
Aziz Dweik
Maryam Saleh

part of the point of compiling a partial list of the names of palestinian political prisoners is related to the utter lack of media attention palestinian political prisoners get in the international media. last week when the free gaza movement’s boat was captured by zionist terrorist colonists and twenty one internationals were imprisoned, the media story focused on them because the media is not interested in covering the imprisonment of the indigenous fighting to free their land. in response, they produced this video about palestinian political prisoners and the 1.5 million palestinians imprisoned in gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison:

cynthia mckinney was one of those jailed by the zionist terrorist colonists and she wrote “letter from an israeli jail,” the title of which, of course, alludes to martin luther king’s “letter from a birmingham jail,” which reads in part:

But I’ve learned an interesting thing by being inside this prison. First of all, it’s incredibly black: populated mostly by Ethiopians who also had a dream … like my cellmates, one who is pregnant. They are all are in their twenties. They thought they were coming to the Holy Land. They had a dream that their lives would be better … The once proud, never colonized Ethiopia [has been thrown into] the back pocket of the United States, and become a place of torture, rendition, and occupation. Ethiopians must free their country because superpower politics [have] become more important than human rights and self-determination.

My cellmates came to the Holy Land so they could be free from the exigencies of superpower politics. They committed no crime except to have a dream. They came to Israel because they thought that Israel held promise for them. Their journey to Israel through Sudan and Egypt was arduous. I can only imagine what it must have been like for them. And it wasn’t cheap. Many of them represent their family’s best collective efforts for self-fulfilment. They made their way to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. They got their yellow paper of identification. They got their certificate for police protection. They are refugees from tragedy, and they made it to Israel only after they arrived Israel told them “there is no UN in Israel.”

The police here have license to pick them up & suck them into the black hole of a farce for a justice system. These beautiful, industrious and proud women represent the hopes of entire families. The idea of Israel tricked them and the rest of us. In a widely propagandized slick marketing campaign, Israel represented itself as a place of refuge and safety for the world’s first Jews and Christian. I too believed that marketing and failed to look deeper.

The truth is that Israel lied to the world. Israel lied to the families of these young women. Israel lied to the women themselves who are now trapped in Ramle’s detention facility. And what are we to do? One of my cellmates cried today. She has been here for 6 months. As an American, crying with them is not enough. The policy of the United States must be better, and while we watch President Obama give 12.8 trillion dollars to the financial elite of the United States it ought now be clear that hope, change, and ‘yes we can’ were powerfully presented images of dignity and self-fulfilment, individually and nationally, that besieged people everywhere truly believed in.

It was a slick marketing campaign as slickly put to the world and to the voters of America as was Israel’s marketing to the world. It tricked all of us but, more tragically, these young women.

We must cast an informed vote about better candidates seeking to represent us. I have read and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s letter from a Birmingham jail. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I too would one day have to do so. It is clear that taxpayers in Europe and the U.S. have a lot to atone for, for what they’ve done to others around the world.

What an irony! My son begins his law school program without me because I am in prison, in my own way trying to do my best, again, for other people’s children. Forgive me, my son. I guess I’m experiencing the harsh reality which is why people need dreams. [But] I’m lucky. I will leave this place. Has Israel become the place where dreams die?

Ask the people of Palestine. Ask the stream of black and Asian men whom I see being processed at Ramle. Ask the women on my cellblock. [Ask yourself:] what are you willing to do?

part of the context of those prisoners, who were refugees seeking asylum, mckinney writes about in her letter was reported on last week by irin news:

Some 15,000 mainly African asylum-seekers in Israel have put the regulatory, security and welfare response under strain, according to the Interior Ministry and UNHCR.

Israel does not have a refugee law, despite being a signatory to the 1951 refugee Convention.

However, regulations can allow asylum-seekers to work, and grant temporary protection and non-refoulement (a commitment not to force people back to where they came from).

About 200-300 asylum-seekers arrive each month, mainly overland from Egypt, according to the Immigration Authority and NGOs.

The UNHCR local office reports 14,766 asylum-seekers in Israel, while the Refugee Rights Forum (RRF – eight NGOs active in promoting the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers in Israel) suggests a number over 17,000.

The difference may in part be explained by the fact that UNHCR does not count asylum-seekers who are no longer in touch with them, according to William Tall, a UNHCR representative in Israel.

In the run-up to the handover of the RSD process to the Interior Ministry on 2 July, UNHCR has helped train 25 immigration officers who will begin work in July.

what happens with palestinian political prisoners–when internationals and asylum seekers are perhaps far from view–is something mckinney did not witness. in electronic intifada, jonathan cook reported on the most recent reports of the routine torture of palestinians, including youth, inside zionist terrorist colonist jails:

Despite the 1999 court ruling, a coalition of 14 Israeli human rights groups known as United Against Torture concluded in its latest annual report in November that Israeli detention facilities are still using torture systematically. Israeli doctors are also being relied on to treat the resulting injuries.

Last week, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) and the Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI) published a joint report examining hundreds of arrests in which Palestinians were bound in “distorted and unnatural” ways to inflict “pain and humiliation” amounting to torture.

The report noted instances where prisoners, including a pregnant woman and a dying man, were shackled while doctors carried out emergency procedures in a hospital.

According to the report, the doctors violated the Tokyo Declaration, the key code of medical ethics adopted by the WMA in 1975 that bans the use of cruel, humiliating or inhuman treatment by physicians.

Ishai Menuchin, the head of PCATI, said his group had been lobbying strenuously against Israeli doctors’ complicity in torture since it issued a report, “Ticking Bombs,” in 2007, arguing that torture was routine in Israel.

PCATI highlighted the testimonies of nine Palestinians who had been tortured by interrogators. The report also noted that in most cases Israeli physicians treating detainees “return their patients to additional rounds of torture, and remain silent.”

In June last year, PHR-I drew the IMA’s attention to two cases in which the attending doctor failed to report signs of torture on a Palestinian.

Anat Litvin of PHR-I told the IMA: “We believe that doctors are used by torturers as a safety net — take them out of the system and torture will be much more difficult to enact.”

The groups stepped up their pressure in February, writing to Avinoam Reches, the chairman of the IMA’s ethics committee. They demanded that his association investigate six cases of doctors who failed to report signs of torture.

In one case, a prison doctor, under pressure from interrogators, agreed to retract a written recommendation that a detainee be immediately hospitalized for treatment.

Reches promised to conduct an inquiry. However, last month the two human rights groups criticized him for failing to investigate their claims, accusing him of holding only “amicable and unofficial” conversations over the phone with a few of the doctors concerned.

“We have sent to the IMA many testimonies from victims of torture who were referred to doctors for treatment,” Dr. Menuchin said. “But the IMA has yet to do anything about it.

“A significant number of doctors in Israel, in detention facilities and public hospitals, know torture is taking place, but choose to avert their gaze.”

This month, Defence for Children International-Palestine Section issued a report on the torture of Palestinian children, noting that in several of the cases it cited, Israeli doctors had turned a blind eye. A boy of 14 who was beaten repeatedly on a broken arm reported the abuse to a doctor who, he said, replied only: “I had nothing to do with that.”

The report stated that the group “has not encountered a single case where an adult in a position of authority, such as a soldier, doctor, judicial officer or prison staff, has intervened on behalf of a child who was mistreated.”

Campaigners against Dr. Blachar’s appointment as the head of the WMA say its Israeli sister association’s inaction on torture is unsurprising given its chairman’s public stance.

Derek Summerfield of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said: “The IMA under Dr. Blachar is in collusion with the Israeli state policy of torture. Its role is to put a benign face on the occupation.”

Dr. Blachar told the Israeli website Ynet last week that such criticisms were “slanderous,” saying he and the IMA denounced all forms of torture.

The WMA, with nine million members in more than 80 countries, was established in 1947 as a response to the abuses sanctioned by German and Japanese doctors during the Second World War.

In 2007, the WMA’s general assembly called on doctors to document and report all cases of suspected torture.

the defence of children international advocates on behalf of the children who are arrested and tortured every month by zionist terrorist forces. here is a recent video they produced to illustrate their predicament:

dci’s most recent urgent action is for wa’ad arafat mustafa al-hidmy and below is information about how you can take more action on his behalf. he is but one child prisoner, but his situation is indicative of the hundreds of palestinian children languishing in zionist terrorist colonist prisons:

Name Wa’ad Arafat Mustafa al-Hidmy
Age at arrest 16
Occupation Student
Place of residence Surif, Hebron, Hebron, OPT
Date of arrest 28 April 2008
Charge No charge
Place of detention Ofer Prison

UPDATE: July 2009

21 September 2009 Possible release date
21 June 2009 Fifth administrative detention order (3 months)
26 March 2009 Fourth administrative detention order (3 months)
26 November 2008 Third administrative detention order (4 months)
27 August 2008 Second administrative detention order (3 months)
6 May 2008 First administrative detention order (4 months)
28 April 2008 Date of arrest

Background information

Wa’ad was arrested from the family home in the village of Surif, near Hebron in the West Bank, at 3:00am on 28 April 2008. He was asleep at the time and woke to the sound of Israeli soldiers banging on the front door.

The soldiers entered the house and after identifying Wa’ad, tied his hands behind his back with plastic cords and took him out of the house to a waiting jeep where he was blindfolded. Wa’ad was placed on the floor of the jeep and told to ‘shut-up’. During the drive to the settlement of Karmi Zur, soldiers in the back of the jeep placed their legs on Wa’ad’s body. On arrival at the settlement Wa’ad was asked some questions about his health before being transferred to Etzion Interrogation and Detention Centre, near Bethlehem. In an affidavit given to lawyers for DCI-Palestine in June 2009, Wa’ad recalls that: ‘I did not know why they were arresting me. I started to wonder whether I had done something wrong without knowing.’

Two days later, Wa’ad was transferred to Ofer Prison, near Ramallah, where he was interrogated by a policeman in blue uniform. During the interrogation the policeman told Wa’ad that he had been informed by a third person that Wa’ad had participated in a demonstration organised by Islamic Jihad, an organisation banned by the Israeli authorities. Wa’ad could not recall there being any demonstrations organised by Islamic Jihad where he lived during the previous year and that in any event, he had not participated in any of their demonstrations. Wa’ad recalls that the interrogation only lasted around five minutes.

Several days later a prison officer handed Wa’ad a document written in Hebrew and informed him that it was an administrative detention order for six months. Wa’ad recalls feeling depressed because ‘I was expecting to be released because I had not confessed to anything and I had not done anything.’ Two days later Wa’ad’s order was reviewed by the Administrative Detention Court and reduced to four months.

Months passed, and in August, three days before the expiry of the first order, a prison officer again handed Wa’ad a document written in Hebrew and informed him that he had been given a second administrative detention order for four months – ‘I became anxious, but felt helpless. I was expecting to be released after the expiry of the first order but this new order surprised me.’ Several days later the Court reviewed the second order and reduced it to three months.

Wa’ad recalls becoming nervous in the week before the expiry of the second order – ‘I was afraid that the order would be renewed again.’ Two days before the expiry date, Wa’ad was issued with a third administrative detention order for four months, which was confirmed by the Court.

‘I feel a great injustice because of this detention that, according to what I understood from the lawyer and judge, is based on confidential material. I do not know the real reason behind my detention because I cannot remember doing anything that would put the security of the state at risk.’

In March 2009, a few days before the expiry of his third order, Wa’ad was issued with a fourth administrative detention order, for four months, which was later reduced to three months by the Court – ‘I did not know what to do in such a situation. I became unstable and unsure when I would be released. Such a situation is driving me crazy.’

On 14 June 2009, nearly 14 months after his arrest, Wa’ad was visited for the first time by his parents. Up until this time, they had been denied a permit on unspecified security grounds, and only his younger siblings had been allowed to visit him. During the 40 minute visit, Wa’ad recalls telling his parents that he was ‘certain’ to be released on 25 June. However, on 21 June 2009, Wa’ad was issued with a fifth administrative detention order for three months – ‘now I am extremely depressed and do not know what to do.’

Wa’ad was imprisoned once before in September 2005 for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails and has a 20 year-old brother who is also being held in administrative detention in the Negev, inside Israel.

Wa’ad will lodge an appeal against the issue of his fifth administrative detention order.

Administrative detention

Administrative detention is detention without charge or trial and is often based on “secret evidence.” Israeli Military Order 1591 empowers military commanders to detain Palestinians, including children as young as 12, for up to six months if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention.” The initial six month period can be extended by additional six-month periods indefinitely. This procedure denies the detainee the right to a fair trial and the ability to adequately challenge the basis of his or her detention.

There are currently at least 449 Palestinians being held by Israel without charge or trial in administrative detention, of which six were under 18 when they received their order. For more information visit the DCI-Palestine website at Freedom Now.

Recommended action

The detention of a child in these circumstances does not conform to Israel’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child or the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Please send Urgent Appeals to the Israeli authorities urging them to:

* Immediately cease the practice of holding persons under the age of 18 in administrative detention; and
* Immediately and unconditionally release Wa’ad from administrative detention, or charge him with a recognisable criminal offence and promptly try him in a proper court of law with internationally accepted standards for a fair trial. Any further action should take into consideration the fact that Wa’ad has now been detained without charge since April 2008.

Appeals to:

Prime Minister,
Office of the Prime Minister,
3 Kaplan Street, PO Box 187, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem, 91919, Israel,
Fax: +972- 2-651 2631,
Email: rohm[at]pmo.gov.il, pm_eng[at]pmo.gov.il
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister

Ehud Barak
Minister of Defence, Ministry of Defence,
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 691 6940
Email: minister[at]mod.gov.il
Salutation: Dear Minister

Minister of Justice, Fax: + 972 2 628 7757; + 972 2 628 8618

Attorney General, Fax: + 972 2 627 4481; + 972 2 628 5438; +972 2 530 3367

there are prisons within prisons within prisons in palestine because of the zionist terrorist colonists occupying palestinian land. and for those occupying palestine even a five-month-old baby is a threat who cannot be released from the prison that is gaza as was the case last week:

Israeli forces at the Erez crossing stopped a 5-month old baby from crossing into Israel. His mother and five-year old sister both had a permission to leave the Strip, so the 5-year old girl could receive medical treatment in Israel.

As Israeli troops refused the infant to enter Israel, the mother and both her children were forced to turn back home without receiving medical treatment and might be unable to receive another permission to enter Israel.The five-year old girl needed medical help in Israel, as doctors in Gaza were unable to diagnose why the girl has been suffering from chronic fevers.The mother decided to take her baby with her, because she didn’t know how long the treatment would take, assuming that a five-month old infant didn’t constitute any threat for the state of Israel.The permits the mother and her daughter received were only valid on Tuesday and they had a hospital appointment for Tuesday afternoon in the Al-Maqased hospital in Jerusalem.

palestinians in gaza are particularly trapped as are people like natalie abou shakra who has been trying to return home to lebanon, but has been having to confront the egyptian regime who is keeping her trapped inside the prison that is gaza. and for those palestinians from gaza who manage to leave and try to return, mohammed omer’s story is an example of what they will face upon trying to return home:

June 26, 2008 is a day I will never forget. For the events of that day irrevocably changed my life. That day I was detained, interrogated, strip searched, and tortured while attempting to return home from a European speaking tour, which culminated in independent American journalist Dahr Jamil and I sharing the Martha Gellhorn Journalism Prize in London — an award given to journalists who expose propaganda which often masks egregious human rights abuses.

I want to address the denials from Israel and the inaccurate reporting by a few journalists in addition to requesting state of Israel to acknowledge what it did to me, prosecute the members of the Shin Bet responsible for it and put in place procedures that protect other journalists from such treatment.

Since 2003, I’ve been the voice to the voiceless in the besieged Gaza Strip for a number of publications and news programs ranging from The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs to the BBC and, Morgenbladet in Norway as well as Democracy Now! These stories exposed a carefully-crafted fiction continuing control and exploitation of five-million people. Their impact, coupled with the reporting of others served to change public opinion in the United States and Europe concerning the dynamics of Israel and its occupation of Palestine.

After receiving the Martha Gellhorn prize I returned home through the Allenby Bridge Crossing in the Occupied West Bank between Jordan and Israel. It was here I was detained, interrogated, and tortured for several hours by Shin Bet and border officers. When it appeared I may be close to death an ambulance was called to transport me to a hospital. From that day my life has been a year of continued medical treatments, pain — and a search for justice.

Lisa Dvir from the Israeli Airport Authority (IAA), the agency responsible for controlling Israel’s borders in an June 29th article by Mel Frykberg for the Inter Press Service stated, “the IAA was neither aware of Omer’s journalist credentials nor of his coordination.”

The statement is wholly inaccurate and impossible on two counts. First, because I’m Palestinian, I am unable to enter Israel or leave Gaza, even through the Rafah border with Egypt, without Israeli permission, something quite difficult to get. Each time I’ve left Gaza for speaking tours required substantial lobbying and political maneuvering by several governments. In 2006, it was the American governments who ultimately won my visa. In 2007 the Dutch Parliament invited me back to speak to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and in 2008 when it was announced I won the Martha Gellhorn Prize, several European countries requested Israel grant me a visa but it was MP Hans Van Baalen of the Netherlands who, with great efforts, secured and guaranteed my passage out of Gaza and Israel, as well as the return for both the 2007 and 2008 trips on the condition I travel and be escorted by members of the Dutch Embassy in Tel Aviv while within Israel or the occupied West Bank. Therefore I was under diplomatic escort with the full knowledge of the Israeli government when I arrived at Allenby on June 26th. In fact Israeli security had blocked my re-entry for four days, causing me to miss a family wedding and wait in Jordan.

Secondly Dvir’s claim that the IAA didn’t know I was a journalist is proved false by the actions of the Shin Bet and border police. During the interrogation an Israeli security personnel searching my belongings repeatedly asked ‘Where’s the money from the prize, Mohammed?’ The prize is only given to journalists. Not only were they fully aware I am a journalist. They knew exactly how much I received, for what and where.

Dvir further perjured herself when she claimed, “We would like to know who Omer spoke to in regard to receiving coordination to pass through Allenby. We offer journalists a special service when passing through our border crossings, and had we known about his arrival this would not have happened.” Her denial shocked a Dutch diplomat in Tel Aviv who had confirmed with the state permission for me to cross on June 26. Again, I was traveling under diplomatic escort and when I asked to phone the escort — waiting on the other side of the terminal — Shin Bet’s response was they knew and didn’t care.

While not admitting that the interrogation and torture took place, Divr then dismissed any actions by the Shin Bet as out of her department’s control: “I’m not aware of the events that followed his detention, and we are not responsible for the behavior of the Shin Bet.” But the Israeli Airport Authority, Divr’s department, like most port authorities, is responsible for border security and those who enforce that security in Israel are members of the army and the Shin Bet.

Unfortunately Dvir’s diversions were just the beginning. In the days following my detention and torture, the Israeli Government Press Office acknowledged that despite traveling under diplomatic escort I was searched “due to suspicion that he had been in contact with hostile elements and had been asked by them to deliver items to Judea and Samaria (Occupied West Bank).” This has been mentioned and quoted in different papers. Like everyone else entering, my bags were x-rayed and cleared multiple times excluding the possibility I was carrying some type of contraband. And I was traveling in the Dutch Embassy’s car directly to Erez crossing with Gaza , as communicated to the Israeli authorities. There was zero possibility of me delivering ‘items’ to anyone.

Confronted with the medical reports and injuries including bruised ribs Israeli officials told the BBC on July 1, 2008 that, “He lost balance and fell, for reasons unknown to us,” other officers suggest, “Mr. Omer had a nervous breakdown due to the high temperature.”

Despite the attempts at denials, the emergency medical technician who sat in the back of the ambulance with me reported, “We noted fingerprints on his neck and chest,” the type bruising caused by excessive force often used in forensics to identify an attacker.

When Associated Press reporter Karin Laub called me on my cell phone for an interview after my ordeal, I detailed how I was stripped and held at gunpoint. Her reply? “Go on,” she stated. “This is normal about what we hear happening at Ben Gurion Airport. It’s nothing new.”

Torture, strip searches and holding award winning journalists or any other human beings at gun point is normal at Israel ’s largest airport? Ms. Laub’s apathy continued. In her article for the Associated Press on June 29th she wrote that she interviewed “Dr. Husseini who claims there were no signs of physical trauma.”

There’s only one problem with this. This Dr. Husseini never treated me. The Minister of Health in Ramallah confirmed that Husseini never made any such statement to the AP reporter. For reasons known only to her, Ms. Laub appears to have fabricated this comment and purposely ignored the medical reports and the statements by the attending paramedics — counter to journalistic ethics and standards upheld by the Associated Press. Despite this, no independent investigation took place.

Meanwhile the Jerusalem correspondent for the Los Angles Times, Ashraf Khalil, conducted an investigation into my case and noted in his article on November 3, 2008, that my medical records describe: “Tenderness on the anterior part of the neck and upper back mainly along the right ribs moderate to severe pain,” and “by examination the scrotum due to pain varicocele (varicose veins in the spermatic cord) at left side detected and surgery was decided later.” Fevers and falls do not cause such distinctive marks. Kicks, punches and beatings do. Continuing Khalil explains that, “Paramedic Mahmoud Tararya arrived in a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance and said he found Omer semiconscious with bruises on his neck and chest. Tararya said Israeli security officers were asking Omer to sign “some sort of form written in Hebrew. The paramedic said he intervened, separated Omer from the soldiers and loaded him into the ambulance, where he remained semiconscious for most of the trip to a hospital.”

Khalil notes in his article that Richard Falk, the U.N. human rights official wrote to Verhagen, the Minster of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and stated: “I have checked out Mr. Omer’s credibility and narrative of events, and I find them fully credible and accurate.”

Recovering mentally and physically from torture and interrogation is far from easy. This should not happen to anyone. My objective is for my case to focus attention on universal human rights, the right of freedom of expression and freedom of movement. There are places in this world where these freedoms do not exist. Israel insists it is not one of those places, but both the government and the complicity of individual journalists in covering up what they did to me prove otherwise. Ironically, the day the Shin Bet chose to detain, interrogate and torture me — June 26 — is the date set aside by human rights groups as the International Day Against Torture.

the situation with gaza, while different from the west bank, 1948 palestine, and palestinian refugees outside of the region can be solved–indeed all of the above problems can be solved with the same solution: the right of return for palestinian refugees. when palestinian refugees are granted the right of return there will be no more problems with the zionst terrorist colonists putting palestinians in prison. there will be no more problems with them controlling the borders and torturing palestinians. this is what palestinians want and this boycott, divestment, and sanctions (bds) is one of the main methods they are using to seek this desired and long overlooked right. in the last month or two i’ve been trying to seek new signatures for the u.s. campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of israel. i had an email conversation with norman finkelstein, whose academic work i admire so much and whose work has been fundamental my own research project. he told me that he speaks about bds when he gives talks, but that he thinks ending the siege of gaza is more urgent. while i agree that the situation in gaza is urgent, i also think that the underlying core issue is the right of return given that the majority of the population in gaza are refugees for starters. ending the siege of gaza is necessary, but it is only a small part of the solving the problem. the larger issue is liberating palestinian land and fighting for the right of all palestinians to return to their homes and land. period. he asked me if i would help organize a protest in the west bank in coordination with his new year’s convergence on gaza and i told him that i would share the information, but that the people i know would rather energy be spent on bds and and right of return. and then i saw the new facebook group for the march and changed my mind. below is the image associated with the group:

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i do not know if norman helped to create this image or agreed to it. but this image is highly offensive to me. to me this image says that this march is about norman and not about the people of gaza who are featured only as silhouettes in the background below the white man who is the only subject featured prominently in this image. it reminded me of his talk in shatila refugee camp in lebanon a couple of years ago when he said, one the one hand, that it is up to palestinians to decide their own fate, but on the other hand that they should agree to a two-state solution and give up the right of return to their original homes and land. the people in the camp were incredibly irate as you might imagine. it seems that when norman was in gaza a couple of months ago at least some people had a similar reaction to his discourse as an activist, though not as a scholar. natalie abou shakra has two posts about this in relation to the march as well. the first one is entitled “the white man teaches the native”:

SO, did I not tell you about Mr. Finkelstein’s discovery of civil resistance and suddenly teaching the Palestinians… “how to fight”?
Off the record, Mr. Finkelstein: the first twenty years of the Palestinian struggle was a civil, non-violent resistance. After 1967, Palestinian civil resistance went hand in hand with armed struggle…
What a disappointment:

and here is her second post entitled “tarzan in africa”:

So, Norman Finkelstein visited the Gaza Strip around a month ago with the Code Pink delegation that came in via the Rafeh Crossing.

Norman Finkelstein in “my” opinion is an excellent researcher, his books on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are widely read…
But, when Norman Finkelstein visited Gaza, “I” [and many other Palestinian intellectuals and political analysts] were… dissapointed.

Norman Finkelstein spoke to Hamas officials in Gaza, and told them “what they have to do,” to… “turn down the rhetoric,” and accept the two-prison- oops- I mean the “two-state” solution.

Norman Finkelstein decided to call for a breaking of the siege by US citizens coming into Gaza marching to the Beit Hanoun Crossing [known as Erez Crossing on the Israeli side]. So, Norman Finkelstein comes to Gaza for… four days and he: takes on the leadership of the Palestinian civil resistance.

Now… don’t get me wrong. “We” welcome any initiative to break this medieval, hermetic siege on Gaza. I mean, if Norman Finkelstein is capable of organizing a march that can manage the oppressive, totalitarian, dictatorial Egyptian regime, open the Rafeh Crossing, break the Apartheid wall, then go to “Erez” to break the siege- we support him!

However, the siege is part of a political umbrella.

The BDS movement shows nowhere on the radar of Norman Finkelstein.

Norman Finkelstein did not show any support for the inalienable right of return for the six million refugees, the core of the… “conflict.”

Norman Finkelstein did not admit to the fact that the two-prison solution is a… racist solution, a 19th century idea which does NOT support the INALIENABLE right of return.

Norman Finkelstein: Israel is an occupation; it is the longest occupation the 20th century has witnessed, of the WB and GS, it is a colonization, and is an Apartheid; against the 1948 indigenous population, not to mention its Bantustanization of the GS and WB.
In the last genocidal war against the Palestinians, more than 93% of the Israeli citizens supported war crimes in Gaza. “Israel now looks very much like Germany in the 1930s” says Gideon Levy from Ha’aretz.

“I” mean: who supported a two state solution in Apartheid South Africa? A state for the Black and a state for the… White?
Norman Finkelstein must choose a side: with oppression or against oppression.

Uri Avnery, Peace Now, patronizingly will reply back saying he accepts the return of only… 20,000 refugees. He is anti-BDS and anti-ROR [right of return]. He is… a “leftist” Zionist… from when does the “left” accept a … religious state? [or state to begin with]. He is like the “master” who decides. “I” mean… am “I” stupid? How can a democratic state exist when it has a… religious identity?! I must be really stupid here Uri, I mean… for me not to understand your “democracy.”

Israel must transfer to a secular, democratic state a la South Africa.

Meaning: a state for ALL of its citizens disregarding gender, race or religion.

I mean… I am really dissapointed with Norman Finkelstein’s visit to Gaza.

As soon as PACBI was founded in 2004, the Knesset formed a committee which included Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu, with Uri Avnery behind the curtains, to counteract it.

The worst thing to hear right now is…”let the Palestinians decide what their fate will be.” Really? Was that the case with South Afica? The BDS and One Democratic state are UNIVERSALISTIC in their slogans: social justice, secularism, democracy…

In South Africa, no one said okay for Bantustans!

When Norman Finkelstein came forward after an ISM Gaza talk in the Commodore Hotel in the port area in Gaza, he said “gather up students from the US group, and let them get on the borders with cameras- let’s see if their [Israeli soldiers] are going to shoot when America is watching!”

Norman… you completely neglect the Palestinian civil resistance that existed since… 1936. Yes, I assure you. We, Arabs did have that going on. But, will the White man ever challenge his standards of “us”?

If Norman Finkelstein flirts with Zionism… then?

here is one of the many examples of why the situation in gaza needs to be dealt with in a way that recognizes the issue of the right of return that would help all palestinians in the long-term. abd al-rahman talakeh was arrested for “infiltrating” his own land, though he was born as a refugee in gaza. this news item illustrates the way in which prisoners, gaza, and the right of return is all connected and why the right of return is the only solution to all of the above problems:

A Palestinian from Gaza was indicted in an Israeli court on “terrorism” and “infiltration” charges Sunday, according to the country’s Prime Minister’s Office.

In a statement to Ma’an, Israel claimed that the Palestinian refugee, Abd Al-Rahman Talalkeh, was arrested in the Negev desert on 1 June after having left Gaza and entered Israel via the Sinai Peninsula.

He was indicted at a Beersheba court in the Negev, which was both the target of the alleged “infiltration” as well as the prior residence of 16,000 refugees who pre-Israel Zionist militants expelled to the An-Nuseirat camp in Gaza, where Talkalkeh was born in 1984.

Israel alleged that the young Palestinian said he received military training by the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, intended to establish “a terrorism infrastructure inside Israel,” and was well-versed on the use of a variety of weapons.

The Popular Resistance Committees did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

but the issue with norman finkelstein reminds me of why it is important to listen to those you work with so that you are not imposing your will on them, so that you are working in solidarity to help people realize their goals and rights and dreams. naomi klein, who has been speaking out on bds recently, including when she was just here also shows the limits of even those supporting boycott. although i also love her writing, i was quite disturbed when i saw her talking in bil’in and when she somehow managed to rationalize the fact that she was wearing shoes made in the zionist terrorist colonist regime. i mean, does one really need shoes that are identical to birkenstocks? is that really so hard to boycott? here she is rationalizing away:

unlike klein i think that boycott must be across the board. no exceptions. right of return. no exceptions. i wish that these white folks who are famous, who have a wider audience would get behind these two fundamentally important aspects of palestinian resistance. they have the power to influence so many people and i think that listening to refugees and to the larger civil society in palestine is the only way to act as foreigners, as white people who want to see rights realized in palestine. is that really too much to ask?

apartheid and its boycotts

some great news this week and some great writing, too, in honor of land day. nora barrows-friedman has a kick-ass report on land day in palestine including an interview with the mayor of deir hana in 1948 palestine that is really great. i did an interview this week, too, with naji ali on crossing the line, which was supposed to be about the boycott campaign, but it turned out to be more about the islamic university of gaza and rebuilding it. you can listen to me as well as akram habeeb talking about this online or you may download it on naji’s website. and if you haven’t donated yet to help rebuild the islamic university please go to the middle east children’s alliance and specify that you would like money to go towards the islamic university of gaza.

of course the savagery unleashed on gaza is what prompted the global momentum of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (bds) movement. nora also broadcast a brilliant broadcast of a lecture given by ali abunimah for the middle east children’s alliance last week, which i highly recommend listening to. there, too, abunimah contextualizes this movement in relation to gaza. what happened in gaza is one of many reasons to boycott the terrorist state of israel. we need boycott and war crimes trials and so much more. because when they say they will investigate they never do or the criminals get off and wind up running the country (just look at the long line of presidents and prime ministers and in every one you will find a war criminal multiple times over). imran garda’s “focus on gaza” last week highlighted the main war crimes charge related to white phosphorus (though listen to what ali abunimah has to say about that in the above-linked speech), which now, the zionist entity is whitewashing. here is the episode on al jazeera, which contains important interviews and information:

gaza, like the villages of deir hana and others in the jaleel that resisted on that first land day 33 years ago, it is illustrative of the wider problems here. continual land theft and murder. hazem jamjoum has a brilliant piece in common dreams this week giving us a sense of this wider picture of apartheid more generally in palestine which is essential reading for people wanting to understand what it is like here and why palestine must be liberated:

In recent years, increasing numbers of people around the world have begun adopting and developing an analysis of Israel as an apartheid regime. (1) This can be seen in the ways that the global movement in support of the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle is taking on a pointedly anti-apartheid character, as evidenced by the growth of Israeli Apartheid Week.(2) Further, much of the recent international diplomatic support for Israel has increasingly taken on the form of denying that racial discrimination is a root cause of the oppression of Palestinians, something that has taken on new levels of absurdity in Western responses to the April 2009 Durban Review Conference.(3)

Many of the writings stemming from this analysis work to detail levels of similarity and difference with Apartheid South Africa, rather than looking at apartheid as a system that can be practiced by any state. To some extent, this strong emphasis on historical comparisons is understandable given that Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is the central campaign called for by Palestinian civil society for solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle, and is modeled on the one that helped end South African Apartheid. However, an over-emphasis on similarities and differences confines the use of the term to narrow limits. With the expanding agreement that the term ‘apartheid’ is useful in describing the level and layout of Israel’s crimes, it is important that our understanding of the ‘apartheid label’ be deepened, both as a means of informing activism in support of the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle, and in order to most effectively make use of comparisons with other struggles.

The Apartheid Analogy

It is perhaps understandable that some advocates of Palestinian rights look at the ‘Apartheid label’, in its comparative sense, as a politically useful tool. The struggle of the South African people for justice and equality reached a certain sacred status in the 1980s and 1990s when the anti-Apartheid struggle reached its zenith. The reverence with which activists and non-activists alike look to the righteousness of the South African struggle, and the ignominy of the colonial Apartheid regime are well placed; Black South Africans fought against both Dutch and British colonization for centuries, endured countless hardships including imprisonment and death, and were labeled terrorists as the powers of the world stood by the racist Apartheid regime. They remained steadfast in their struggle, raising the cost of maintaining the Apartheid system until South African capital found it no longer profitable and white political elites found it impossible to maintain. Comparison bonus points can also be scored by pointing to the deep historic PLO-ANC connection, as well as the unabashed alliance between Israel and the South African Apartheid regime, which remained strong even at the height of the international boycott against South Africa.

A further impetus for confining the ‘apartheid label’ to a comparison with South Africa is that the commonalities and similarities between the liberation struggles of South Africa and Palestine are quite stark. Both cases involved a process of settler-colonialism involving the forced displacement of the indigenous population from most of their ancestral lands and concentrating them in townships and reservations; dividing up the Black population into different groups with differing rights; strict mobility restrictions that suffocated the colonized; and the use of brutal military force to repress any actual or potential resistance against the racist colonial regime. Both regimes enjoyed the impunity that results from full US and European support. Accompanying these and countless other similarities are a host of uncanny details common to both cases: both regimes were formally established in the same year – 1948 – following decades of British rule; control of approximately 87% of the land was off limits to most of the colonized population without special permission, and so on. While we speak here in the past tense, all of this still applies to present-day Palestine.

As the Israeli apartheid label has gained ground, some have adopted the approach of describing the differences between the two regimes, albeit for various purposes. In general, Israel has not legislated petty apartheid – the segregation of spaces such as bathrooms and beaches – as was the case in South Africa, although Israeli laws form the basis of systematic racial discrimination against Palestinians. The 1.2 million Palestinian citizens of Israel (approximately 20% of Israel’s citizens) do indeed have the right to vote and run in Israeli elections while the Black community in South Africa, for the most part, did not. The South African version of apartheid’s central tenet was to facilitate the exploitation of as many Black laborers as possible, whereas the Israeli version, although exploiting Palestinian workers, prioritizes the forced displacement of as many Palestinians as possible beyond the borders of the state with the aim of eradicating Palestinian presence within historic Palestine. South African visitors to Palestine have often commented on the fact that Israeli use of force is more brutal than that witnessed in the heyday of Apartheid, and several commentators have thus taken the position that Israel’s practices are worse than Apartheid; that the apartheid label does not go far enough.

Israel and the Crime of Apartheid

In terms of law, describing Israel as an apartheid state does not revolve around levels of difference and similarity with the policies and practices of the South African Apartheid regime, and where Israel is an apartheid state only insofar as similarities outweigh differences. In 1973, the UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (General Assembly resolution 3068 [XXVIII](4) – entered into force 18 July 1976 – the year of the Soweto uprising in South Africa and the Land Day uprising in Palestine) with a universal definition of the crime of apartheid not limited to the borders of South Africa. The fact that apartheid is defined as a crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (5), which entered into force in 2002 – long after the Apartheid regime was defeated in South Africa – attests to the universality of the crime.

While the wording of the definition of the crime of apartheid varies between legal instruments, the substance is the same: a regime commits apartheid when it institutionalizes discrimination to create and maintain the domination of one ‘racial’ group over another. Karine Mac Allister, among others, has provided a cogent legal analysis of the applicability of the crime of apartheid to the Israeli regime.(6) The main point is that like genocide and slavery, apartheid is a crime that any state can commit, and institutions, organizations and/or individuals acting on behalf of the state that commit it or support its commission are to face trial in any state that is a signatory to the Convention, or in the International Criminal Court. It is therefore a fallacy to ground the Israeli apartheid label on comparisons of the policies of the South African Apartheid regime, with the resulting descriptions of Israel as being ‘Apartheid-like’ and characterizations of an apartheid analysis of Israel as an ‘Apartheid analogy.’

Recognition by the international community of such universal crimes is often the result of a particular case, so heinous that it forces the rusty wheels of international decision-making into motion. The Transatlantic Slave Trade is an example where the mass enslavement of people from the African continent to work as the privately owned property of European settlers formed an important part of the framework in which the drafters of the 1956 UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery thought and acted. An even clearer example is the Genocide Convention (adopted 1948, entered into force 1951) in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust in which millions of Jews, communists, Roma and disabled were systematically murdered with the intention to end their existence. We do not describe modern day enslavement as ‘slavery-like,’ nor do we examine the mass killing of hundreds of thousands of mainly Tutsi Rwandans through a Rwandan ‘Genocide analogy.’

Two points made by Mac Allister in her legal analysis of Israeli apartheid deserve to be reiterated because they are often confused or misconstrued even by advocates of Palestinian human rights. First, Israel’s crimes and violations are not limited to the crime of apartheid. Rather, Israel’s regime over the Palestinian people combines apartheid, military occupation and colonization in a unique manner. It deserves notice that the relationship between these three components requires further research and investigation. Also noteworthy is the Palestinian BDS Campaign National Committee (BNC)’s “United Against Apartheid, Colonialism and Occupation: Dignity & Justice for the Palestinian People” (7) position paper, which outlines and, to some extent, details the various aspects of Israel’s commission of the crime of apartheid, and begins to trace the interaction between Israeli apartheid, colonialism and occupation from the perspective of Palestinian civil society.

The second point worth reiterating is that Israel’s regime of apartheid is not limited to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In fact, the core of Israel’s apartheid regime is guided by discriminatory legislation in the fields of nationality, citizenship and land ownership, and that was primarily employed to oppress and dispossess those Palestinians who were forcibly displaced in the 1948 Nakba (refugees and internally displaced), as well as the minority who managed to remain within the ‘green line’ and later became Israeli citizens.(8) Israel’s apartheid regime was extended into West Bank and Gaza Strip following the 1967 occupation for the purpose of colonization, and military control over the Palestinians who came under occupation. Using again the example of South Africa, the crime of apartheid was not limited to the Bantustans; the whole regime was implicated and not one or another of its racist manifestations.

The analysis of Israel as an apartheid state has proven to be very important in several respects. First, it correctly highlights racial discrimination as a root cause of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Second, one of the main effects of Israeli apartheid is that it has separated Palestinians – conceptually, legally and physically – into different groupings (refugees, West Bank, Gaza, within the ‘green line’ and a host of other divisions within each), resulting in the fragmentation of the Palestinian liberation movement, including the solidarity movement. The apartheid analysis enables us to provide a legal and conceptual framework under which we can understand, convey, and take action in support of the Palestinian people and their struggle as a unified whole. Third, and of particular significance to the solidarity movement, this legal and conceptual framework takes on the prescriptive role underpinning the growing global movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law.

Colonialism and the Role of Comparison

I have argued that the question of whether apartheid applies cannot be determined by means of comparison with South Africa, but rather by legal analysis. This, however, does not mean that comparative study is not useful. Comparison is in fact essential to the process of learning historical lessons for those involved in struggle. A central importance of comparison with South Africa stems from the fact that the South African struggle against apartheid was, as it continues to be for the indigenous people of Palestine and the Americas, a struggle against colonialism.

Focusing on the colonial dimension of Israeli apartheid and the Zionist project enables us to maintain our focus on the issues that really matter, such as land acquisition, demographic engineering, and methods of political and economic control exercised by one racial group over another. Comparison with other anti-colonial struggles provides the main resource for understanding this colonial dimension of Israeli oppression, and for deriving some of the lessons needed to fight it.

One of the many lessons from the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa stems from the fact that the ANC leadership was pressured to compromise on its economic demands such as land restitution. Only a tiny proportion of white controlled land in South Africa was redistributed to Blacks after 1994. As such, while the struggle of the South African people defeated the system of political apartheid, the struggle against economic apartheid continues in various forms including anti-poverty and landless peoples’ movements today. As Palestinians and those struggling with them work to reconstruct a political strategy and consensus on how to overcome the challenges of the post-Oslo period, the centrality of the demand for land restitution should be highlighted as part of the demand for refugee return.

A second lesson of major importance comes in response to the paradigm currently guiding most mainstream accounts of how to achieve the elusive ‘peace in the Middle East’, which is the idea of partition often referred to as the two state ‘solution’. In the 1970s, South Africa tried to deal with its “demographic problem” – the fact that the vast majority of its population was Black but did not have the right to vote. The Apartheid regime reconstructed South Africa as a formal democracy by reinventing the British-established reservations (the Bantustans) as independent states. (9) These ten ‘homelands’ were each assigned to an ethnicity decided by Pretoria, and indigenous South Africans who did not fit into one of the ethnicities were forced to make themselves fit in order to become nationals of one of the homelands. Through this measure, members of the indigenous population were reclassified as nationals of one or another homeland, and between 1976 and 1981 the regime tried to pass the homelands off as independent states: Transkei in 1976, Bophuthatswana in 1977, Venda in 1979, and Ciskei in 1981.

Each of these Bantustans was given a flag and a government made up of indigenous intermediaries on the Pretoria payroll, and all the trappings of a sovereign government including responsibility over municipal services and a police force to protect the Apartheid regime, but without actual sovereignty. The idea was that by getting international recognition for each of these homelands as states, the Apartheid regime would transform South Africa from a country with a 10% white minority, to one with a 100% white majority. Since it was a democratic regime within the confines of the dominant community, the state’s democratic nature would be beyond reproach. No one was fooled. The ANC launched a powerful campaign to counter any international recognition of the Bantustans as independent states, and the plot failed miserably at the international level – with the notable, but perhaps unsurprising, exception that a lone “embassy” for Bophuthatswana was opened in Tel Aviv.

Israel has employed similar strategies in Palestine. For example, Israel recognized 18 Palestinian Bedouin tribes and appointed a loyal Sheikh for each in the Naqab during the 1950s as a means of controlling these southern Palestinians, forcing those who did not belong to one of the tribes to affiliate to one in order to get Israeli citizenship. (10) In the late 1970s, the Israeli regime tried to invent Palestinian governing bodies for the 1967 occupied territory in the form of ‘village leagues’ intended to evolve into similar non-sovereign governments; glorified municipalities of a sort. As with Apartheid’s Homelands, the scheme failed miserably, both because the PLO had established itself as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and because Palestinians largely understood the plot and opposed it with all means at their disposal. The main lesson for Israel was that the PLO would have to either be completely destroyed or would have to be transformed into Israeli apartheid’s indigenous intermediary. Israel launched a massive campaign to destroy the PLO throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. In the early 1990s, and with the demise of the PLO’s main backers such as the Soviet bloc and Iraq, Israel capitalized on the opportunity, and worked to transform the PLO from a liberation movement to a ‘state-building’ project that was launched by the signing of the Oslo accords, seven months before South Africa’s first free election.

The push for the establishment and international recognition of an independent Palestinian state within the Palestinian Bantustan is no different from the South African Apartheid regime’s campaign to gain international recognition of Transkei or Ciskei. This is the core of the “two-state solution” idea. The major and crucial difference is that in the current Palestinian case, it is the world’s superpower and its adjutants in Europe and the Arab world pushing as well, and armed with the active acceptance of Palestine’s indigenous intermediaries.

Notes:

1 I use capital ‘A’ in Apartheid to denote the regime of institutionalized racial superiority implemented in South Africa 1948-1994, and lower-case ‘a’ to indicate the generally applicable crime of apartheid.

2 See www.apartheidweek.org

3 See Amira Howeidi, “Israel’s right not to be criticised”, Al-Ahram Weekly, 19-25 March 2009: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/939/re2.htm. Also see the Palestinian civil society response at http://israelreview.bdsmovement.net

4 For the full text of the Convention see: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/11.htm

5 For the full text of the Statute see: http://untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/99_corr/cstatute.htm

6 See Karine Mac Allister, “Applicability of the Crime of Apartheid to Israel”, al-Majdal #38, (Summer 2008): http://www.badil.org/al-majdal/2008/summer/articles02.htm

7 This is the Palestinian civil society position paper for the April 2009 Durban Review Conference in Geneva, and can be downloaded at: http://bdsmovement.net/files/English-BNC_Position_Paper-Durban_Review.pdf

8 For a discussion of how Israel’s apartheid legislation continues to affect refugees and Palestinian citizens of Israel with regards to control over land see Uri Davis, Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within, London: Zed Books, 2003.

9 British rule in South Africa established reserves in 1913 and 1936 on approximately 87% of the land of South Africa for the purpose of segregating the Black population from the settlers.

10 For more on this see: Hazem Jamjoum, “al-Naqab: The Ongoing Displacement of Palestine’s Southern Bedouin”, al-Majdal #39-40, (Autumn 2008 / Winter 2009): http://www.badil.org/al-majdal/2008/autumn-winter/articles03.htm

for these reasons and more boycott is gaining momentum all over the world. the boycott motorola campaign now has a local chapter in new york and they held their first demonstration on land day/global bds day as reported on electronic intifada:

Motorola Israel produces fuses used in cluster bombs, “bunker-buster” bombs, and a variety of other bombs. Cluster bombs are specifically condemned by an international consensus of human rights organizations, and banned by many countries. Even the US government has voiced concern over their use. Motorola Israel acquired a $100 million contract to provide a data encrypted cellular network, “Mountain Rose,” to allow the Israeli army, which consistently and severely violates Palestinian human rights, to communicate securely anywhere they operate. Motorola supplies the Israeli military with the Wide Area Surveillance System (WASS) and other high-tech configurations of radar devices and thermal cameras. These surveillance systems are being installed around Israeli settlement/colonies and the apartheid wall, both of which Israel has constructed in the Palestinian West Bank in violation of international law.

Lubna Ka’aabneh of NYCBI and Adalah-NY explained, “The highly effective campaign to boycott diamond mogul and Israeli settlement-builder Lev Leviev set a successful precedent for boycotting Israel in New York. Motorola products are used to help steal Palestinian land in the West Bank, and to kill and oppress Palestinians. Similar support by Motorola for South Africa’s apartheid regime prompted a successful boycott against Motorola. This Land Day, we ask New Yorkers to once again rise to challenge by joining the campaign to boycott Motorola. Let’s do it again!”

in belgium, too, there is new divestment energy directed at a bank as adri nieuwhof reports in electronic intifada:

In a remarkably short period of time, activists in Belgium have built a strong basis for the campaign “Israel colonizes — Dexia funds,” asking the bank to divest from its subsidiary Dexia Israel because of its financing of the expansion of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Israeli settlements violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva, prohibiting the Occupying Power to deport or transfer parts of its civilian population into the territory it occupies, as well as Article 53 prohibiting the destruction of property on occupied territory. The Dexia campaign is flourishing in Belgium and may potentially spread to other countries where Dexia subsidiaries are based.

The French-Belgian bank Dexia bought the Israeli Municipality Treasure Bank in 2001 and established Dexia Israel. Centrum voor Ontwikkeling, Documentatie en Informatie Palestijnen (CODIP), an organization focusing on Palestine, raised its concern about the transfer in a letter to Dexia’s board of directors in April 2001. The organization argues that Dexia’s investment in an Israeli bank involved in public loans might give the impression that the bank “supports Israel’s policy of occupation, colonization and discrimination.”

land day also launched the website to remove hamas from the european union’s “terror” list. here is their petition and you may click on the link to sign it yourself:

Appeal for the removal of Hamas from EU terror list !

On the occasion of the June 2009 European elections, we are launching an urgent appeal to all candidates for the 736 seats in the European parliament.

We ask that they actively pursue the immediate and unconditional removal of Hamas and all other Palestinian liberation organizations from the European list of proscribed terrorist organizations.

We further ask that they acknowledge the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and, by so doing, recognise, Hamas as a legitimate voice for the Palestinian people’s aspirations for national liberation.

while i love the bds momentum, i continue to be frustrated by the fact that people are selecting companies that are specifically profiting from the colonization in the west bank and not companies that profit off of colonialism in palestine more generally. this is why i love the new lebanon boycott campaign. and, finally, the article rania and i wrote about the academic boycott in lebanon for al akhbar was translated into english in dissident voice:

In remembering and commemorating Land Day, March 30, 1976, when six Palestinians were killed and almost 100 wounded by Israeli forces in Sakhnin during unarmed protests against the confiscation of Palestinian lands in Galilee; in remembering the December 2008 Israeli savagery against the Palestinians in Gaza; in recognizing the continuity of attacks against Palestinians; and in remembering the numerous and ongoing Israeli atrocities against Lebanese, let us stand in active support of a movement that has the strength and vital potential to significantly contribute to this struggle for liberty and self-determination in this fight against Zionism.

That movement is the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, and one of its main demands is the boycott of and divestment from Israeli corporations and international corporations that sustain Israeli apartheid and colonialism. We know from the South African example that a combined strategy of armed resistance with boycott, divestment, and sanctions led to the downfall of the apartheid regime, and thus can be successful. Focusing on economic resistance ties this movement to the roots of the Palestinian Resistance Movement which historically sought to liberate Palestine as well as the rest of the region from Western imperialism through its economic neocolonial policies.

We also know that we in Lebanon are not cleansed from Zionist products. From cosmetics to clothing, from bulldozers to coffee, we consume products that are produced by corporations that substantially support Israel — either by investing in Israel, or by supporting Israel financially or diplomatically. (While the removal of certain Zionist products, like Intel, is difficult, for the vast majority of products, such as Nestle and Estee Lauder, their removal from our market will actually invigorate our economy by increasing investment in local products and local businesses.)

In addition to the clear form of economic boycott (which, is too often incorrectly confused with censorship), there is the important avenue of academic and cultural boycott. An academic boycott involves refraining from participation in any form of academic or cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions, and thus ultimately works to promote pushing universities themselves to divest from any collaboration or cooperation with any Israeli institution. South African professors also called on their colleagues around the world to boycott them in order to delegitimize and isolate the apartheid regime. The boycott campaign in South Africa worked because of that isolation, which was coupled with an economic boycott, divestment, and eventually this led to the sanctions placed on the regime, which led to its demise.

The most powerful weapon of the academic boycott is the refusal to legitimize Zionism, the ideology upon which Israel was built, the ideology that allows for one group of people to steal, to kill, and to expel, an ideology that is fundamentally and wholly racist. It is Zionism that must be defeated.

The academic and cultural boycott of Israel is growing globally. It has been active in Canada and in the United Kingdom for a few years now. It has spread to Australia and the United States. The publicity surrounding this movement is as powerful a weapon as the movement itself as well as it further calls for a rethinking of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Indeed, the boycott movement is so strong now that Israeli colonists are paying $2 million to improve their global image.

Academics in Lebanon have added their voice to this growing movement. Faculty from the University of Balamand, the American University of Beirut, the Lebanese American University, Notre Dame University, Lebanese University, Beirut Arab University, USEK, Lebanese International University and Global University signed a statement calling for full academic boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions, and calling our colleagues, throughout the world, and most particularly those in the Arab world and those claiming to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians, to comprehensively and consistently boycott and divest from all Israeli academic and cultural institutions, and to refrain from normalization in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid. To add your signature, please refer to: www.boycottzionism.wordpress.com

Today, March 30, 2009, marks the Global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Day of Action. Let us stand together.

how about no voice!

here is a group i would love to silence. it is called “one voice.” i say: how about no voice! apparently it is old, but someone tweeted it today so i just learned about it. this group is quite skilled in masking who they really are about (this is the first clue that it is a hardcore zionist organization dedicated to preserving the racist, zionist, colonist, terrorist state). to start with the term “one voice” is a sort of euphemism, i think, for some sort of unified solution and masks their goal of continuing the zionist colonization of palestinian land. you can get some idea of who they are from their faq page:

How is OneVoice different from other ‘peace’ groups?

We are dedicated to conflict resolution. Israelis and Palestinians at a grassroots level want to find a resolution to this conflict and agree in broad terms on the parameters for that resolution. They do not necessarily like or love each other, but they recognize that to guarantee their own freedom, security, and viability, they have to assure the same for the other side. We are committed to mobilizing people behind this belief to effect real change. We are a grassroots, non-partisan, joint Israeli-Palestinian organization – not imposing ideas from above, but helping people on the ground to find and frame their own answers.

Why do you believe in a two-state solution?

OneVoice does not have its own views on how a peace agreement should look – we are simply codifying the views of the masses, and building off of the groundwork laid by past agreements and proposals, which are accepted by the majority of Israelis & Palestinians as the basis for negotiating a two-state solution. The vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians, according to all major polls, agree that a two-state solution is the only way to end this conflict.

Is it really a parallel movement? Are both sides really represented?

This is the most commonly asked question by people on both sides. Each side perceives that the other lacks a contingent of moderates willing to lead their people to compromise. Exactly the same amount of money goes into programming in Israel as it does in Palestine.

What many people are unable to see, which we uniquely can, is that whether on the left or on the right, Israeli or Palestinian, the overwhelming majority on each side would choose co-existence and mutual respect over co-extermination and mutual ruination. In spite of any apprehension or skepticism they share, they ultimately express a commitment and desire to participate with us.

Is this an attempt to impose a Western solution on a uniquely Middle Eastern problem?

The OneVoice solution is coming from the Middle East; it is not being imposed on anyone. Hundreds of Palestinians and Israelis were involved in its inception and now more than 600,000 are members. OneVoice is shaped according to what people who live in the region believe will work. In this regard, we provide a neutral gateway towards consensus that is not linked to any existing entrenched power. OneVoice is a non-biased, grassroots platform that derives its legitimacy from popular participation.

first of all, the notion that this is some sort of grassroots movement that palestinians support is 100% hooey. sure, maybe they have a few collaborators on board (read: those who support american-zionist colonialism here), but that does not mean that the majority of palestinians support this initiative. i can tell you point blank: they do not. there is no clear position on the most important issues, like the right of return, for instance, and they treat palestinians here as if these are only people who live in the west bank–not in 1948 palestine, not in refugee camps in lebanon, jordan, syria, not in the diaspora. of course they cannot because if they were to do so they would have to deal with the right of return. and they do not.

but what is most telling, i think, is the page that lists the board members. the “honorary board” lists palestinians who normalize and who are completely discredited and disrespected among palestinians like saeb erakat. he is as bad as his cohorts on this list like zionnazis martin indyk and dennis ross. it also lists jim zogby who, like ziad asali who sits on the trustees advisory council, do a great job promoting the zionist agenda in the u.s. the rest of the names, one can safely assume, are there to do the zionists’ bidding to ensure that palestinian refugees never have the right of return and that their bantustan situation will continue to increase. make no mistake about it: if indyk and ross are on board we can expect a disastrous outcome for palestinians. period.

then you look at their “parners” page you will notice that they have all sorts of organizations that masquerade as “neutral,” but are really fronts for zionist propaganda–organizations like middle east web as well as arab american organizations that are complicit with the zionist agenda in the u.s. like american task force on palestine. and, perhaps, the real clue is in the organizations that promote normalization (read: force palestinians to be as submissive as possible in their own oppression so zionists can steal more land and murder more palestinians); these groups include: the geneva initiative and ipcri.

how these groups got on the website is another question–whether they support its work or not, for instance. apparently, when the organization began they just put various groups on the website without asking for permission first. they did this with the middle east children’s alliance (meca), and as soon as people at meca found out and requested that they remove their name and logo. apparently, they did not understand that meant meca was not interested in their so-called “peace” initiative and someone at this “one voice” group asked them to send out some email to meca’s list. when they said no, meca got this email, which i quote with permission:

Dear XXXX,

Thank you for your elaborated answer. I find it hard to understand why would you choose not to support an organization that calls for a non violent solution based on 2 states and rapid negotiations, but I guess it is your choice.

PS. Children not living under occupation are also bedwetting and have nightmares, whether it is because of missiles flying over their heads and on their houses for the last 7 years or because of suicide bombers and terrorism. Life and the reality in the Middle east is not as one sided as you portray. The apartheid analogy is nothing more then a propaganda tool, that has nothing to do with reality, and is used to take advantage of peace-seeking people, with historical guilt, by demonizing Israel and the Israelis. What you see in the media is only the bloody stories that sell. They are not always true, and more importantly they are far from being all the story or even a big part of it.

Yours,
Sefi Kedmi

typical zionist answer: the think that the bias is against the them. yet another way of deflecting attention from the reality of their daily thieving and murderous colonial project. ben white had an excellent critique of this pseudo-“peace” initiative in the guardian two years ago, which is worth reading:

We’ve had Live 8 and Live Earth, and this week, albeit on a smaller scale, we almost had One Million Voices. Organised by the OneVoice group, the declared aim was to bring together Palestinians and Israelis in simultaneous events in Tel Aviv, Jericho, London, Washington and Ottawa to voice support for the “moderates” and call for a negotiated two-state solution.

The plans fell through, amid bitter claim and counter-claim, as artists lined up for the Jericho event cancelled, and the Tel Aviv concert followed suit. This followed grassroots pressure by Palestinians who objected to what they see as yet another attempt to promote a false peace that fails to address the structural injustices driving the conflict.

Indeed, despite the peace rhetoric – and the claim that they represent a unique popular call – OneVoice’s approach suffers from the same flaws that have bedevilled official “peace” efforts from Oslo to the Quartet. Such errors were amply demonstrated in Seth Freedman’s column, which implied that the main obstacle to peace is the “extremism” that exists on both sides.

This interpretation of the situation in Palestine/Israel is only possible through a heavy airbrushing of history and a fundamental misreading of the present. Strikingly, the Tel Aviv concert was scheduled to take place in Hayarkon Park – the same location where, almost 60 years ago, the Palestinian village of Jarisha was wiped off the map by Jewish armed forces.

Its residents shared the same fate as almost 800,000 other Palestinians, expelled from what became Israel and prevented to this day from returning home, their land confiscated. Yet official OneVoice material gives the impression that the conflict only began 40 years ago, when Israel occupied the rest of Palestine (the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem).

Condemning the “extremist minority” of both sides sounds laudable. Of course, “both sides” use violence, and of course, there is hatred and religious extremism among both Palestinians and Israelis. The crucial point, however, is that Israel has all the power. Israel is occupying and colonising Palestinian land, not the other way round. Palestinian cities are besieged by a modern, hi-tech Israeli army and subjected to closure, raids and bombardment – not the other way round.

Zionist colonisation is not the preserve of a fanatical fringe in Israel – it is fundamental to the state’s identity and practice. As Martin Luther King said: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Since Israel continues to show no intention of relinquishing its role as colonial overlord, it’s no good to condemn “both sides”, as if there is equality between occupier and occupied.

Unsurprisingly, those with intimate firsthand experience of this apartheid are under no illusions about the usefulness of toothless “peace processes”. Earlier this week, the UN human rights envoy for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, John Dugard, condemned the Quartet for failing to safeguard Palestinian rights. The BBC’s Tim Franks noted that many diplomats and officials based in the region “would agree with Mr Dugard’s political analysis” yet refrain from agreeing publicly.

The language of moderation is all the rage, from OneVoice to Condoleezza Rice, from the aborted peace concerts to the forthcoming November peace conference. It’s a seductive dichotomy; on the one side are those who light the flame of peace, who strive for a “mass awakening” to the “forces of light and friendship and love”. On the other side are the extremists who threaten, smear and mislead; they are wickedly intransigent – they stifle, snuff out hope and burn flags.

But what is a “moderate”? In recent times, “moderate” has been applied to some rather unlikely characters in the Middle East. For the US, UK and Israeli governments, these include states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. None of these permit much genuine freedom of expression; all of them oppress opposition movements. In fact, Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

It seems “moderation” has nothing to do with whether you refrain from the torture of political activists or the flogging of “deviants”, and everything to do with your obedience to US policies and Israeli interests. That is what unites the Saudi royals, the Egyptian president and the Jordanian king.

Meanwhile, groups like ISM, and Another Voice are condemned by Freedman and OneVoice as “extremists” out to “eradicate the other side”, and accused of making unnamed and unspecified threats. Yet these groups are committed to the defence of human rights and international law, and are made up of tireless Israelis, Palestinians and internationals. Their categorisation as “extremists” then, is actually a reflection of their refusal to accept sugar-coated apartheid or well-meaning platitudes that serve the status quo.

It may be an uncomfortable truth, but peace for both peoples comes no closer if the fundamental power disparity between Israel and the stateless, occupied and dispossessed Palestinians is obscured. Confronting the vested interests that perpetuate Palestine’s conquest may not win you awards from Jordanian monarchs or praise from the US state department; but it ultimately brings you a lot closer to peace.

as for kedmi thinking that apartheid does not apply, i think we would do well to look at omar barghouti’s recent article on the subject, which i quote from, in part, below:

Israel’s repressive and racist policies in the 1967-occupied Palestinian territory have been recognized as constituting apartheid by a host of opinion leaders such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former US president, Jimmy Carter, and former UN Special Rapporteur for human rights, Prof. John Dugard, among others. In the same vein, former Israeli Attorney General, Michael Ben-Yair, wrote in a 2002 article in Ha’aretz describing Israel’s regime in the OPT, “We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. … In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories….” [36]

However, the applicability of the crime of apartheid as defined in UN conventions to Israel itself has, for the most part, been either inadvertently glossed over or intentionally ignored as an explosive subject that has every potential to invite the vengeful wrath of powerful pro-Israel lobbies. Regardless, one cannot but examine the facts and analyze Israel’s system of governance accordingly.

The strongest argument given by — sometimes well-meaning — experts who dismiss the apartheid label for Israel is that the analogy between Israel and South Africa is not exact and, in many respects, Israel’s oppression is even more severe, demanding a different designation altogether. The problem with this argument is that it assumes, quite incorrectly, that apartheid is a South African trademark and, therefore, that every regime accused of practicing apartheid must be shown to be identical to South Africa’s apartheid regime of yesteryear. Apartheid, however, although brought to world attention and given its name by the racist regime in South Africa, has been recognized by the UN for decades as a generalized crime with a universal definition.

The Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of 1976 defines apartheid [37] as “similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa” which have “the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them, in particular by means such as segregation, expropriation of land, and denial of the right to leave and return to their country, the right to a nationality and the right to freedom of movement and residence” (Article II). The similarity to South Africa is cited not as a condition but in recognition of its status as a historic precedent.

As a recent in-depth strategic position paper [38] published by the Palestinian BDS National Committee states, Israel’s origins, laws and policies against the Palestinian people fit to a large extent the definition of apartheid. The conceptual origins of Israel’s unique form of apartheid are found in Zionism, a racist European ideology that was adopted by the dominant stream of the Zionist movement (World Zionist Organization, Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund, among others) in order to justify and recruit political support for its colonial project of establishing an exclusive Jewish state in historic Palestine. Political Zionists dismissed the indigenous population of Palestine as non-existent in the famous Zionist slogan of “a land without a people;” making this a self-fulfilling prophecy, Zionist forces forcibly displaced 750,000-900,000 Palestinians from their homeland and destroyed hundreds of the depopulated Palestinian villages in an operation termed “cleaning the landscape” that lasted until 1960. [39]

Israel’s regime over the Palestinian people amounts to apartheid precisely because it displays many of the main features of the crime as defined by international law:

1. Racial discrimination against the indigenous Palestinian people who became citizens of the State of Israel was formalized and institutionalized through the creation by law of a “Jewish nationality”, which is distinct from Israeli citizenship. No “Israeli” nationality exists in Israel, and the Supreme Court has persistently refused to recognize one as it would end the system of Jewish supremacy in Israel. The 1950 Law of Return entitles all Jews — and only Jews — to the rights of nationals, namely the right to enter “Eretz Yisrael” (Israel and the OPT) and immediately enjoy full legal and political rights. “Jewish nationality” under the Law of Return is extraterritorial in contravention of international public law norms pertaining to nationality. It includes Jewish citizens of other countries, irrespective of whether they wish to be part of the collective of “Jewish nationals,” and excludes “non-Jews” (i.e., Palestinians) from nationality rights in Israel.

2. The 1952 Citizenship Law [40] has created a discriminatory two-tier legal system whereby Jews hold nationality and citizenship, while the remaining indigenous Palestinian citizens hold only citizenship. [41] Under Israeli law the status of Jewish nationality is accompanied with first-class rights and benefits which are not granted to Palestinian citizens.

3. The Israeli Status Law of 1952 authorizes the World Zionist Organization/Jewish Agency and its subsidiaries, including the Jewish National Fund, to control most of the land in Israel, for the exclusive benefit of Jews. In 1998, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, CESCR, expressed [42] grave concern about this law and stated that large-scale and systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and property by the State and the transfer of that property to these agencies constitute an institutionalized form of discrimination, because these agencies by definition would deny the use of these properties to non-Jewish citizens of the State.

4. Return of Palestinian refugees and Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs), as required by international law, has been prevented by means of force and legislation on racist grounds. Simply because they are not Jews, Palestinian refugees were excluded from entitlement to citizenship in the State of Israel under the 1952 Citizenship Law. They were “denationalized” and turned into stateless refugees in violation of the law of state succession. Their land and other property were confiscated by the State. The approximately 150,000 Palestinians who remained in Israel after the 1948 Nakba were placed under a military regime (1948 – 1966) similar to the regime currently in place in the OPT.

For decades, racial discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel in every vital aspect of life has been the norm. From land ownership to education to health to jobs to housing, the indigenous Palestinians have been denied equality by the State’s laws and policies. For instance, they are not allowed, to buy or rent land in about 93% of the state lands of Israel. [43] To this date, polls consistently show overwhelming majorities of Israeli Jews standing in opposition to full equality with the indigenous Palestinians in the state. [44] So the fact those Palestinians can vote, unlike their black African counterpart under South African apartheid, becomes almost a formality, a tokenism of sorts, clearly designed to project a deceptive image of democracy and fend off well-justified accusations of apartheid. [45]

Even in cancer research [46], Israeli apartheid is strongly present. In June 2001, the Health Ministry published a map of the geographical distribution of malignant diseases in Israel during the years 1984-1999. The report did not include a single Palestinian community in Israel, with the exception of Rahat, ostensibly due to “budgetary problems.” This research is particularly important because, in Israel, only when a correlation is shown between the presence of polluting sites and the incidence of malignant disease is it possible to prevent installation of new hazards, or demand tighter environmental standards. By intentionally omitting Palestinian towns in its extensive cancer mapping, the Health Ministry has indirectly given a green light to polluters to relocate to Palestinian towns inside Israel — not to mention in the OPT. The results of such health apartheid are ominous. In the past three decades the rate of malignant diseases in the Palestinian population in Israel has risen 3 to 4 times higher than among the Jewish population. A spokesperson for the Israeli Center against Racism commented, “The report has produced two different groups. One, an overprivileged group, whose lives are dear to the state and to the Health Ministry; a second, whose lives are of no importance to the state.”

This discrimination must be seen in the wider context of Israel’s perception of Palestinians by leading Israeli politicians, intellectuals, academics and mass media outlets as a “demographic threat” that needs to be dealt with resolutely; thus the rise of openly fascist parties in the recent parliamentary elections. Echoing a popular view in Israel, a ranking academic, Major General (reserve) Shlomo Gazit from the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, preaches: “Democracy has to be subordinated to demography.”[47] And now, the fanatic right Israeli leader, Avigdor Lieberman, and his supporters are saying democracy has to be subordinated to loyalty to Jewish supremacy.

The complicity of Western governments in all this horrific violation of international law and basic human rights has led many analysts to view the role of the West as profoundly flawed, both morally and legally. The comprehensive impunity enjoyed by Israel has allowed it to project itself and to act as an uncontrollable “mad dog” — an image advocated by Moshe Dayan decades ago and endorsed most recently by Israeli military historian, Martin Van Creveld [48] — in an attempt to make the Palestinians submit to its colonial will, to accept slavery as fate.

This criminal impunity and categorical denial of rights, more than anything else, were the main motivation behind the Palestinian BDS campaign.

Since 9 July 2005, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions have been advocated by virtually the entire Palestinian civil society everywhere as an effective form of solidarity that has a real potential to bring about an end to Western complicity with Israel and, therefore, to Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid. During and ever since Israel’s criminal war on Gaza, Palestinian civil society has stood more united than ever in urging people of conscience all over the world to hold Israel accountable for its crimes by treating it as South Africa was under apartheid rule. In response, unions, academic groups, faith-based organizations, political parties, social movements and others have adopted creative, context-sensitive and sustainable BDS campaigns, from South Africa to Norway, from Australia to Canada, from Britain to Venezuela, and even from the podium of the President of the UN General Assembly. [49]

Israel’s state terrorism in Gaza, enabled by virtually unlimited support from the US and Western governments in general, was a key catalyst in spreading and deepening BDS around the world, prompting advocates of Palestinian rights to feel that our South Africa moment has finally arrived. Israel is now widely perceived, at a grassroots level, as an international pariah that commits war crimes with impunity and that needs to be held accountable to international law and basic principles of human rights.

for readers who are too racist to take the word of a palestinian, how about a jewish south african man who lived through apartheid in south africa and who has witnessed it in palestine as well? ronnie kasrils also published a piece this week comparing the two regimes:

It is by no means difficult to recognize from afar, as Verwoerd had been able to do, that Israel is indeed an apartheid state. Verwoerd’s successor, Balthazar John Vorster visited Israel after the 1973 October War, when Egypt in a rare victory regained the Suez Canal and Sinai from Israel. After that Israel and South Africa were virtually twinned as military allies for Pretoria helped supply Israel militarily in the immediacy of its 1973 setback and Israel came to support apartheid South Africa at the height of sanctions with weaponry and technology – from naval ships and the conversion of supersonic fighter planes to assistance in building six nuclear bombs and the creation of an arms industry.

For the liberation movements of southern Africa, Israel and apartheid South Africa represented a racist, colonial axis. It was noted that people like Vorster had been Nazi sympathizers, interned during World War II – yet feted as heroes in Israel and incidentally never again referred to by South African Zionists as an anti-Semite!. This did not surprise those that came to understand the true racist nature and character of Zionist Israel.

Time and space does not allow further elaboration, but it is instructive to add that in its conduct and methods of repression, Israel came to resemble more and more apartheid South Africa at its zenith – even surpassing its brutality, house demolitions, removal of communities, targeted assassinations, massacres, imprisonment and torture of its opponents, collective punishment and the aggression against neighboring states.

Certainly we South Africans can identify the pathological cause, fuelling the hate, of Israel’s political-military elite and public in general. Neither is this difficult for anyone acquainted with colonial history to understand the way in which deliberately cultivated race hate inculcates a justification for the most atrocious and inhumane actions against even defenseless civilians – women, children, the elderly amongst them. In fact was this not the pathological racist ideology that fuelled Hitler’s war lust and implementation of the Holocaust?

I will state clearly, without exaggeration, that any South African, whether involved in the freedom struggle, or motivated by basic human decency, who visits the Occupied Palestinian Territories are shocked to the core at the situation they encounter and agree with Archbishop Tutu’s comment that what the Palestinians are experiencing is far worse than what happened in South Africa, where the Sharpeville massacre of 69 civilians in 1960 became international symbol of apartheid cruelty.

for those of you who want to know what palestinians want and what serves their interests you can check out these websites:

one state democratic group

and

global boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement

PS: i meant to post this last night but it slipped my mind. the reason this old organization is on my mind now is because it is in the news:

Sir Paul McCartney officially joined the International Board of Advisors of the OneVoice movement, a grassroots organization aiming at broadcasting the views of what it calls the “overwhelming majority” of moderates in both Israel and Palestine.

The Board of Directors already includes actors Danny DeVito and Jason Alexander, as well as international dignitaries and political figures like Dennis Ross.

McCartney met with OneVoice Israel Chairwoman Irit Admoni Perlman during his visit to the region in September and was later asked to join the board, according to the statement.

“They told me that the vast majority of people in both societies are moderates and simply want a better life for their families and themselves,” a statement from the organization quoted McCartney as saying, “This gave me great hope that, one day, people like them will help to bring about a peaceful resolution to the troubles in the area. I am, therefore, happy to lend my support in this way to the cause of peace.”

notice that not only did mccartney ignore the boycott and come to the israeli terrorist state, but he also ONLY met with an israeli terrorist, not any palestinians. but his group represents both sides–as if there can be two sides when you have the colonizer and the colonized.