on the cypriot model

israeli terrorist avigdor lieberman is in rome meeting with franco frattini where he talked about the joys of being an illegal colonist in the west bank (let’s be clear whatever collaborator who actually speaks with him definitely does not speak for all palestinians!) as well as what a colossal waste of money the “peace process” (read: war process) has been (imagine something i actually agree with lieberman on!). but he also suggested his plan for ethnic cleansing (or “transfer” in his terms) in his meeting:

Lieberman told Frattini that between five and seven years are needed to reach a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Israeli foreign minister was pessimistic about the prospects of establishing a Palestinian state. He repeated his assertion that “two states for two peoples” had become a clichéd slogan that was tailored for newspaper headlines.

During his talks with Frattini, Lieberman also recalled his experiences living in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim.

“I’m a settler and I live in the Judean desert,” Lieberman told Frattini. “I speak with Palestinians who work near us and I hear that what they want is to earn a living and lead a decent life.”

Lieberman added that the Palestinians are dismissive of their leaders’ efforts to reach a political solution. It was at this point that the foreign minister delved into what he called “the peace industry.”

“This is a process with no results,” Lieberman said. “Everyone is earning a living off of it. There are conferences and there are meetings in five-star hotels. Do you know how much money has been spent on this? And what has come of it?”

Lieberman spoke glowingly of the “Cypriot model” which includes an exchange of populations – as a possible template for a solution to the Middle East impasse. In the 1970s, the Mediterranean island was partitioned in two, with Turks in the north and Greeks in the south. “Since then, there has been security, economic prosperity, and stability,” Lieberman said of Cyprus. “When we have [such a solution] in our region then we can talk about a political solution. Everything before this will simply fail.”

clearly lieberman is smoking some serious crack cocaine if he thinks this is how cypriots feel. they feel a lot more like palestinians as you will see below. check out this recent article in the guardian by helena smith and consider its implications for palestinian refugees who continue to fight for their right of return to their homes in palestine:

Like so many Cypriots, Meletis Apostolides has long been haunted by memories of a lost past.

All his adult life he has yearned to return to his boyhood home – and this week, nearly 35 years after war left what should be an idlyllic corner of the Levant brutally divided, the European court of justice brought him one step closer to fulfilling that dream.

Even now, in late middle age, the architect can still recall the scent of the lemon trees, the smell of the sea, the dappled light that filtered through the citrus orchards of Lapithos, the village in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus where he and his ancestors were born.

“It’s never gone,” he says, homing in, with Google Earth, on the property his family was forced to flee when Turkey, in the name of protecting its minority on the island, invaded in 1974.

The Apostolides family – like 170,000 other Greek Cypriots forcibly displaced at the time – always thought they’d be back. Instead, with only minutes to gather their possessions, and with the Turkish military entrenching its positions in response to a coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece, they found themselves turned into refugees, and robbed of their past overnight.

“The only thing my mother, Andriani, managed to take were her threads and embroideries,” says Apostolides, 24 at the time. “We left photo albums, everything. People think that [my legal battle] has been all about money, when actually it is about roots, memory and culture. My family had lived in that part of the island since 1860.”

In Cyprus’ supercharged politics few issues excite more passion than that of properties lost during the conflict. In the war’s wake peace talks aimed at resolving the west’s longest-running diplomatic dispute have repeatedly collapsed on the matter of refugees’ rights and land exchange. Enraged by the European court’s decision to back Apostolides’s claim to property – since bought by a retired British couple – Turkish Cypriot politicians have threatened to walk out of reunification talks.

“Cypriots are very attached to their land. In England you had an industrial revolution, here we did not,” said Cyprus’s former president George Vasiliou. “Until fairly recently people lived from their land so it meant a lot to them, and before the invasion northern Cyprus was almost exclusively Greek. Then there is memory. That plays a role too.”

Like many on either side of the ethnic divide, Apostolides returned with his mother – and their title deeds – to see his home in 2003, the year that Turkish Cypriot authorities lifted restrictions on intercommunal travel. “It was the first, and only time, that my mother would see it after the war,” he recalls.

But it was a previous visit – one by a Turkish Cypriot colleague who had once lived in the island’s Greek-run south – that spurred the silver-haired architect into action. As an early proponent of interethnic contact in the 90s, Apostolides participated in an organised tour by Turkish Cypriot architects around the south. “One of them, who would go on to become a great friend, was desperate to revisit his family home in Limassol,” he said. “When the Greek Cypriots living in the house opened the door, he produced a framed picture from his rucksack and said ‘finally I have fulfilled my parents’ wish to return home’. The Greek Cypriots immediately put it on the mantelpiece. At that moment I identified with him so much. It was such a powerful thing.”

When Apostolides pressed charges against Linda and David Orams, the East Sussex couple who built their dream home on his land in 2002, he never envisaged the case would cause such a furore. “I decided to take legal action after a chance meeting with Mrs Orams on the plot in 2003,” he says. “She was out watering the plants and when I asked her who she was, she said ‘I am the owner of this villa’. I said ‘I am the owner of the land’ and she responded by saying ‘well that was a long time ago’.”

Five days after the European court pronounced that the UK judiciary should enforce the decision of a Nicosia court to return the property to its original owner, and demolish the villa to boot, the affair looks set to run and run – not least among the estimated 6,000 Britons who have also picked up properties at bargain prices in the territory that is only recognised by Ankara.

Yesterday despondent rosy-cheeked expats, living in the scenic villages above the picturesque port of Kyrenia, refused to comment, with one denouncing the case “as Greek Cypriot lies and bulls*&^”.

But, says Vasiliou: “Greek Cypriots may feel justice has been rendered, that property is sacrosanct. However, serious people on this island also know that the best way to solve this issue is through speeding up negotiations and reaching a settlement, not taking individual cases to court.”

Apostolides, the man of the moment, would agree. While his is a victory, he says, it springs from a lost past.

i just hope this bodes well for more cypriots and for palestinians in the near future.

my press tv interview

i was on press tv’s “middle east today” again last night. i was totally exhausted and drained from grading. so i as not as coherent as i would have liked to be. i was really not in the mood to talk about the “peace process” (better known as delay process or war process) because i think that alternative media should focus on alternative discourse that will actually solve the problem of the colonization of palestinian land. i told them i would go on if they did not put me up against some zion-nazi. they told me, no you’ll be on with phillip giraldi so i said okay. but as is usual with press tv they throw a zion-nazi at you and you don’t realize it until air time. so yesterday i found out that the zion-nazi was daniel pipes. interesting note on the program: i tried several times to bring up issues of the colonization of palestinians in 1948 palestine, palestinian refugees, and boycott, divestment, and sanctions. it seems that both of them ignored these issues entirely. at least that is my recollection. and check daniel pipes on trying to argue that the jews are allowed to have a jewish state on palestinian land because iranians have an islamic state on iranian land. unbelievable. gotta love zion-nazi logic.

so here is the link if you want to see the full interview on press tv and if you want to watch the 5 minute version you may watch the youtube link below. enjoy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(59)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

how about no voice!

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

How is OneVoice different from other ‘peace’ groups?

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

Why do you believe in a two-state solution?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear XXXX,

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

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

Yours,
Sefi Kedmi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

one state democratic group

and

global boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement

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

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

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

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

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

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

hillary thinks colonization & ethnic cleansing is “unhelpful”

so says hillary clinton. here is exactly what she said (with my interjections in bold in between paragraphs):

The United States supports the Palestinian Authority as the only legitimate government of the Palestinian people. As a partner on the road to a comprehensive peace, which includes a two-state solution, our support comes with more than words. As I pledged in Sharm el-Sheikh, we will work with President Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad, and the government of the Palestinian Authority to address critical humanitarian, budgetary, security, and infrastructure needs, both in Gaza and in the West Bank.

um, okay, i don’t know how many times this needs to be said, but the democratically-elected government in palestine is not fatah, it is hamas. and because of you and your government, hillary, and its work over the years, with your israeli terrorist friends, to use the old-fashioned divide and conquer scheme, there is a huge rift between fatah and hamas. moreover, your pressure on fatah has made those in power in the pa do the dirty work of the americans and israeli terrorists. their work does nothing but censor dissent, imprison those who dissent.

As I said in Sharm el-Sheikh, a child growing up in Gaza without shelter, healthcare or an education, has the same right to go to school, see a doctor, and live with a roof over her head as a child growing up in any country. That a mother and a father here in the West Bank, struggling to fulfill their dreams for their children, have the same right as parents anywhere else to have a good job, a decent home, and the tools to achieve greater prosperity.

really, hillary? so what of the american-made weapons that israeli terrorists used to bomb over 200 schools–including the american international school–in gaza? and the unrwa schools, including those where palestinians made refugees yet again sought shelter: those were bombed too with weapons from your regime. do they have these rights, too? no, of course, not. because if they did, or if you thought they did, for one thing you’d be in gaza. you’d see this destruction you helped to create in gaza.

The United States aims to foster conditions in which a Palestinian state can be fully realized, a state that can provide these opportunities, a state that is a responsible partner, is at peace with Israel and its Arab neighbors, and is accountable to its people. That is the state that this government is attempting to build.

I met with Prime Minister Fayyad this morning and I expressed to him the appreciation we had for his presentation at Sharm el-Sheikh, which outlined the specific needs of the people in Gaza. I also believe that it is imperative we continue to do the reform work that the president is leading in order to bolster the credibility of the government and to serve the needs of the people.

ah, ok, i see you’re lying again. as with the report i posted the other day. not one damn dime of the $900 million you pledged is going to gaza. it’s all going to your corrupt collaborator friends in ramallah. and, a reminder, hillary: abbas has not been president since january 9th. i know, as an american, you enjoy bolstering puppet leaders and controlling governments around the world to aid your dirty work, but he is not the president. moreover, the people of palestine do not want a west bank state. the people of palestine, whether they are here, or refugees around the world, want the right of return to their homes. this is what they want and what is their right and what they deserve. not this busywork you want to help with–constantly giving money to the pa to build this and that and then giving more military aid to the israeli terrorists to destroy it. this is not a state. and there cannot be a true state under colonialism. and all that you do with your israeli terrorist friends is to create more colonial impediments to prevent palestinians from ever having a state.

I’m very grateful that President Abbas has remained firm in his commitment to move forward on a comprehensive peace and a two-state solution. President Abbas is offering the Palestinian people the chance, finally, to fulfill the aspirations to be free, independent, prosperous, and peaceful, flourishing in a state of your own. And the only way to achieve that goal is through negotiations. All who believe in this comprehensive peace, we urge you to work with the Palestinian Authority and with us, because we are determined to move forward.

Time is of the essence. We cannot afford more delays or regrets about what might have been had different decisions been made in the past. The Obama Administration will be vigorously engaged in efforts to forge a lasting peace between Israel, the Palestinians, and all of the Arab neighbors. I will remain personally engaged. As I said in Sharm el-Sheikh, this is a commitment that I carry in my heart, not just in my portfolio as Secretary of State….

the “peace process” which you refer to, what those of us who live her know and refer to as the “war process,” is made possible by american and israeli terrorist endless “negotiations.” what do negotiations mean for palestinians? more broken promises, more facts on the ground, more land confiscation, more political prisoners, more checkpoints, and more repression. and as for what is in your heart, i don’t think that you have one. you who refuses to go to gaza. you who continue to create problems for palestinians as you have since your husband was president. you who support terrorism here against palestinians and all over the world against people from the congo to iraq to afghanistan. such a person has no heart. period.

MR. WOOD: The next question is Glenn Kessler from The Washington Post.

QUESTION: Yes. Madame Secretary, Israel last week approved the demolition of 88 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem and, as you arrived, another 55 homes were slated for demolition, the largest number in one area since 1967. Will you, as James Baker did in 1991, urge a halt to such unilateral actions?

And President Abbas, what do you think of these demolitions, and has the U.S. been too silent on this issue?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Glenn, clearly, this kind of activity is unhelpful and not in keeping with the obligations entered into under the roadmap. It is an issue that we intend to raise with the government of Israel and the Government at the municipal level in Jerusalem, because it is clearly a matter of deep concern to those who are directly affected.

But the ramifications go far beyond the individuals and the families that have received the notices you referenced. Yes, this will be taken up with the Israeli government.

ah, yes, here is the quote: that illegal, colonial, settlements that continue unabated as they have for over 61 years, really over 122 years, are, as you say, “unhelpful.” what is really “unhelpful” is the united states. in general. in every way. even when the u.s. pretends to “help,” it is always to further its own interests, always involving murder, massacre, repression, torture. the u.s., a country, which has never done anything to protect or further the best interests of palestinians. because if you wanted to be helpful you would sanction the israeli terrorist regime. you would stop giving them money, weapons. you would demand that palestinians have the right of return. short of that you have never helped and do not help. ever.

todd baer gives some context to clinton’s first trip to palestine, which at the time included a trip to gaza on al jazeera today:

i also find it interesting that none of the reports on hillary’s visit to ramallah today said nothing of the fact that at the precise time she was meeting with abbas and co. that israeli terrorists were busy bombing rafah with american f-16s and bombs (and, in fact, we heard those planes overhead in nablus and i am sure she could hear them in ramallah as well) as ma’an news reported:

Israeli warplanes on Wednesday morning bombed the tunnel area at the Gaza-Egypt border in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry Muawiya Hassanein told Ma’an that there were no casualties amongst Palestinian citizens.

Meanwhile, Palestinian medical sources at Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah said 12 Palestinians were injured in Tuesday’s shelling of the same tunnel area.

and those children that hillary claims to care so much about–what of those who are murdered by israeli terrorists with u.s. tax dollars? or the men and women who are murdered? maram isid & ghassan bannoura for imemc news report on last month’s casualties of israeli terrorism with american weapons:

The International Relations Department of the Palestinian Liberation Organization issued on Wednesday a report documenting the Israeli military attacks on Palestinians during the month of February 2009.

The report shows that 17 Palestinian including 4 children were killed last month by the Israeli military fire in the West Bank and Gaza.

In addition there was 320 Palestinian who have been kidnapped by the Israeli troops and 8 Palestinian-owned homes demolished by the Israeli Authorities in Jerusalem, the PLO reported.

The report also shows that the Israeli army continued to siege the Gaza strip for the 19th month by the end of February; moreover the report documented a number of cases where the army did not allow patients to leave Gaza for treatment outside bringing the number of those who died due to the siege to 300 patients.

and back to hillary’s idea about what is “unhelpful” with israeli colonialism and ethnic cleansing…here is some context from rory mccarthy in the guardian on those “unhelpful” colonies in al quds:

On Monday, the Israeli group Peace Now reported that the Israeli housing ministry was planning to build at least 73,000 housing units in West Bank settlements.

The organisation said 15,000 units had already been approved and another 58,000 were awaiting approval.

Almost 500,000 settlers now live in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. All settlements are illegal under international law.

jer-builtup

hillary likes to talk about rights. but she rarely does so with respect to international law and on the few occasions when she does, those rights are always for the white folks, the rich folks, the people of the global north. certainly never for palestinians. i’ve written about the new ethnic cleansing in silwan in al quds before, but there is some important context in international law that the project for monitoring israeli colonization activities posted a report that gives insight to al bustan and silwan, but also to the legal aspects, which of course, hillary chose not to speak about when she opted instead to say merely that they are “unhelpful”:

House demolition in light of human rights, international covenants and treaties

Adequate housing is one of the basic needs and rights of each person, where ‘the right to adequate housing is the right of every woman, man and child to a place to live in security and dignity.'[6] In the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel as an occupier should abide by the international human rights treaties to which it is a state party including: The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,. As an occupier Israel should also abide by the international humanitarian law including: The Hague Regulations and the Forth Geneva Convention. The demolition of houses in Al Bustan neighborhood would be a stark violation of these rights and covenants. Israel should be held accountable for its acts in occupied East Jerusalem and the other Palestinian Territory; should comply with the international legitimacy, laws treaties and United Nations’ resolutions; and Israel’s long time apathy of the international community’s wills must come to an end.

Following is a synopsis of Articles within these covenants, conventions and laws that address the issue of house demolitions and forced evictions under these articles:

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Article 11 (1): ‘The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions’.

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965)

Article 5: ‘States’ Parties undertake to prohibit and eliminate racial discrimination in all of its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, color, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights: … (e) in particular … (iii) the right to housing’.

Universal declaration of human rights, Article 17:

1. ‘Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.’
2. ‘No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.’

Article 25:

1. ‘Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.’

The Fourth Geneva Convention

Article 53: ‘Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.’

Article 47: ‘Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention by any change introduced as the result of the occupation of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said territory, nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territory and the Occupying power, nor by any annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory.’

Article 147: ‘Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts … extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.’

Hague Regulations 1907

Section II Article 23: ‘it is especially forbidden- to destroy or seize the enemy’s property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.’

Section III Article 46: ‘Family honor and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice must be respected. Private property cannot be confiscated.’

Agenda 21 (UNCED, 1992)

Chapter 7.6 : ‘Access to safe and healthy shelter is essential to a person’s physical, psychological, social and economic well-being and should be a fundamental part of national and international action. The right to adequate housing as a basic human right is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Despite this, it is estimated that at the present time, at least one billion people do not have access to safe and healthy shelter and that if appropriate action is not taken, this number will increase dramatically by the end of the century and beyond.’

‘People should be protected by law against unfair eviction from their homes or land’.

all of the above is in relation to the ethnic cleansing and colonization project in the silwan and al bustan areas of al quds, and indeed can be applied to all of historic palestine. here is a report on sky news from dominic waghorn on the forced removal of palestinians from their homes:

there are palestinians in al quds who have set up protest camps where hundreds of people are staging a sit-in every day, all day, around the clock. my friend wassef, from al quds, came up to nablus today for work and we went out to lunch. he has been going to the protest at the tents and told me about it. he says that everyone is too afraid of resisting this in ways beyond this vigil-like sit-in. wassef, who spent 10 years in an israeli terrorist prison for his resistance work feels that everyone, especially since gaza, sees how easy it is for palestinians to be slaughtered, imprisoned and so they feel helpless. but, of course, they want to do something. here is a story on the protest from imemc’s ghassan bannoura:

Palestinians from Ras Khamis neighborhood, near Jerusalem’s old city, set up a protest camp near their homes in protest against Israel’s decision to demolish their neighborhood.

The Israeli municipality says that there are 55 homes in the Palestinian Ras Khamis neighborhood that are built without the required permissions.

Hatem Abdel al-Qader, the Palestinian Prime Minister’s advisor for Jerusalem affairs, stated that lawyers managed to stop the demolition until March 10th, by court order . He added that the camp is one in a number of actions that home owners and local activists are organizing to counter the Israeli plans. Abdel al-Qader said that there will be public and popular events of solidarity with the home owners, stressing that the Israeli plans will displace hundreds of Palestinian families.

Since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, it has rarely given Palestinian residents permission to build homes, while continuing to expand Jewish settlements, illegal under international law, in and around the city.

Since the beginning of this year, Israel has issued orders to demolish nearly 700 Palestinian-owned homes and other structures in the city of Jerusalem, local activists reported. 88 of the homes are located in the al-Bustan neighborhood, located immediately south of the al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem’s old city.

Many of the homes were built before 1967. According to Israel’s plans, registered with the Jerusalem municipality, this traditionally Palestinian neighborhood is to become a park with flowers, trees and cafe’s.

there is another way in which hillary herself is more than “unhelpful,” but rather destructive with respect to being an agent of the u.s. and its never ending efforts to participate in divide and rule schemes around the world. i will close with a brilliant analysis by ali abunimah and hasan abu nimah on electronic intifada today so you can see precisely how hillary is helping to foment more division already:

Still reeling from the Israeli massacres in the occupied Gaza Strip, Palestinians have lately had little to celebrate. So the strong start to intra-Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo last week provided a glimmer of hope.

An end to the schism between the resistance and the elected but internationally-boycotted Hamas government on the one hand, and the Western-backed Fatah faction on the other, seemed within reach. But the good feeling came to a sudden end after what looked like a coordinated assault by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, European Union High Representative Javier Solana, and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas whose term as president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) expired on 9 January.

On Friday 27 February, the leaders of 13 Palestinian factions, principal among them Hamas and Fatah, announced they had set out a framework for reconciliation. In talks chaired by Egypt’s powerful intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, the Palestinians established committees to discuss forming a “national unity government,” reforming the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to include all factions, legislative and presidential elections, reorganizing security forces on a nonpolitical basis, and a steering group comprised of all faction leaders. Amid a jubilant mood, the talks were adjourned until 10 March.

Then the blows began to strike the fragile Palestinian body politic. The first came from Clinton just before she boarded her plane to attend a summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh ostensibly about pledging billions in aid to rebuild Gaza.

Clinton was asked by Voice of America (VOA) whether she was encouraged by the Cairo unity talks. She responded that in any reconciliation or “move toward a unified [Palestinian] Authority,” Hamas must be bound by “the conditions that have been set forth by the Quartet,” the self-appointed group comprising representatives of the US, EU, UN and Russia. These conditions, Clinton stated, require that Hamas “must renounce violence, recognize Israel, and abide by previous commitments.” Otherwise, the secretary warned, “I don’t think it will result in the kind of positive step forward either for the Palestinian people or as a vehicle for a reinvigorated effort to obtain peace that leads to a Palestinian state.”

The next strikes came from Ramallah. With the EU’s top diplomat Solana standing next to him, Abbas insisted that any national unity government would have to adhere to the “two-state vision” and abide by “international conditions and signed agreements.” He then demanded that Gaza reconstruction aid be channeled exclusively through the Western-backed, but financially bankrupt and politically depleted PA. Solana affirmed, “I would like to insist in agreement with [Abbas] that the mechanism used to deploy the money is the one that represents the Palestinian Authority.” Solana fully endorsed the campaign waged by Abbas ever since the destruction of Gaza that the PA, plagued by endemic corruption, and which only pays salaries of workers deemed politically loyal, be in sole charge of the funds, rather than neutral international organizations as Hamas and others have suggested.

Was the Sharm al-Sheikh summit then really about helping the people of Gaza or was it about exploiting their suffering to continue the long war against Hamas by other means? Indeed, Clinton had already confirmed the politicization of reconstruction aid when she told VOA, “We want to strengthen a Palestinian partner willing to accept the conditions outlined by the Quartet,” and, “our aid dollars will flow based on these principles.”

Hamas warned that Clinton’s and Abbas’s statements set Palestinian reconciliation efforts back to square one. “Hamas will not recognize Israel or the Quartet’s conditions,” said one spokesman Ismail Radwan, while another, Ayman Taha, said Hamas would “reject any preconditions in the formation of the unity government.” Khaled Meshal, head of the movement’s political bureau, insisted that the basis for national unity must remain “protecting the resistance and the rights of the Palestinian people.”

Such statements will of course be used to paint Hamas as extremist, intransigent and anti-peace. After all, what could be more reasonable than demanding that any party involved in a peace process commit itself to renouncing violence, recognizing its enemy, and abiding by pre-existing agreements? The problem is that the Quartet conditions are designed to eliminate the Palestinians’ few bargaining chips and render them defenseless before continuous Israeli occupation, colonization, blockade and armed attacks.

None of the Western diplomats imposing conditions on Hamas have demanded that Israel renounce its aggressive violence. Indeed, as Amnesty International reported on 20 February, the weapons Israel used to kill, wound and incinerate 7,000 persons in Gaza, half of them women and children, were largely supplied by Western countries, mainly the US. In a vivid illustration, Amnesty reported that its field researchers “found fragments and components from munitions used by the Israeli army — including many that are US-made — littering school playgrounds, in hospitals and in people’s homes.”

For Palestinians to “renounce violence” under these conditions is to renounce the right to self-defense, something no occupied people can do. Palestinians will certainly note that while Abbas stands impotently by, neither the US nor the EU have rushed to the defense of the peaceful, unarmed Palestinians shot at daily by Israeli occupation forces as they try to protect their land from seizure in the West Bank. Nor has Abbas’ renunciation of resistance helped the 1,500 residents in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan whose homes Israeli occupation authorities recently confirmed their intention to demolish in order to make way for a Jewish-themed park. A cessation of violence must be mutual, total and reciprocal — something Hamas has repeatedly offered and Israel has stubbornly rejected.

While Israeli violence is tolerated or applauded, Israel’s leaders are not held to any political preconditions. Prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu emphatically rejects a sovereign Palestinian state and — like his predecessors — rejects all other Palestinian rights enshrined in international law and UN resolutions. When told to stop building illegal settlements on occupied land, Israel responds simply that this is a matter for negotiation and to prove the point it revealed plans in February to add thousands of Jewish-only homes to its West Bank colonies.

Yet Quartet envoy Tony Blair, asked by Al-Jazeera International on 1 March how his masters would deal with a rejectionist Israeli government, said, “We have to work with whoever the Israeli people elect, let’s test it out not just assume it won’t work.” Unless Palestinians are considered an inferior race, the same logic ought to apply to their elected leaders, but they were never given a chance.

It is ludicrous to demand that the stateless Palestinian people unconditionally recognize the legitimacy of the entity that dispossessed them and occupies them, that itself has no declared borders and that continues to violently expand its territory at their expense. If Palestinians are ever to recognize Israel in any form, that can only be an outcome of negotiations in which Palestinian rights are fully recognized, not a precondition for them.

During last year’s US election campaign, Clinton claimed she helped bring peace to Northern Ireland during her husband’s administration. Yet the conditions she now imposes on Hamas are exactly like those that the British long imposed on the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, thereby blocking peace negotiations. President Bill Clinton — against strenuous British objections — helped overturn these obstacles by among other things granting a US visa to Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, whose party the British once demonized as Israel now demonizes Hamas. Like Tony Blair, who as British prime minister first authorized public talks with Sinn Fein, Hillary Clinton knows that the negotiations in Ireland could not have succeeded if any party had been forced to submit to the political preconditions of its adversaries.

Former British and Irish peace negotiators including Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume, and former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami made similar points in a 26 February letter they co-signed in The Times of London. “Whether we like it or not,” the letter states, “Hamas will not go away. Since its victory in democratic elections in 2006, Hamas has sustained its support in Palestinian society despite attempts to destroy it through economic blockades, political boycotts and military incursions.” The signatories called for engagement with the movement, affirming that “The Quartet conditions imposed on Hamas set an unworkable threshold from which to commence negotiations.”

Those who claim to be peacemakers should heed this advice. They should allow Palestinians to form a national consensus without external interference and blackmail. They should respect democratic mandates. They should stop imposing grossly unfair conditions on the weaker side while cowering in fear of offending the strong, and they should stop the cynical exploitation of humanitarian aid for political manipulation and subversion.

There are many in the region who were encouraged by US President Barack Obama’s appointment of former Northern Ireland mediator Senator George Mitchell as Middle East envoy. But in all other respects the new president has continued the Bush administration’s disastrous policies. It is not too late to change course, for persisting in these errors will guarantee only more failure and bloodshed.

hillary’s rules for gaza

Reuters / Suhaib Salem
Reuters / Suhaib Salem

i know i have been complaining about the weather. so i suppose a bit of perspective is in order. yes, it is very cold here (there was even some snow in ramallah yesterday morning). but it is also cold and wet in gaza. and the palestinians in gaza who lost their homes are now living in tents. tents that are in the mud now. and who knows if they have heaters. i should be grateful that i have a little gaz heater sunburn and all.

and what of the palestinian refugees made internally displaced people? how will they rebuild their homes? ilene prusher of the christian science monitor reports on the newly-made homeless in gaza due to israeli-american terrorism:

According to the most recent figures from the International Committee for the Red Cross and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, the conflict destroyed more than 2,800 homes completely, and 1,900 partially, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless. In addition to that, many symbols of government were damaged, from the parliament building to ministries to police stations.

None of those figures include losses to private businesses.

Khozendar says that his businesses alone suffered $2 million in direct losses. This includes a petroleum station in northern Gaza that got hit by a missile and a marble factory that was reduced to rubble by bulldozers. He says he doesn’t count the 100 dunams of farm land destroyed in the fighting; bulldozers were used extensively by the Israeli army to “clean out” area where Hamas guerrillas were based.

“In my own home, I have plastic and nylon sheets on the windows, because all the glass broke in the bombing, and from where should I get glass?” asks Khozendar.

He says that what does come in is brought through the tunnels from Egypt, a system that financially benefits Hamas, which collects taxes on the goods.

“We need glass for 5,000 houses,” says Khozendar. Small quantities exist, but because of the extreme shortages, the prices are prohibitive for most. A meter of glass was 45 shekels a few years ago; now it’s 300 to 350 shekels. “The amount needed doesn’t exist here, and this is one of the critical points to address if we are to rebuild and rehabilitate,” he says.

“We’re giving people hammers to break the cement and iron to break up the ruins and reuse it. From the rubbish, we can get maybe 40 percent of our needs. The other 60 percent has to be brought in,” he adds.

it is not just that rebuilding material is expensive, it is that it is unavailable. the zionist blockade on the gaza strip makes it impossible to get concrete, glass, and steel. todd baer shows us what it means to have these raw materials banned for the people of gaza on his report on al jazeera today:

and these are not the only items that israeli terrorists keep palestinians in gaza from obtaining as anne penketh in the independent reports:

Members of the highest-ranking American delegation to tour Gaza were shocked to discover that the Israeli blockade against the Hamas-ruled territory included such food staples as lentils, macaroni and tomato paste.

“When have lentil bombs been going off lately? Is someone going to kill you with a piece of macaroni?” asked Congressman Brian Laird. It was only after Senator John Kerry, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, raised the issue with Defence Minister Ehud Barak after their trip last month that Israel allowed the pasta in. Macaroni was considered a luxury item, not a humanitarian necessity, they were told. The total number of products blacklisted by Israel remains a mystery for UN officials and the relief agencies which face long delays in bringing in supplies. For security reasons such items as cement and steel rods are banned as they could be used by Hamas to build bunkers or the rockets used to target Israeli civilians. Hearing aids have been banned in case the mercury in their batteries could be used to produce chemical weapons.

Yet since the end of the war in January, according to non-government organisations, five truckloads of school notebooks were turned back at the crossing at Kerem Shalom where goods are subject to a $1,000 (£700) per truck “handling fee”.

Paper to print new textbooks for Palestinian schools was stopped, as were freezer appliances, generators and water pumps, cooking gas and chickpeas. And the French government was incensed when an entire water purification system was denied entry. Christopher Gunness, the spokesman for the UN agency UNRWA responsible for Palestinian refugees, said: “One of the big problems is that the ‘banned list’ is a moving target so we discover things are banned on a ‘case by case’, ‘day by day’ basis.”

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said: “Israel’s blockade policy can be summed up in one word and it is punishment, not security.”

of course at the big donor conference in sharm al shaykh today hillary clinton proved that she and the obama administration will continue the policies of george bush by refusing to even speak about or acknowledge that all the money being pledged for gaza will do nothing if palestinians have no control over their borders as human rights watch’s latest statement argues:

“All the pledges of aid this conference is expected to produce will be worth next to nothing if the donors do not demand that Israel open the borders to commercial goods as well as humanitarian essentials,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “This unlawful blockade is the primary impediment to reconstruction and to the economic activity that is essential to any society.”

Israel effectively controls Gaza’s borders and airspace. Human Rights Watch said that the blockade, which has been in place since June 2007, after Hamas took control of Gaza, amounts to collective punishment of the civilian population, a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Israeli restrictions on the entry of goods should be strictly limited to weapons and items whose direct military potential clearly outweigh their civilian usage.

According to the United Nations, Gaza needs a minimum of 500 truckloads of humanitarian aid and commercial goods every day. Israeli authorities have told humanitarian agencies that they would allow up to 150 truckloads a day. However, the actual number has not exceeded 120, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The average in February has only been between 88 and 104, including grain shipped by conveyor belt at the Karni crossing.

hillary proved further that she is going to help maintain the siege with a bizarre comment at the press conference today about hamas. what is especially fascinating here (as dave reminded me of on twitter just now–thank you!) is that the u.s. is recognizing likud as the legitimate government of the israeli terrorist state even though they lost the election and yet hamas, which won in a democratic election in 2006, continues to be shunned by the u.s. here is what she said on al jazeera:

But speaking at the donor conference, Clinton called on Hamas to abide by a series of rules.

Hamas is a not a country; it is an entity that has to understand what the principles for any engagement are – not just with the United States,” she said.

“The Quartet – the United Nations, Russia the European Union and the United States – as well as the Arab League – are in agreement that there are certain principles that Hamas would have to adopt in order for any of us to engage with Hamas: recognise Israel, renounce violence and agree to abide by prior agreements.”

of course, clinton did not state what those “rules” are. clearly there are rules for hamas and not for israeli terrorists who terrorize palestinians every day. i suspect that one of them is to get on board with the bogus two-state solution. thankfully hamas still has enough resolve to reject such ideas that necessarily negate palestinian refugees’ right of return:

The Hamas Movement on Sunday strongly criticized ex-PA chief Mahmoud Abbas for demanding any future Palestinian government to recognize the two-state solution, considering it a dictate imposed by one party on other Palestinian parties.

in any case, the u.s. with its pledge of $900 million to rebuild gaza is going to do anything but rebuild gaza. apparently, it is all going to the collaborator regime in ramallah instead. where is the logic? paul richter in the los angeles times today reveals where this money is actually going:

The Obama administration intends to spend most of a $900-million Palestinian aid package on support for the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, rather than in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip communities that were badly damaged in the recent weeks-long Israeli offensive, a State Department official said Sunday.

Robert A. Wood, the department’s chief spokesman, said that about $300 million of the money would be spent on humanitarian relief for Gaza, and the remainder would help offset the Palestinian Authority’s budget shortfall and fund its economic development, security and other projects in the West Bank. The authority is run by the more moderate Palestinian faction Fatah.

None of the money will go to rebuilding Gaza, even though the aid is to be announced today at an international donors conference convened by Egypt for reconstruction in the war-scarred seaside enclave.

U.S. officials who declined to be identified disclosed last week, with some fanfare, that a full $900 million would be earmarked for Gaza. But the State Department’s decision reflects the political complexities of rebuilding an area controlled by a militant group that the United States, Israel and the European Union consider a terrorist organization. Hamas took control of Gaza after the collapse of a unity government with rival Fatah in June 2007. Israel said it launched its assault after years of rocket fire from Gaza.

U.S. officials are opposed to spending any money on reconstruction aid to Gaza that might fall into the hands of Hamas and help strengthen the group’s standing among the enclave’s 1.5 million residents. Though the Palestinian Authority has declared its intention to help rebuild, Hamas is barring authority personnel from entering to help.

“We cannot funnel money through Hamas,” Wood said.

in any case, i continue to be horrified by the fact that every year the u.s. sends billions of dollars to the zionist entity to enable them to terrorize palestinians and lebanese. the u.s. campaign to end the occupation’s campaign to make sure that the new budget proposal does not include the almost $3 billion in military aid to an israeli terrorist regime (click on the link below to send a letter to obama to make sure he does not!) :

Last Tuesday, President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress to explain his budget outline. His only reference to Israel was a reiteration of his Administration’s priority “To seek progress toward a secure and lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors”…. Does this mean that President Obama will not include $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel when he delivers his actual detailed budget request to Congress in April as expected? That’s highly doubtful.

but am i the only one who finds it deeply disturbing that the u.s. taxpayers spend almost $3 billion a year on military aid to israeli terorrists who use it to destroy lebanon and palestine, most recently gaza of course, and then the u.s. pledges $900 million to rebuild it? is this not psychotic? of course, the money is not even going to gaza, but that is beside the point. the money will go to the palestinian authority in the west bank to enable them to further repress palestinians here who object to their normalization with israel, to their willingness to sell refugee rights down the river.

and will hillary, when she comes here tomorrow, do anything about palestinian political prisoners? about the nightly invasions in which they kidnap palestinians? here are the figures for february alone:

The Palestinian Political Detainees Society issued a report on Monday stating that the Israeli military have kidnapped 292 Palestinians during the month of February.

Of those 292 kidnapped, 35 were sick and 59 were children, in addition to four women, the report said.

According to the Society report, the number kidnapped from different cities were:

Bethlehem: 24;

Hebron: 90;

Ramallah: 68;

Nablus: 35;

Qalqilia: 22;

Jenin: 25;

Tulkarem: 13;

Jericho: 8;

Tubas: 6; and

Salfet: 1.

and there were a few more kidnapped last night in nablus as well as some attacks by israeli colonists near nablus:

On Monday morning, Israeli troops kidnapped three Palestinian civilians during a pre-dawn invasion, targeting the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Local Palestinian sources reported that Israeli Army forces invaded Nablus city, searched a number of homes and took three men to unknown detention camps.

Also on Monday near Nablus, a local doctor, Amer Mansour, received treatment after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli troops in the village of Kafer Qaliel. Witnesses said that Israeli soldiers stormed the village in the morning, and fired tear gas at homes.

In related news, Palestinian farmers from the Jordan Valley reported on Monday that a Palestinian farmer was attacked by wild pigs. The farmers said that Ayman Ibraheem was attacked while working on his land, and was taken to a hospital in Nablus for treatment.

The farmers blame settlers for such attacks, saying that the Israeli settlers release wild pigs in an attempt to drive Palestinian farmers away from their lands so that the settlers can take them over.

will she say anything about the brazen act of destroying more palestinian homes in al quds as they did today?:

Israeli forces stormed the house of Mahmoud Al-Abbasi in the Ein Al-Loza area of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Monday morning.

Al-Abbasi told Ma’an that a large Israeli police force surrounded the area where the house is located and stormed inside, forcing the family to leave and throwing furniture out.

But no clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police were immediately reported.

Al-Abbasi added that bulldozers demolished his house, in which 11 people lived, including nine children, and claiming that he had received no prior notice of the demolition beforehand.

The house was located in a neighborhood 500 meters from the Al-Bustan neighborhood in East Jerusalem, where Israeli officials say 88 homes of 1,500 Palestinians are slated for demolition.

will she say anything about the numerous war crimes committed by israeli terrorists? war crimes detailed in an important interview that the ever fabulous nora barrows-friedman did with norweigan doctor mads gilbert on flashpoints last week. it is a very important interview that i encourage people to listen to by clicking the above link. will she say anything about the court cases gaining steam as the spanish judge agreeing to hear this case?:

A Spanish judge has decided to go ahead with a probe into alleged crimes against humanity by top Israeli military figures after studying documents received from Israel, judicial sources said Friday.

The documents, received by Judge Fernando Abreu after translation by the Israeli embassy, show the Jewish state has not launched any legal procedure concerning a 2002 bombing of Gaza, the sources said.

Andreu agreed last month to pursue a complaint of crimes against humanity against seven senior Israeli military figures over the bombing.

the international criminal court has received numerous complaints, most recently from the international committee for the red cross, which i’m sure hillary will ignore too. here is peter beaumont’s report on this for the guardian:

The latest moves in The Hague come amid mounting international pressure on Israel and a growing recognition in Israeli government circles that it may eventually have to defend itself against war crimes allegations. The Guardian has also learned that a confidential inquiry by the International Committee of the Red Cross into the actions of Israel and Hamas during the recent conflict in Gaza is expected to accuse Israel of using “excessive force” – prohibited under the fourth Geneva convention.

The Red Cross has been collecting information for two parallel inquiries, one into the conduct of Israel and a second into Hamas, both of which will be presented in private to the parties involved.

In the case of Israel, the Red Cross is expected to highlight three areas of concern: the Israeli Defence Forces’ “use and choice of weapons in a complex and densely populated environment”; the issue of “proportionality”; and concerns over the IDF’s lack of distinction between combatants and non-combatants during Operation Cast Lead. Hamas is likely to be challenged over its use of civilian facilities as cover for its fighters; its summary executions and kneecappings of Palestinians during the campaign; and its indiscriminate firing of rockets into civilian areas.

Meanwhile, sources at the ICC say it is considering two potential tracks that would permit it to investigate what happened in Gaza. As well as determining whether the PA is recognised internationally as a sufficiently state-like entity, the head of jurisdictions in the office of the international criminal court’s prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is looking at whether the court can consider war crimes allegations on the basis of the dual nationality of either victims or alleged perpetrators whose second passport is with a country party to the court.

The court’s deliberations follow more than 220 complaints about Israel’s actions in Gaza. “It does not matter necessarily whether the Palestinian National Authority is in charge of its own borders,” said a source at the court. “Right now the court is looking at everything from agreements it has signed on education to the constitution of its legal system.”

what concerns me the most about what hillary will or won’t do (because she will be like all the other american leaders who come here and lend all her support to israeli terrorists in their ongoing ethnic cleansing project). what concerns me is what the fallout of gaza will be with respect to hamas resistance (yet another reason why i loathe resistance movements that join governments). ramzy baroud’s article in the palestine chronicle today about the lessons of what happened with the palestine liberation organization are instructive here:

The more the PLO of the 1970’s met conditions, the more Yasser Arafat rose to prominence. In June 1974, Fatah-led PLO revised and approved a political program that adopted a ‘phased’ political strategy which agreed to establishing a Palestinian state “over every part of Palestinian territory that is liberated,” as opposed to Fatah’s own previous commitment to a “democratic state on all (of) Palestine.” The phased strategy split the somewhat unified PLO between ‘moderate’ and ‘rejectionist’ fronts, but allowed for political gains, such as the Arab designation of the PLO, in Rabat as “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”. More, Arafat was invited to speak at the UN General Assembly, where the PLO received the status of an “observer”. In his speech on November 13, 1974, Arafat uttered his most famous statement: “Today I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom-fighter’s gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.”

Let historians contend on whether Arafat was tricked by a peace ploy, which saw the softening of the PLO’s position, while the Israeli position continued to harden unchecked. The fact is, however, the seeds of Palestinian division were planted during these years and Palestinians were compartmentalized – between moderates, extremists, maximalists, minimalists, pragmatists, rejectionists and so on. However, the political gains of the PLO of those years were made irrelevant, and were later used exclusively for personal gains, starting in 1974, passing through Oslo, the subsequent ‘peace process’, and finally reaching today’s dead-end.

World Media are now reporting that European countries are in direct contact with Hamas leaders, although officials are insisting that this contact is independent and not linked to larger government initiatives. More, several US congressmen visited Gaza, again with similar disclaimers. US Senator John Kerry, who led the US delegation, claimed that the US position regarding Hamas has not changed, and repeated the conditions that Hamas must meet before any engagement is possible.

One has to be wary of the history that rendered the once influential PLO, the trivial organization that it is today. History often repeats itself, true, but it doesn’t have to if one remembers such historical lessons. Peace is not a ‘process’ – at least not in the Kissinger sense – and true dialogue and positive engagement require no stipulations and conditions. Hamas is now in the same precarious position that the PLO was in earlier years. Its future decisions shall influence the coming stage of this conflict, thus the fate of the Palestinian people in inconceivable ways.

one final note: if you are american and you like the al jazeera news items i post here regularly, i encourage you to go to the i want al jazeera english website. click that link in the last sentence and sign up to put pressure on u.s. cable providers to make it available to americans.

oh so many reasons for resistance…

ha’aretz journalist amira hass has a good piece in the london review of books this week that offers some context on the prison that is gaza, its origin, and its relationship to the situation in the west bank, which is worth quoting in its entirety:

Israel has finally breached the few limits it formerly set up for itself as an occupying state, and defied all the restrictions of international law that would require it to provide for the safety and welfare of the occupied population. It claims that disengagement ended the occupation and that Gaza is now an independent entity. Contrary to conventional wisdom, disengagement did not begin in 2005 with the evacuation of the settlers and the withdrawal of soldiers. It began in 1991, when, four years into the intifada, Israel instigated its closure policy (similar to the pass system under apartheid) and denied the Palestinians freedom of movement between the West Bank and Gaza, and within Israel. Unopposed by the international community, closure eventually turned into a policy of demographic separation, dividing Palestinians from Palestinians and Palestinians from Israelis.

The immediate consequence of the separation policy was to disconnect Gaza from the West Bank (and Palestinian East Jerusalem), from its population, its education centres and health services, from jobs in Israel and from family members and friends. No wonder Israel now defines Gazans who live in the West Bank as ‘illegal sojourners’ unless they have an Israeli permit to be there. The tight siege imposed in Gaza over the last two years has merely exacerbated the situation. The separation policy of the 1990s (along with the rapid expansion of Jewish colonies in the West Bank) was designed to destroy the foundation of a future Palestinian state.

Israel suppressed the second intifada with lethal means that it did not dare use in the first, not just because the Palestinians had now acquired guns, or because of the suicide bombings, but rather because since the creation of the Palestinian Authority, Israel has treated the ‘other side’ as sovereign and independent – when it wants to. As if the PA enclaves were not under occupation. Thanks to this very effective propaganda, most Israelis believe that the creation of the PA resembles the founding of an independent state – an ungrateful one at that, attacking little, peace-seeking Israel. They find it easy enough to ignore the fact that Israel continues to control – both directly and indirectly – all parameters of sovereignty and independence: land, borders, resources, water, population registry, economics, construction, education, health and medical services.

The unilateral disengagement from Gaza and the fact that Hamas spun it as a victory – the result of armed resistance – allowed Israel to claim that the occupation of Gaza had ended….

What the siege has done is reduce an entire society to the status of beggars, denying it nearly all productive activity, suffocating it in an open-air prison, disconnected from the rest of the world. The denial of the right to a livelihood, and the denial of freedom of movement: that is the essence of the siege, the foundation block of the separation policy. The closure policy is an assault on the human dignity of the Palestinians, and especially those in Gaza. Now, Israel has shown that the cage can also be a deathtrap.

one issue is, of course, the blockade that keeps palestinians dependent upon aid. but, of course, even the aid is not allowed to enter; mel frykberg explains that pasta somehow has become suspicious. (is there some sort of pasta grenade i don’t know about?):

Red-faced and unusually tongue-tied Israeli officials were forced to try and explain to U.S. Senator John Kerry during his visit to Israel last week why truckloads of pasta waiting to enter the besieged Gaza strip were not considered humanitarian aid while rice was.

Kerry, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, visited the coastal territory on a fact-finding mission.

The purpose of the visit was to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground and the level of destruction wrought by Israel’s three-week military assault on Gaza, codenamed Operation Cast Lead.

During his visit to Gaza it came to the senator’s attention that Israel had prevented a number of trucks loaded with pasta from entering the territory.

UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) officials explained to Kerry that Israel was only permitting limited amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and the definition of what the Israelis consider humanitarian was restricted.

“Pasta is not regarded as humanitarian aid and is not allowed in to Gaza while rice is,” an UNRWA official told Kerry.

Kerry then questioned Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak directly about the logic of the restriction on pasta. Following his intervention, the truckloads of pasta were eventually permitted to enter Gaza.

Over a hundred aid trucks are currently entering Gaza on a daily basis. This is more than the number of trucks that were permitted entry during the ceasefire with Hamas which lasted nearly five months until Israel launched a cross-border military raid into Gaza on Nov. 4.

However, according to the UN, the overall level of imports remain well below the 475 trucks allowed in daily before Israel’s blockade of Gaza in June 2007 when Hamas took control.

Aid organisations say the current number is insufficient to meet the market’s needs as well as the shortfall resulting from months of severe restrictions.

The Palestine Trade Centre (Paltrade) estimates that in order for any sort of economical revival to begin, exports should resume immediately and a minimum of 850 truckloads of market-triggered imports per day should be allowed entry.

most days it’s like this though–it doesn’t matter if it is rice or pasta, nothing is allowed inside:

<blockquote>Israel unexpectedly closed the Kerem Shalom terminal, the main crossing point for humanitarian aid and commercial goods in Gaza on Friday.

meanwhile, for those who think the israeli terrorist aggression against gaza is over, last night, like most nights, they continued their bombing:

Israeli warplanes bombed smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday night, the second such strike in several hours.

The strikes on the Brazil neighborhood of the city of Rafah caused no injuries, according to the director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, Muawiya Hassanein.

if israeli terrorist colonists would do as the french colonists in algeria and leave palestinians to build their own state on their own land wherever they choose then we would see more projects like the couscous co-op started in ein al-sultan refugee camp near eriha. these women, who have had a lot of success with their project, so much so they are not dependent upon aid any longer, tried to work with their sisters in gaza, but of course the israeli-terrorist siege has made that impossible as gen sander writes in electronic intifada:

The women unanimously agree that since they’ve been working at the couscous co-op their lives have improved dramatically. For the first time “we’re no longer dependent on humanitarian aid,” said Abu Shrar. Not only are they now independently taking home their well-earned wages, but they are finally able to simultaneously provide opportunities once inconceivable to their children, and fix-up their run-down homes. Furthermore, their self-confidence has grown alongside their social status, which has been propped up by virtue of their fortitude, self-determination and goodwill.

A similar success once seemed promising in the Gaza Strip, where six women’s fair trade couscous cooperatives shared the same dreams and aspirations as those of the Jericho co-op. More than two years ago, however, all six co-ops were forced to shut down thanks to the crippling Israeli blockade that prevented them from importing production requirements and exporting their produce. The closures had a direct impact on more than 400 persons whose lives depended heavily on their continued existence. More recently, after Israel’s brutal three-week assault on Gaza, one of the co-ops in Sheikh Radwan was damaged beyond repair.

indeed, two activist, alberto arce and miguel llorens, in gaza have produced a new documentary called erased, wiped off the map, to show just how brutal this aggression and invasion has been not only on people and their livelihoods, but on the entire society. for those who speak spanish and/or arabic below is the film (the link above will take you to an english-language version).

the title of the film is interesting given the way it alludes to the oft-repeated zionist mythology that arabs want to “throw jews into the sea.” of course, the reality is that zionists have been doing this to palestinians for decades now, but no one seems to notice or care, even when they are quite blatant about it:

A small number of young men soon to be drafted into the IDF from Hesder yeshivot around the country gathered at the Jerusalem Theater on Monday evening to hear speakers from the national-religious camp espouse the virtues of fulfilling “the commandment of war.”

The event, the first of its kind, was organized to salute young religious men about to be inducted and attracted just over 100 youths.

IDF Chief Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Avichai Ronsky told the youths it was a privilege to be able to take part “in the commandment of war and the preparations for fulfilling it.”

“Embrace this commandment with all your hearts. It is a right previous generations could not realize,” Ronsky said.

The IDF chief rabbi said Jewish armies, from the battles between the Israelites and the tribe of Amalek to the present day, had always been manned by virtuous soldiers.

Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau delivered a speech expressing hope that Israel would embark on preemptive wars rather than wait for “the enemy to come here… and see the whites of our eyes.”

“King David taught the people of Judah how to use the bow and arrow… Jacob our patriarch blessed his son Judah and told him to fight Israel’s enemies, to attack them and not fight defensively… The descendants of the tribe of Judah will do the same,” Lau said.

“Do we have another home? Somewhere else to go? This is our only home. Therefore, we have no choice but to fight… a preemptive war… not to wait for the next Operation Defensive Shield,” Lau said, referring to the 2002 IDF operation in the West Bank launched after a string of suicide bombings in Israel.

“If we could throw down our sword, it would be the dream of our lives. We pray for this three times a day, that God will bless us with peace. But so long as this does not happen, we cannot lay down our sword,” Lau added.

Rabbi Haim Druckman, who heads Bnei Akiva, said that “fighting our enemies is a commandment. To serve in the IDF is a commandment. We must remember that we could not carry out this commandment for 2,000 years. How happy we must be that we live in this great and special time, a time in which we have returned to our land, seen the founding of our state, the ingathering of exiles.”

it is really frightening how normalized and mainstream israeli terrorist rhetoric has become. as with their military, terrorist aggression, they do whatever they want and no one bothers them. their fascism has become completely mainstream, supported, even popular as in this article by sharon weill and valentina azarov from electronic intifada:

Avigdor Lieberman’s party advocates the banning of Arab political parties that called for “a democratic state for all citizens,” and the repression of what it sees as the “treachery” of the Arab citizens. According to its website, Yisrael Beiteinu demands an “unapologetical patriotism” and “requires citizens to affirm their loyalty to the state and readiness to serve in the army or in the National Service in order to be eligible for any state benefits.”

The party declares in its platform its intention to make Israel a purely Jewish state, and at the same time, “[i]ncreasing the Jewish Presence in Yehuda, Shomron, [in other words, the West Bank] the Golan [the occupied Syrian Golan Heights] and East Jerusalem” as well as working towards the “separation of Gaza from the West Bank.”

According to the party’s website, “Ideally, ‘the wolf shall dwell with the lamb,’ but we are not living in ideal times. History has shown that there is a dangerous potential for conflict wherever members of two different religions dwell in the same territory. … Members of this [Arab] minority are likely to serve as terrorist agents on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Many have already made explicit their lack of loyalty to the state. This situation could potentially lead to the collapse of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and perhaps as an entity all together. Therefore in our view, the only possible solution is the exchange of territory and populations, with the goal of the separation of the Jewish and Arab nations, respectively” (emphasis added).

Lieberman has made a number of utterances inciting racism against a Palestinians with Israeli nationality. A recent press conference organized by Lieberman’s party in Haifa barred Arab journalists from participating. As Haaretz reported on 6 February, during a recent visits to schools in northern Israel, Lieberman was welcomed with calls of “death to the Arabs” and with proposals to “revoke the Arabs’ nationality.” It was recently revealed by Haaretz that Lieberman was once a follower of the Kahane Kach movement, an extreme right wing movement that was outlawed in 1988.

Ideas that were once considered too racist to be legitimately expressed are now part of the mainstream political discourse. At the same time other opinions are silenced. This is a serious warning that the situation in Israel resembles more and more that of the apartheid-era South Africa.

and yet palestinians are never allowed to resist. their resistance is always crushed by words and israeli-american terrorism as dina jadallah-taschler explains in dissident voice:

The facts are simple enough. And yet that is not at all how current media narratives present the struggle. It is never referred to as one for liberation and freedom. Resistance to the oppressive occupation and to the expansionist and dispossessing Israeli state is never presented as a right, despite the self-evident moral and legal principle, that as the (occupying) aggressor, Israel cannot justify violence against resistance to its own initial aggression. And yet, in this last massacre, Gazans who are starving, imprisoned, mostly refugees from the original displacement that happened with Israel’s creation, and who have qualitatively modest (but technologically improving — distance/reach) weapons, are the ones being blamed for “starting” or inviting the attack on themselves. This is objectionable on several levels. Fundamentally, the framing of the story that equates Palestinian resistance with the fourth strongest army in the world is inherently deceptive. Additionally, it blames the victim for resisting annihilation.

But once again, because it is the strong who determine what is legal and what is not, the Palestinian struggle for national liberation and their resistance against their oppressors are illegal by definition and are presented as “terrorism.” The right of self-defense has been appropriated by the dominant, occupying, aggressing side and simultaneously denied to its victims. It is becoming increasingly apparent to the resisting Palestinians that this excessive use of legality is simply a means to preserve pre-existing power asymmetries that will perpetuate their oppression. It is ultimately aimed at their extinction as a people. It is the root cause of their resistance: for they refuse a peace built on injustice, no matter how much misinformation is produced disguise the facts.

The Oslo Peace Process must be evaluated from this perspective. It was started more than 15 years ago but has led to no tangible benefits for the Palestinians. On the contrary, it has led to their increasing dispossession and subjugation. It co-opted the PLO leadership and made the Palestinian Authority into a police arm of and chief appeaser/concessor to Israel, the occupier. The Process has served as legal cover for continued oppression. It is no different from the NATO announcement to “protect” Israel, or the Rice-Livni Accords, or the United Nations Resolutions that are never enforced.

All these entities and agreements give a cover of multilateralism and legality to what is essentially aggressive expansionism and intentional dispossession. Similarly, Israel’s “withdrawal” from Gaza in 2005, narratively presented in mainstream media with so much angst for the trauma of the occupier, does not remove the initial aggression of the original and consistently brutal occupation. Even when one allows for the prison that is Gaza to be considered “unoccupied,” the fact remains that Palestinians are one people and that the West Bank and East Jerusalem continue to be occupied. This is even acknowledged in the Oslo Accords, which defines them as “a single territorial unit.”

Moreover, Israeli expansionism continues, and even accelerates, in the shadow of the peace process and of the headline- grabbing events in Gaza. Just in the last week, Israel has announced the annexation of extensive areas of Palestinian-owned land, where the villagers have been non-violently protesting the apartheid wall. For three days the Israeli army invaded the village of Jayyous declaring it a “Closed Military Area” and arbitrarily arrested 65 Palestinians: “The Israeli wall confiscated about 600 dunums of lands and 8,600 dunums were isolated behind the wall, where the town’s area is 12,500 dunums,” leading to the loss of thousands of jobs lost as a result of the wall and the isolation of agricultural land.4 Similarly, on 1/26/2009, the Israeli High Court approved the complete destruction of the village of Tana, east of Nablus, in order to expand the settlement colony of Makhurah. In addition, an expansion to the Effrat settlement colony near Bethlehem was also announced, swallowing an additional 170 hectares of “state land.” All this is happening in the West Bank, ostensibly the co-operating segment under the dictatorial and oppressive control of the Palestinian Authority. And it is definitely not conducive to economic independence, let alone the mirage of prosperity that was promised to come with the pursuit of a negotiated and non-violent “settlement.”

The argument is frequently made that Hamas is a “terrorist organization” because it targets civilians. But that is a question that is both not for the militarily strong to ask and also ignores completely Israel’s far greater and more consistent targeting of civilians. In this last attack on Gaza, despite an earnest and far reaching hasbara/propaganda effort by Israel to change perceptions, the extent of the destruction was too blatant to repress. Any fair assessment of damage to civilians will plainly see the disproportionate suffering of the weaker party. It also must account for the slow strangulation and eradication of Palestinians even when there is no “war.” The means of destruction are so entrenched and persistent so as to become too banal for Western media to report on. The “targeted assassinations” that inevitably kill civilians, the ever-growing “settlements”/colonies, the land expropriations, the apartheid “separation” Wall, the roadblocks, the economic blockade and de-development, and so forth have effectively ended any hope of a two state solution. In fact, the Palestinians’ pursuit of the peaceful route of “settlement” through the peace process, recently “negotiated” at Annapolis, has resulted in a 20% increase in settlement expansion in the West Bank and a 36% settlement expansion in East Jerusalem, just in the last sixteen months.

yes, palestinians cannot resist. but israeli terrorists can continue with yizhak rabin’s formula of breaking the bones of palestinians at will:

A Palestinian man from the village Asreera Al Qibllya, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, was severly beaten by the members of Israeli border-guards at a checkpoint while he was taking his ill son to a local hospital.

Khalid Abu Khalaf, 38, said after receiving treatment at the Rafidia Hospital, that his son Shadi, 3 years 6 months old, is suffering from a neurological disease, and was transferred by the Palestinian Ministry of Health to Al Maqased Hospital In Jerusalem for treatment.

The father tried to obtain a permit from the Israeli side through the Palestinian District Coordination Office, but Israel rejected the application.

“My son’s situation requires hospitalization; therefore I tried to take him with me to Al Maqased Hospital in East Jerusalem, I tried to avoid the military checkpoint but the soldiers spotted me, and stopped me,” the father said. He added “I tried to explain to them that was taking my son to hospital. I showed them the medical reports, but they did not listen; instead they started kicking me and hitting me with batons.”

The father said that the soldiers, beat him in front of his son and broke his arm, causing his son to cry of fear, which worsened his condition.

“Later, they forced me and my son into their jeep, the father stated, the dropped us on the other side of the checkpoint, and we had to return to Nablus, I went to the hospital and found out that my hand was broken,” the father added.

Khalid was very concerned about the situation of his son, which is getting worse, and said that his son needs to be examined twice every month for follow-up as directed by his physicians.

Why Israel won’t survive

for those of you who have had enough of the vapid rhetoric of “hope and change” in the u.s. read ali abunimah’s piece below. it will give you a sense of both hope and change and encourage steadfastness in this struggle to liberate palestine. as always he is eloquent and brilliant. and if you haven’t read his book one country do it now! note: bold below is mine.

Why Israel won’t survive

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 19 January 2009

The merciless Israeli bombardment of Gaza has stopped — for now — but the death toll keeps rising as more bodies are pulled from carpet- bombed neighborhoods.

What Israel perpetrated in Gaza, starting at 11:30am on 27 December 2008, will remain forever engraved in history and memory. Tel al-Hawa, Hayy al-Zeitoun, Khuzaa and other sites of Israeli massacres will join a long mournful list that includes Deir Yasin, Qibya, Kufr Qasim, Sabra and Shatila, Qana, and Jenin.

Once again, Israel demonstrated that it possesses the power and the lack of moral restraint necessary to commit atrocities against a population of destitute refugees it has caged and starved.

The dehumanization and demonization of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims has escalated to the point where Israel can with full self- righteousness bomb their homes, places of worship, schools, universities, factories, fishing boats, police stations — in short everything that sustains civilized and orderly life — and claim it is conducting a war against terrorism.

Yet paradoxically, it is Israel as a Zionist state, not Palestine or the Palestinian people, that cannot survive this attempted genocide.

Israel’s “war” was not about rockets — they served the same role in its narrative as the non-existent weapons of mass destruction did as the pretext for the American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Israel’s real goals were to restore its “deterrence” fatally damaged after its 2006 defeat in Lebanon (translation: its ability to massacre and terrorize entire populations into submission) and to destroy any Palestinian resistance to total Israeli-Jewish control over historic Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

With Hamas and other resistance factions removed or fatally weakened, Israel hoped the way would be clear to sign a “peace” deal with chief Palestinian collaborator Mahmoud Abbas to manage Palestinians on Israel’s behalf until they could be forced out once and for all.

The US-backed “moderate” dictatorships and absolute monarchies led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia supported the Israeli plan hoping to demonstrate to their own people that resistance — whether against Israel or their own bankrupt regimes — was futile.

To win, Israel had to break Palestinian resistance. It failed. On the contrary, it galvanized and unified Palestinians like never before. All factions united and fought heroically for 23 days. According to well-informed and credible sources Israel did little harm to the modest but determined military capacity of the resistance. So instead Israel did what it does best: it massacred civilians in the hope that the population would turn against those fighting the occupier.

Israel not only unified the resistance factions in Gaza; its brutality rallied all Palestinians and Arabs.

It is often claimed that Arab regimes whip up anti-Israel anger to distract their populations from their own failings. Actually, Israel, the US and subservient Arab regimes tried everything — especially demonizing Iran and inciting sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims — to distract their populations from Palestine.

All this failed as millions of people across the region marched in support of Palestinian resistance, and the Arab regimes who hoped to benefit from the slaughter in Gaza have been exposed as partners in the Israeli atrocities. In popular esteem, Hamas and other Palestinian resistance factions earned their place alongside Hizballah as effective bulwarks against Israeli and Western colonialism.

If there was ever a moment when the peoples of the region would accept Israel as a Zionist state in their midst, that has passed forever.

But anyone surveying the catastrophe in Gaza — the mass destruction, the death toll of more than 100 Palestinians for every Israeli, the thousands of sadistic injuries — would surely conclude that Palestinians could never overcome Israel and resistance is a delusion at best.

True, in terms of ability to murder and destroy, Israel is unmatched. But Israel’s problem is not, as its propaganda insists, “terrorism” to be defeated by sufficient application of high explosives. Its problem is legitimacy, or rather a profound and irreversible lack of it. Israel simply cannot bomb its way to legitimacy.

Israel was founded as a “Jewish state” through the ethnic cleansing of Palestine’s non-Jewish majority Arab population. It has been maintained in existence only through Western support and constant use of violence to prevent the surviving indigenous population from exercising political rights within the country, or returning from forced exile.

Despite this, today, 50 percent of the people living under Israeli rule in historic Palestine (Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip) are Palestinians, not Jews. And their numbers are growing rapidly. Like Nationalists in Northern Ireland or non-whites in South Africa, Palestinians will never recognize the “right” of a settler-colonial society to maintain an ethnocractic state at their expense through violence, repression and racism.

For years, the goal of the so-called peace process was to normalize Israel as a “Jewish state” and gain Palestinians’ blessing for their own dispossession and subjugation. When this failed, Israel tried “disengagement” in Gaza — essentially a ruse to convince the rest of the world that the 1.5 million Palestinians caged in there should no longer be counted as part of the population. They were in Israel’s definition a “hostile entity.”

In his notorious May 2004 interview with The Jerusalem Post, Arnon Soffer, an architect of the 2005 disengagement explained that the approach “doesn’t guarantee ‘peace,’ it guarantees a Jewish- Zionist state with an overwhelming majority of Jews.” Soffer predicted that in the future “when 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful.”

He was unambiguous about what Israel would have to do to maintain this status quo: “If we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.” Soffer hoped that eventually, Palestinians would give up and leave Gaza altogether.

Through their resistance, steadfastness and sacrifice, Palestinians in Gaza have defeated this policy and reasserted that they are an inseparable part of Palestine, its people, its history and its future.

Israel is not the first settler-colonial entity to find itself in this position. When F.W. de Klerk, South Africa’s last apartheid president, came to office in 1989, his generals calculated that solely with the overwhelming military force at their disposal, they could keep the regime in power for at least a decade. The casualties, however, would have run into hundreds of thousands, and South Africa would face ever greater isolation. Confronted with this reality, de Klerk took the decision to begin an orderly dismantling of apartheid.

What choice will Israel make? In the absence of any political and moral legitimacy the only arguments it has left are bullets and bombs. Left to its own devices Israel will certainly keep trying — as it has for sixty years — to massacre Palestinians into submission. Israel’s achievement has been to make South Africa’s apartheid leaders look wise, restrained and humane by comparison.

But what prevented South Africa’s white supremacist government from escalating their own violence to Israeli levels of cruelty and audacity was not that they had greater scruples than the Zionist regime. It was recognition that they alone could not stand against a global anti-apartheid movement that was in solidarity with the internal resistance.

Israel’s “military deterrent” has now been repeatedly discredited as a means to force Palestinians and other Arabs to accept Zionist supremacy as inevitable and permanent. Now, the other pillar of Israeli power — Western support and complicity — is starting to crack. We must do all we can to push it over.

Israel began its massacres with full support from its Western “friends.” Then something amazing happened. Despite the official statements of support, despite the media censorship, despite the slick Israeli hasbara (propaganda) campaign, there was a massive, unprecedented public mobilization in Europe and even in North America expressing outrage and disgust.

Gaza will likely be seen as the turning point when Israeli propaganda lost its power to mystify, silence and intimidate as it has for so long. Even the Nazi Holocaust, long deployed by Zionists to silence Israel’s critics, is becoming a liability; once unimaginable comparisons are now routinely heard. Jewish and Palestinian academics likened Israel’s actions in Gaza to the Nazi massacre in the Warsaw Ghetto. A Vatican cardinal referred to Gaza as a “giant concentration camp.” UK Member of Parliament Gerald Kaufman, once a staunch Zionist, told the House of Commons, “My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszow, [Poland]. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed.” Kaufman continued, “my grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.” He denounced the Israeli military spokesperson’s justifications as the words “of a Nazi.”

It wasn’t only such statements, but the enormous demonstrations, the nonviolent direct actions, and the unprecedented expressions of support for boycott, divestment and sanctions from major trade unions in Italy, Canada and New Zealand. An all-party group of city councillors in Birmingham, Europe’s second largest municipal government, urged the UK government to follow suit. Salma Yaqoub of the RESPECT Party explained that “One of the factors that helped bring an end to the brutal apartheid regime in South Africa was international pressure for economic, sporting and cultural boycotts. It is time that Israel started to feel similar pressure from world opinion.”

Israel, its true nature as failed, brutal colonial project laid bare in Gaza, is extremely vulnerable to such a campaign. Little noticed amidst the carnage in Gaza, Israel took another momentous step towards formal apartheid when the Knesset elections committee voted to ban Arab parties from participating in upcoming elections. Zionism, an ideology of racial supremacy, extremism and hate, is a dying project, in retreat and failing to find new recruits. With enough pressure, and relatively quickly, Israelis too would likely produce their own de Klerk ready to negotiate a way out. Every new massacre makes it harder, but a de-zionized, decolonized, reintegrated Palestine affording equal rights to all who live in it, regardless of religion or ethnicity, and return for refugees is not a utopian dream.

It is within reach, in our lifetimes. But it is far from inevitable. We can be sure that Western and Arab governments will continue to support Israeli apartheid and Palestinian collaboration under the guise of the “peace process” unless decisively challenged. Israeli massacres will continue and escalate until the nightmare of an Israeli- style “peace” — apartheid and further ethnic cleansing — is fulfilled.

The mobilizations of the past three weeks showed that a different world is possible and within our grasp if we support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Although they will never get to see it, that world would be a fitting memorial for all of Israel’s victims.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006).

gaza in context

carlos latuff on inside story/al jazeera
carlos latuff on inside story/al jazeera

last night i watched “inside story” with imran garda on al jazeera and was happy to see, finally, some historical context, some useful thinking about the massacre in gaza and the roots of this problem–particularly for the jockeying of power over the palestinians not only by israeli terrorist colonists, but also by regional players who are the pimps and pawns for the west. the historical material i’ve transcribed below, but i strongly recommend watching this discussion, which thankfully has no israeli terrorists spewing their lies, hate, and propaganda; without them one can get at a much richer, much more contextualized analysis. garda interviews journalist robert fisk and mahdi abdul hadi of the palestinian academic society for the study of international affairs in al quds. incidentally, carlos latuff’s latest cartoon was apparently drawn for “inside story,” and al jazeera more generally, to show the lack of media access to gaza, one of the many forms of control the israeli terrorist regime uses to hide its war crimes.

imran garda: is sharm al shaykh a serious summit? the summit that is going on, that is being discussed on sunday? or is it just face-saving for egypt?

mahdi abdul hadi: well, it’s more than face-saving for egypt. it covers europe and the palestinian authority as well as israelis. we witness why the israelis want to unilaterally call for ceasefire and this morning again hamas came with the ceasefire for one week in order to see what lies ahead. sharm al shaykh summit covers 3 aspects.

1. that egypt is again claiming its role as a leader in the region and it has a say;

2. to bring europeans–those who have been very, politically hypocrites looking for israeli security and safety and did nothing, absolutely nothing for the last 22 days of the massacre of the palestinians in gaza. and now they are meeting people halfway for their own society. people are demonstrating in every capitol in europe, as well as looking for humanitarian aid to transfer the palestine question to humanitarian aid. as well as the united nations who accepted to be in one seat in the quartet doing absolutely nothing and run behind condoleeza rice’s decisions. egyptians are trying to balance between the doha conference and the coming kuwait conference–to tell the arab regimes: “i’m here and i have a say.” number one i tried to convince the israelis to hold the ceasefire and they are meeting us halfway while the israelis took the decision a long time ago exactly as mr. robert fisk was saying. in time for obama’s administration, and two to save face for israeli public opinion, and three not to sign a deal with hamas. and they want unilaterally in order not to recognize hamas as they did it exactly with hezbollah in 2006.

the sharm al shaykh conference today is–egypt is saying today–“i’m here, i have a say.” two, europeans are saying “we missed it for 22 days, but we can compensate for humanitarian aid.” three, united nations is saying “we can assist and facilitate.” four, the israelis are all going to open the door for all those hypocrites to say we can do something for those miserable, defeated, beaten, humiliated, destroyed palestinians in gaza.

imran garda: egypt must have fumed when it saw the scenes coming out of the doha summit . here you had hamas on a pedestal. you had khaled mesh’al speaking first alongside all these heads of state, given the legitimacy it so craves and it hasn’t gotten from the israelis and now egypt must have been going ballistic over that.

robert fisk: well, dr. abdul hadi doesn’t mince his words. but i think he’s got it pretty well right. i mean, you gotta realize it’s the fate of autocrats who take money and military assistance from the west as much as the arab potentates, arab kings and princes and presidents do, to have to come to heel and find they are playing second fiddle from time to time. i agree with you on the worthlessness of sharm al shaykh. no one is talking about opening all the borders of gaza to food and fuel, which is what the palestinians want. i think it’s very interesting and i wonder if dr. abdul hadi knows the date today because it is exactly, to this day, the 90th anniversary of the opening of the paris peace conference of 1919 which created the modern middle east through the versailles treaty and crated the whole mess that we’re in now. in fact, on 18th of january 1919, one of the first items on the agenda of the french, and the british, and the germans, and the czechs, and the turks–all of whom are at sharm al shaykh today–was the borders of palestine. well, welcome to the ghosts of the past. i’ll bet they’ll be in sharm al shaykh listening.

imran garda: bashar al assad said at doha that the arab peace initiative of 2002 is dead now. that was his strong declaration. how significant is that statement from the syrian president?

mahdi abdul hadi: just allow me one footnote very quickly to mr. robert fisk. i tend to agree with you as a student of history. 1919 definitely imposed a mandate on the whole arab world and on the region. palestinians were demanding self-determination. and palestinians were demanding to be a part of arab united countries. today we don’t have a paris peace conference of 1919. today we don’t have a madrid conference. we don’t have any of these above conferences. people are waiting to see this young man, obama, and i hope they will not be very much disappointed with him vis-a-vis his agenda in the middle east. israelis jump before anyone else to impose the agenda. security for israel and involving nato and all these european heads of state meeting today in sharm al shaykh to maintain law and order or security for israel first. and then look for the palestinians today as humanitarian aid. and maybe using their assets in order to have a say in daily affairs of palestinian society and try to save mahmoud abbas from sinking in what has really been happening for the last 22 days. to give him sort of legitimacy and recognition after he lost it already from his people. now coming back to bashar al assad’s statement, doha summit was very clear in preparing the agenda for kuwait summit. and that’s why the egyptians today are hosting the sharm al shaykh conference to tell everyone we are concerned not only about the economy, but the palestinian issue and we can have a say in shaping the future of palestine with mahmoud abbas and not with somebody else. doha conference or doha summit put on the agenda that people who are meeting today, wherever they are, under any circumstances, cannot talk any more about the arab initiative of 2002–nor the question of normalization with israel while palestinians are bleeding. this is basically one. number two, to introduce and recognize hamas as sharing the saying of the palestinian future–legitimately elected, responsible, and resistance and having now a say. not only by a statement of mesh’al in doha, but telling the arab summit that tomorrow, in kuwait, you cannot be alone in defeated, divided, weak, no vision, no leadership of fatah and the wider society. these people are resistance and these people are paying the price. and they should be recognized. and the third level, definitely, for europeans who are meeting today in sharm al shaykh, if we want to talk about economy and development, we have to talk from a regional perspective and not limiting it only to gaza. and this is exactly what doha did: it prepared the homework, prepared the draft resolution for kuwaiti summit in order to challenge those who are still wishing to work on the peace process as the old state. today we are entering a new chapter in palestine and the region. the man in the street will not accept the status quo as before. and israelis are very much exposed as liars, as cheaters, as killers, as occupiers, and playing the game of maintaining the status quo and taking the land and transferring the palestine question in terms of people to the arab house: egypt and jordan.

imran garda: interesting that you mentioned the 90th anniversary of the paris peace summit. i wonder in years to come–90 years from now–when people look into the history books and see not only rival factions, but they see rival summits, it will look ridiculous won’t it?

robert fisk: well, we know the man who was at the paris peace conference, who was trying to bring peace to the world, and that was president wilson of the united states, with clemenceau of france there as well, and lloyd george for london. whether we’ll know who nicolas sarkozy is–or gordon brown–in 90 years time–gordon who? nicholas who? look, i think you’ve got to see, i think this summit is intended to enhance mahmoud abbas, who cannot frankly be enhanced. but i think there is an issue that we’re not really dealing with here and that is that i don’t think that hamas won this war. one of the things that struck me in particular is that hamas seemed to think that in its rhetoric that it is the same as hezbollah. and it’s not. that’s a serious error. they do not have the same ability to fight the israeli army as hezbollah had. and what is particularly interesting is their total lack of security. there remains inside gaza, clearly, a forest of collaborators, informers, and spies either working for fatah or working directly for the israelis who were able to give away the addresses of every home and hideout of hamas members and that’s why senior members were killed by the israelis. so what we need to look at is not just hamas as a political organization, but how it really didn’t do very well against the israelis militarily. and i think that it is important to remember these things because hezbollah has a place in the politics of lebanon because militarily it’s worth something, whatever you think of it yourself, whereas hamas i’m not so sure. we’re able to talk about the election in which those pesky palestinians voted for the wrong people, they voted for hamas, but we must also remember the coup in gaza which killed 151 palestinians. i’m not sure that hamas is going to come out of this with its shield shining bright in the sunshine.

imran garda: mahdi abdul hadi had echoes of 1948. he said there might be another partition now. sadly, there might not be a 2 state solution as you had mentioned, but a 3 state solution is something that might be in the cards. what do you make of that?

robert fisk: well that’s pretty well what we’ve got, isn’t it? we’ve got 2 rival governments on the palestinian side, and one government that might be about to lose power to the other one on the israeli side. look, i think it’s a broader argument than just this. the problem is that all these great and good men gathering in sharm al shaykh these wonderful potentate statesmen from the west in particular. they should be dealing with the real issues of the middle east which is really about the subject called justice. instead of that they’re dealing with food and tunnels. for god’s sake. really. what i think that in the middle east, after so many years here, more than 3 decades, is that what everyone tells me they want in the middle east is justice. whether it be about the justice or injustice of dispossession. whether it be about the crust of secret police and secret prisons and torture, which most of the arab regimes impose on their own people with our western support, of course. that’s what people ask for. they don’t ask for human rights, though they’d like some. and they don’t ask for democracy, though we keep throwing it at them and beating them when they don’t vote for the right people. but they want justice and that is what sharm al shaykh should be about. and it’s what doha should have been about. and it’s what kuwait should be about. and again it’s not. the two arab summits are about rivalries between arabs and the sharm al shaykh summit is to clean the hands of western politicians. that is the problem.

one thing that this discussion ignored, however, which most people discussing palestine all too often ignore is that, yes, of course, what we’re looking at is a 3 state solution. that has been true for a long time now. but that 3rd state is not the illegitimate zionist regime; rather, it is the palestinians in 1948 palestine who are always absent. whose voices are far to rarely listened to. who always feel left out of discussions, sold out equally by the palestinian authority, by the united nations, by the west, and by the zionist regime. when abdul hadi, later in the program, talks about how the israeli terrorist regime is crushing palestinian national leadership and pride in the west bank and gaza, he doesn’t mention how this is working in 1948 palestine. i would have loved to see jonathan cook or someone from adalah or the arab human rights association speak to represent this community, especially given its tremendous support for palestinians in gaza throughout the last few weeks and especially because if we want true liberation of palestine they must be included and must be participants in that struggle. i feel like the way they get left out so often is akin to the way in which indians are left out of discussions of south africa which often gets reduced to a black-white issue and it’s not. here, for instance, is what palestinians in 1948 are experiencing as a result of their public support and solidarity with palestinians in gaza:

According to Israeli police reports, at least 763 Israeli citizens, the majority of them Palestinian and 244 under 18 years old, have been arrested, imprisoned or detained for participating in such demonstrations. Most have been held and then released, but at least 30 of those arrested over the past three weeks are still being held in prison.

Ameer Makhoul, director of Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations in Haifa, tells IPS that these demonstrations “are part of the uprising here inside the Green Line, to share responsibility and to share the challenge with the people in the Gaza strip.”

As an organiser of many of these solidarity demonstrations inside Israel, Makhoul himself was arrested by the Shin Bet (the Israeli secret service). “They called me, came to my home and held me for four hours,” he tells IPS. “They accused me of being a terrorist and supporting terror. They said that they are watching me and monitoring me.” Israel, he said, “has become a terror state.”

The Shin Bet has accused Makhoul and the hundreds of others arrested of “being a rebel, threatening the security of the State of Israel during war time.”

Makhoul believes that such threats are being implemented by Israel’s security forces “(in order to) break our will and the spirit of our people. But I think our spirit is much, much stronger here in Haifa and in Gaza than the Israeli oppression.”

i also wonder why all the news media and analysts and these conferences continue to talk about mahmoud abbas as if he is still president. his term expired on january 9th and yet the world still treats this normalizer as if he’s president. ma’an news, of course, acknowledges that he is citizen abbas not president abbas any longer. i think the only place that gave this any note was angry arab on the day his term expired. and then again two days later noting how the western regimes still accept abbas as president without noting his expiration date. i wonder if this will be true tomorrow: perhaps these same countries will go on thinking bush is still president of the u.s. too? apparently, abbas is still trying to form some sort of a unity government. as if he can breathe new life into his failed “leadership” of normalization with israeli terrorists, which of course only lead to more massacres, more confiscation of land, more checkpoints, more dispossession. and ban ki-moon proving that he is ever the tool of the west wants to help bolster abbas. i refer you to fisk’s comments on “inside story” as to the impossibility of “enhancing” abbas. but i also refer you to fisk’s recent op-ed in the independent making some of the same points, but importantly also sarcastically chastising ban:

And history was quite forgotten. The Hamas rockets were the result of the food and fuel siege; Israel broke Hamas’s own truce on 4 and 17 November. Forgotten is the fact Hamas won the 2006 elections, although Israel has killed a clutch of the victors.

And there’ll be little time for the peacemakers of Sharm el-Sheikh to reflect on the three UN schools targeted by the Israelis and the slaughter of the civilians inside. Poor old Ban Ki-moon. He tried to make his voice heard just before the ceasefire, saying Israel’s troops had acted “outrageously” and should be “punished” for the third school killing. Some hope. At a Beirut press conference, he admitted he had failed to get a call through to Israel’s Foreign Minister to complain.

It was pathetic. When I asked Mr Ban if he would consider a UN war crimes tribunal in Gaza, he said this would not be for him to “determine”. But only a few journalists bothered to listen to him and his officials were quickly folding up the UN flag on the table. About time too. Bring back the League of Nations. All is forgiven.

What no one noticed yesterday – not the Arabs nor the Israelis nor the portentous men from Europe – was that the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting last night was opening on the 90th anniversary – to the day – of the opening of the 1919 Paris peace conference which created the modern Middle East. One of its main topics was “the borders of Palestine”. There followed the Versailles Treaty. And we know what happened then. The rest really is history. Bring on the ghosts.

the other thing that i think is important in this discussion is the remarks both fisk and abdul hadi made in relation to the fact that people, generally, seem to continue to look to palestinians as a charity case rather than a group of people whose liberation movement needs sustenance. king abudullah of saudi arabia is but one example who speaks meaninglessly about palestinians, who has blood on his hands because he stands by in collusion with israeli terrorists and yet thinks his millions will repair the damage. of course i also donate both time and money, but i have to say that i find it a form of dehumanization that palestinians are looked at in this manner. by far too many people and by far too many regimes. all these disgusting leaders who DID NOTHING for 22 days and yet now they want to donate. it was the same with lebanon. they stood by in their complicit silence during the bombing and then wanted to pour money into lebanon. the people of south lebanon and the people of gaza do not want your crocodile tears nor your charity i guarantee you. they want your support for justice, as fisk says, and what that means is the liberation of palestine, and their right of return home. instead, what we are getting is more israeli terrorist control over rebuilding efforts as well with the approval of the the west and the arab regimes in the region all of whom continue to submit to the will of israeli terrorism.

i think it is worth thinking about some of that history from 1919 to the league of nations and the british mandate, and how it played out vis-a-vis the analysis of historian rashid khalidi. for as the europeans carved up the region leaving with it the scars of various states of colonialism, including in most places that are no longer directly controlled by the british or the french, forms of neocolonialism and internalized colonialism, they sowed the seeds of eternal dispossession and injustice. here is what khalidi says about how the mandate emerged and played out by foreign colonial powers in his book the iron cage: the story of the palestinian struggle for statehood (note: the emphasis is mine):

The Mandate for Palestine included the entire text of the Balfour Declaration, named for the British foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour, notably its provisions relating to the establishment in Palestine of a “national home” for the Jewish people. It included six articles (2, 4, 6, 7, 11, and 22) relating to the obligations of the mandatory power to foster and support this endeavor. In both documents, the Palestinians were never once cited by name, whether as Palestinians or as Arabs, and were referred to only as “non-Jewish communities,” possessing solely civil and religious rights; their national and political rights were mentioned in neither. By contrast, national rights were ascribed to the “Jewish people,” and the League of Nations Mandate made it a solemn responsibility of Great Britain to help the Jews create national institutions. The mandatory power was specifically called upon to extend all possible assistance to the growth and development of this national entity, notably by encouraging Jewish immigration and “close settlement on the land.” The tiny Jewish community of Palestine, composing about 10 percent of the country’s population at the time, was thereby placed in a distinctly privileged position. By contrast, the Arab majority, constituting 90 percent of Palestine’s population, was effectively ignored as a national or political entity. While the Mandate’s twenty-eight articles included nine on antiquities, not one related to the Palestinian people per se: they were variously and vaguely defined as a “section of the population,” “natives,” or “peoples and communities.” As far as Great Britian and the League of Nations were concerned, they were definitely not a people.

In consequence of the imposition of this peculiar constitutional structure, the Palestinian people and their leaders faced a cruel dilemma throughout the Mandate period. Starting soon after the British occupation, they repeatedly pressed Great Britain to grant them national rights, notably self-determination, and the political rights, notably representative government, they justifiably considered were their due. They claimed these rights on the basis of the American president Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, Article 4 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, Allied promises to support Arab independence during World War I, and their natural rights as a people. Each time they did so, however, they were told that they were obliged to accept the terms of the Mandate as a pre-condition for any change in their constitutional position. But these terms denied Palestinians any of these rights, or at best subordinated them completely to the national rights of the Jewish people. Acceptance of the Mandate by the Palestinians would thus have meant their recognition of the privileged national rights of the Jewish community in what they saw as their own country, and formal acceptance of their own legally subordinate position, indeed of their nonexistence as a people. (32-33)

you can see the roots of apartheid from beginning in this history: from the mandate era a jewish minority took control over the land, over the indigenous population. this history speaks to abdul hadi’s comments of specters of the past not only from 1948, but from 1919, 1920 and on down the line. it also demonstrates britain’s continuing hand in this matter. this is why i keep saying that i find it so difficult to watch everyone spinning their wheels, to watch history repeating itself again and again–each time the only difference is that the situation gets worse for palestinians.

for more recent lessons of history i refer you to the blog pulse, which has a really important documentary about the 6 day war in 1967 with an historical corrective in the video it posts, but here is what they say by way of introducing the film clips:

These excellent Dutch videos are an important historical corrective to one of the widely propagated founding myths of the state of Israel, that in 1967 its Six Day wars, which saw Israeli theft and occupation of Palestinian territory, were defensive. These eyewitness accounts and testimonies puts paid to the canard of an ‘existential threat’ that the Israeli political establishment continues to claim — rather, right from the start, the reverse has been true.

A Dutch UN observer in 1966-67, Jan Muhren, describes how he witnessed how Israel provoked their Arab neighbours in the run-up to the Six-Day War on Dutch Nova TV (clips below). The former UN observer in Gaza and the West Bank has said Israel was not under siege by Arab countries preceding the Six-Day War, and that Israel provoked most border incidents, which Muhren surmises was part of its strategy to annex more land.

As the second clip shows, Moshe Dayan admitted as much to Israeli journalist Rami Tal, in an interview only released after Dayan’s death. Dayan corroborates Muhren’s eyewitness accounts that over 80% of the border incidents were Israeli provocations.

meanwhile as the world continues to play with the puppets in the region and with the people’s lives on the ground in egypt, kuwait, qatar, palestinians still have the gruesome task of searching for their loved ones beneath the rubble in gaza. as a result the death toll continues to rise:

Medical sources in the Gaza Strip told Ma’an on Monday that three Palestinians died from wounds obtained during the three-week offensive.

They were being treated at Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Ambulance crews also uncovered at least 12 corpses of Palestinians killed in the fighting, many of whom may have bled to death awaiting medical care.

Another 50 injured Palestinians were transferred to hospitals in Egypt through the Rafah border, according to the de facto Health Ministry’s Dr Mo’awyeh Hasanein, who directs the Ambulance and Emergency Care Department.

Paramedics found some 100 bodies under the rubble of collapsed buildings and homes on Sunday, when Israeli forces began their withdrawal.

Inhabitants continued to return to their homes on Monday, surveying the damage and examining the rubble for recoverable belongings.

According to the latest statistics from medical sources in the Strip, at least 1,315 Palestinians were killed during the three-week assault on Gaza, while about 5,500 were wounded. Medical officials say a majority of the injured are women and children, and that almost all are civilians.

importantly, contrary to opinions i hear in jordan, palestinians in gaza do not blame hamas. this is true with people i know there, who i speak to on the phone and who i talked to regularly throughout this bloody massacre–friends, mind you, who tend to not be affiliated with any particular political party, but who rightly see this as a reminder of the need for unity and the need to see this as one resistance, one nation, especially because this is a war against all palestinians in gaza:

Initial estimates state that 15 percent or 20,000 of the Gaza Strip’s buildings have been damaged, with nearly 30,000 Palestinians forced to find shelter in UN Relief and Welfare Agency (UNRWA) shelters and with family.

Nearly 1,300 Gazans lost their lives, around a third of these children, with a total of more than half of the deaths civilian. The number of injured is pushing 4,000.

“People are extremely angry and the level of hate against Israel is very high. I have lived and worked in Gaza for many years and I have never seen such hatred from the population,” said Qleibo.

Gazans are not blaming Hamas, contrary to Israel’s wishes. “People laugh at Israel’s claims that this was a war against the Islamic resistance organisation and not one aimed at civilians.

“They see this as a war against all Palestinians. The number of civilians killed and maimed and the destruction wrought was way too extreme,” said Qleibo.

in response to this massacre in gaza people continue to respond with boycott, divestment and sanction ACTIONS as opposed to the empty words of political leaders around the world. the latest is from bahrain:

Sixteen Bahraini political organizations have formed an alliance to implement a series of activities and promote initiatives to defend the cause of the Palestinians. It is expected that one of the objectives of the joint effort will be the reopening of the Israel-boycott office, that had been closed by the government in 2005 as a requirement for the signing of a free trade agreement with the United States. During the 23 days of the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip a growing number of parliamentarians already called for a revision of the government’s decision in 2005.

Furthermore, the sixteen Bahraini organizations plan to set up a national plan of action spearheading calls for rallies and holding seminars and conferences to debate Palestine-related issues and mobilize Bahraini citizens and expatriates to express their solidarity with Palestinians in various forms and through a series of events. The plan was announced by Ali Ahmad, a parliamentarian for the Islamic Menbar, who hosted the meeting of the sixteen organizations. He was seconded by Ibrahim Kamal al-Deen, chairman of the left-wing Waad society, who announced: “We will send a letter to King Hamad Bin Eisa al-Khalifa to convey the popular view that we are against any step towards the normalisation of ties with the Zionist entity and against any contact with its people and institutions. We will also plead for the reopening of the Boycott office and for an end to the move to launch a regional forum that includes the Zionists”. The sixteen organizations released a joint statement in which they called upon all Arab and Islamic states to “assume their responsibilities and sever all forms of relations with the Zionists”, adding “the least they can do as a result of this genocide is to recall their diplomats to protest at the crimes perpetrated by the Zionists against the helpless people in Gaza”.

and rania masri and i have a new version of our call to american academics to boycott the zionist regime on electronic intifada. here is a reminder of our main demand:

We urge our fellow academics to not only support this statement in theory, but also in practice by pushing for academic boycott on your campuses. Supporting the human rights of Palestinians is not anti-Semitic; it is about human rights: Palestinian human rights. If this were any other captive population besieged for nineteen days with US-made materiel, we would be outraged and acting. So we are asking you to act now. It is our tax dollars at work that enables this massacre to take place. Let us make apartheid, in all its forms, only present in history books.

some american academics are building momentum, though not necessarily with respect to boycott because most of them still continue to value israeli speech over palestinian lives. and in lebanon rania continues to seek signatures for the lebanese call not only to boycott but to enforce anti-normalization laws against those lebanese professors who choose to normalize with israeli terrorist professors whose institutions and whose scholarship produces the knowledge necessary to continue to create their bloodbath:

We thus stand, as academics in Lebanon, in urging our colleagues, regionally and internationally, to oppose this ongoing scholasticide and to support the just demand for academic boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. Specifically, we ask our colleagues worldwide to support the call by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel to comprehensively and consistently boycott and disinvest from all Israeli academic and cultural institutions, and to refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joining projects with Israeli institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid.

We further call on the enforcement of Lebanese anti-normalization laws with Israel, and thus for the prosecution of individuals and institutions in Lebanon that violate those laws and conduct collaborations, associations or investments in Israel or with Israelis.

please click on the link above if you are a professor in lebanon and you want to sign the petition.

boycott new year’s eve for gaza

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you’ve got to hand it to the women. when the s*&^ hits the fan they are always the ones to react. the strong ones. in the midst of a political situation where palestinians are afraid to speak out against the israeli terrorist war against gaza, the women’s union got fed up today and organized and impromptu protest at martyr’s square in downtown nablus. it was a brief demonstration, partially due to the rain i suspect, but important nevertheless. after the first fifteen minutes or so men joined as well. the chants were all about unity: one nation. no division. the chants criticized hamas and fatah alike. i recorded some of the chants in two mp3 files which you can listen to if you’d like:

nablus chants 1

nablus chants 2

we are having a second protest tonight at 5 pm. here is the statement about tonight’s evening demonstration:

على عتبه العام الجديد ..وبينما العالم يطوي صفحه عام مضى نفتح صفحه صبغت اولى حروفها بلون الدم .. دم اخوتنا في غزه … سنه جديده شاهده على عمق المأساه وحجم الجريمه التي ترتكب بحق شعبنا
لذلك ولاجل الدم الذي يسيل في غزه لاجل الاطفال وشيوخ
لاجل المناضلين الذين يرضون كل شيء الا الذله
نضيء شموعنا ..
علها توصل من قلوبنا نورا يضي عتمه ليلهم .. صوتا يواسيهم ويشد من ازرهم ويقول لهم اننا معكم … كلنا في الكرب واحد
المنا واحد …كيف لا ودمنا فلسطيني واحد
التجمع في
دوار الشهداء _ مدينه نابلس

On the threshold of the new year .. and as the world turns the page of one year and opens a new page in the color of blood .. The blood of our brothers in Gaza … the new year saw the depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the crimes committed against our people.

for the blood spilling in Gaza, for the children and the elderly

for the freedom fighter who buys everything except fifth and dignity.

we lights our candles …

may the light from our hearts alleviate some of the darkness that surround them… attribute to them to tell them we are with you … we are all one in distress

we are sharing the pain our blood is unify us.

Today five p.m. turn on the candles in the center of the city of Nablus martyrs circle

Brothers … Make your voice loud for them to hear you like all the brothers in all over the country and around the world

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in lebanon dear baha’a sent out an email about their protest this afternoon. he noted that there are many new year’s celebrations in jordan and syria have been canceled, but not in lebanon. he urged people to boycott those celebrations and i encourage others to do the same around the world:

Also, tonight happens to be the New Year’s night which everyone celebrates usually. Syria and Jordan have declared the cancellation of all celebrations to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine and Gaza. As for Lebanon, I urge everyone to boycott any celebrations as the violence against Gaza is increasing. Instead, a group of people will be gathering at Esqwa, downtown, before midnight to light candles and show solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza.

honestly, i don’t know how people can celebrate tonight given the situation. i am happy that i don’t have to worry about that here in nablus. but really i don’t know how people can go out and celebrate tonight. last year i arrived in beirut on new year’s eve. it was solemn then, too, because tamara’s grandfather had just died while i was en route to lebanon. we had a quiet dinner together and then met up with some friends for a low key night out at barometre. all night long ali kept asking me what my new year’s wish was. my response was: the right of return. he knows that i was earnest in saying this, but he kept wanting me to offer a different answer, an answer about something i want for myself. but honestly there was nothing i wanted for me. unfortunately, this year, while my answer would be the same, i would have to answer that i want this f(*#$^%& bloodbath to stop. the bombing just started again an hour ago from the american-made f16s, though gazans have been shelled all day from israeli terrorists along the seashore.

there are now 391 palestinian martyrs and almost 1,800 injured. it took this many dead palestinians before the arab league met today. not that anything will come out of it. some rhetoric maybe, but what will they do? they all want to continue normalization with the zionist entity. with the americans. in spite of how many millions of their arab brothers and sisters blood has been shed as a result of both of them. the only statement i have seen thus far that makes some bit of sense came from pflp today:

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called on December 30, 2008 for the immediate and permanent end to the so-called “negotiations” with the enemy, once and for all.

The PFLP further warned PA President Abu Mazen from providing cover for the enemy and its assaults against our people through the so-called “negotiations” with Israel, stating that these negotiations are a mockery and must end immediately.

The statement said that the PFLP has warned Abu Mazen and the PA government in Ramallah of the damaging and dangerous of these “negotiations” upon our people and our cause and stated that they only provide illusions and false promises to our people.

Our people are not fooled by these so-called “negotiations” or the so-called “peace process,” because they daily confront the crimes and aggressions of the enemy on the ground, from the latest massacres in Gaza, to the continuing imprisonment of over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners, to the ongoing building of the settlements that steal our land, to the building of the racist annexation wall, to the Zionization of Jerusalem, to the countless other crimes committed over sixty years of occupation that have not once ceased due to such so-called “negotiations.”

The PFLP said that the road that must be taken instead and immediately is that which leads to the defeat of the enemy – steadfastness, resistance, national unity, and confrontation. Our responsibility is to protect our people under occupation and not to provide cover for the occupation as it commits its crimes.

mona el farra on her blog this morning recounted new war crimes by the israeli terrorists:

Dear Friends,

Today in the early morning hours, and while the health emergency teams on duty (Jabalia ), trying to evacuate the injured and dead, they were targeted by the israeli army, one of the health rescue members was killed another injured. (i will provide you with more details when i have the names and time of the incident).

i warned of in previous entry in my blog, and several times in my writing, while reporting from Gaza, since the year 2000. i warned of targeting health teams while on duty and in clear uniform.

can we just investigate who violate human rights? talking of terrorism! what do u think of state terrorism!

In Gaza We have many evidence, on daily human rights violations, we do not need the world to say we did not know, when it is late and the genocide is well prominent fact.

now tell me: is this really something you can delete from your mind and go celebrate tonight. and please, if you are my friend do not send me emails wishing me a happy new year. save your fingers from the typing. instead, write a letter to your newspaper, the the united nations, to anyone who will listen and ask them to make the israeli terrorists stop. NOW.

ps: i just learned that dubai canceled its new year’s celebrations tonight, which is great. now can we just get them to stop their f(*@!)* normalizing with israeli businessmen?:

All public events marking New Year’s Eve in Dubai have been cancelled, officials confirmed this afternoon.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, ordered the cancellation of all New Year celebrations in the emirate to show support for the people of Gaza.