on the limits of solidarity

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

Dear supporters of just peace and international law,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Haidar Eid (Gaza)
Omar Barghouti (Jerusalem)

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

Endorse the Gaza Freedom March! Sign the Pledge Below!

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

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

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

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

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

Please join us.

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

STATEMENT OF CONTEXT

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

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

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

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

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

Yet, the siege of Gaza continues.

Upholding International Law

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

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

House demolitions and wanton destruction of farm lands are illegal.

The closures and curfews are illegal.

The roadblocks and checkpoints are illegal.

The detention and torture are illegal.

The occupation itself is illegal.

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

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

Sources of Inspiration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Norman Finkelstein’s withdrawal statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safundi: Connected to that…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safundi: Palestinians aren’t calling for sanctions?

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

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

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

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

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

boycotting study abroad programs in the zionist entity

bluestar-update1

last month i blogged about california faculty resisting study abroad programs between american universities and those in the zionist entity. now, apparently, some american professors who believe that massacring and ethnic cleansing are appropriate behaviors are trying to encourage their students to learn these behaviors at zionist universities. here is an email detailing this position:

IN SUPPORT OF the University of California’s Decision to Re-open the Education Abroad Program in Israel

We, the undersigned, support UC’s decision to reopen its Education Abroad Program (EAP) in Israel. The original decision in 2002 to close the program was based on security concerns, which have now been significantly reduced. A number of UC faculty have petitioned to have this decision rescinded due to Israeli restrictions on the operation of Palestinian educational institutions and subject to investigation of Hebrew University’s discriminatory policies towards Arab students. We the undersigned urge the university to stand by its decision.

*The petition requesting that the EAP not be re-opened in Israel must be placed in the context of a larger, on-going political struggle to isolate Israel diplomatically, educationally, culturally and economically. It is part of a strategy to characterize Israel as an apartheid state and to boycott Israel in the same manner that was done to the apartheid South African regime. * The two are not the same. Israel has granted its Arab residents citizenship and now faces a partition of the land between two peoples. South Africa confronted the challenge of extending citizenship to all its residents.

Although we regret the restrictions and disruptions to which Palestinian educational institutions are subject and those to which Israeli Arab, Palestinian, and potentially American students of Arab background may be subject within Israel, it is critical to place these restrictions in the context of a history of violent attacks against which Israel has a right to protect itself, indeed attacks that caused the closure of the EAP program in the first place.

Israel’s alleged violations of human rights are being unfairly singled out. Why are our colleagues who demand an end to EAP with Israel not also demanding an end to the present exchange programs with China — which violently suppresses Tibetan efforts to achieve even a modicum of self-determination and brutally crushes all efforts to democratize its society, or Russia — which invaded Georgia and conducted a war of suppression in Chechnya in which tens of thousands have lost their lives? To select out Israel which withdrew from Gaza, allowed the election of a Hamas government which calls for Israel’s destruction and that then went on to mount a concerted campaign of targeting Israeli civilians with suicide bombings and low-grade rockets, would be most unfair.

We do believe it is incumbent upon our university to assiduously protect the rights of our students who travel under its auspices abroad. But we believe that these efforts apply equally to any student of any group liable to suffer discrimination, harassment, not to mention detention and interrogation in any country where the University of California has an educational program.

Benjamin J. Cohen, Professor of Political Science, UCSB
Edwin M. Epstein, Professor Emeritus, International and Area Studies and Haas School
of Business, UCB
Claude Fischer, Professor of Sociology, UCB
Roger Friedland, Professor of Religious Studies and Sociology, UCSB
Thomas B. Gold, Associate Professor, Sociology, UCB
Ron Hassner, Assistant Professor, Political Science, UCB
Richard Hecht, Professor of Religious Studies, UCSB, Director, EAP, Hebrew
University, Jerusalem, 1982-1984
Estie Sid Hudes, Statistician, Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, UCSF
David Levine, Professor of Law, UC Hastings College of the Law
Ann Swidler, Professor of Sociology, UCB
David Vogel, Professor, Haas School of Business, Department of Political Science, UCB
Maurice Zeitlin, Professor of Sociology, UCLA

and it seems that this is something that is being advertised at bus stops and in other public places around california as in the image below:

img_0451

therefore, friends of mine created a counter campaign and are putting up images in response (see image at the top and image below of this poster at a california bus stop):

billboard

here is their statement about the guerrilla poster campaign:

Guerrilla Ad Campaign Replaces Study In Israel Billboards

Students and community members near the UC Berkeley campus were surprised one weekend to see a series of bus shelter billboards asking, “What country uses live ammunition against unarmed children?” Below a photo of identically dressed schoolboys in front of a barbed wire fence is the answer: Israel.

The guerrilla ads replaced ads which also featured photos of groups of people, beneath the headline, “Study in Israel? You’d like it here.” The ad campaign was part of an intensive campaign to promote study in Israel at California universities. The University of California recently reinstated a study abroad program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, after years of strong lobbying from pro-Israel students and professionals. The program was suspended seven years ago based on concerns that the area was too dangerous.

“It’s ironic that the University of California has decided the area is less dangerous now than seven years ago, when 1,400 Palestinian civilians were killed by the Israeli government in Gaza just four months ago,” said one of the creators of the alternative ad campaign, who prefers to remain anonymous. “2009 has already been the deadliest year for Palestinians since the Second Intifada began in September 2000.”

The replacement poster took a satirical tone, reading in part:

“For over eight years, Israel has been under siege. Unarmed Palestinian children have led the attack by crossing Israeli checkpoints, intimidating Israeli troops and provoking gunfire. Acting with extreme restraint, Israelis have killed no more than 1,100 children and seriously wounded only 4,000. Israeli troops have arrested over 6,000 children, but only 80% have been tortured….

“With your continued support we can do better. The U.S. government gave us $5 billion last year, but your additional contributions will help us arrest every Palestinian child, torture 100% of detainees, and rid ourselves of the menace of international human rights workers once and for all. In these tough economic times, think of Israel on April 15th and give generously.”

The poster made its first appearance on March 29, which is observed as Land Day by Palestinians all over the world. Land Day commemorates events of 33 years ago, when Israeli security forces shot and killed six young Palestinian citizens of Israel and injured many others. The young people were killed while protesting ongoing Israeli expropriation of Palestinian land for Jewish-only settlements.

The Study in Israel billboards were carefully designed to appeal to the U.C. system’s multicultural student body. One featured a group of Southeast Asians and another a women in hijab (traditional Muslim headcovering). One of the artists behind the alternative campaign finds this portrayal of Israel as a society that is welcoming to people of all cultures particularly troubling. “Not only is Israel an apartheid state, where Palestinians – whether they wear hijab or not – do not have equal rights with Jewish citizens, but Muslims who attempt to travel there as tourists or students are very likely not even to be allowed into the country,” the artist observed.

While the guerrilla ads are not affiliated with any organization, www.stopthewall.org, www.bdsmovement.net and www.whoprofits.org are excellent sources of information.

meanwhile, as if we needed yet another reason to boycott israeli terrorist universities a friend of mine is under attack at his university. here is the statement about his case from electronic intifada:

The impressive growth of the Palestinian civil society campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, particularly after its criminal war of aggression on the occupied Gaza Strip, is testimony to the morality and consistency of ordinary citizens and civil society organizations around the world concerned about restoring Palestinian rights and achieving justice for Palestinians.

The most recent achievement of the Israel boycott movement was the adoption of BDS — nearly by consensus — by the Scottish Trade Union Congress, following the example set by the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

In despair over their evident inability to stop or even hold back the growing tide of BDS across the globe, Israel apologists have resorted to an old tactic at which they seem to excel: witch hunts and smear campaigns. A self-styled McCarthyist academic monitor group in Israel has launched a petition calling for the expulsion of Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), from Tel Aviv University, where he is enrolled as a doctoral student. The Israeli campaign urges the university administration to expel Barghouti due to his leading role in the BDS movement that calls for boycotting Israel and all institutions complicit in its occupation and apartheid.

To date, more than 65,000 persons have reportedly signed this right-wing Israeli petition that depicts Barghouti as an “especially strident and persuasive voice” against Israeli colonial and racist policies. Several media columns by Zionist journalists in Israel and the United Kingdom, among others, have tried to use the “revelation” that Barghouti, “now enrolled” at an Israeli university, is politically inconsistent for calling for the boycott of all Israeli academic institutions while he is a student at one of them. Other than the clear dishonesty and underhandedness of these same media in presenting the case as if Barghouti has just — or recently — enrolled in an Israeli university despite themselves having reported years ago that he was already enrolled then, the reports have made some glaring omissions about the Israeli apartheid context, the widely endorsed criteria of the PACBI boycott, and the system of racial discrimination in Israel’s educational system against the indigenous Palestinians.

While consistently calling upon academics around the world to boycott Israel and its academic — and cultural — institutions due to their entrenched collusion in the state’s colonial and apartheid policies, PACBI has never called upon Palestinian citizens of Israel and those who are compelled to carry Israeli identification documents, like Palestinian residents of occupied Jerusalem, to refrain from studying or teaching at those Israeli institutions. That would have been an absurd position, given the complete lack of alternatives available. Successive Israeli governments, committed to suppressing Palestinian national identity in their pursuit of maintaining Israel’s character as a racist state, have made every effort possible to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian university inside Israel. The only choice left to Palestinian students and academics in Israel, then, is to go to an Israeli university or leave their homeland to pursue their studies or academic careers abroad — often not possible due to financial or other compelling reasons. In fact, the Israeli authorities have consistently worked to strip Palestinians from occupied Jerusalem of their Israeli ID cards and thus their residency rights while they study abroad, thereby prohibiting them from returning.

Palestinians in Israel are treated as second-class citizens in every vital aspect of life and are subjected to a system of “institutional, legal and societal discrimination,” as admitted even in US State Department reports on human rights. In the field of education this discrimination is dominant throughout the system, as the following conclusion from a ground-breaking Human Rights Watch study published in 2001 states:

“The hurdles Palestinian Arab students face from kindergarten to university function like a series of sieves with sequentially finer holes. At each stage, the education system filters out a higher proportion of Palestinian Arab students than Jewish students. … And Israel’s courts have yet to use … laws or more general principles of equality to protect Palestinian Arab children from discrimination in education.”

Palestinians, like any people under apartheid or colonial rule, have insisted on their rights, including their right to education, even if the only venues available were apartheid or colonial institutions. Nelson Mandela studied law at the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, one of the most notorious apartheid institutes then. Similarly, leaders of the anti-colonial resistance movement in India and Egypt, among many other countries, received their education at British universities at the height of the colonial era.

PACBI has always made a distinction between the forms and range of academic boycott it urges the world to adopt and what Palestinians themselves can implement. The former have a moral choice to boycott Israeli universities in order to hold them accountable for their shameful, multifaceted complicity in perpetuating the occupation and racist policies of the state; the latter are often left with no choice but to use the services of the oppressive state, to which they pay taxes.

Finally, we stress that it is precisely PACBI’s five-year-old record of moral and political consistency and the growing influence of its principles and the campaigns it and its partners have waged around the world that have provoked Zionist anti-boycott forces to try, yet again, to rehash old attacks of inconsistency, failing to understand or intentionally and deceptively ignoring the boycott criteria set by PACBI. We urge all academics, academic unions, cultural figures and cultural associations to adopt whatever creative form of BDS their context allows them. This remains the most effective and morally sound form of solidarity with the Palestinian people in our struggle for freedom, dignity, equality and self determination.

on the crimes of apartheid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

on nonviolence or where is the palestinian gandhi?

khalil bendib
khalil bendib

a couple of days ago my friend huwaida arraf published an op ed in the seattle times that raised an important issue for americans: the age old question of wondering where palestinian “gandhis” are. it is a problematic question for many reasons not the least of which is that there are many as she explains:

We Palestinians are often asked where the Palestinian Gandhi is and urged to adopt nonviolent methods in our struggle for freedom from Israeli military rule. On April 17, an Israeli soldier killed my good friend Bassem Abu Rahme at a nonviolent demonstration against Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land. Bassem was one of many Palestinian Gandhis.

One month prior, at another demonstration against land confiscation, Israeli soldiers fired a tear-gas canister at the head of nonviolent American peace activist Tristan Anderson from California. Tristan underwent surgery to remove part of his frontal lobe and is still lying unconscious in an Israeli hospital. In 2003, the Israeli military plowed down American peace activist Rachel Corrie with a Caterpillar bulldozer as she tried to protect a civilian home from demolition in Gaza. Shortly thereafter, an Israeli sniper shot British peace activist Tom Hurndall as he rescued Palestinian children from Israeli gunfire. He lay in a coma for nine months before he died.

rory mccarthy wrote about the murder of bassem abu rahme yesterday in the guardian as well in the context of the weekly nonviolent protests in bil’in village, though mccarthy’s judgmental tone at palestinians who throw stones at israeli terrorists lobbing american-made tear gas canisters (produced at the new jersey based u.s. federal laboratories) and rubber-coated steel bullets at palestinians is problematic:

Friday’s demonstration lasted around three hours. The crowd repeatedly surged towards the fence, then retreated under clouds of teargas. The military sounded a constant, high-pitched siren, interspersed with warnings in Arabic and Hebrew: “Go back. You with the flag, go back” and, incongruously, in English: “You are entering a naval vessel exclusion zone. Reverse course immediately.”

The Bil’in demonstration was always intended to be non-violent, although on Friday, as is often the case, there were half a dozen younger, angrier men lobbing stones at the soldiers with slingshots. The Israeli military, for its part, fires teargas, stun grenades, rubber-coated bullets and sometimes live ammunition at the crowd.

There have long been Palestinian advocates of non-violence, but they were drowned out by the militancy of the second intifada, the uprising that began in late 2000 and erupted into waves of appalling suicide bombings.

Eyad Burnat, 36, has spent long hours in discussions with the young men of Bil’in, a small village of fewer than 2,000, convincing them of the merits of “civil grassroots resistance”.

there are so many problems with these various critiques of palestinians, usually made by foreigners, about palestinians’ right to armed resistance. for one thing the question that never goes away that huwaida asks–where is the palestinian gandhi–is completely ahistorical. indians did not win independence solely based on nonviolent resistance. there was a long history of armed resistance against the british before gandhi took center stage as radhika sainath explains in the electronic intifada:

In Gaza, Palestinians have once again been blamed for their own deaths. The British made a similar argument 151 years ago when they killed thousands of Indian civilians — 1,200 in a single village — in response to the largest anti-colonial uprising of the 19th century. If Israel truly desires peace with the Palestinians and safety for its citizens, it should look back to one of the greatest, and misunderstood, independence movements in history.

Most people believe India won its independence from the British exclusively through Gandhi’s famous strategy of nonviolence. They’re wrong; armed resistance has deep roots in India. During the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, also known as the First War of Independence, Hindus and Muslims serving in the infantry for the British East Indian Company revolted against the British Empire, killing British officers and civilians alike. While the majority of these cavalrymen were Hindu, Muslims also partook in the rebellion. These Muslim fighters called themselves “jihadis” and even “suicide ghazis.”

The British quashed the revolt, but for the next 90 years Indian violence, even terrorism, in response continued. In the early 20th century, Indian militants, frustrated with the Congress party — the party of Gandhi and Nehru — regularly resorted to acts of violence to overthrow the British. Official government reports note 210 “revolutionary outrages” and at least 1,000 “terrorists” involved in more than 101 attempted attacks between 1906 and 1917 in the state of Bengal alone (see Peter Heehs, “Terrorism in India During the Freedom Struggle,” The Historian, 22 March 1993). One young revolutionary, Bhagat Singh, later referred to as “Shaheed” Bhagat Singh, bombed the Legislative Assembly in 1929.

On the other hand, Palestinians are usually portrayed in Israel and the West as exclusively militants or terrorists. Yet Palestinians have a vibrant, albeit unsuccessful, history of nonviolent resistance. In 1936, the Palestinians maintained a six-month general strike, the beginning of what became known as the Great Arab Revolt. The British retaliated by declaring martial law, jailing and killing large numbers of Palestinians, and destroying numerous Palestinian homes. The revolt lasted for three years and was the largest and longest anti-colonial uprising in the British Empire.

all of this is making me think of rachel corrie, perhaps because i am teaching her play, my name is rachel corrie, in my drama class. to be sure, i taught fateh azzam’s ansar: the true story of an israeli military detention center and el funoun’s from haifa to beirut and beyond first so that my students had an opportunity to read and consider palestinian theatre first. i do not approve of people just privileging the white man’s perspective, as it were, over palestinians’ perspectives. and my students, until this semester, have never encountered drama written and produced by palestinians so this was important for me to do. but i also think reading corrie’s play is useful for a number of reasons not the least of which is its context as a play that was censored in the united states and the context of the international action revolving around boycotting caterpillar in relation to corrie’s death as well as so many palestinians who have died at the hands of american-made caterpillar d-9 bulldozers and whose homes have been destroyed as well. more on that shortly. but i want to first share a part of a monologue from the play that is supposed to be an email that corrie sends home to her mother who, at the time, had asked her about palestinian violence and whose email seemed to be alluding to that age-old question about the palestinian gandhi:

So when someone says that any act of Palestinian violence justifies Israel’s actions not only do I question that logic in light of international law and the right of people to legitimate armed struggle in defence of their land and their families; not only do I question that logic in light of the fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits collective punishment, prohibits the transfer of an occupying country’s population into an occupied area, prohibits the expropriation of water resources and the destruction of civilian infrastructure such as farms; not only do I question that logic in light of the notion that fifty-year-old Russian guns and homemade explosives can have any impact on the activities of one of the world’s largest militaries, backed by the world’s only superpower, I also question that logic on the basis of common sense.

If any of us had our lives and our welfare completely strangled and lived with children in a shrinking place where we knew that soldiers and tanks and bulldozers could come for us at any moment with no means of economic survival and our houses demolished; if they came and destroyed all the greenhouses that we’d been cultivating for the last however long do you not think, in a similar situation, most people would defend themselves the best they could?

You asked me about non-violent resistance, and I mentioned the first intifada. The vast majority of Palestinians right now, as far as I can tell, are engaging in Gandhian non-violent resistance. (48)

unfortunately, organizations like human rights watch feed into this point of view by alternately perpetuating the idea that palestinians do not have a right to armed resistance or by suggesting that there is somehow an equal playing field for palestinians resisting israeli colonialism.

in an article in electronic intifada from a few years ago, jonathan cook offers an important critique of human rights watch, one that he repeats in his amazing book disappearing palestine. the article is a critique of a report by human rights watch denying palestinians the right to non-violent resistance by women and children congregating in large numbers around buildings suspected of being targets of israeli terrorism in order to prevent the bombardment. here is cook’s critique of human rights watch’s denial of palestinian resistance–whether armed or nonviolent:

In language that would have made George Orwell shudder, one of the world’s leading organisations for the protection of human rights ignored the continuing violation of the Palestinians’ right to security and a roof over their heads and argued instead: “There is no excuse for calling [Palestinian] civilians to the scene of a planned [Israeli] attack. Whether or not the home is a legitimate military target, knowingly asking civilians to stand in harm’s way is unlawful.”

On HRW’s interpretation, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela would be war criminals. There is good reason to believe that this reading of international law is wrong, if not Kafkaesque. Popular and peaceful resistance to the oppressive policies of occupying powers and autocratic rulers, in India and South Africa for example, has always been, by its very nature, a risky venture in which civilians are liable to be killed or injured. Responsibility for those deaths must fall on those doing the oppressing, not those resisting, particularly when they are employing nonviolent means. On HRW’s interpretation, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela would be war criminals.

cook goes on to provide some advice to human rights watch and some context for why their reports are so often biased in favor of the colonizing apartheid zionist entity. he thinks about this in terms of priorities, context, and like corrie, common sense:

Priorities: Every day HRW has to choose which of the many abuses of international law taking place around the world it highlights. It manages to record only a tiny fraction of them. The assumption of many outsiders may be that it focuses on only the most egregious examples. That would be wrong.

The simple truth is that the worse a state’s track record on human rights, the easier ride it gets, relatively speaking, from human rights organisations. That is both because, if abuses are repeated often enough, they become so commonplace as to go unremarked, and because, if the abuses are wide-ranging and systematic, only a small number of the offences will be noted.

Israel, unlike the Palestinians, benefits in both these respects.

Context: The actions of Palestinians occur in a context in which all of their rights are already under the control of their occupier, Israel, and can be violated at its whim. This means that it is problematic, from a human rights perspective, to place the weight of culpability on the Palestinians without laying far greater weight at the same time on the situation to which the Palestinians are reacting.

Here is an example. HRW and other human rights organisations have taken the Palestinians to task for the extrajudicial killings of those suspected of collaborating with the Israeli security forces.

Although it is blindingly obvious that the lynching of an alleged collaborator is a violation of that person’s fundamental right to life, HRW’s position of simply blaming the Palestinians for this practice raises two critical problems.

First, it fudges the issue of accountability.

In the case of a “targeted assassination”, Israel’s version of extrajudicial killing, we have an address to hold accountable: the apparatus of a state in the forms of the Israeli army which carried out the murder and the Israeli politicians who approved it. (These officials are also responsible for the bystanders who are invariably killed along with the target.)

Palestinians carrying out a lynching are committing a crime punishable under ordinary domestic law; while the Israeli army carrying out a “targeted assassination” is committing state terrorism, which must be tried in the court of world opinion. But unless it can be shown that the lynchings are planned and coordinated at a high level, a human rights organisation cannot apply the same standards by which it judges a state to a crowd of Palestinians, people gripped by anger and the thirst for revenge. The two are not equivalent and cannot be held to account in the same way.

Second, HRW’s position ignores the context in which the lynching takes place.

The Palestinian resistance to occupation has failed to realise its goals mainly because of Israel’s extensive network of collaborators, individuals who have usually been terrorised by threats to themselves or their family and/or by torture into “co-operating” with Israel’s occupation forces.

The great majority of planned attacks are foiled because one member of the team is collaborating with Israel. He or she not only sabotages the attack but often also gives Israel the information it needs to kill the leaders of the resistance (as well as bystanders). Collaborators, though common in the West Bank and Gaza, are much despised — and for good reason. They make the goal of national liberation impossible.

Palestinians have been struggling to find ways to make collaboration less appealing. When the Israeli army is threatening to jail your son, or refusing a permit for your wife to receive the hospital treatment she needs, you may agree to do terrible things. Armed groups and many ordinary Palestinians countenance the lynchings because they are seen as a counterweight to Israel’s own powerful techniques of intimidation — a deterrence, even if a largely unsuccessful one.

In issuing a report on the extra-judicial killing of Palestinian collaborators, therefore, groups like HRW have a duty to highlight first and with much greater emphasis the responsibility of Israel and its decades-long occupation for the lynchings, as the context in which Palestinians are forced to mimic the barbarity of those oppressing them to stand any chance of defeating them.

The press release denouncing the Palestinians for choosing collectively and peacefully to resist house demolitions, while not concentrating on the violations committed by Israel in destroying the houses and using military forms of intimidation and punishment against civilians, is a travesty for this very same reason.

Common sense: And finally human rights organisations must never abandon common sense, the connecting thread of our humanity, when making judgments about where their priorities lie.

In the past few months Gaza has sunk into a humanitarian disaster engineered by Israel and the international community. What has been HRW’s response? It is worth examining its most recent reports, those on the front page of the Mideast section of its website last week, when the latest press release was issued. Four stories relate to Israel and Palestine.

Three criticise Palestinian militants and the wider society in various ways: for encouraging the use of “human shields”, for firing home-made rockets into Israel, and for failing to protect women from domestic violence. One report mildly rebukes Israel, urging the government to ensure that the army properly investigates the reasons for the shelling that killed 19 Palestinian inhabitants of Beit Hanoun.

This shameful imbalance, both in the number of reports being issued against each party and in terms of the failure to hold accountable the side committing the far greater abuses of human rights, has become the HRW’s standard procedure in Israel-Palestine.

But in its latest release, on human shields, HRW plumbs new depths, stripping Palestinians of the right to organise nonviolent forms of resistance and seek new ways of showing solidarity in the face of illegal occupation. In short, HRW treats the people of Gaza as mere rats in a laboratory — the Israeli army’s view of them — to be experimented on at will.

HRW’s priorities in Israel-Palestine prove it has lost its moral bearings.

i think that cook’s analysis is important as human rights watch has done little to change its ways in the past few years. for one thing human rights watch is repeating this phenomenon with its latest report on hamas warning them to stop killings and torture. but if you read the report, which i refuse to quote here, you see none of the above critiques taken into consideration (and for the record i know that people at human rights watch do read cook’s writing). there is no context, no common sense, and no sense of priorities. in the midst of massive, daily human rights violations against palestinians by israeli terrorists, human rights watch chooses to write about this. moreover, if they used their reports in a way that would push for palestinians to liberate their land and achieve a just freedom this issue could hopefully solve itself.

for instance, what makes one become a collaborator in the first place–the origin of the issue in the human rights watch report on hamas. israeli terrorists force palestinians into positions of collaboration for many reasons: to get out of prison, to see a loved one in prison, to go to al quds to pray, to go to an israeli terrorist hospital, to travel to jordan, to access your land, to keep your house from being demolished. many of these things can be arranged–albeit temporarily–by agreeing to become a collaborator. on al jazeera ayman mohyeldin reported on one of these recent phenomenons of fishermen in gaza being recruited and pressured by israeli terrorists to become collaborators:

still the question for me that persists is why human rights watch chooses to focus on a palestinian so-called violation without contextualizing it and at the expense of the daily violations against palestinians by the zionist entity. one of those violations is collective punishment–oftentimes in the form of punitive house demolitions as marian houk explains in electronic intifada:

According to ICAHD, “house demolitions are clearly a case of collective punishment, which is illegal under international law, in particular Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949).”

In the year 2000, Ir Amim reported, there were only nine house demolitions in East Jerusalem — after “then-Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek announced that he would refrain from most demolitions in East Jerusalem, saying in effect that it was not right to punish people for building illegally when they were not permitted to build legally.” However, Ir Amim says, “there are in excess of 1,500 outstanding judicial demolition orders that have been issued but not yet executed … these orders never expire, and tens of thousands of residents in East Jerusalem live in perpetual fear that they may awake to the sound of bulldozers on any given morning. Consequently … every demolition understandably evokes widespread fear throughout East Jerusalem.”

Jerusalem’s new mayor, Nir Barakat, has vowed to carry out home demolition orders vigorously, under the guise of implementing the “rule of law.”

According to B’Tselem, some 688 Palestinian houses were demolished in East Jerusalem alone between 1999 and 2008, the majority by the Jerusalem municipality, the rest by the Israeli Ministry of Interior. At least another 207 Palestinian homes were destroyed in East Jerusalem between 1988 and 1998 — and three years of data are missing for that decade.

Thousands of Palestinian homes have also been demolished in Gaza, although Israel claims this in most cases this was done for reasons of “military necessity.” In addition, 4,000 buildings were destroyed (and tens of thousands damaged) in various operations before and after Israel’s unilateral “disengagement” from Gaza, including during the recent invasion.

The Jerusalem Post recently reported that the Israeli army was very pleased with the performance of unmanned D-9 bulldozers that were used in the Gaza Strip during the closing days of the Gaza invasion. D-9s are huge machines built by the Caterpillar Corporation and then armored by Israeli Military Industries. It was reported in 2003 that work was beginning on the development of a version that can be operated unmanned by remote control — but their use has never previously been confirmed and an Israeli army spokesperson stated to this reporter that “its general policy is not to discuss the type of weapons we used.”

During her recent visit to the region, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was widely quoted as saying that demolition and eviction orders were “unhelpful.” But she was speaking about pending demolition and eviction orders issued against hundreds of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem — 88 in the Silwan neighborhood alone, just outside the walls of the Old City in East Jerusalem, to make way for what one Israeli lawyer who defends Palestinian rights called a “Jewish theme park.”

caterpillar bulldozer in the mikfiyya neighborhood of nablus
caterpillar bulldozer in the mikfiyya neighborhood of nablus

a related issue to all of this is the nonviolent boycott campaign targeting a number of companies, including caterpillar. the stop caterpillar campaign asks people to not buy caterpillar products, to divest from them among other activities because of the way this company profits as a result of destroying palestinian homes and murdering palestinian people. yet i always find it strange how prevalent caterpillar bulldozers are in palestine. the photograph above i took while i walked to school yesterday, but i could have taken it in any number of locations around the west bank of palestine. and it is not just the bulldozer itself. it is the clothes, too.

caterpillar shoes for sale in the old city of nablus
caterpillar shoes for sale in the old city of nablus

the photograph above, like the bulldozer itself, is ubiquitous here in palestine. i could have taken that same photo in any clothing shop anywhere around palestine. and this is frustrating. but it seems to me that the reason for this disconnection is part branding and part unconsciousness about connecting the dots. my students, for instance, yesterday know the clothes as “cat” but the bulldozers as “caterpillar” and thus don’t connect the two, even though the logo is the same. but also even though students see the caterpillar d9 bulldozers on television and know what they do to palestinian people and houses they don’t connect this with their own practices, with boycott. it is strange for me that they cannot see the irony in the fact that the same bulldozer company vehicles that destroy palestinian lives every day are also used to build palestinian homes, which will likely, one day be destroyed by yet another caterpillar bulldozer.

this is, of course, only one of many human rights violations that palestinians must live with on a daily basis. there are rarely any international reports on such violations, for many of the reasons cook makes clear. but there is a great desire to resist by any means necessary: both armed resistance and nonviolent resistance. the two exist together in any struggle for liberation whether india or south africa. but what i want to know is while westerners persist in asking ad nauseum “where is the palestinian gandhi?” why don’t they ask where is the zionist f.w. de klerk?

zionism is discrimination is oppression is racism is apartheid.

as i watch the protests flaring in moldova, avigdor lieberman’s home country who is the foreign minster of the zionist entity, i keep thinking what a great time it would be for him to go home. back to where he came from. he wants “transfer” for palestinians in 1948. what about a transfer for him back to his homeland? i was thinking about this as i read ahmad tibi’s utterly brilliant op-ed in the new york times today. tibi is a member of the knesset and increasingly becoming the next azmi bishara. (hopefully not the same outcome of forced exile from his homeland.) i had forgotten where exactly lieberman came from. in any case, here is tibi’s op-ed in full because he explains the situation in 1948 palestine so beautifully and clearly, especially for an american audience:

The right-wing coalition of the new Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, does not bode well for Palestinians in Israel. With the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister, the extremists are going after the indigenous population and threatening us with loyalty tests and the possibility of “transfer” into an area nominally controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu’s intransigence vis-à-vis Palestinians in the occupied territories is certainly cause for concern. No less concerning is what the Netanyahu-Lieberman combination may mean to Palestinian citizens of Israel.

This government, particularly with Lieberman as foreign minister, should be boycotted by the international community, just as it once boycotted Jörg Haider, the late Austrian far-right politician who won global notoriety for his anti-immigrant views.

Lieberman, in one of many outrageous comments, declared in May 2004 that 90 percent of Israel’s Palestinian citizens “have no place here. They can take their bundles and get lost.”

But my family and I were on this land centuries before Lieberman arrived here in 1978 from Moldova. We are among the minority who managed to remain when some 700,000 Palestinians were forced out by Israel in 1948.

Today, Lieberman stokes anti-Palestinian sentiment with his threat of “transfer” — a euphemism for renewed ethnic cleansing. Henry Kissinger, too, has called for a territorial swap, and Lieberman cites Kissinger to give his noxious idea a more sophisticated sheen. Lieberman and Kissinger envision exchanging a portion of Israel for a portion of the occupied West Bank seized illegally by Jewish settlers.

But Israel has no legal right to any of the occupied Palestinian territories. And Lieberman has no right to offer the land my home is on in exchange for incorporating Jewish settlers into newly defined Israeli state borders. We are citizens of the state of Israel and do not want to exchange our second-class citizenship in our homeland — subject as we are to numerous laws that discriminate against us — for life in a Palestinian Bantustan.

We take our citizenship seriously and struggle daily to improve our lot and overcome discriminatory laws and practices.

We face discrimination in all fields of life. Arab citizens are 20 percent of the population, but only 6 percent of the employees in the public sector. Not one Arab employee is working in the central bank of Israel. Imagine if there was not one African-American citizen employed in the central bank of the United States.

Israel is simultaneously running three systems of government. The first is full democracy toward its Jewish citizens — ethnocracy. The second is racial discrimination toward the Palestinian minority — creeping Jim Crowism. And the third is occupation of the Palestinian territories with one set of laws for Palestinians and another for Jewish settlers — apartheid.

A few weeks ago, Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu Party led the charge in the Israeli Knesset to ban my party — the Arab Movement for Renewal — from participating in the elections. Netanyahu’s Likud also supported the action. The Supreme Court overturned the maneuvers of the politicians. But their attempt to ban our participation should expose Israel’s democracy to the world as fraudulent.

Lieberman’s inveighing against Palestinian citizens of Israel is not new. Less than three years ago, he called for my death and the death of some of my Palestinian Knesset colleagues for daring to meet with democratically elected Palestinian leaders. Speaking before the Knesset plenum, Lieberman stated: “World War II ended with the Nuremberg trials. The heads of the Nazi regime, along with their collaborators, were executed. I hope this will be the fate of the collaborators in this house.” Lieberman now has the power to put his vile views into practice.

We call for more attention from the Obama administration toward the Palestinian minority in Israel. It is a repressed minority suffering from inadequately shared state resources. The enormous annual American aid package to Israel fails almost entirely to reach our community.

Between Netanyahu and Lieberman, the Obama administration will have its hands full. Make no mistake that Netanyahu and Lieberman will press the new administration hard to accept Israeli actions in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem — as well as discriminatory anti-Palestinian actions in Israel itself. Settlements will grow and discrimination deepen. American backbone will be crucial in the months ahead.

the bold above is mine. it highlights the simultaneous forms of discrimination, racism, and apartheid that exist for palestinians, oftentimes overlapping depending on one is at any given moment. one clear cut example of this is banning of palestinian employees from railway jobs as jonathan cook reports for electronic intifada:

A decision by Israel’s state-owned railway company to sack 150 Arab workers because they have not served in the army has been denounced as “unlawful” and “racist” this week by Arab legal and workers’ rights groups.

The new policy, which applies to guards at train crossing points, is being implemented even though the country’s Arab citizens — numbering 1.2 million and nearly one-fifth of the total population — have been exempt from serving in the military since Israel’s establishment.

Ahmed Tibi, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament, complained to Israel Railways and the attorney general last week, arguing that the move was meant “to cleanse the railways of Arab employees.”

“It is an especially grave matter as this is a public company whose operations are meant to benefit all citizens,” he said.

these are some of the many reasons why boycott is called for. why more people are joining in to resist this blatant racism that exists in the zionist entity. salim vally a south african professor who was actively involved in the academic boycott of south africa under apartheid has a very important essay that he published this week in links: the international journal of socialist renewal that builds on some of the things that tibi says in his piece above. here is what vally says, in part, but it is definitely worth clicking on the link and reading it in full:

The Palestinian struggle does not only exert a visceral tug on many around the world. A reading of imperialism shows that apartheid Israel is needed as a fundamentalist and militarised warrior state not only to quell the undefeated and unbowed Palestinians but also as a rapid response fount of reaction in concert with despotic Arab regimes to do the Empire’s bidding in the Middle East and beyond.

Over the years this has included support for the mass terror waged against the people of Central and South America and facilitating the evasion of international sanctions against South Africa. Besides providing a ready supply of mercenaries to terrorise a populace — whether in Guatemala, Iraq or New Orleans — Israel also lends its expertise of collective punishment and mass terror. We have to recognise that the foundation of the Israeli economy was founded on the special political and military role which Zionism then and today fulfils for Western imperialism. While playing its role to ensure that the region is safe for oil companies it has also carved out today a niche market producing high-tech security essential for the day-to-day functioning of New Imperialism.

The unrestrained hand of US imperialism and its support for barbarism whether in Iraq or Palestine should hasten our actions. In Gaza, 80 per cent of the population live in poverty and close to a million people have no access to fresh water, electricity and other essential services. Close to 70,000 workers have lost their jobs in the siege of Gaza. The killing of Palestinians continues on a ferocious basis — daily missiles are launched from US-made helicopters and fighter jets. These cowardly war crimes are carried out with impunity — no longer even meriting a mention in the mainstream press….

First, it took a few decades of hard work before the boycott campaign made an impact. Despite the impression given by many governments, unions and faith-based groups that they supported the isolation of the apartheid state from the outset this is just not true. Besides the infamous words of Dick Cheney, when as a senator he called for the continued incarceration of Nelson Mandela because he was a “terrorist” quite late in the day, and the support given by US President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Thatcher, together with regimes like dictator Pinochet’s Chile, Israel and others, most powerful institutions, multilateral organisations and unions were hesitant for many years to fully support the campaign. The Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) was formed in 1959 and the first significant breakthrough came in 1963 when Danish dock workers refused to off-load South African goods.

The rise of the AAM must be seen in the general effervescence of liberation struggles and social movements in the turbulent 1960s/early 1970s and in the context of, whatever our opinion was of the USSR and its motivations, a counterweight to the US hegemon. This, together with the viciousness of the pro-Israeli lobby, its opportunistic reference to the Holocaust and anti-Semitism and the post-9/11 climate of fear, silencing dissent and Islamophobia, makes the task of isolating apartheid Israel more difficult. Despite these seemingly daunting obstacles the movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel is gaining momentum and already some significant gains have been made. Gains which would’ve been difficult to imagine just a few years ago.

Second, arguments opposed to the boycott related to the harm it would cause black South African themselves and the need for dialogue and “constructive engagement” were easily rebuffed by lucid and knowledgeable arguments. The South African regime, like the Israeli regime today, used “homeland’’ leaders and an assortment of collaborators to argue the case for them. Careful research played an important role in exposing the economic, cultural and the armaments trade links with South Africa to make our actions more effective as well as to “name and shame” those who benefited from the apartheid regime.

Third, sectarianism is a danger that we must be vigilant about and principled unity must be our lodestar. Some in the AAM favoured supporting only one liberation movement as the authentic voice of the oppressed in South Africa. They also aspired to work largely with “respectable” organisations, governments and multilateral organisations and shunned the much harder and patient linking of struggles with grassroots organisations. In the UK for instance as elsewhere this sectarian attitude resulted in debilitating splits. The biggest chapter of the AAM in London, which supported the anti-imperialist struggle in Ireland and was part of the “Troops Out Movement’’, were ostracised by the official AAM. The latter was also keen not to annoy the British government by taking a stronger stance against racism in Britain.

The healthy linking of struggles against racism, in support of the indigenous people and workers in North America with the Palestinian struggle that I have witnessed must be lauded. At a huge Palestinian solidarity rally in South Africa recently members of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee were asked by officials from the Palestinian ambassador’s office to pull down the flag of the Western Sahrawi Republic because they feared this would alienate the ambassador of Morocco. We refused this request much to the glee of Polisario Front supporters present.

Fourth, the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions must be in concert with supporting grassroots organisations in Palestine as a whole and in the Palestinian diaspora. This can take many forms and shapes including “twinning’’ arrangements, speaking tours, targeted actions in support of specific struggles and concrete support.

jonathan "zapiro" shapiro

there was a report on cnn of all places that featured jonathan shapiro or “zapiro” who is a jewish south african cartoonist (one of his cartoons is pictured above). in the piece he tells the reporter: “i’ll tell you something. i’ve said it many times and i’ll say it again. it’s been harder as a jewish south african who sees himself as contesting the mainstream jewish view on israel and on political zionism than it ever was being a white south african being involved in the struggle. that’s how hard it is. it’s actually harder.”you can watch the video by clicking on this link.

why is it harder to be critical of apartheid in south africa than apartheid in palestine? because there is no equivalent of anti-semitism when dealing with racism. racism is just racism. zionism, of course, is racism too, but when you say that in the united states you are called anti-semitic. case in point: the archbishop desmond tutu is facing renewed criticism again from the anti-defamation league (that bully of a zionist entity in the u.s.) because he is now on the advisory board the academic & cultural boycott of israel:

Citing his long history as a strident critic of Israel and his vocal support for anti-Israel boycotts, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today said that Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a “poor choice” to deliver the commencement addresses at Michigan State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Desmond Tutu is a poor choice for commencement speaker,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “His statements about Israel have time and again conveyed outright bigotry against the Jewish homeland and the Jewish people, and his deepening involvement in the anti-Israel boycott effort should have raised a red flag. This is not someone to be held up as a model or awarded an honorary degree, given his history of bombastic rhetoric and unceasing support for the anti-Israel boycott effort.

“It is one thing to give him a platform to speak on campus; it is quite another to confer an honorary degree on an individual who actively promotes academic boycotts,” Mr. Foxman added.

In a letter to Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon, President of Michigan State University, the League called on the university to reconsider the invitation extended to Archbishop Tutu unless he “publicly repudiates” his support for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

“Archbishop Tutu has unequivocally endorsed an academic boycott based on ideas that are anti-Semitic and should be anathema to any institution of higher learning truly committed to academic freedom,” the League said it its letter to MSU. ADL sent a similar letter to Dr. Holden Thorp, Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The League noted that MSU’s president and UNC’s chancellor were among more than 200 U.S. college and university presidents who issued, in July 2007, an unequivocal statement against university-led boycotts.

Archbishop Tutu is a participant in the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI). The campaign prominently includes Bishop Tutu as a member of its Advisory Board, whose formation was announced on March 30. The USACBI refers to Israel’s “illegal occupation of Palestine and its apartheid system” and calls for the “complete academic and cultural boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”

for those not in the know the adl’s name, like all zionist names, is a euphemism: it has nothing to do with fighting against defamation: it in fact is the reverse. it defames. period. what they don’t want you to speak about is the racism inherent in the zionist entity. a recent interview with hatim kanaaneh, who blogs at a doctor in galilee, sheds some further light on this sort of racism that adl not only doesn’t speak out against: it is full heatedly in support of in every way. here is some of what dr. kanaaneh has to say:

Dr. K: Discrimination is a built-in part of life and the laws of the country. Remember that what we are dealing with here (and the basic issue of contention in the conflict between Zionism and all of us native Palestinians) is a conflict over land.

As a Palestinian I am disqualified by law from equal access to land ownership or use. This is given a deeper expression in the form of the Law of Return granting any Jewish person anywhere in the world automatic citizenship with all the benefits that accrue with it of access to land, housing, financial and social assistance, and to the symbols of the state while no Palestinian who is not born here can dream of ever becoming a citizen.

Recently laws were passed specifically to prevent our children from marrying other Palestinians and from the right to bring their spouses under the standing laws of family unification applicable to Jewish citizens.

The absolute majority of land we, the Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel since its establishment in 1948, once owned has been confiscated for the benefit of our Jewish co-citizens through a maze of some three dozen laws specifically designed for the purpose. Were it not for the 1976 uprising that has come since to be commemorated as Land Day, we would have lost the remainder. We, nearly one-fifth of the total population of Israel, now own about 3 % of its land. After all, we are dealing with what has been defined by Zionism as “the land of Israel” in an ethnic sense, a definition that excludes us, Palestinians. The last stroke in the continuing saga of disenfranchisement is the requirement from us to pledge allegiance to Israel as the state of the Jews. And once we take such an oath, it would be up to the same racist crowd to define what constitutes a breach of it, a process inevitably leading to our expulsion one way or the other.

Beyond such basic discriminatory laws the whole official system and all Zionist civilian structures, many of which are legally entrusted with state-level powers and duties, are imbued with a sense of messianic zeal. Our experience with such bodies is not unlike a preview of the current practices in the Palestinian Occupied Territories where Palestinians are not allowed to drive on roads for settlers. The multitude of new settlements, named ‘Mitzpim’, or hilltop lookouts, are intended to guard the land in Galilee from us, its indigenous population, and they are surrounded by barbwire and interconnected by special roads that bypass our villages. True, we were not prevented from using those roads, but they were of little use to us because they led only to the various settlements.

At the practical level this translates into set rules and regulations that exempt Palestinians like me from all sorts of benefits if they are not openly anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian. Much of this is practiced under the blanket justification of security, the holiest of all holy cows in the country….

Another area in which this phenomenon is evident is the differential implementation of the law. Take, for example, the practice of house demolition within Israel. Mind you, we are not speaking here of the savage collective punishment practiced by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. We are speaking of the practice of demolition of homes built without permit within Israel proper.

In absolute numbers there are more illegally constructed structures in Jewish communities, but the demolition is practiced almost exclusively against Arab home owners. The basis for the construction of homes without permit is also rooted in discriminatory practices in the laws of zoning which in many cases have retroactively criminalized all residents of many villages whose existence predated the state, itself. Such “Unrecognized Villages” are frequently the site of home demolitions.

The cumulative end result of all the openly discriminatory laws, the hidden disadvantages, and the differential application of the rules and regulations are clearly seen in comparative figures from officially published data of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics.

what dr. kanaaneh mentions in the excerpt above–and more thoroughly in the full interview you can read if you click the link above–is the sort of racism that palestinians in 1948 experience. for instance today in naqab palestinians had their farmland destroyed by israeli terrorists:

For the second consecutive day, the Israeli Lands Department and police forces continued on Monday to plough and demolish groves owned by residents of unrecognized Arab villages in the Negev.

On Sunday, demolition was concentrated on lands owned by the Turi family in the Al-Araqib area, and on Monday it was concentrated in different parts of Ar’ara in the Negev. Parts of the lands demolished on Monday are owned by Abu Mqeirih family in eastern Ar’ara.

The director general of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages, Atwah Abu Freih, said, “We are surprised at this frivolous behavior of the Israeli Lands Department, demolishing lands of people who owned that land before the creation of Israel.

“Furthermore, Israeli military patrols from the Ministry of Agriculture have been chasing cattle owners, depriving them of pasture for their herds unless they register and pay taxes. To make it more difficult in light of a drought this year, they ploughed and demolished fields of wheat and barley,” Abu Freih added.

just like in 1948, of course, palestinians in the west bank experience the same treatment. the difference is those in places like khalil get a tad bit more media attention. ma’an news, for instance, reported on one man in khalil who has suffered the same fate as his kin in 1948 palestine:

Abu Mohammad Al-Hreini stands on a hill near his house in the Al-Musafer area to the south of Hebron, pointing at his land.

“That’s my land that was confiscated and now it lies behind the separation wall and I’m prevented from reaching it; it was confiscated forever,” he explains.

Al-Hreini and other residents are in mourning because their agricultural farmland were confiscated to construct the wall, which Israel maintains is for security. But these Palestinians are afraid of being expelled from the area as a pretext for preserving the settlements located south of the Hebron governorate.

“We live in a constant state of fear, where we hear a new Israeli plan every day that threatens our future in this area,” says Al-Hreini.

He adds, “Hundreds of dunums were confiscated from the Masafer Yatta area, close to the Suseya settlement, which in fact was constructed on our own agricultural land.” He explains that they cannot even sleep, since Israeli forces keep patrolling the area to force them to leave.

Israeli authorities confiscated 500 dunums of his own farm for the sake of constructing the wall.

According to Al-Hreini, the residents of the area suffer from water contamination coming from the settlements and they are also imposed to continuous violations by soldiers and settlers.

On the other hand, anti-settlement organizations warned of Israeli plans to isolate the Al-Masafer area from Hebron governorate, in an effort to expel the residents to join the area with neighboring settlements

and apparently even americans traveling on formal delegations can be accosted by, though not attacked, israeli colonist terrorists as ma’an news reported today:

Armed Israeli settlers prevented a delegation from the US Consulate from approaching a settlement near Nablus on Monday, according to diplomatic officials.

In a telephone call to Ma’an, a spokesperson for the US Consulate to Jerusalem said that officials were near the Hioval settlement, close to the Nablus-area village of Qaryut, when armed settler guards stopped the delegation.

According to the American officials, the visit was a routine and periodic trip to areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and the visit was previously scheduled.

Ghassan Doghlus, the head of the village’s local council, told Ma’an that settlement guards stopped the American delegation from entering the area.

“The guards prevented the delegation from getting close to the settlement and the nearby lands that were confiscated; the guards pointed their arms at the delegation, forcing them to leave the area,” he said.

Another spokesperson for the US Consulate in Jerusalem, Michaela Sweitzer-Blum, confirmed that armed Israeli settlers did confront an officer from the US Consulate back from the edge of the settlement.

“They [the US delegation] did meet up with some armed guards from a local outpost,” she said of the incident.

i am glad that a formal american delegation had to deal with this. those of us who live here deal with it every day. i wish they experienced worse so they would know how it really is. i hope that obama experiences the same when he comes in june. maybe then they will listen to palestinians and support them in liberating their land. (okay, it’s late, i’m entitled to dream a bit.) in any case, dear nora barrows-friedman wrote a great piece for ips that is hot off the press on the subject that shows what the people whose houses are being demolished and whose houses are threatened with demolition want:

Nasser Al-Ghawei tells IPS from inside the Al-Kurd tent in Sheikh Jarrah that earlier this year Palestinian families felt relief when the Turkish government, dismayed at Israel’s brutal actions in Gaza, decided to release documents from the Ottoman-era archives that prove Palestinian-Arab ownership of the land. “We took these papers back to the court to prove that this is Arab land,” Al-Ghawei says. “And the decision was negative.”

An Israeli lawyer representing the settler group offered Al-Ghawei and his 16 other family members 17 million dollars to leave their home. “Seventeen million dollars cannot pay for my memories. I was born in this house…This is my identity,” Al-Ghawei says.

The European Union describes Israel’s military and court actions in occupied East Jerusalem as discriminatory, and recognises a “clear Israeli intention to turn the annexation of East Jerusalem into a concrete fact.” A more subdued response to Israel’s continued occupation and colonisation of East Jerusalem has come from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who recently called Israel’s house demolition orders there “unhelpful, and not in keeping with the obligations entered into under the ‘road map’.”

Under international law, the military occupation, settlement construction and accelerated annexation of Palestinian neighbourhoods and villages in East Jerusalem is illegal.

Jimmy Johnson, international coordinator with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, tells IPS that the only recourse that remains to end this battle in Sheikh Jarrah for the Palestinian residents is international pressure. “Most effective in the short term is trying to raise international pressure, especially on the United States. As long as the U.S. is backing Israel, relatively unconditionally, it doesn’t matter so much if Sweden or Brazil or India wants to pressure Israel directly. But if you can get the U.S. to switch its policies, especially in response to international pressure, that’s when we can begin to see some change here.

“Inside the Israeli bureaucracy, there is no more recourse left,” Johnson says. “International pressure is the only way that the Hanoun family and other families won’t be evicted from their houses.”

read the rest at the above link. meanwhile the theft continues. and the zionists are grasping at straws. now they have stolen a part of the old city in al quds to try to pretend that they belong on this land. yet another theft. yet another ridiculous fight over archaeology that never proves anything. they should stick to the stories in the bible. those mythological tales are as good as any story they fabricate about so-called evidence of their presence here. and even if it proved they were here eons ago that does not give them to live on a land that does not belong to them. in any case here is zeina awad’s report for al jazeera on the subject:

for those of you boycotters out there–or those of you who are convinced by the daily shreds of evidence i offer as to why you should boycott–here is a new website (new to me, that is) that i stumbled upon the other day. it is called karma banque and it is a website that is devoted to targeting corporations in the u.s. stock exchange that should be boycotted. the companies here are not here necessarily because they are zionist and support israeli terrorism per se. but the beauty of it is that the same companies that do that–coca cola, starbucks, mcdonald’s, microsoft and pepsi are on the list because of other sorts of criminal behavior. click the link above and check it out.

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racism, apartheid, and osloization

i’m preparing lecture notes for next week’s lecture notes for my postcolonial literature class. i’m teaching mbulelo vizikhungo mzamane’s novel the children of soweto. the novel is a moving portrait of the soweto uprising in 1976 that was led entirely by the youth. the youth were opposed to the enforcement of afrikaans as the language of instruction in south african schools. the thing that is interesting about the novel is that mzamane is one of the student leaders from that resistance movement so it is autobiographical and an historical chronicle of the events as they unfolded. it would be like of one of the youth leaders of the first intifada wrote a novel about it. because the soweto uprising was very similar to the first intifada–stone throwers against tanks and all. here is how he describes one of those instances:

Sizwe was two years older than Nomsa. He and Sandile went to school in the township. During the day they had been involved in a demonstration, together with children from other primary and secondary schools in the township. They marched through the streets, singing old liberation songs and others they had composed themselves, to protest against the enforcement of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in certain subjects throughout African schools. The students planned to converge at the township’s largest soccer stadium to voice their opposition to the scheme.

The police met them in the streets, before they could reach the stadium, and asked them through loudspeakers to disperse. They told the students that in terms of the Riotous Assemblies Act, which the children had never heard about, they were breaking the law by staging a protest march without obtaining permission from the police first.

“You are here. Give us your permission then,” someone in the crowd shouted. And the chant caught on, “Give us your permission then.”

The police then used teargas to try and disperse the students. Far from scattering about in a disorganised fashion, the students soon developed a technique for containing the teargas. Armed with cloths and buckets of water requisitioned from nearby houses, they covered the canisters with wet cloths as soon as they hit the ground. In this way many of the canisters were prevented from exploding. Thus unable to break the march the police resorted to shooting. At first they aimed above the heads of the crowd, but as the students surged forward resolutely they fired at their front ranks. Some students retaliated by throwing stones at the police. In the ensuing scuffle a few people were injured, including some police and onlookers, and several children were shot dead. (53-54)

there are so many other parallels in the novel–from collaborators within the ranks of south african resistance to the media’s total distortion of why these youth were resisting in the first place. and, then, of course are the curfews, closures, arrests, and torture.

south africa, like the zionist entity, were founded on ideologies of racial or religious supremacy. it is worth recalling what ali abunimah’s brilliant book, one country: a bold proposal to end the israeli-palestinian impasse has to say about the colonization of south africa:

The origins of the Afrikaner identity date back to April 6, 1652, when the Dutch East India Company established a colony on the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. Nelson Mandela explains that April 6 was “the day white South Africans annually commemorate[d] the founding of their country–and Africans revile[d] as the beginning of three hundred years of enslavement.” This anniversary is redolent of May 14, the day in 1948 that Israel declared independence but which Palestinians observe as al-nakba–the catastrophe–the beginning of their exile and subjugation. In the late seventeenth century, colonists arrived at the cape from the Netherlands, Germany, France, and other parts of Europe, many escaping appalling religious persecution and massacres in their home countries. In the 1830s, the Afrikaners or Boers (as these colonists eventually called themselves), chafing under British rule and in search of more land, set off to conquer the interior. These arduous journeys on foot and in covered wagons became known as the Great Treks and ended with the establishment of three independent republics. During the Boer Wars in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the British crushed the Boer republics, generating enduring Afrikaner bitterness. The “Anglo-Boer War burnt itself into the collective consciousness of my people, the Afrikaners, like no other event in our history,” [F.W.] de Klerk has said. The British scorched-earth policy destroyed farms and killed livestock, and ended Boer independence. Worst of all, the British “interned our women and children in what became known as concentration camps.” (The term “concentration camp” was first used in this context.) Of the entire Afrikaner population–a few hundred thousand at the time–tens of thousands are believed to have died in the camps.

Afrikaners were determined never again to submit to foreign rule or forgo their independence and security. In 1910, the predominantly British-settled colonies of the cape and the former Boer republics int he interior formed the Union of South Africa, which excluded all indigenous African peoples, as well as Indians and other Asians, from any political power. Then, when the Afrikaner-dominated National Party won the whites-only general election in 1948, they ushered in a new era of more formalized discrimination–apartheid. As Mandela observes, the 1948 Nationalist election victory was, in the “cosmology” of Afrikaners, “like the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land. This was the fulfillment of God’s promise, and the justification for their view that South Africa should remain a white man’s country forever.” Afrikaners compared the Great Treks to the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, and saw their republics as a “new Israel,” built on land redeemed from godless “Canaanites.” Out of the undeniable suffering and trauma of the Boer Wars, Afrikaners constructed an ideology in which they were in a state of permanent victimhood. They acted with the belief that God was on the side in a struggle for self-preservation against external forces whose sole motivation was their destruction. (136-138)

the histories and the methods of resistance in palestine and south africa have been quite similar. but the main difference between the two situations is that nelson mandela refused to sign any agreement, any document until all conditions had been met. he wasn’t stupid enough to trust the colonizing entity in south africa. he wanted to see them put their words into action, such as releasing political prisoners. and he had enough integrity to make sure the other prisoners were released before him. here in palestine the oslo accords were signed without the zionist entity ever having to give up anything. and they never have. instead, they’ve created more suffering, more oppression, and increased the apartheid conditions.

today on z net haidar eid has a really important and smart article that addresses the way that oslo has destroyed palestine on so many levels, which i quote in full below:

One of the most important outcomes of the Gaza massacre (2009) has been the unprecedented tremendous outpouring of popular support for the Palestinian cause; something the signatories of the Oslo accords (1993) must have not been happy with. The return of the pre-Oslo slogans of liberation, as opposed to independence, have, undoubtedly, created a new dilemma, not only for Oslo political elites, but also for the NGOized, Stalinist Left.

The process of “Osloization”i.e, a combination of corruption, Ngoization, and a selling-out of revolutionary principles and sloganeering, fused with the fiction of the two-prison solution, has been dealt a heavy blow in the 2006 elections. Judging from statements made, not only by PA officials, but also by the Left, and even the Hamas government, the ultimate goal of the current river of blood has become the establishment of a Palestinian state in any dimension, i.e. the two-state solution. The contradiction between the tremendous international support, the revival of the BDS campaign, the outpouring of demos against Apartheid Israel and its war crimes against the Palestinians of Gaza, and the reiteration, by most political orgs, of the two state mantra is a strong indication of the need for an alternative program that makes the De-Osloization of Palestine its first priority.

In order to understand the Oslo Accords and the extreme damage they have caused to the Palestinian cause, one needs a historical contextualization of the so called “peace process”, or rather what many critical thinkers have called the peace industry. This understanding is a necessary step towards a process of De-Osloization, a term I will get back to at a later stage.

The Oslo accord was claimed to be the first step towards self-determination and an independent state. But it is clear now, 16 years after the famous hand shake on the White House lawn, that no state in the short run will be established because of the mere fact that Oslo simply ignored the existence of the Palestinian people as a people. In other words, these accords have offered Zionism what it has always been striving for. Golda Meir’s infamous statement that there are no Palestinians is a case in point here.

And yet, to claim that ‘Oslo’ and ‘Camp David’ were great missed opportunities and ‘breakthrough’, and that the so-called ‘peace process’ was in track until the Palestinians (i.e. colonized victims) blew it is a deliberate ideological distortion of reality claimed in order to prepare Palestinians for more concessions. Real comprehensive peace was not created in Oslo and Washington; rather what was created is an American/Israeli plan to resolve the conflict after the destruction of Iraq and the collapse of the Soviet Union and their attempt to construct a “new Middle East”—to use Condoleeza Rice’s words–a Middle East characterized by imperialist-Zionist hegemony and supported by despotic regimes. The Oslo accord was born dead because it did not guarantee the minimum national and political rights of 10 million Palestinian. As long as there are refugees, cantons, detainees, blockade, settlements, ‘legal torture’ of prisoners, dispossession, assassinations and occupation, comprehensive peace cannot be achieved. It is an illusion in the minds of those who signed the Oslo accords.

These accords have led to the creation of a limited “administrative autonomy” in the Gaza Strip and some parts of the West Bank. The local population was given “the right” to form an authority that they could call “national.” Now the question is what makes the PNA (Palestinian National Authority) beyond questioning? What is the ‘legitimate’ ground upon which it was established? Very simple: The Oslo Accords. It has now become very obvious that despite the famous hand shakes on the White house lawn and in Annaplois, and the optimistic talk of the ‘New Middle East,’ these accords, in contradistinction with UN and Security Council resolutions, have not guaranteed the establishment of a sovereign, independent Palestinian state, or the return of the refugees, nor even the demolishment of the Jewish settlements, and compensation for those Palestinians who have lost—and still losing—their homes, lands and properties; nor the release of all political prisoners, or the opening of all checkpoints, which have become daily nightmares for residents of the WB and GS; …etc. In spite of all the hand shakes, kisses, and friendly press conferences, Israel launched one of the bloodiest wars in the history of the conflict against the civilian population of Gaza, killing in 22 days more than 1400 people, including 438 children, 120 women, 95 old people, 16 medics, 5 journalists, 5 foreign women, and in which it destroyed more than 40.000 institutions and houses, leaving many families homeless. That, of course, was not mentioned as an objective of the Oslo Accords, but nothing either was mentioned in them that would prevent such bloodletting from taking place.

This is the political reality that Palestinian officials who signed the agreement do not like to be reminded of. In fact, what has been created in parts of Gaza and the West Bank is a very strange entity—an apartheid-type Bantustan endorsed by the international community. Gaza 2009, therefore, is the mirror-image of Oslo. When we bear in mind that 75-80% of Gazans are refugees, the results of 2006 elections become more comprehensible not only in its anti-colonial context, but also in socio-political terms. What Oslo has created in Gaza, and the West Bank for that matter, is literally two different worlds, both of which have been led by undemocratic institutions, many security apparatuses, a Third Worldish military court (commended by the Clinton administration), corruption, mismanagement, inefficiency and nepotism—to mention but few (neo)colonial qualities.

By winning the 1948, 1956 and 1967 wars, and by getting international, Arab and Palestinian recognition, Israel–as an Apartheid settler-colonial state—has hoped to move into a new stage; a stage that requires the formation of ‘new consciousness’ amongst colonized Palestinians. Herein lies the danger of Oslo; Osloization, within this neo-Zionist context, means the creation of a new paradigm through which you wash out the consciousness of your supposed enemy-the ‘Other’-and replace it with a one-dimensional mentality, through the construction of a fiction (two states for two peoples) whose end is unattainable. Even the fascist Lieberman has started singing the same song.

Put differently, to aim at creating the two-state Palestinian is to aim at creating false consciousness led by assimilated intelligentsia, some of whom have a revolutionary past record. Singing the slogans of “the two state solution,” “two states for two peoples,” “return to the 1967 borders,”–or even “a long-term Hudna” (as proposed by Hamas) — is intended to guarantee the subordination and conformity of the Palestinians, especially those with revolutionary ideas. Gone are the right of return of 6 million refugees and their compensation, and the national and cultural rights of the indigenous population of Palestine 1948.

This goal, however, never sees the antithesis it creates as a result of displacement, exploitation, and oppression; it ignores the revolutionary consciousness that has been formulated throughout the different phases of the Palestinian struggle. Nor does it take into account the legacy of civil and political resistance that has become a trademark of the Palestinian struggle. Hence the necessity of the formulation of Palestinian alternative politics. To be conscious of the corruption of the Palestinian Authority, and of the huge class gape that the Oslo Accords have created has definitely been the beginning of De-Osloization represented in the Al-Aqsa uprising and the outcome of the 2006 elections. This is an oppositional consciousness that the signatories of Oslo did not take into account. Both events represent an outright rejection of the Oslo Accords and their consequences.

The Gaza Strip, however, is seen by the PA as one of three building blocks of an independent state, although it is geographically separated from the second block, i.e. the West Bank. The third block is, Jerusalem, is under total Israeli control. None of the Palestinians in the occupied territories believe that the ‘semi-autonomous’ zones in the GS and the WB -that is, the ones that fall under category A—can lay the foundation for an independent state. What Oslo has led to is, in fact, a South Africa. When black South Africans needed to move from their townships to big ‘white’ cities, they needed to get a ‘pass’. During ‘peace time,’ Palestinians, not only those who work in Israel, but also those who wanted to visit the WB form Gaza, or vice versa, needed to apply for a ‘permit’. Beside the permit, Palestinians needed a so-called ‘magnetic card,’ which is a computer card that has a password to its holder’s security file. No one could work in Israel, or visit the WB, or even go to a hospital inside the ‘green line’ without a ‘permit’ and a ‘magnetic card’. If one was granted such invaluable cards, one was still not allowed to visit any other area except the one s/he was entitled to visit. If one was ‘caught’ at another area, one’s permit and card were confiscated immediately, not to mention the torture one was exposed to. Nowadays, no one is even given such luxurious ‘permits’ and cards. How was apartheid South Africa different?

The tribal chiefs of the South African Bantustans used to believe that they were the heads of independent states. Luckily, the ANC, despite its many compromises with the National Party, had never accepted the idea of separation and Bantustans. The official Palestinian leadership on the other hand, at the end of the millennium, boasts of having laid the foundation for a Bantustan, claiming it to be an independent state in the make. Undoubtedly, this is the ultimate prize Zionism can offer to its ‘Other’ after having denied her/his existence for a century, and after that same ‘Other’ has proved that she is human. For Zionism’s continued presence in Palestine, the ‘Other’ must be assimilated and enslaved without her/ him being conscious of her/his enslavement. Hence the granting of ‘semi-autonomous’ rule over the most crowded Palestinian cities, and hence the logic driving the Oslo Accords.

Oslo, then, brought an unprecedented level of corruption into Palestine; and security coordination with Israel, under the supervision of—irony of ironies—an American general, has become the norm. Repeating the two-state mantra, carrying the Palestinian flag, singing the national anthem and— more importantly—recognizing Israel, regardless of the rights of two thirds of the Palestinian people, are what Oslo is all about.

The lesson we learn from Gaza 2009 is to harness all effort to fight the outcome of the Oslo Accords, and to form a United Front on a platform of resistance and reforms. This cannot be achieved without dismantling the PA and realizing that ministries, premierships, and presidencies in Gaza and Ramallah are a façade not unlike the South African Independent Homelands with their tribal chiefs. The classical national program, created and adopted by the Palestinian bourgeoisie has reached its end unsuccessfully. Most political forces, including the governing party in Gaza, fail to explain how 6 million Palestinian refugees will return to the Israeli State of the Jews and an independent Palestinian state will be created at the same time.

Hence the necessity for an alternative paradigm that divorces itself from the fiction of the two-prison solution, a paradigm that takes the sacrifices of the people of Gaza as a turning point in the struggle for liberation, one that builds on the growing global anti-apartheid movement that has been given an impetus by Gaza 2009. De-Osloizing Palestine is, therefore, a precondition for the creation of peace with justice.

part of this osloizing process that eid analyzes above is the continual dispossession of palestinians from their land. in gaza it happened in a very obvious way. it was clear to those who watched al jazeera, the only international media allowed into the gaza strip. and that savagery continues with israeli terrorists bombing gaza every day, which no longer reported in the international media:

The Israeli military confirmed that it bombed smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip early on Thursday.

Witnesses in Gaza said that the bombing took place in Rafah Refugee Camp, along the border with Egypt.

The Israeli military said the strike was in response to four homemade projectiles and one mortar shell that landed in Israel. No damage or injuries resulted from those attacks.

The tunnels in southern Gaza are used to import goods made scarce by an Israeli blockade that has been imposed on Gaza since 2007.

and what seems to me to be a clear–and horrifying–indication that hamas is in the process of becoming osloized:

Gaza’s Hamas rulers issued rare criticism Thursday of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel from the strip, saying now is the wrong time for such attacks.

The Islamic militant group has fired thousands of rockets at southern Israel in recent years. But Hamas said Thursday that it was not behind recent attacks and that it was investigating who was responsible.

there are no rockets coming from the west bank. and there may not be bombs falling on the west bank, but the continual ethnic cleansing in the west bank and in 1948 goes on unnoticed for the most part. there is, of course, a bit of international coverage of the ethnic cleansing in al quds, which is possibly why there is a temporary ban on the demolition order of homes in silwan:

The Israeli Central Court in Jerusalem decided to temporarily freeze a decision to demolish 35 apartments in Al Abbasiyya neighborhood in the East Jerusalem town of Silwan.

Lawyer Ziad Qi’war, representing the families, said that the order gives the Jerusalem Municipality seven days to respond to appeals filed by the residents.

There are more than 240 Palestinians living in the buildings slated to be demolished.

Qi’war added that the appeal accuses the Jerusalem Municipality of practicing racism against the Jerusalemite Palestinians, and of not providing services to the residents in this area.

The residents said that the Municipality does not want to sit with them in order to listen to their points of view.

Qi’war called on all civil, legal and political groups to unite their efforts in order to achieve a ruling that completely voids the demolishing orders.

Israel intends to demolish nearly 180 homes in Al the Arab Jerusalem neighborhoods of Al Bustan, Al Abbasiyya, Ras Khamis, and Al Tour.

of course this is when the israeli terrorist colonists send in the colonists without uniforms to go in and attack palestinians:

Palestinian sources reported on Wednesday that a group of extremist Jewish settlers attacked dozens of Palestinian homes and stores in East Jerusalem.

The settlers were marching in the city and chanting slogans against the Arabs and the Palestinians, and calling for expelling them from the Holy City.

The Israeli police did not attempt to intervene and allowed the settlers to continue their march, which encouraged them to attack Palestinian property, local sources reported.

The settlers chanted “death to Arabs” and other racists slogans while marching in Arab markets and the alleys of the Old City.

The Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, reported that the different settlers groups marched in different parts of the Old City under heavy protection and presence of the Israeli military and police.

The police closed main roads in the Old City barring the Palestinians from using them in order to allow the settlers to march.

WAFA said that dozens of extremist Jews arrived in the Old City by special buses since early morning hours of Wednesday, and held prayers at the Western Wall before marching in the alleys of Jerusalem.

They were accompanied by settlers living in East Jerusalem, especially from outposts in Sheikh Jarrah area, and several outposts in East Jerusalem.

in contradistinction, there is very little about the rest of the west bank. consider these latest developments:

in aqraba near nablus:

The Israeli Army handed miltary orders to several residents of Aqraba village, southeast of the northern West Bank City of Nablus, informing them of a decision to demolish six homes and a mosque in the village.

Local sources in the village stated that the order comes to enable the expansion of Israeli settlements surrounding the village, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

The sources added that nearly 90 percent of the village’s land is used as grazing ground, but the Israeli authorities are attempting to annex the land for settlement construction and expansion.

There are four Israeli settlements surrounding the village, all built on land annexed from the villagers. Settlers have carried out repeated attacks against the village and its inhabitants, killing four villagers over the past few years.

Recently, one resident was killed and another was wounded in a roadside bomb placed by the settlers, the Palestinian Information Center said.

Last week, Israeli Authorities handed fifteen military orders to the residents of Aqraba, informing them that Israel intends to demolish 15 homes, barns, tin-houses for sheep, and water wells located in Khirbit al-Taweel area, which belongs to the village.

in qalqilia a farmer suffered a heart attack after witnessing israeli terrorists destroying his olive trees:

Palestinian medical sources in Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank, reported that a farmer suffered a heart attack two days ago after the Israeli army uprooted his olive trees in the village of Ras Tira, near Qalqilia.

The army was uprooting the trees to allow the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the area.

The farmer tried to stop the soldiers and defend his land, and suffered a heart attack while arguing with the troops and the bulldozer driver, local sources reported.

Also, the Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, reported that five human rights activists from the United states, Sweden, and Denmark were taken prisoner by the army after joining a non-violent protest against the uprooting of trees in Ras Tira, Wadi Ar-Rasha, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) reported.

Residents from the area, joined by activists, were protesting the uprooting of olive trees as the army started implementing the change of the route of the Israeli Apartheid Wall in the area.

As the trees were being cut, villagers and activists demonstrated while the troops fired tear-gas at the them and the villagers, WAFA said.

The new Wall route will lead o more destruction and uprooting of the villagers’ farmlands and orchards.

It is worth mentioning that the Wall and the Alfe Menashe settlement completely surround the villages of Ras Al Tira, Wadi Ar Rasha, and Dhaba’.

or how about in 1948 palestine?:

Bulldozers of the Israeli municipality of Beer Sheba in 1948 occupied Palestine on Thursday demolished two Palestinian houses at the pretext of lack of construction permit.

Local sources in Beer Sheba said that hundreds of policemen escorted the bulldozers during the demolition process.

They pointed out that the same force uprooted 100 olive trees.

The step was taken on the same day that cattle owners plan a demonstration in the same city to protest additional taxes and unfair distribution of grazing lands, the locals underlined.

of course, the united states doesn’t want to look at the racism inherent in the zionist entity’s apartheid regime. that is why it has chosen to boycott the world conference on racism in geneva (known as durban 2). (you see, obama does not care about discussing and ending racism any more than bush.) the main issue for boycotting the conference in 2001 was the discussion of zionism as a form of racism as well as the discussion of reparations for slavery. this time around the issue of slavery reparations seems to irk obama as does the discourse on the terrorist state of israel. but the draft document that the obama administration objects to does not talk about zionism as racism. instead, it focuses on israel as an apartheid regime. still, they refuse to attend. ramzy baroud explains:

The US conditioned its participation of the April conference in Geneva (Durban II) by removing any specific censure of Israel, and ensuring that Israel is not ‘singled out’ for criticism. Although US sensibilities constantly expect, but demand the singling out of any country, leader or group it deems rouge, war criminal, or terrorist, Israel is treated based on different standards. “A bad document became worse, and the US decided not to participate in the conference”, Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported in reference to the draft documents being finalized before the conference.

The original “bad” document apparently dubs Israel “an occupying state that carries out racist policies”, a description which is consistent with international law, UN resolutions and the views of leading world human rights defenders – Archbishop Desmond Tutu, John Dugard, the former UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk,the current UN’s envoy, among many others.

The ‘bad document’ might have ‘became worse’ with new references to the Gaza bloodbath, which killed and wounded nearly 7,000 Palestinians in 22-days.

From an American – and unfortunately, Canadian and Italian, so far – viewpoint, such inhumane practices don’t warrant a pause or mere words of condemnation. The same, of course, doesn’t apply to Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iran, Cuba and other ‘unfriendly’ nations. The US decision must be particularity disheartening to African nations who saw in the advent of Barack Obama some vindication. The US first black president, however, saw it fit to boycott a conference that intended to discuss the issue of slavery and repatriation, to once again prove that race alone is hardly sufficient in explaining US internal and external policies.

in response to this some people have organized a campaign to try to get obama to reconsider. while their letter is not perfect, i do think attending the conference sends the right message to the zionist entity that they cannot bully the world by threats of anti-semitism. their racist regime must not only be critiqued, but ended. here is the letter and if you click the link you can sign their petition:

January 20, 2009

Dear President Barack Obama,

As people of conscience in the United States struggling for a socially, economically and ecologically healthier world free of racism, colonialism, and militarism, we write to respectfully urge you to attend the upcoming Durban Review Conference on Racism from 20-24 April 2009.

Your election marks a historic moment in a nation founded upon the slavery and genocide of people of color. We, along with millions everywhere, are full of hope that this legacy will finally be redressed. First Nation, people of African descent, working class people, immigrants to this country, and people from colonized countries throughout the world all have suffered for far too long. We hope that your inauguration will usher a new dawn on which the US government will respond to calls to tackle historic and current injustices that stand in the way of change.

You were brought to power by an unprecedented chorus of grassroots voices, a unique gathering of activism and resources. We honor your experiences as a grassroots organizer working for change in the lives of working class people of color. Like many others who voted for you (or wanted to but couldn’t because we are not US citizens), we were inspired by your call for dialogue on foreign policy, and your opposition to the politics of torture and preemptive wars. We rejoiced in your victory – our victory – against racism and war.

Your participation in the Durban Review Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related intolerance (Geneva, Switzerland, April 2009) will reaffirm your commitment to these principles. We are aware that great pressure is being exerted on your administration to boycott the Durban Review Conference; that congress has passed a resolution in support of this boycott. Lobbyists on behalf of the State of Israel are wrong to claim that the first Durban Conference was anti-Semitic because it held Israel accountable for its racist laws and policies. Nothing could be farther from the truth: anti-Semitism today is fueled by U.S. policies that apply double standards in its relationship to Israel and allow Israel to violate international law with impunity. The failure to distinguish between criticizing Israeli government policies and anti-Semitism on the one hand, and perpetuating, the misleading image of Jews as united in support of Israel’s unconscionable violence against the Palestinian people, on the other, feeds into anti-Jewish hatred and incites anti-Semitism today.

Israel must obey international law like any other state. Israel has to end its occupation of Palestinian lands, its dismemberment of the country into Bantustans, its apartheid-like laws and policies against Arab people, and its theft of Palestinian land and resources. Only recently, the majority of the international community has raised its voice in protest as Israel waged a savage war against the Palestinian people in Gaza. The U.S. has for too long condoned Israel’s disregard for international law, settlement buildup, and bad faith negotiations. There has never been a more urgent time for the U.S. to join the international community to effect a serious change.

We stand in with the world’s majority who demand an end to the Israeli siege on Gaza and who had the courage to break ties with Israel—the leadership of Latin America, the Arab World, and Turkey; the UN General Assembly and its President, D’escoto Brockmann; Sir Gerald Kaufmann from the British House of Commons, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, and the millions of voices demanding that Israel comply with international law.

To ignore Durban is to align with those who justify Israel’s racism, human rights violations, occupation and apartheid-like policies; and to allow its siege of Gaza. A boycott of the Durban global dialogue towards a united and principled stand against racism could only send the wrong message that the U.S. is not committed t to overcoming its history of racism and the impact that history has had in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, as well as on communities of color within the United States. A United States boycott of the Durban Review will squarely put the U.S. in opposition to the global aspirations to transform current conditions of racism and xenophobia.

US boycott of the Durban Review will precipitate a speedy disillusionment in the US and around the world with the commitment of your administration to developing policy that is qualitatively different from those of the previous administration. Ignoring the message of Durban would also undermine and alienate the organizers of the conference who are looking to the principled engagement of your administration against those whose power is based on promoting and enforcing racist divisions within their populations. We hope that your administration can show that the United States is ready to participate in international dialogue aimed at ending its legacy of colonization, slavery, racism and xenophobia. We are conscious that, because of your history and experience, you are well aware of the nature and impact of US policies in the Global South.

From amplifying the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina, through the terrorizing of immigrant communities, and to the continued destruction of indigenous lands, peoples and cultures, harmful U.S. government policies also reflect the culpability of the United States in perpetuating racism and injustice throughout the world. The lavish funding for war and the generous military and political aid to regimes that disrespect human rights have been part and parcel of a governmental outlook that is oblivious to the needs of health care, education, employment and housing.

To fulfill the hope you have inspired and which brought you to office, we urge you and your Administration to:

* Participate in the Durban Review Conference in Geneva from 20-24 of April 2009.

* Consider deeply felt and urgent demands of the Durban Review for US acknowledgment and repudiation of past racist crimes and injustices, in particular against First Nations and African people, as well as of current racist and xenophobic policies enforced by the US within and beyond its borders.

* Engage in critical dialogue on the de-institutionalization of racism within the US, and the ways in which war economy can be diverted into peace economy.

* Shift the US policies toward recognizing the legitimate concerns of participants from communities devastated by war and occupation and listen with an open mind to their demands for justice, dignity and peace.

In your speech at a Howard University Convocation in 2007, you asked the audience to:

Be strong and have courage in the face of injustice. Be strong and have courage in the face of prejudice and hatred. Be strong and have courage in the face of joblessness and helplessness and hopelessness. Be strong and have courage, in the face of our doubts and fears, in the face of skepticism, in the face of cynicism, in the face of a mighty river.

We ask you to be strong in the face of these challenges and to trust the strength of your grassroots base. We ask you to stand up against those who would keep this country and the world shackled by to policies that harm us all. Stand with us as we join hands to support you as a President of a United States that can leave behind racism, colonial oppression and war and that rejoins the world community for justice, dignity and peace.

israeli terrorists kill hamas cat: maybe now israeli terrorists will be tried for war crimes?

picture-9

i just got back from all of the hoop jumping one must go through if you happen to have a passport that allows you to go to palestine and lebanon. loving people in both places means you need two passports. but i had to jump through an extra hoop today because i had my jordanian stamp in my passport that i only use for palestine and i had to give it to the u.s. embassy this morning (the rage i had to repress in order to sustain that little visit is going to last me a while; i cannot wait until the day when i can burn that passport and never have to use it again). anyway, i had to go to some jordanian office called “foreign borders.” it is a place where they will give you a valid stamp in the passport you need it in. but while i was running around jumping through hoops before my trip to beirut tomorrow, i missed recent developments on several fronts. the first is that a group that i and another friend belong to on face book called “prevent a new genocide: save gaza” was hacked by zionist terrorists (see photo above). i immediately removed myself from the group as apparently my friend told me that if it was hacked that maybe those internet zionist terrorists could hack your overall facebook account. these terrorists changed the logo to something called the “jewish internet defense forces” and other items in the group. this is what we are up against, we, those who seek to tell the truth about gaza.

and i had a thought this morning about those people who stay silent, who do nothing in the face of this massacre-genocide-holocaust that israeli terrorists are perpetrating against the people of gaza who are trapped in a prison with nowhere else to go: americans, and perhaps europeans as well, don’t really care about human life, especially if those humans are arabs and muslims (especially if they are arab and muslim men). so i started thinking that the photographs i posted were not having an effect on my readers. silly me, i thought photographs of all the hundreds of massacred and injured palestinian children might tug at the heartstrings of some people who may have a shred of morality left, who may get up off their asses and do something. but then i remembered: what americans do care about are dead animals. so here are the animals who have been killed by israeli terrorists. do you think they were launching hamas resistance rockets too?

hamas cat killed by israeli terrorists in gaza
hamas cat killed by israeli terrorists in gaza

meanwhile, more children are being massacred in gaza by israeli terrorists, for those who care:

it is the same way that american academics are not doing s*&^ with respect to the academic boycott of israel. clearly, american academics feel that their precious little freedom of speech is more important than palestinian lives. that much is obvious. but i thought that maybe they might give a s(*& about the targeting of schools. at this point israeli terrorists have targeted the islamic university of gaza, several schools, including an amerian school in gaza, and today not only did israeli terrorists target a school: they targeted AN UNRWA SCHOOL BEING USED TO HOUSE FAMILIES FLEEING FROM ISRAELI TERRORISTS. this is one of 11 schools for internally displaced palestinians–5,000 of them are staying in these make-shift shelters. here is ma’an’s report on the attack on the unrwa school/shelter:

Three Palestinians were killed overnight in an Israeli attack on a United Nations school that was housing people displaced by the violence in Gaza, the UN’s relief agency for Palestinian refugees said on Tuesday.

In a statement circulated on Tuesday, UNRWA said that Israeli forces attacked the Asma Elementary School in Gaza City, which is currently sheltering 400 people who fled their homes in the town of Beit Lahiya.

The school was clearly marked as a United Nations installation. The three men, 24-year-old Hussein Mahmoud Abed Al Malek Al Sultan, 19-year-old Abed Samir Ali Al Sultan, and 25-year-old Rawhi Jamal Ramadan Al Sultan, were killed at 11:30 last night. The three men, all from the same family, were killed as they left the school toilet at eleven thirty last night when the school compound took a direct hit.

The director of the UN general commissioner’s office in Gaza Adnan Abu Hasanah said that another UN facility, the Ash-Shouka School in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, was also bombarded. At this time there were no details available about the civilians who had taken shelter in the school.

UNRWA is strongly protesting these killings to the Israeli authorities and is calling for an immediate and impartial investigation.
“Where it is found that international humanitarian law has been violated, those responsible must be held to account,” UNRWA said.

Well before the current fighting, UNRWA said it had given to the Israeli authorities the GPS co-ordinates of all its installations in Gaza, including Asma Elementary School.

“This tragic incident again illustrates the most urgent need for an end to the fighting. It also underlines the sad reality facing those fleeing the violence that unless there is a lasting ceasefire, there will remain pervasive risks to civilian lives in Gaza today,” the agency added.

apparently this happened late last, but it wasn’t reported earlier when i read the news. the united nations had told the israeli terrorists and gave the israeli terrorists their coordinates so that it would not be a target. but if you remember the israeli terrorist invasion of lebanon in july 2006 they did the same thing: they targeted the united nations there too.

i should say there are a few people responding to the israeli terrorism targeting schools (meanwhile there is some motherf*&$^% AMERICAN israeli terrorist soldier that alan fisher just interviewed on al jazeera english who was rationalize the targeting of this unrwa school). of course the initial calls came from palestinians like the palestinian association of university teachers in gaza:

The Palestinian Association of University Teachers in Gaza calls upon all peace-loving, freedom-loving nations, NGOs, universities, intellectuals, cultural and academic institutions, trade unions and syndicates, as well as human rights organizations all over the world to:

1. Immediately impose boycotts, sanctions and divestment on the Apartheid Israeli state.

2. Try the Israeli generals for their on-going crimes against the Palestinian people.

3. Demand a halt to Israel’s savage aggression, end its brutal occupation and lift its suffocating and lethal siege on the Gaza Strip.

4. Implement all UN resolutions related to the inalienable national rights, particularly UN resolution 194 calling for the right of return for the Palestinian refugees to their homes and their property from which they were uprooted by the terrorist Zionist gangs in 1948.

5. Comply with 4th article of the Geneva Convention, the international human rights law, the international humanitarian law, and the universal declaration of human rights as well as all other related agreements.

6. Lift the draconian blockade against Gaza as stipulated by the 1948 convention on Genocide, and consider anyone participating as a war criminal who must be tried for crimes against humanity.

Israel is a rogue state that is a threat and danger to world peace and security; therefore she must be banished and punished by the international community, before it is too late for the people of Palestine, the people of Israel and the people in the surrounding countries.

for those who don’t understand why teachers in palestine would accurately describe the terrorist state of israel as a “rogue state” you may want to look at how one of its chief terrorists and propagandists rationalizes the targeting of a university in gaza:

Tzipi Livni shrugged off the criticism of Israel’s bombing of structures near the Islamic College in Gaza, being heard throughout the academic world.

During Sunday’s cabinet meeting the foreign minister said “here we have departments of life sciences, while for them it is the department of death sciences.”

According to intelligence information gathered by the IDF and Shin Bet, the compound near the Islamic college, bombed twice in the past week, was being used as a chemical lab and as Hamas’ explosives lab in Gaza.

Military officials said terrorists had been working there to produce improved rockets and manufacture mortar shells that were later fired toward Israel’s home front.

The Prime Minister’s Office and the IDF dubbed the lab as “the Palestinian Rafael (Israel’s leading developer of arms related technology).”

a new group, california scholars for academic freedom has come up with a response to these terrorist acts and i am hoping that these folks step up a serious boycott campaign in the u.s.:

California Scholars for Academic Freedom, a group of 100 scholars at 20 California institutions of higher learning, condemns in the strongest possible terms the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip that have targeted the Islamic University and other educational sites.

While we decry Israeli war crimes and violations of human rights, and condemn the massive Israeli bombardment of Gaza which has caused hundreds of deaths, as educators in California institutions of higher learning, we are especially appalled at the destruction of educational institutions and student casualties.

On 27 December, Human Rights Watch reported that an Israeli air-to-ground missile struck a group of students leaving the Gaza Training College, adjacent to the headquarters of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in downtown Gaza City, killing eight students and wounding 19 others. Two days later, on 29 December 2008, Israel bombed the Islamic University of Gaza, destroying the science laboratory block and destroying or damaging other blocks of buildings, including the library. Although Israel has claimed that the science laboratory facilities were used as “a research and development center for Hamas weapons,” this claim has been denied by officials of the Islamic University, and according to the New York Times of 1 January 2009 Israel has not produced any evidence for its claim.

These direct assaults on Palestinian students and educational institutions are only the latest chapter in Israel’s ongoing denial of the right to education guaranteed in international conventions. Since the first uprising in 1987, Israel has systematically frustrated or denied Palestinian students their right to study, not just in the occupied territories, but at universities abroad, as most recently demonstrated by the Israeli government’s refusal to allow students awarded prestigious Fulbright fellowships to leave for the United States. University students living in Gaza have not been able to leave in order to attend universities throughout the world, let alone Birzeit University, and students in the West Bank itself have to negotiate roadblocks and checkpoints to get to their classes — often never making it.

The background to the current crisis is too complicated to detail in a press release. It is, however, important to note, first, that under international law, Israel is still an occupying power, maintaining control of Gaza’s borders, air and water space. It has completely isolated Gaza and wrought a humanitarian catastrophe, as noted by UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk. Second, the current bombing campaign by Israel constitutes collective punishment, which is a violation of international law. Third, Hamas won the majority of seats to the Palestinian Legislative Council in the internationally acknowledged fair election of January 2006.

As California Scholars for Academic Freedom, we will continue to play our mandated role to educate the international public about the right to education and the egregious violation of that right by the Israeli government. We will participate in campaigns aimed at exerting pressure on international authorities and the governments of Israel and the US to implement an immediate cease-fire and begin preparations for an end to the blockade and the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

We insist that Israel has the responsibility to ensure the right to education as mandated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Israel ratified in 1991. The undermining and disruption of Palestinian education as a result of the deliberate destruction of academic facilities constitutes a violation of a basic human right that will have long-term negative political, economic, and humanitarian ramifications for all people involved.

California Scholars for Academic Freedom is a one-year-old group of 100 academics who teach in 20 California institutions. The group formed as a response to various violations of academic freedom that were arising from both the post-11 September 2001 climate of civil rights violations and the increasing attacks on progressive educators by neo-conservatives. Many attacks were aimed at scholars of Arab, Muslim or Middle Eastern descent or at scholars researching and teaching about the Middle East, Arab and Muslim communities. Our goal of protecting California Scholars based mainly in institutions of higher education has grown broader in scope. We recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom everywhere.

also, david lloyd set up a website–he’s related to the california group–has a new website set up and is calling for academics to sign a letter addressed to president-elect barack obama, who i promise you will be far more of a terrorist than george w. bush ever was when it comes to this region in which i live. here is david’s letter:

Dear President-Elect Obama
By David Lloyd

Once, in what was perhaps an unguarded moment, you stated that: “Nobody’s suffering more than the Palestinian people”. After days of relentless Israeli bombing in the Gaza strip that has already killed over four hundred people, most of them civilians or policemen, and injured more than two thousand, many of whom may yet die for lack of medical supplies and facilities, your words have never rung more true. And yet, so far, your only response to this latest assault on the Palestinians, that the UN Secretary General diplomatically calls “disproportionate”, has been to defend Israel’s right to respond to mostly harmless rocket attacks.

Does this mean that on the long way to the White House you have trimmed your sails and, for the sake of securing the power you will soon assume, fear now to speak truth to power? Does this mean that, unlike Dr. King, your sense of justice is adjustable for the sake of political expedience? Those who supported you from the early days of your primary campaign did so not on account of your response to economic crisis, but because they believed in your sense of justice and your commitment to put an end to business-as-usual in Washington, and because they believed in your genuine desire to shape a new and different world order.

In 1981, while you were an undergraduate at Occidental College, you were among the first of a courageous group of students and faculty who, while the cause was still unpopular or unheard of, spoke out for divestment from the apartheid regime in South Africa. You knew then that it was imperative to place pressure on a racist regime which shamefully oppressed a black and coloured population that was discriminated against, subject to pass laws and control of its every movement, parceled into Bantustans, and subject to detention, torture and extra-judicial execution. When the black population protested, like the school children of Soweto, they could be summarily shot down by police or army. The ANC, under Nelson Mandela, was proscribed as a terrorist movement, its leaders were imprisoned, tortured or killed, its guerrillas faced the overwhelming power of the South African army, equipped and trained in part by the United States and its European allies. A regime that was so unafraid to use violence in the defense of its discriminatory and racist regime, and so unashamed to do so in the face of international condemnation, could only understand the language of force. The divestment movement in which you so actively participated understood that the euphemistically and cynically named policy of “constructive engagement” was a moral and practical failure and that only the non-violent pressure of a financial boycott on the South African regime had any hope of bringing an end to apartheid without an horrific bloodbath.

Public figures as diverse as Bishop Desmond Tutu and President Jimmy Carter have recognized that Israel too is an apartheid regime, in practice if not in name. South Africa, now a functioning multi-racial democracy, was a white state for a white people. Israel is a Jewish state for a Jewish people. Its non-Jewish, mostly Palestinian Arab citizens are discriminated against in numerous ways, economically and civilly. The dispossessed and ethnically cleansed Palestinian populations, dispersed in the diaspora and in the refugee camps of Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon, are denied the internationally recognized right of return. They have had their lands and homes taken from them by armed and “legal” force, are subject to collective punishment, prolonged states of siege, the absolute and deliberately destructive control of their daily movements. Where South Africa instituted the pass laws, the checkpoints that have proliferated all over the West Bank and at the exits from Gaza prevent students from reaching their schools and hospitals, workers from reaching their places or work, keep farmers from their fields, the sick from the few hospitals that survive to serve them. The illegal settlements, that in contravention of all international laws regarding occupation have proliferated across the West Bank, are designed to be permanent “facts on the ground” and have divided recognized Palestinian territory into segmented islets, into besieged Bantustans, with the intent of preventing a contiguous Palestinian state. A so-called security wall, illegally built, as even the Israeli Supreme Court recognized, on Palestinian territory, has cut farmers from their lands and turned formerly prosperous villages into isolated prisons. Regular Israeli military incursions into Palestinian cities and refugee camps, and bombings from the air, have killed innumerable civilians, many of them children. Since the election of Hamas, in fair and open elections, Israel has subjected the civilian population of Gaza to a prolonged state of siege, designed to suffocate them into submission, depriving them at will of water and power, medical supplies and food, and of access to the outside world. The most recent, all-out assault on Gaza, the disproportionate and bloody use of excessive force, is no act of self-defense, but the dramatic extension of an insidious policy of extermination of a people that refuses to disappear.

Every one of these acts is a crime against humanity. In their ensemble, they constitute one of the most massive, ethnocidal atrocities of modern times. Alone among nations, Israel acts in flagrant violation of international law and UN resolutions and does so with impunity. That it can do so is in large part the consequence of the uncritical support offered to Israel by a succession of American administrations. Without the military and economic aid of the United States, which amounts to more than a third of all US foreign aid, Israel could not have mounted its violent offensives against the Palestinians or Lebanon, could not maintain its security apparatus, could not afford the illegal settlements that seek to expand Israel into what remains of Palestinian territory. The United States has supplied the F-16s that are bombarding the Palestinians, their schools, police stations and mosques, and the cluster bombs that continue to kill and maim children and farmers in southern Lebanon. America continues to support Israel to the tune of billions every year at the expense of US taxpayers and at the expense of its moral standing in the world.

You will continue to do so, according to your own web page, because “our first and incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must be to the security of Israel, America’s strongest ally in the region.” You and your Vice-President, Joe Biden, not only “defend and support the annual foreign aid package that involves both military and economic assistance to Israel”, but moreover “have advocated increased foreign aid budgets to ensure that these funding priorities are met.” In doing so, you lend your support, in the name of the United States, to a regime no less criminal in its acts and in its policies towards its own minority population and its dispossessed Palestinian neighbors than South Africa was in the 1980s. Then, it was argued, South Africa was our strongest ally in the region, a bulwark in the war against communism, a crucial supplier of uranium and other minerals, a prosperous Western-style democracy, if not the only democracy on the continent. To bring down the South African apartheid regime, it was argued, would be to create chaos in southern Africa, unleash a bloodbath in which whites and blacks alike would suffer, and pave the way for a communist or dictatorial postcolonial regime. The divestment movement, a non-violent coalition of students and academics, union members and churches, came together in the spirit of the Civil Rights movement to challenge those self-serving assumptions. It changed the direction of US foreign policy, disgracing its support of a racist regime, and placed effective pressure on the apartheid regime to begin serious negotiations with the ANC. Through a combination of diplomacy and divestment, we did end apartheid, making way for a functioning multi-racial democracy that confronts its challenges, indeed, but has not dissolved into chaos or tyranny.

It is time for the United States to place a similar pressure on Israel. That Israel has been America’s beneficiary, unchallenged in its war crimes and in its acts of terror, uncontested for its racist civil constitution and illegal occupations, has not been to the United States’ advantage. On the contrary, such unquestioning support of Israel has fueled the legitimate anger of the Islamic world, supplied the justification for terrorism, and continually tarnished the United States’ reputation among the democracies of the world. That the United States has stood so often alone in defending Israel before the court of world opinion in the United Nations is not a sign of its virtue, but of the obstinacy and arrogance of its stance.

But it is not for the sake of the reputation or advantage of the United States that you should take a new path in relation to Israel. It is in the name of justice. It is not just to support the territorial ambitions, realized settlement by settlement, of a Zionist minority in the region. It is not just to continue to supply Israel with the most advanced weapons and the most deadly arms in order that it may murder civilians, children and policemen. It is not just that we should support Israel with all our diplomatic force and financial aid, while leaving Israel’s victims to die slowly for lack of food, medicine, water and power. It is not just that we should sacrifice a dispossessed people for the security of a state that discriminates and expropriates, continually and violently ignores UN resolutions and international appeals, collectively punishes those whose right to resist occupation is recognized in international law. There is no road to peace through such injustice.

It may be that the compromise in the end will be the establishment and security of two separate states. Almost certainly, the only hope of a lasting solution is a single state in Israel/Palestine, committed to the civil and human rights of all peoples within its boundaries, irrespective of religion or ethnicity. That is, after all, the standard to which we hold all other states in the world, Israel alone excepted. But no solution at all will be possible until we hold Israel accountable for its criminal violence and its illegal acts, until we cease to supply it with the means to pursue a course of domination and expansion, with arms and warplanes, with finance and diplomatic support. It is time for constructive disengagement from Israel, financial, diplomatic, military. What worked in the case of South Africa, divestment and pressure, may finally work in the Middle East.

Without such justice, there will be no peace.

David Lloyd
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, January 1, 2009

you may click on the link at the top of the letter if you would like to find out how to become a signatory to it.

there are now 593 martyrs. 2,800 wounded. 75% of gaza has no electricity. hospitals are running on generators.

unrwa’s john ging just said: “the international community must be held responsible for their action and inaction.”

Petition in support of call by United Nations General Assembly President Miguel D’escoto Brockmann for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel

Petition in support of call by United Nations General Assembly President Miguel D’escoto Brockmann for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/IJAN_Brockmann_BDS/?e

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

During the 57th Plenary Meeting on the Question of Palestine, President of the General Assembly Miguel D’escoto Brockmann broke a diplomatic taboo by describing Israeli policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as similar to those of the defunct apartheid regime in South Africa.

Brockmann also urged the United Nations to use the term ‘apartheid’ without fear, and recommended that the United Nations

“….should consider following the lead of a new generation of civil society, who are calling for a similar non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel to end its violations.”

Unsurprisingly, Brockmann has been branded as an antisemite by apologists for Israel.

We are appalled by the recurrent use of baseless accusations of antisemitism; they silence calls for compassion and humanity in the name of the Palestinian people. The use of such accusations to defend massive violence against civilians offends all people of conscience. The false invocation of the slur of antisemitism positions Israel, with great political and military advantage, as a victim, while desecrating Jewish histories and trivializing the real experiences and outcomes of antisemitism.

Likening Israel’s policies to apartheid is not antisemitic. It is common sense. Israel’s policies have been widely described in these terms by, among others, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Jamal Zahalka, Azmi Bishara, Gideon Levy, John Dugard, Omar Barghouti, Danny Rubinstein, Amira Haas, Shulamit Aloni, Meron Benvenisti, and Ami Ayalon.

Calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel is not antisemitism. It is the recognition that only such a campaign can lay the ground for a long-lasting peace based on justice and reconciliation. In the words of Nelson Mandela,

“The responses made by South Africa to human rights abuses emanating from the removal policies and apartheid policies respectively, shed light on what Israeli society must necessarily go through before one can speak of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East…”

As Israel continues to ignore the growing outrage over the blockade of Gaza, and as Israel repeatedly breaks the cease-fire, blocks humanitarian aid and prevents journalists from covering the catastrophic impact of its actions, we the undersigned express our support for President Brockmann and urge the United Nations and all member states to adopt his recommendation without delay.

bamboozled

There are still a number of important editorials coming out with critical analysis about what a President Obama will mean. As my posts over the entire election campaign make clear, I’ve never felt duped by this candidate as he never represented progressive–let alone radical points of view. He seemed like the same old sort of candidate who supports big power structures. There are a number of people, who as I’ve also commented at length, believed otherwise. They were bamboozled as it were–at least until the Rahm Israel Emanuel appointment made the news. So here are some responses from people who felt they were bamboozled as well as from people who knew along along, who tried to warn us all along, and whose words continue to remind of us why we must continue the struggle. Today Friends of Lebanon actually used the word bamboozled to describe their concerns:

It troubles me that you view the July 2006 War (which left 43 Israeli civilians dead and at least 1200 Lebanese civilians dead) as an Israeli exercise in self-defence. It troubles me that you categorically deny Lebanon the same right to self-defence. Is “self-defence” an objective concept or is it a US/Israeli prerogative? It troubles me that you vocally champion “adherence to the rule of law” on the one hand, and then look the other way as Israel violates humanitarian and international laws time and again.

Am I being an idealist in mentioning such grandiose notions as humanitarian and international law? I think not. You speak often of ideals. You even acknowledge their violation parenthetically in your “Plan to Actively Engage China.” You note that China has “failed to live up to international standards of human rights,” (a phrase many would say is a gross euphemism at best) and then you kindly chastise China: “the United States has to be frank with the Chinese about such failings and will press them to respect human rights.” You graciously offer not to “demonize China” because you “understand both the magnitude of the challenges facing a developing China and the importance of a constructive relationship to foster continued peace and prosperity.”

Compare this if you will, to the bold assertions in your “Israel Fact Sheet” (not a speech, a statement or a plan here, but an incontestable fact sheet). Well, you know what it says, don’t you, Mr Obama. Israel is always right. Lebanon, Palestine and any other country that dares support Arabs’ being of equal worth to Jews, they are always inherently wrong. You do not hesitate to demonise the Arabs/Iranians as violent extremists and terrorists. “Those who threaten Israel threaten us,” you say. Does that not recall your predecessor’s warning that “you’re either with us or against us”?

This brand of so-called diplomacy is neither new nor improved. Any vague sense of hope for change we may have still clung to—those of us who value open-minded dialogue that demands listening as well as speaking—well, that hope that you so carefully crafted during the campaign was resolutely squashed after the election when you nominated as your Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Would you expect anyone to believe that he is not the epitome of bias, a veritable Mr Preconditions?

Bamboozled indeed. It seems to me that this little game of con the consumer has seduced those who are hungry for power. For it is this dogged insistence on double standards that has these past eight years fed the distrust and scorn and despising of the US. And it is the chauvinism of adhering not to the rule of law, but to the rule of men. And it is the hypocrisy of professing to defend democracy by killing the spirit if not the body of anyone who dares to voice a different opinion.

The use of the word bamboozled here (and elsewhere if you follow the link and read the entire article) is important interesting in relation to a speech given by Malcolm X as represented in Spike Lee’s biopic of the same name, which importantly, is a speech in which he is speaking to an audience about politicians:

Clearly, Friends of Lebanon was not bamboozled as it tracks Barack Obama’s language and the way he used it unevenly, for instance, to describe Israeli aggression as “self defense,” whereas Lebanese people don’t have that right.

John Pilger’s recent op-ed responds to the historic nature of Obama’s election in the context of the historical process of destruction that American will continue to unleash around the world if his early choices in those he wants by his side are any indication:

Obama’s first two crucial appointments represent a denial of the wishes of his supporters on the principal issues on which they voted. The vice-president-elect, Joe Biden, is a proud war maker and Zionist. Rahm Emanuel, who is to be the all-important White House chief of staff, is a fervent “neoliberal” devoted to the doctrine that led to the present economic collapse and impoverishment of millions. He is also an “Israel-first” Zionist who served in the Israeli army and opposes meaningful justice for the Palestinians — an injustice that is at the root of Muslim people’s loathing of the United States and the spawning of jihadism.

No serious scrutiny of this is permitted within the histrionics of Obama-mania, just as no serious scrutiny of the betrayal of the majority of black South Africans was permitted within the “Mandela moment.” This is especially marked in Britain, where America’s divine right to “lead” is important to elite British interests. The once respected Observer newspaper, which supported Bush’s war in Iraq, echoing his fabricated evidence, now announces, without evidence, that “America has restored the world’s faith in its ideals.” These “ideals”, which Obama will swear to uphold, have overseen, since 1945, the destruction of 50 governments, including democracies, and 30 popular liberation movements, causing the deaths of countless men, women and children.

Elias Akleh, also writing in Dissident Voice, describes the rhetoric of change and the celebration of it an “orgy” not the least of which because people were so hypnotized by it that they ignored the warning signs:

Obama’s victory, and more accurately Democrats’ victory, was a sure thing. Through two major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war in Haiti, their proxy wars in Africa, war in Georgia, war against Lebanon via Israel, and their violations of international laws, plus the internal wars against the freedom of American people, and the ravaging of American economy, the Republican neoconservative Bush administration had swung the pendulum to the extreme right, and now it has but to swing back to the opposite direction. Everybody knew that after eight disastrous years of Republican rule the Democrats will have their turn. This inevitable change is what brought Obama to the White House. Obama rode to the White House on the people’s wish for change….

Hypnotized by “change” and “race” people could not see the similarities Obama has with McCain/Bush/Republicans. They are all for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although initially Obama opposed the Iraqi invasion, he always voted for the surge and more war funding in Iraq. He wants to leave a residual force in military bases in Iraq, and wants to ship another military surge to Afghanistan to keep bombing Pakistani borders. He supported Israeli terror and aggression against Palestinians and the war against Lebanon. Obama is belligerent towards Iran promising to do “everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon”. He was confrontational towards Russia after the war in Georgia. He is for war against “global terrorist” and promised to bring Osama bin Laden in dead or alive. He is for drug wars (protecting drug trade, whose money goes through Wall Street). Locally, he supports the death penalty, pollutant nuclear and coal industries, and had never talked about abolishing oppressive laws such as Patriot Act, homeland security, internet control, and wiretapping and spying on American citizens.

In an article by John Craig Roberts called “Conned Again”–though I don’t believe he actually is referring to himself, but rather the American electorate, he tells us that in addition to the dangerous appointments of terrorists like Emanuel, Obama’s economic plan will not bring change: (thanks Rania)

Obama’s economic team is just as bad. Its star is Robert Rubin, the bankster who was secretary of the treasury in the Clinton administration. Rubin has responsibility for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and, thereby, responsibility for the current financial crisis. In his letter to Obama, Nader points out that Obama received unprecedented campaign contributions from corporate and Wall Street interests. “Never before has a Democratic nominee for President achieved this supremacy over his Republican counterpart.”

Obama’s victory speech was magnificent. The TV cameras scanning faces in the audience showed the hope and belief that propelled Obama into the presidency. But Obama cannot bring change to Washington. There is no one in the Washington crowd that he can appoint who is capable of bringing change. If Obama were to reach outside the usual crowd, anyone suspected of being a bringer of change could not get confirmed by the Senate. Powerful interest groups–AIPAC, the military-security complex, Wall Street–use their political influence to block unacceptable appointments.

As Alexander Cockburn put it in his column, “Obama, the first-rate Republican,” “never has the dead hand of the past had a ‘reform’ candidate so firmly by the windpipe.” Obama confirmed Cockburn’s verdict in his first press conference as president-elect. Disregarding the unanimous US National Intelligence Estimate, which concluded that Iran stopped working on nuclear weapons five years ago, and ignoring the continued certification by the International Atomic Energy Agency that none of the nuclear material for Iran’s civilian nuclear reactor has been diverted to weapons use, Obama sallied forth with the Israel Lobby’s propaganda and accused Iran of “development of a nuclear weapon” and vowing “to prevent that from happening.”

The change that is coming to America has nothing to do with Obama. Change is coming from the financial crisis brought on by Wall Street greed and irresponsibility, from the eroding role of the US dollar as reserve currency, from countless mortgage foreclosures, from the offshoring of millions of America’s best jobs, from a deepening recession, from pillars of American manufacturing–Ford and GM–begging the government for taxpayers’ money to stay alive, and from budget and trade deficits that are too large to be closed by normal means.

And in terms of economics Emanuel is a dangerous pick for his first right-hand man as Bruce Dixon writes in the Black Agenda Report. There are many other reasons we should be outraged by this choice on Obama’s part:

The first appointments of the new regime are truly disturbing. Illinois congressman Rahm Emanuel, the new White House chief of staff is a certifiable Democratic neocon who helped strongarm NAFTA, welfare reform and the Telecom Act of 1996 though congress for Bill Clinton. He served on the board of Freddie Mac while it was busy inflating the housing bubble, and was an early and unrepentant advocate of invading Iraq and bombing Iran. As head of the DCCC, responsible for recruiting and funding 2006 Democratic congressional candidates, Emanuel used corporate contributions to try to knock more than a twenty antiwar Democrats out of primary races in favor of pro-war Democrats. Confronted with choices between pro-war Democrats and pro-war Republicans, voters rejected most of Emanuel’s picks, costing Democrats as many as ten Congressional seats.

Dixon doesn’t just critique Obama’s decisions; importantly he offers ways for us to mobilize now in relation to the economic situation in the U.S. and things we can take action on that will help the people who need it the most in the U.S.:

The biggest thing the Obama administration can do to succeed in its first month, to boost the incomes and secure the economic well-being of millions of US families is to speedily pass the Employee Free Choice Act. Under the Reagan, Clinton and Bush regimes, the right of Americans in a workplace to organize a union, even to think out loud about a union, has almost disappeared. Working people have no leverage against employers, who, according to Labor Department stats, fired someone every ten minutes in 2005 for suspected union activity. Right now, that’s illegal, but the fines are so light that employers wantonly violate the law and willingly pay the fine rather than allow workers to organize.

Swift and early passage of the Employee Free Choice Act will empower families to fight their own fights for economic parity on more equal ground than we have seen in a generation. While the productivity of American workers has nearly tripled over the last thirty years, wages have remained, when adjusted for inflation, flat. All the profits of increased productivity have flowed upward to the bosses. US executives often make 400 to 1000 times the wage of their workers, as opposed to only 40 to 100 times as much in Germany or Japan, which are still out-competing the US anyway.

If the Employee Free Choice Act is passed early, an Obama administration will create thousands of local organizing opportunities and thousands of institutional allies to help hold it on the course of peace and economic justice it was elected to take. If you want to see an Obama presidency succeed on the terms of the voters who elected it, the thing to do this week is sign the petition and join the one million others who want to lift up not just the fortunes of Wall Street, but those of ordinary families.

Visit the site of American Rights At Work and Learn more about the difference unions make in access to health care and education and democratic rights in the workplace. Forward the information, the videos and the petition to everyone on your list. Blog it and put the “one million strong” ad and the videos on your own web site, if you have one. And yes, call and email the Obama Transition Team. Organize something, or join something already organized to pressure the new administration to keep its promises. If you want change, be the change.

While it is likely that Obama might respond to pressure on these domestic issues, I wonder how well he will respond to continued outrage–from all sorts of people–about his choice of Emanuel. Ali Abunimah responds to that racism–of past and present–in the Emanuel family, which importantly has not been repudiated publicly by anyone in the new administration:

Sons are not responsible for the racism of their fathers. But they do have a responsibility to let others know that they disagree vehemently with such sentiments. This is certainly the case for individuals in public service, particularly the man President-elect Barack Obama has chosen as White House chief of staff. Yet, Rep. Rahm Emanuel has not said a word regarding the troubling statement his father made to the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv.

In a recent interview, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel asserted that his son’s appointment would be beneficial to Israel. “Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel,” the elder Emanuel said, according to the Jerusalem Post. “Why wouldn’t he be? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House.”

The public has a right to expect Mr. Emanuel to reject such raw racism especially given the historic resonance of Mr. Obama’s victory. It’s especially important for Arab and Muslim Americans who came through the election campaign feeling they are the last group of Americans who can still be publicly denigrated.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee has put a call out to ask people to respond to these racists comments–and indeed to the appointment of Emanuel himself.

Abunimah, like Margaret Kimberly of the Black Agenda Report, warned us all along about what to expect with Obama:

It’s not as if we at BAR didn’t warn you. Barack Obama’s first major act as president-elect was to select as his chief of staff Rep. Rahm Emanuel, whose “role as Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was to insure that anti-war and other progressive candidates stayed out of the running.” So when do the protests begin? “Progressives for Obama and other groups who promised to hold their idol accountable haven’t gotten around to doing so just yet or even announcing when the time will be right for their tongues to become untied.”

But our tongues should not be tied. We must speak. We must get up out of our chairs and do something. Or else it will be four more years of the same. Or worse.

the sound of resistance

There is a great loss today in Miriam Makeba. This clip of her singing “Khawuleza” in 1966 gives you a sense of how she used music as a form of resistance, as a way to sing the truth about South African apartheid in a way that honored those South Africans who were most severely subjected to brutality by the Afrikaner regime.

Some highlights of the power of her voice can be gleaned from this list of her various modes of resistance–and those who were resistant to her music and its message:

She grabbed international attention in 1959 when she starred in the anti-apartheid documentary Come Back, Africa.

She then went to London where she met Harry Belafonte. He helped her get entry to the United States, where she released many of her famous songs.

She received a Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording in 1966 with Belafonte for An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba.

The album was about black South Africans living under apartheid.

When she tried to return to South Africa, she discovered that her passport had been revoked.

She testified against apartheid before the United Nations in 1963.

She was married to musician Hugh Masekela and Trinidadian civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael, who was also the leader of the Black Panthers.

When her only daughter, Bongi Makeba, died in 1985, she moved to Brussels.

Former South African president Nelson Mandela persuaded her to return to South Africa in 1990.

She was always optimistic about post-apartheid South Africa, even though she acknowledged that it came with its own problems.

In 1964 Makeba spoke at the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid and the video below shows a brief clip of her speech. It is worth highlighting what she says in print, too:

If you were in our place, would you not resist if you were allowed no rights in your own country because the color of your skin is different to that of the rulers?

Notice Makeba’s use of the word resistance here. True, she used cultural resistance–music as resistance–in her work. But as with most freedom fighters in South Africa of all stripes, resistance was resistance. As the brilliant Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe famously remarked, cultural and armed resistance go hand and hand. Both are necessary. But imagine if we just change one word in her statement around to reflect Palestinians who are prisoners in their own land:

If you were in our place, would you not resist if you were allowed no rights in your own country because the color of your religion is different to that of the rulers?

And people wonder why it is that the word apartheid is preferred by many of us seeking to resist the colonization of Palestine.

In reading through various obituaries this morning I was reminded of her marriage to Black Panther leader Stokley Carmichael/Kwame Ture, whom I wrote about a few days ago ironically enough because I’ve been reading his book Ready for Revolution. There is a part of the book where he discusses one of Makeba’s concert tours in Africa, which I think is relevant today for a number of reasons:

Miriam was of course banned from the country of her birth, which was under a boycott anyway by the antiapartheid movement. So Azania (South Africa) was out. As were the Portuguese settler colonies of Mozambique and Angola, and Southern Rhodesia, where African brothers and sisters were waging people’s wars to liberate their homelands. But no problem: we knew we would one day visit them as liberated territories. Which happened right on schedule in most cases.

Which left one looming enigma at the very heart of the continent. The Cong. That vast, legendary, mysterious, tragic region in central Africa. Larger than Western Europe, immensely rich in natural resources, once home to powerful and complex African civilizations, all systematically ravaged by the most brutal European colonial rapacity the world had seen. The suffering Congo was a special case. Now nominally independent, the country had been systematically looted and degraded by the CIA puppet-tyrant Joseph Mobutu after the murder of the democratically elected Patrice Lumumba. A former corporal in the French colonial army, Mobutu had been put in place by his retreating colonial masters. This brutal puppet-dictator–propped up by the CIA and a cartel of French and Belgian capitalists–had enabled the foreign looting of the wealth, while overseeing the degradation of the social fabric, of this important, potentially great, country. A country that, properly governed with vision and integrity, should have been the engine driving economic development of the region. In the process Mobutu had managed to stash some $4 billion of his people’s wealth in his Swiss bank accounts. This was scandalous and tragic. There was absolutely no reason for us to go there, except for revolution. (705)

Ture’s book was published in 2003. Fast forward five years later and yet again the Congo is unraveling. I can’t help but wonder if all of this violence, killing, displacement, hunger, and now disease might have been different if Patrice Lumumba had not been assassinated by the United States. If the CIA hadn’t interfered with a burgeoning, liberatatory democratic process. Raoul Peck made a brilliant and moving documentary and a docudrama about Lumumba’s assassination. I found one clip of the docudrama on Youtube, but it’s worth getting Peck’s films and watching them. It gives one insight into past American aggression–in this case covert–in ways that shed light on current American aggression, which is both covert and overt. But those that Ture describes bled into the form of neocolonialism that continues to ravage the Congo and its people.

Today in the Congo there are tens of thousands of people fleeing the fighting–Internally Displaced People (IDPs). Will they have a right to return to their homes? Even if they live near the Rwanda border and even though there are some Rwandans dispute the border? UNHCR reports these statistics:

More than 250,000 people have been displaced since the fighting resumed in August in North Kivu. Estimates are that there are now more than 1.3 million displaced people in this province alone.

There is a great article on Dissident Voice today by Roxanne Stasyszyn on the overall context of what is happening in the Congo. She reveals the racism, the neocolonialism, and the effects of global capital in ravaging and capitalizing on the Congo:

For people not already living there, Eastern Congo is a place almost unreachable and, according to many, even less desirable to arrive in. Most international news reporters describe Goma as “Hell on earth.”

The people who do reach Goma tend to fit into four main categories.

First, there are rich businesspersons and the aid organization types who circulate to and from Europe and America, back and forth between the big business offices in capital cities like Kinshasa (DRC), Nairobi (Kenya), Kampala (Uganda) and Kigali (Rwanda). The businesspersons are involved in minerals, aviation, timber, petroleum, weaponry and other international commerce.

Then there are the poor, displaced people who walk the dangerous and dense forests from Uganda, Burundi or Rwanda, fleeing one unsafe and impoverished situation for another.

Third come the passport-stamp seeking Western tourists that brag at cafes and Traveler’s Lodges in Kigali and Kampala about how they crossed the border and spent an afternoon in the “Heart of Darkness.”

Last are the journalists and human rights activists who chat with local people and try to find the most bloated belly for a photo opportunity.

Further, she explains some of the neocolonial aspects of the conflict between Rwanda and the Congo:

Dieudonne Amani is a 24 year-old Rwandaphone who has felt the lasting consequences of arbitrary colonial rule. The problem, he explains, is that Rwandaphones are not accepted as true Congolese and are ostracized within the DRC because they are the same tribe and culture as those congregated mainly in Rwanda. Yet Rwanda, he claims, also rejects them. They are people without a homeland, claims Amani, who are systemically persecuted by the Congolese government, by militia groups and by Rwanda.

“There are people sent by the authorities to investigate people’s origin,” he says. “Rwandaphones are a minority, non-Rwandaphones are majority. They wish to please the majority.”

The reason why other tribes do not like Rwandaphones, Amani claims, is a mixture of sculpted modern political mind and envy.

“I think Hutus are not as educated as Tutsi. If Hutus are not educated it is not the fault of Tutsi or anyone else, it is because they are stupid,” Amani says boldly. “For 34 years they had control of their country (Rwanda), what were they doing? Tutsi refugee’s sent their children to be educated. People say Tutsi are just as intelligent as the white man,” Amani pontificated with his index finger jutting into the air.

These claims are extreme and, in parts, ignorant of colonial leaderships’ structuring of education and employment systems along tribal lines, favouring Tutsis. Unfortunately, this argument of Tutsi being better managerially with money, government and development is heard often, repeated even by international expatriates. It is an explanation used commonly to justify and explain Rwanda’s post-1994 transformation to an international business port of Africa, and it ignores important facts, like Rwanda’s militarism and exploitation of Congo.

One of the main natural resources that outside interests–political and financial–continue to rape the land of is diamonds. One of those invested interests in the Congo

Before his assassination on January 16, 2001, Laurent Desire Kabila—the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)—made a deal with the Gertler gang that would play out in favor of the current President Joseph Kabila and, it seems, be a central factor in relation to both Congo’s ongoing war and the bloody warlord’s battle in Kinshasa in March 2007.

Back in 2000, former Congolese president Laurent Kabila offered a monopoly on Congolese diamonds, and 88% of the proceeds, to Gertler’s International Diamond Industries (IDI) in exchange for Israeli military assistance to his new government. Top Congolese military officials apparently flew to Israel in 2000 to negotiate the deal. Gertler pledged military assistance to President Laurent Kabila through top Israeli officials.

The original Gertler-Kabila deal fell through after Laurent Kabila was assassinated for not cooperating with the Great White Fathers of industry (January 2001), but Gertler and Leibovitch and their disciples formed another company, Dan Gertler International, and advanced their Congo plan. By 2002 Gertler’s company was the leading exporter of Congolese gems, controlling a diamond mining franchise worth about $US 1 billion annually.

In 2003, the mighty Congolese diamond parastatal Societe Miniere De Bakwanga (MIBA)—which has been forever controlled by the Great White Fathers in Belgium, Israel and America—signed an exclusive contract with Gertler’s startup company, Emaxon Finance International. The deal involved Israeli’s Foreign Defense Assistance and Defense Export Organization (SIBAT), and high-level Israeli defense and intelligence officials. Gertler and his buddies reportedly bribed Congolese officials and Angolan generals who, on and off, have commanded Angolan Army troops protecting Kinshasa, Congo’s capital.

Yes, the former colonial power of Belgium, in cahoots with the U.S. and its darling ally the Zionist state, can be implicated in the ongoing conflict in a variety of ways. These are the same forces–at least the latter two–who are responsible for the ongoing and ever increasing siege of Gaza. It is cold here in Palestine at night. And now there is no fuel. Israel’s Barak–Ehud, that is–has decided that because Palestinians who are responding to resisting the most recent invasion by the Israeli terrorist forces that they get no fuel. So Gaza is in darkness.

And metaphorically the world should be in darkness to honor the death of a resistance singer whose memory, I hope, will live on by encouraging others to use music as one of many modes of resisting foreign colonial occupation and colonization.