palestine and absurdism

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

here is a synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

against anniversaries

mother-palestine-ror

i’ve been reading various articles and blog posts about the anniversary of the massacre of the palestinian refugee camp shatila and the surrounding neighborhood of sabra (no, sabra is not a refugee camp, but many palestinians live there). pulse media and falasteenyia both had nice posts on the subject. ma’an news posted a reflective piece on the zionist-kata’eb massacre of palestinians in 1982:

“That is the old Israeli watchtower and entrance to Sabra,” a man on the street pointed, standing in front of the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camps. Below the tower, quarantined like a civil war time capsule, were the camps left to fend for themselves on the outskirts of Beirut.

No more than 20 meters past the former Israeli watchtower, in an empty lot, is the memorial for the victims of the 1982 Lebanon Civil War massacre. Camp residents say the site was once a mass grave for the slain. The memorial was a single-track dirt path linking a series of billboards with images of the dead.

The massacre’s perpetrators were of the predominantly Christian Phalange party: supplied, supported and supervised by onlooking Israeli soldiers.

The Phalangist pogrom was clear. What was not, however, was the extent of the crime. At the time of the massacre, the Director of Israeli Military Intelligence said that between the days of September 16 and 18, 1982, a minimum of 700 “terrorists” had been killed. Yet, reporter for the Independent Robert Fisk wrote in his book, Pity the Nation, “Phalangist officers I knew in east Beirut told me that at least 2,000 ‘terrorists’ — women as well as men — had been killed in Chatila.” The real number, according to Fisk, is thought to be higher.

Leaving the mass grave memorial and moving into the open-air market of the Sabra camp, a bullet-ridden wall stands separating a camp dump from its market. In all likelihood the half-block dumping ground was once on the fringes of the camp, but not anymore. The camp had no urban planner, so it grew until the market fully encircled the awful collection of stench, sewage and a sore reminder that nobody really intended to be living in the Sabra camp some sixty years after the Nakba, the Palestinian exodus of 1948.

At the far end of the bullet-chafed wall stood a child of about ten years, a refugee. With little hesitation he immersed himself into the filthy heap, heaving his woven sack of valued rubbish over the rotting mounds. For all the archetypes of the poverty-ridden Palestinian refugee that exists in a foreigner’s consciousness, this is surely it. There was to be no school for this boy. No passport, no rights and no state.

Beyond the heap hung layers of political propaganda posters: A keffiyehed militant with the bold letters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine plastered next to a green-tinted portrait of Hamas’ founder Sheik Yassin with the party logo “Martyrs of Freedom & Victory;” a weathered PLO poster of Arafat; even one of a masked fighter on a tank, clutching a Kalashnikov with the brand of Islamic Jihad. And the posters were not just of Palestinian parties, but of the Lebanese Amal and Hezbollah as well. As a nearby shopkeeper who sold Hezbollah DVD’s put it, “The camp is mixed now… mixed with Palestinians and [Lebanese] Shias… United by resistance…”

Despite appearances, however, inside the Lebanese Army’s encirclement of the camp a surprisingly calm business-as-usual air prevailed. The streets weren’t crowded, but populated. The buyers, the sellers, and of course the children, were everywhere, looking to relieve the gnawing boredom of a lifetime’s confinement to the camp. “We are not allowed to leave [the camps],” one of the sellers said, “No papers.”

United resistance aside, the camp was in shambles. Everything the Lebanese government might do in Sabra and Shatila—urban planning, paving streets, coordinating an electrical grid, sewage—was left to the Palestinian residents. At the beginning, however, the camp played host to the bigwigs of the Palestinian leadership in the Palestine Liberation Organization, who organized camp life and connected the residents to the Palestinian struggle.

The powerful PLO, back in 1982, provided the motive of the massacre’s perpetrators, the Christian Phalange militia, who sought to take revenge against PLO leaders—which had in fact already fled Lebanon—for the alleged assassination of the Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayel. But the only people who remained in the camps that summer of 1982 were unarmed Palestinians.

What happened at Sabra and Shatila is still considered the bloodiest single event in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is also among the most egregious and underreported aspects of the Palestinian calamity to date.

On the anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres, 16 September, the issue of the refugees and the right of return reaches again for the surface of Palestinian politics. With the newly-charged peace process being pushed by the United States, and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s recently released strategy to establish Palestinian state in two years, the issue of returnees has been subsumed by talk of settlements in the West Bank.

American efforts, and Fayyad’s plan focus more on securing infrastructure and borders than focusing on the estimated 500,000 refugees without rights in Lebanon, or the hundreds of thousands of others in Jordan, Syria, Iraq and in the Gulf.

Palestinians in the camps have a precarious relationship with the current peace initiatives, particularly the older generation who still recall the villages they fled in 1948 and 1967.

“Sure I would support Obama’s plan,” an old man reflects on the US President’s push for a two-state solution. “But what kind of solution is it? I have nothing in this West Bank… it would make me a foreigner in my own land… I would only go back to my village. And I don’t even know what is there now.”

He picks up an old hatchet from his coffee table and continues, “They [the Zionists] chased us and hit us on the head with these. I left my small village near Acre [Akko] because of it.”

ah yes the selling out of the palestinian refugees like those in shatila who everyone loves to remember on occasions such as this one, but who never fight for their rights (read: fayyed among others). but a different piece in ma’an news was a bit more interesting–about george mitchell’s visit to lebanon which coincided with the anniversary of the massacre:

Palestinian refugees were the top of US Special Envoy George Mitchell’s list during a 20 minute sit down with Lebanon’s President Michel Suliman Wednesday, the day marking the 27th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres.

Michell told Suleiman that Lebanon, whose Phalangist faction 27-years earlier entered two Palestinian refugee camps and slaughtered thousands of civilians with Israeli support, would not bear the brunt of the refugee issue.

“US efforts toward peace would not come at the expense of Lebanon,” a statement from Suleiman’s office said following the meeting. Mitchell made no comment.

The two discussed the latest developments in Mitchell’s pursuit to halt Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and, according to the Lebanese press, stressed “continuous US support and aid to Lebanon on all levels and in all areas.”

Suleiman reportedly told Mitchell that all Lebanese factions refused the option of naturalizing Palestinian refugees “on the basis of the constitution.” He also stressed his desire that Israel retreat from its occupation of Lebanese lands.

what i find especially disturbing about all of this is how everyone remembers the anniversary of the sabra and shatila massacre but no one seems to remember the destruction of nahr el bared refugee camp. it is rather convenient that mitchell and his lebanese cohorts discussed palestinian refugees, but of course did not reveal any tangible information about their right of return. for palestinian from nahr el bared this right of return is now two-fold: first to their camp and then to palestine. if only that first step could be eliminated and they could return home immediately.

this is why i am feeling like i am against anniversaries. anniversaries, ideally, should be a time when you reflect upon the person/people/event. it should make you act in a way that honors that memory. the only real way to honor the memory of the massacre in 1982 or the destruction of nahr el bared in 2007 is to fight for the right of return for palestinian refugees. but no one is talking about that. nor are they talking about reconstructing narh el bared. except a few people. my friend matthew cassel attended the protest in trablus the other day and took this photography among others:

image by matthew cassel
image by matthew cassel

my dear friend rania never forgets and she linked to an article in al akhbar today on the subject:

بين الحفاظ على الآثار في الجزء القديم من مخيم نهر البارد وطمرها، تُعلّق حياة 35 ألف لاجئ فلسطيني كانوا يظنّون في فترة سابقة، قبل الحرب تحديداً، أنّها حياة مستمرّة.. على بؤسها. ربما، يجدر بهؤلاء المتروكين لحالهم الانتظار بعد، ريثما يتخذ مجلس شورى الدولة قراره النهائي المستند إلى مطالعات الدولة اللبنانية والتيار الوطني الحر ووزارة المال المكلفة بتمويل تكاليف طمر الآثار

راجانا حمية

كان من المفترض أن يُقفل مجلس شورى الدولة، اليوم، أبوابه أمام المطالعات القانونية المتعلقة بالطعن بقرار إيقاف طمر الآثار في البارد القديم. فقد أجّل محامي النائب ميشال عون، وليد داغر، تقديم مطالعة يحدد فيها صفة النائب عون كمستدعٍ إلى الاثنين المقبل. ويعود سبب التأجيل إلى رغبته في ضم رد التيار على مطالعتين تقدمت بهما وزارة المال في 18 آب الماضي والدولة اللبنانية في 21 منه، وتبلّغ بهما داغر في العاشر من الجاري.

وحسب المحامي داغر، تطالب هاتان المطالعتان مجلس شورى الدولة بالرجوع عن قرار إيقاف الطمر، استناداً إلى «المعطيات التي تفيد بأن طمر الآثار تم وفقاً للمعايير الدولية». وأكثر من ذلك، تستند الوزارتان في مطالعتيهما إلى «اعتبار صفة عون ومصلحته لا تتطابقان مع شروط المادة 77 من نظام مجلس الشورى». وهي المادة التي تنص على أنه «يفترض لوقف تنفيذ القرار المطعون فيه أن تكون المراجعة مرتكزة على أسباب جدية ومهمة وأن يكون الضرر المتذرَّع به ضرراً بليغاً».

طعن داغر بالمطالعتين، سلفاً، حتى قبل التقديم إلى مجلس الشورى، لأنه «لو لم يكن لعون صفة مباشرة لما كان مجلس شورى الدولة قد أوقف قرار الحكومة، كما إن الضرر لحق به كمواطن ذلك أن الآثار ليست ملكاً عاماً، بل هي ملك إنساني». لا يكتفي داغر بهذه الحجة، بل يستند إلى الاجتهاد القانوني الصادر عام 2000، والذي «لا يشترط لتوفر المصلحة أن يكون المدعي صاحب حق مباشر».

من تظاهرات طرابلس، الناس باتت لا تصدق موضوع الآثار (عبد الكافي الصمد)من تظاهرات طرابلس، الناس باتت لا تصدق موضوع الآثار (عبد الكافي الصمد)إذاً، من المفترض أن يتقدم داغر صباح الاثنين المقبل بمطالعتين: أولى تتعلق بتحديد صفة عون كمستدعٍ، والتي حددها داغر بصفة مواطن، وثانية يرد بها قانونياً على مطالعتي المال والدولة. بعد ذلك كله، يقوم مجلس الشورى بمطابقة الصفة والمصلحة قبل إصدار القرار المتوقع في 13 تشرين الأول المقبل.. و«ربما قبل هذا التاريخ، إذا لم تتطابق الصفة والمصلحة مع شروط المادة 77، بحيث يصار إلى إبطال القرار فوراً»، حسبما يرجّح رئيس مجلس الشورى القاضي شكري صادر.

لكن، إذا فاز عون بصفته والمصلحة، ينتقل أعضاء مجلس الشورى إلى «الأساس»، الذي يتعلق بدراسة مطالعتي عون المتضمنة مبررات الحفاظ على آثار البارد، والحكومة اللبنانية التي تشرح فيها موجبات الإعمار. ويحصر رئيس لجنة الحوار اللبناني الفلسطيني خليل مكاوي هذه الموجبات بثلاثة «تعهّد الدولة بإعادة المخيم كما كان والتزامات الحكومة تجاه المجتمع الدولي والدول المانحة، إضافة إلى الحفاظ على الأمن القومي».

إما استكمال طمر الآثار بحسب المعايير الدولية وإما إيقاف الإعمار «واستملاك الأراضي

إذاً، يتعلق مصير المخيم القديم بالمطالعتين المذكورتين، فإما استكمال طمر الآثار بحسب المعايير الدولية، كما يرجح مكاوي، وإما إيقاف الإعمار «واستملاك الأراضي القائم عليها المخيم الجديد وبعض ما حواليه»، كما جاء في بيان لجنة الدراسات في التيار الوطني الحر الأسبوع الماضي. غير أن ما تعوّل عليه لجنة الدراسات يواجه بعض الرفض من جهتين: الأولى فلسطينية، إذ يخاف هؤلاء من ضياع حقوقهم، وخصوصاً أن غالبية البيوت مسجّلة باسمهم، وأن ببعض تحايل (قبل صدور قانون التملك اللبناني عام 2001)، والثانية غالبية الأقطاب السياسية التي ترى في استملاك أراضٍ جديدة بداية مشروع التوطين.

ما بين المطالعتين، يضيع سكان المخيم القديم. يتساءل هؤلاء عن سبب إثارة هذه القضية الآن بالذات، تزامناً مع بدء إعادة الإعمار. يخاف الأهالي من أن تتكرر تجربة المخيمات المسحولة هنا في البارد. خوفهم هذا يدفعهم إلى «الهلوسة» في بعض الأحيان، إذ يذهب البعض إلى القول إنه «لا وجود للآثار بدليل أن الأعمدة هي قنوات صرف صحي مركبينا جدودنا اعتبروها رومانية، وبعض الفخارات من إيام أبوي». يستند الرجل في تكهناته إلى أن الحفر التي قام بها المهندسون من مديرية الآثار لم تتعدّ الثمانين سنتمتراً، «فكيف ستكون المدينة على هذا العمق؟».

يستغرب آخرون، ومنهم لطفي محمد الحاج، عضو الهيئة الأهلية لإعادة إعمار البارد، سبب التفات الدولة اللبنانية إلى هذه الآثارات رغم أنها هي التي أتت باللاجئين إلى تلة البارد رغم معرفتها بوجود الآثارات منذ العشرينيات من القرن الماضي. ويستغرب الحاج أيضاً سبب الاهتمام «الذي لا مثيل له»، على الرغم من «أن الآثار المحيطة بنا مهملة»، ويعطي مثالاً على قوله: «مثلاً، قلعة حكمون على جنب المخيم عاملينا مزرعة بقر وتلة عرقة وغيرها». لا يحتاج الرجل إلى أكثر من رؤية منزله مجدداً، ويطالب مجلس الشورى بالعودة عن قرار الإيقاف، مبرراً مطالبته بالقول: «احنا هون مش سوليدير، هون ناس ساكنة ما عادت تحمل تهجير». أكثر من ذلك، يضيف أبو خالد فريجي، أحد سكان القديم: «إحنا رمينا البارود لنساعد الجيش، اليوم ما عدنا قادرين ما نحمل البارودة».

مقابل هذه التعليقات للأهالي، يضع بعض الأطراف القضية في خانة التجاذبات السياسية. هذا ما يقوله المسؤول عن ملف إعادة إعمار البارد مروان عبد العال. ولئن كان لا حول ولا قوة من إدخال الفلسطيني بهذا التجاذب، يسأل عبد العال: «لماذا لم تُرسل فرق للتنقيب عن الآثار منذ تسعين عاماً؟ وليش الرسائل ما بتوصل إلا من صندوق بريدنا؟».

البراكسات التي يعيش فيها السكانالبراكسات التي يعيش فيها السكانيؤمن عبد العال بقداسة الآثار. وهي، من وجهة نظره تضاهي قداسة هوية الفلسطيني. لكن، السؤال الكبير الذي لا بد منه هنا هو «أنه إحنا مش آثار؟ ما بنمثل خصوصية؟ مش ولاد نكبة عمرها 61 عاماً وإلنا هويتنا كما الآثار؟ أكثر من ذلك، يسأل عضو الجبهة الشعبية في البارد سمير اللوباني: «ما هو الثمن السياسي الذي يجب أن يدفعه الفلسطيني من أجل إعادة البارد؟

لكن، كل هذا لن يأتي بنتيجة. فالنتيجة الوحيدة في مجلس شورى الدولة، وبانتظار صدور القرار، يعمل الفلسطينيون على رفع سقف الاحتجاجات الجماهيرية، وخصوصاً أنه لا يحق لهم مثل «أهل الفقيد» تقديم مطالعة قانونية، كونهم جهة غير معترف بها في القانون اللبناني. يضاف إلى ذلك أن الأونروا أيضاً لا تستطيع تقديم مطالعة قانونية لمجلس شورى الدولة، لذلك تعمل على إعداد مطالعة تشرح فيها موجبات الإعمار للحكومة اللبنانية فقط.

بالعودة إلى سير عملية الإعمار في البارد، كانت شركة «الجهاد» المتعهدة من قبل الأونروا قد طمرت في الرزمة الأولى حيث وجدت الآثار موقعين من أصل 5 مواقع قبل أن تثار القضية. وتلفت الناطقة الرسمية باسم الأونروا هدى الترك إلى «أننا انتهينا من تنظيف 95% من الركام، باستثناء جزء من الرزمة 2 وآخر من الرزمة 4». وأكدت أن الأونروا لا يمكنها الإعمار إلا بالتسلسل، أي من الرزمة 1، «والعملية متوقفة الآن بانتظار قرار مجلس شورى الدولة».

there is also a new article about the situation in nahr el bared in as-safir newspaper:

جهاد بزي
يستطيع المخيم أن يكون من شقين،
أو أن نبحث عن قطعة أرض بديلة للمخيم..
لكن لا نستطيع أن نجد ارتوزيا في مكان آخر.
الجنرال ميشال عون
(17 حزيران 2009)

في مخيم نهر البارد مدينتان.

المدينة الأولى بقايا أثرية اكتشفت تحت أنقاض المخيم القديم الذي سُحق بالكامل. هذه البقايا اسمها أرتوزيا. يستميت العونيون في الدفاع عنها، وقد رفعوا طعناً إلى مجلس الشورى جمّد إثره طمر آثار المدينة المكتشفة، ريثما يتخذ قراره. ولجنة الدراسات العونية لا تنفك تصدر بيانات بلغة أكاديمية رصينة تعلّل فيها أسباب دفاعها عن المدينة وتدفع عن نفسها تهمة العنصرية وتشدد على أنها ضد التوطين.

المدينة الثانية هي مدينة «البركسات». هي النقيض التام لكل الآثارات على وجه الأرض. هي صناديق «عصرية» من حديد وبلاستيك وإسفنج، وغيرها من المواد المثيرة لغثيان عالم الآثار إذا سقط مكبره عليها. وعلى العكس من القلاع والاعمدة والمدرجات الخالدة خلود الآلهة، فإن مدينة البركسات بلا أعمدة ولا فخامة ولا تاريخ، وهندستها رتيبة ومقيتة.

وهي عرضة للتلف أسرع بمليون مرة من مدينة أرتوزيا. عناصر الطبيعة الجميلة، الشمس والمياه والهواء، هي أوبئة دائمة تفتك بالمدينة الهشة المقامة على عجل لإيواء النازحين في بلاد لجوئهم.

هناك فارق أساسي بين المدينتين: البركسات مأهولة. ارتوزيا غير مأهولة. وأن نقول إنها مأهولة، فلأننا قررنا، كلبنانيين، مواجهة الإرهاب بطريقة فريدة من نوعها، هللت لها قوى سياسية شرسة في «حبها» للفلسطينيين، وتغاضت عنها قوى أخرى كانت قد نادت يوماً بأن المخيم خط أحمر. تلك الحرب ستبقى، بأي حال، «إنجازاً ناصعاً» في تاريخنا اللبناني، وإن طُمرت خطاياها بكل ما فيها كرمى لعناوين كبيرة وفارغة.

وأن نقول إن البركسات مأهولة منذ نحو سنتين. أن يضطر لاجئون، قصمنا ظهورهم سياسياً واجتماعياً واقتصادياً، إلى حياة منسية كهذه التي يعيشونها في علب الصفيح المكتظة تتساقط الصراصير من أسقفها الاسفنج المبقورة بسبب الحرارة والمياه، أو تنبت الجرذان من أرضها، أو تصير مستنقعات وحول عند كل مطر. أن يضطر لاجئون سحقنا حيواتهم إلى يوميات طويلة في هذه المجمعات الحديدية الأقرب إلى مجمعات عزل المصابين بأمراض معدية قاتلة. أن تضطر عيون اطفالهم إلى العتمة ليل نهار وانفاسهم إلى الرطوبة وآفاقهم إلى ممرات ضــيقة خانقة. وأن يضطر الفلسطينــي إلى هــذه العقوبة المستمرة عليه لذنب ليس ذنبه، فإنه عــيب هائــل يتدلى من عنق لبنان جرســاً فاضحاً يرن كيفــما هزّ هذا البلد عنقه.

أما أن يقال للفلســطيني إن أرتــوزيا أهم من الأرض التي ولد عليها، وإن علــيه أن يبـحث عن مكان آخر يقيم عليه مخيمه، فهذا يفوق خيال الكوابيس التي يراها.

ثمة افتقاد تام لحس إنساني بسيط: المكان، مهما كان مؤقتاً، له قيمة رمزية ترتبط بقيمة المجتمع الذي يقيم فيه منذ ستين سنة. هم لاجئون لكنهم ليسوا بضاعة يمكن وضعها في أي مكان، بانتظار شحنها إلى فلسطين. المثل قاسٍ، لكنه الاقرب إلى المنطق الذي تتعاطى به الغالبية اللبنانية العظمى مع الشأن الفلسطيني. هناك سخرية مرّة في أن يضطر الواحد إلى الشرح بأن المخيم الفلسطيني ليس نزهة كشفية بين أحراج الصنوبر، تقام وتفك ثم تنتقل إلى مكان جديد. المخيمات الفلسطينية هي مثل مدننا وقرانا وأحيائنا. مثل حي السلم والحمرا والاشرفية والرابية. قد نكرهها وقد نحبها، لكن فيها شكّلنا ذكرياتنا وتفاصيلنا وأحزاننا وافراحنا. وإذا كان الفلسطيني يعيش في مؤقت مفتوح، فهذا لا يعني أن حقائبه موضبة طوال الوقت. هذا لا يعني أنه بلا ذاكرة. من السخرية المرّة تذكير لجنة الدراسات وغيرها، بأن الفلسطينيين مثلنا، نحن اللبنانيين أحفاد الأرتوزيين العظام.

وكما لا يحق لأحد أن ينقّلنا كيفما شاء، لا يحق لنا أن ننقلهم كيفما شئنا. معادلة بسيطة.

ثم..
إذا كانت إعادة الإعمار بهذا الحجم من التعقيد، وإذا كان هناك خلاف حتى على اسم المخيم الجديد من البارد حدا بالجيش اللبناني إلى أن «يأمل» من الإعلام تسميته بالبقعة المحيطة بالمخيم، فأين سيجد الفلسطينيون النازحون مخيماً آخر؟ فلتنكب لجنة الدراسات العونية على درس فكرة الجنرال وجعلها حجر أساس لدراسة متكاملة تلحظ موقع المخيم الجديد على أرض لبنان، ومساحته وكيفية استئجاره أو تملكه للبدء بإعادة الإعمار بسرعة كي ينتقل الفلسطينيون إليه. وربما على اللجنة زيارة البركسات والنزول في غرفها لأيام تستفتي خلالها رأي المنكوبين فرداً فرداً بموقع جديد للمخيم. كما ينبغي عليها لاحقاً أخذ موافقة جيرانهم الجدد من اللبنانيين. هذا جهد يمكن للجنة الدراسات أن تقوم به بالطبع، لما يعرف عنها من عمق وقدرة. غير أن الفلسطينيين ليسوا قضية اللجنة. قضيتها أرتوزيا.

المصائب تأتي دفعة واحدة. نزلت على المخيم فدمرته، ثم صعدت من أسفله، فزادت على معوقات إعماره معوّقاً جديداً. الأولوية الآن هي في طمر مدينة البركسات، وهذه لن تطمر إلا إذا طمرت آثار ارتوزيا، بغض النظر عن أي أهمية لها. من أقل حقوق فلسطينيي مخيم نهر البارد على هذا البلد هو ألا يجعلهم ينتظرون أكثر. بقاء الفلسطينيين على حالهم هناك جريمة بحق الانسانية واللبنانيين، وليس طمر ارتوزيا هو «الجريمة بحق الإنسانية والشعب اللبناني» كما قالت لجنة الدراسات.

أما أرتوزيا العونية فيمكن لها أن تنتظر. يكفيها فخراً أنها أثبتت عمق تجذرها في الأرض اللبنانية وعنادها وتحديها للزمن. هي خالدة وشامخة شموخ الجبال والأرز. ولا شك بأنها ستطلع من بين الركام ثانية، يوم يغادر الفلسطينيون هذه البلاد التي لا تفعل منذ عقود إلا معاقبتهم على وجودهم القسري فيها.

جهاد بزي

of course, it is not surprising that al akhbar and as safir would publish articles on nahr el bared. these are the only two newspapers who have consistently covered the story. that can be counted on. not just because it is an anniversary, but because it matters. but who else will cover the refugees from nahr e bared and their rights? their right of return. and i’m thinking not only of the people i care about from nahr el bared and other camps in lebanon who want to return to their original villages, but also dear friends in falasteen who want to return to their villages. this summer when we did the al awda camp with kids from deheishe refugee camp, two of the kids who i adore returned home and produced a new rap song (here is my post on taking them to beit ‘itab, which i did for a second time after the camp). the song includes hisham’s grandfather at the beginning, talking about their village of beit ‘itab. here is a description of their song and a link to the mp3 file you can listen to:

Badluck Rappers – اغنية جديدة بعنوان ” رحلة لبلادي ” تحكي قصة كل لاجئ فلسطيني

Badluck Rappers – اغنية جديدة بعنوان
تم نشر إغنية مؤخراً من فرقة الـ Badluck Rapperz من قلب مخيم دهيشه , بيت لحم
بعنوان رحلة لبلادي تحكي قصة كل لاجئ فلسطيني عايش داخل و خارج فلسطين ,
وتعودنا نسمع اغاني كثيرة عن اللاجئين من الفرقة لانها من قلب المخيمات , اكبر المخيمات
الفلسطينية للاجئين داخل فلسطين , واكتر اشي بميز الاغنية , بدايتها الجميلة المختارة
الي ببداها لاجئ فلسطيني بحكي قصة قريته الهاجر منها

الكل يسمع الاغنية , يقيمها , ويترك تعليق

Read more: http://www.palrap.net/PalRap/263/Badluck_Rappers_Witn_New_Track_Called_Re7la_La_Blady.html#ixzz0RWCnqv9L

i do not need an anniversary to make me think about the people i love in shatila, nahr el bared or deheishe refugee camps. i do not need an anniversary to make me remember their right of return. i think about it every day and hope that the work and writing i do, in some small way, advances that right. but i’m also thinking about the palestinian refugees who were in iraq and who i tried to help when they were displaced yet again in jordan in al ruweished refugee camp. they have all been resettled in third countries, a fact that does not negate their right of return to palestine. at the time friends i worked with tried to get the u.s. to take them in to no avail. now it seems my home state of california is granting refuge to some palestinians from iraq as patrik jonsson writes in the christian science monitor:

The State Department confirmed today that as many as 1,350 Iraqi Palestinians – once the well-treated guests of Saddam Hussein and now at outs with much of Iraqi society – will be resettled in the US, mostly in southern California, starting this fall.

It will be the largest-ever resettlement of Palestinian refugees into the US – and welcome news to the Palestinians who fled to Iraq after 1948 but who have had a tough time since Mr. Hussein was deposed in 2003. Targeted by Iraqi Shiites, the mostly-Sunni Palestinians have spent recent years in one of the region’s roughest refugee camps, Al Waleed, near Iraq’s border with Syria.

“Really for the first time, the United States is recognizing a Palestinian refugee population that could be admitted to the US as part of a resettlement program,” says Bill Frelick, refugee policy director at Human Rights Watch in Washington.

Given the US’s past reluctance to resettle Palestinians – it accepted just seven Palestinians in 2007 and nine in 2008 – the effort could ruffle some diplomatic feathers.

For many in the State Department and international community, the resettlement is part of a moral imperative the US has to clean up the refugee crisis created by invading Iraq. The US has already stepped up resettlement of Iraqis, some who have struggled to adjust to life in America.

al awda is asking for people to help with their resettlement:

The US government has approved most of the population of Al-Waleed Palestinian refugee camp for resettlement as refugees in the US in the coming year. For more information see http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0708/p02s04-usgn.html and http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/06/2009618161946158577.html

The first Palestinian family of the year from Al-Waleed will be arriving in San Diego on Wednesday September 16, 2009. This family, as with all the refugees who will be relocated to the US from Al-Waleed, will arrive with essentially nothing. Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, is therefore conducting an urgent fund raising campaign to help all the Palestinian refugees arriving in the US soon with their transition to a new life in this country.

BACKGROUND

An estimated 19,000 Palestinians, out of an initial population of 34,000, fled Iraq since the American invasion in 2003. Of these refugees, approximately 2500 have been stranded, under very harsh conditions, some for more than five years, in three camps, Al-Tanaf, Al-Waleed and Al-Hol. These camps are located in the middle of the desert far from any population centers. Al-Tanaf camp is located in no-man’s land on the borders between Iraq and Syria. Al-Waleed is located on the Iraqi side of the border with Syria, and Al-Hol is located in Syria in the Hasaka region. The camp residents had fled largely from Baghdad due to harassment, threats of deportation, abuse by the media, arbitrary detention, torture and murder by organized death squads. They thus became refugees again, originally as a result of the Zionist theft and colonial occupation of Palestine beginning in 1948. Some became refugees also when they were expelled from Kuwait in 1991 by the US-backed Kuwaiti government. Now, after years of waiting, many of the refugees stranded in the camps on the borders of Iraq are being relocated largely to Europe and the US, which continues to occupy Iraq to this day.

The first Palestinian family from Al-Waleed this year will be arriving in San Diego on September 16, 2009, a few days before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with 1350 more Palestinians to follow in the months ahead. According to the Christian Science Monitor most of these will be resettled in Southern California and possibly Pennsylvania and Omaha.

ACTION

Al-Awda is asking all its activists, members and supporters to contribute to help our sisters and brothers in their move to the US.

Please donate today!

Address your tax-deductible donation via check or money order to: Al-Awda, PRRC, PO Box 131352, Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA – Please note on the memo line of the check “Palestinians from Iraq”

Alternatively, please donate online using your credit card. Go to http://www.al-awda.org/donate.html and follow the simple instructions. Please indicate that your donation is for “Palestinians from Iraq” with your submission.

Drop off locations

We will also need furniture, cars, computers, tv’s, clothes, toys for the kids etc. The following are the current drop off locations:

General:
8531 Wellsford pl # f, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Te: 562-693-1600 Tel: 323-350-0000

For Clothes:
1773 West Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, CA 92801

For Southern California residents, an emergency meeting is being called for Sunday September 13, 2009 starting at 2 PM at the Al-Awda Center, 2734 Loker Avenue West Suite K, in Carlsbad CA 92010.

Our sisters and brothers need all the help they can get after having suffered from the death squads in Baghdad, and more than five years stranded in the camps. We need our people to feel at home as much as possible. We can not disappoint them.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROUS SUPPORT

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel: 760-918-9441
Fax: 760-918-9442
E-mail: info[at]al-awda.org
WWW: http://al-awda.org

settlement freeze my ass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is Iran doing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the state of the university in california

last week i was at ucsb (university of california at santa barbara) and there was a protest against the california budget cuts affecting education in the state. one of my favorite scholars, lisa hajjar, a professor at ucsb, and author of courting conflict, explains some of these issues here in this short clip from a recent press conference:

part of the issue is related to salaries. the fact that all employees–except for those highest up on the ladder–are receiving a 10% cut in salary. here are some of the main points from the protest, but there are more on the posters i photographed below from the protest:

University of California faculty, staff, and students are mobilizing in response to recent decisions made by the UC Regents and UC President Mark Yudof. We span the 10 campuses of the UC system, with affiliates throughout the CSU, Community College and K-12 systems. We support top-quality public education for our state. We urge Californians to take back their schools and end the incompetent stewardship of the UC Office of the President (UCOP), the UC Board of Regents, and the Schwarzenegger administration, before it is too late.

• The UCSB CC4O4 rejects the Regents’ decisions (1) to ratify Yudof’s requests for emergency powers, and (2) to cut faculty and staff salaries and essential programs and services. We also repudiate the justifications for these decisions and the process leading up to them. Prior to the Regents’ meeting, Yudof asked for the UC community’s responses to only three options: salary cuts, furloughs, or both. The University can overcome the challenges it faces in other ways. We demand Option 4: no salary cuts, no furloughs, and the pursuit of alternative budgetary avenues.

• We demand transparency and democratic participation in financial planning and the budget process at all individual campuses and at UCOP. We call upon Chancellor Henry Yang to permit the full participation of the entire UCSB community in all determinations of our campus’s response to the Regents’ vote.

• The only vision of the University’s future acceptable to our coalition gives first priority to the needs of all of our students. We ask that Yudof redesign the Commission on the Future of UC to represent a real variety of viewpoints and student concerns. We ask that the Commission’s first actions be directed toward immediate redress of recent budget cuts, and general reform of education funding and the state budget process.

this protest was outside of a swanky hotel in santa barbara where the university of california president mark yudof was speaking.

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the protest was disappointing. first of all, it was small. there were people from ucla and ucsb there. but most of the people there were not faculty. they were workers at the university. members of the union. i had been on ucsb’s campus prior to the protest and there were definitely faculty members around. but as is par for the course faculty often let the struggle fall on the shoulders of those lower down on the ladder, including students–and there were students there too as their fees will be going up about 30%. but i also started wondering about american labor organizing in general. while i think that labor organizing is important–and those wanting a good analysis should check out bill fletcher’s recent book on the subject–it always seems very individualistic in the u.s. it always seems to me like this sort of organizing only emerges when one’s personal salary, well being, livelihood is threatened. this is not true with respect to labor organizing historically in the u.s. nor is it true with respect to labor organizing globally. but the problem is that organizing more generally is not proactive. it is not global. and it is not thinking in terms of solidarity actions around the world. at least not from what i can glean in the u.s.

i also found it striking that the protest stayed outside on the street corner the entire time. i’ve written about this before, and posted a video of naomi wolf on the subject, but i find it troubling when protesters play it safe. this small protest would have had far more publicity if there had been arrests. if people had stormed the hotel and brought the protest inside. but people were afraid of arrests and so they stayed outside on the street corner. at the same time i don’t think that the workers should be the ones who get arrested. i think those with the most privilege–the professors–should be those who get thrown in jail for protesting the salary cuts and tuition hikes. but, of course, without a significant number of professors present this was not possible.

for instance the union organizing for california state university employees has not endorsed or signed on to any solidarity statement supporting the boycott of the zionist entity. compare this to south african dock workers who organized in solidarity with palestinians and who later influenced american dockworkers to do the same a couple of months ago:

2009 Convention Resolution–Commend South African Dockers adopted at the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) – Longshore Caucus June 2009

Whereas, the South African dockworkers union in the port of Durban organized a heroic action against the ZIM Lines ship Joannna Russ, on February 5, 2009 protesting the Israeli massacre in the Gaza War and in solidarity with the plight of the Palestinian people, and

Whereas, a report entitled “Victory for Worker Solidarity—Durban Dockers Refuse to Offload Israeli Goods” issued February 6, 2009 by Randall Howard, General Secretary of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) and Patrick Craven of the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) stated “Israel’s terror included flagrant breaches of international law, the bombing of densely populated neighbourhoods, the illegal deployment of chemical white phosphorous, and attacks on schools, ambulances, relief agencies, hospitals, universities and places of worship.” and,

Whereas, the Durban dockworkers announced that their action was inspired by the ILWU’s 1984 anti-apartheid action in the port of San Francisco against the ship Nedlloyd Kimberly from South Africa, and

Whereas, unions around the world have lauded the SATAWU for their action,

Therefore Be It Resolved that this Convention direct the Titled Officers to send a solidarity message commending our brothers and sisters in the South African dockworkers’ union (SATAWU) for their exemplary action.

Note: The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has approximately 42,000 members in over 60 local unions in the states of California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii. An additional 3,500 members belong to the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific, which constitutes the Union’s Marine Division. Another 14,000 members belong to the autonomous ILWU Canada.

there are so many reasons why such solidarity actions are important, and indeed relevant. at ucsb, for instance, professor william robinson was recently exonerated after having come under attack by zionist nimrods in the area for having sent around an email about gaza:

On Wednesday, he was notified that a faculty committee had found no “probable cause” to undertake a full investigation of complaints filed against him related to e-mail messages he sent to his students in which he compared Israelis and Nazis. Further, he was notified that the administration at the University of California at Santa Barbara had accepted the faculty members’ analysis, and that the case was over — without his ever having faced formal charges before a disciplinary committee.

Supporters of Robinson, a tenured professor of sociology, agreed with those findings. But they said that grievances filed over e-mail messages sent in January should have been seen immediately as baseless, and that allowing the case to linger for months endangered the academic freedom of Robinson and others.

“We’re pleased, but this decision is too late,” said Yousef K. Baker, a graduate student and one of the organizers of the Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB. “I don’t think it is enough for the university just to say that this case is terminated. The university needs to be held accountable for the chilling effect that their tardiness in doing what they have done now has created.”

In a statement, Robinson said that he is waiting for “a public apology from the university as a first step in clearing my name after it has smeared my reputation and undermined my professional integrity.” He added that he plans to file a grievance over how he was treated in the case.

The case has attracted attention far beyond Santa Barbara, with the American Association of University Professors last month calling on the university to “pause” its inquiries because of the academic freedom issues involved. Cary Nelson, national president of the AAUP, said Wednesday night that “although I am pleased that the Robinson case has been closed, I am also concerned that unnecessary investigations of faculty exercising their academic freedom are having a serious chilling effect on our more vulnerable or less courageous colleagues.”

The dispute dates to an e-mail message that Robinson sent to the approximately 80 students in January in a course about sociology and globalization. The e-mail contained an article criticizing the Israeli military’s actions in Gaza. Part of the e-mail was an assemblage of photos from Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews and from Israel’s actions in Gaza. Students were invited to look at the “parallel images.” A message from Robinson argued that Gaza would be like “Israel’s Warsaw.”

In February, the Anti-Defamation League’s Santa Barbara office wrote to Robinson to protest the e-mail and to urge him to repudiate it. “While your writings are protected by the First Amendment and academic freedom, we rely upon our rights to say that your comparisons of Nazis and Israelis were offensive, ahistorical and have crossed the line well beyond legitimate criticism of Israel,” the letter said. It went on to say that the “tone and extreme views” in his e-mail were “intimidating to students,” and that using his university e-mail to send “material that appears unrelated to” his course violated university standards for faculty members.

Following that letter, two students in the course dropped the class and filed complaints against Robinson. One student wrote that she felt “nauseous” upon reading the e-mail, and felt it was inappropriate. A second student complaint accusing Robinson of being unprofessional — also from a student who dropped the course after receiving the e-mail — said that Robinson has “clearly stated his anti-Semitic political views in this e-mail.”

Under Santa Barbara’s faculty governance system, such complaints go to a “charges officer” and then — if they are serious — a committee may be formed, somewhat like a grand jury, to determine whether formal charges should be brought against the professor. Robinson and his supporters have maintained that the e-mail was so clearly covered by academic freedom that the faculty charges officer should have dropped the matter. Instead, a committee was formed to determine whether the charges merited consideration by the standing committee that considers such allegations and can recommend sanctions against a professor. It was that non-standing committee that determined that there was no need to bring charges for a full investigation. Under the university’s rules, no official statement is released about why charges were not brought. But earlier memos suggested that the two rules Robinson was accused of violating were measures that bar faculty members from “significant intrusion of material unrelated to the course” and “use of the position or powers of a faculty member to coerce the judgment or conscience of a student or to cause harm to a student for arbitrary or personal reasons.” (Many of the documents related to the student complaints and various university communications about the situation may be found on the Web site of the Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB.)

The position of Robinson and his supporters has been that Israel’s conduct in Gaza was in every way appropriate as a topic for discussion in a class on global issues, and that the complaints filed against him were a simple case of students (and some pro-Israel groups) disagreeing with Robinson’s analysis. Robinson could not be reached Wednesday, but last month he told Inside Higher Ed that the charges against him were “absolutely absurd.” He noted that he is Jewish and said that he abhors anti-Semitism, and that his academic freedom is being violated by the university taking seriously charges that link his e-mail criticisms of Israel’s government with anti-Semitism. “This is all because I have criticized the policies of the State of Israel.”

Stand With Us, a pro-Israel group that has been organizing petition drives to back the idea of a full investigation of Robinson, issued a statement Wednesday night questioning the university’s decision. “We are surprised and disappointed that UCSB chose not to uphold their standards for professional conduct, and that it has blurred the lines between responsible education and the peddling of propaganda. It is unfortunate that students will continue to be victims of partisan indoctrination and misinformation,” said the statement, from Roz Rothstein, international director of the organization.

on a larger scale, yudof, one of the very men we were protesting last week, is an unabashed supporter of the zionist entity:

The new president of the University of California’s 10 campuses and 220,000 students keeps a kosher home, lectures on Maimonides for intellectual stimulation and is an unabashed Israel supporter.

“I am what I am,” Mark Yudof says. “What I’ve found works best for me is transparency, being direct and being honest.”

As he takes the helm of one of the world’s leading public research universities with an $18 billion budget, Yudof, a former chancellor of the University of Texas and president of the University of Minnesota, has his work cut out for him. Over the past five years, Jewish students and some observers have charged repeatedly that the administration at the UC Irvine campus, now headed by Chancellor Michael Drake, has failed to protect Jewish students against hate speech and intimidation by outside speakers and Muslim student groups. Yudof, a veteran law professor and expert on constitutional law and freedom of expression, says the issue presents him with something of a dilemma.

“It is an excruciating conflict when people demean everything that Judaism stands for. Some of these speakers and what they say drive me to distraction and I hate it,” Yudof says. “On the other hand, I teach constitutional law and I have a deep commitment to the First Amendment, which has served us well over time. How do you reconcile that as a Jewish man? It is horrendously difficult.”

Yudof defended Drake, who has been criticized by some Jews for not taking a sufficiently firm stand against hate speech.

“I’ve had several conversations with the chancellor, and he has a great heart and enormous sympathy for the Jewish people. He is a mensch,” Yudof is in Israel this week with Drake as the co-leader of the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange trip for American university presidents and chancellors. Yudof, who had invited Drake on the trip before he became the University of California president, says he thinks the trip will be beneficial for both he and Drake. Yudof says he will discuss the problems at Irvine when he addresses the Hadassah national convention in Los Angeles on July 14.

Born in Philadelphia to descendents of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, Yudof, 63, is the son of an electrician. He credits his wife, Judy, with intensifying his Jewish observance inside and outside the house. She is the immediate past international president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the first woman to hold the post in the organization’s 93-year history. Judy Yudof currently serves on the council of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and on the international board of Hillel.

“Judy went to Israel quite often, and I went along as the bozo on her arm,” Yudof recalls. “I am a very strong advocate of Israel,” he says. “I just am. I’m there for Israel. I may at times disagree with Israeli policy, but when they suffer, I suffer and my wife suffers.”

as part of his support for the zionist entity, he reinstated a study abroad program at the zionist entity’s universities last year:

The University of California, one of America’s largest public higher education systems, will soon allow students to return to studying abroad in Israel.

The school announced November 25 that it intends to reopen its Education Abroad Program with the Rothberg International School at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The U.C. system was among scores of American universities that suspended their Israel study-abroad programs in 2002 after the United States State Department placed Israel on its travel advisory list for safety reasons. Israel remains on the list.

As a matter of policy, the U.C. system does not offer study-abroad programs in countries that are on the State Department’s travel warning list.

But university spokesman Chris Harrington said December 4 that the school “is firmly committed to re-establishing its program in Israel.”

According to a U.C. statement, the university is in discussions with the Rothberg International School to reopen the program in Israel in fall 2009 after reviewing safety issues. The school cited a heightened ability to “to monitor and mitigate security risks.”

American access to study-abroad programs in Israel has emerged as a hot-button issue over the last six years, as pro-Israel activists have battled to have them reinstated. They argue that Israel is safer than countries such as Egypt, where students are often allowed to study with their university’s official stamp of approval. Students at local Hillels have gathered signatures and lobbied university leaders, while the Washington D.C.-based Israel on Campus Coalition assembled a task force to take on the issue nationwide.

While students from campuses that no longer offer Israel study-abroad programs have continued to study in the Jewish state, finding ways to circumvent the programs’ closures, pro-Israel campus activists say that the U.C.’s decision should have a marked impact on the number of California students taking a semester in Israel.

“This makes it more accessible, and that’s the most important thing,” said Gordon Gladstone, executive director of Berkeley Hillel at the University of California, Berkeley. “Spending long periods of time in Israel allows you to contemplate your Jewish identity in a way that few other things can.”

The announcement comes less than a year after the U.C. Board of Regents tapped Mark Yudof, the former chancellor of the University of Texas, to lead California’s extensive 10-campus system. Yudof, who keeps a kosher home, is only the second Jewish president in U.C.’s history. Yudof has visited Israel at least six times, and is married to Judy Yudof, a board member of Hillel International and a former president of the Conservative movement’s congregational arm, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

While the movement toward reinstating U.C.’s Israel study-aboard program has been in the works for several years, some pro-Israel activists said they saw Yudof’s interest in the issue as the tipping point. Upon his return from a nine-day trip to Israel in early July  just two weeks after he assumed the presidency June 16  Yudof was quoted in the Bay Area’s Jewish weekly, the San Francisco J, saying, “I told Hebrew University that it’s no secret – I’m going to take another look” at the policy.

U.C.’s program with Hebrew University once ran seamlessly. U.C. students received school credit for Hebrew University classes; they paid U.C. tuition, and had a U.C. professor on hand to administer the program. According to Chaim Seidler-Feller, director of the University of California, Los Angeles Hillel, at its peak, some 20 students from UCLA alone participated in the program.

UCLA Hillel estimates that about three to five UCLA students per year have chosen to study at Israeli universities in the years since the program was shuttered. But, said Seidler-Feller, the process has been far more complicated, requiring students to withdraw from the school. “During the last few years it’s been cumbersome and burdensome to assume the personal responsibility of enrolling in the year abroad at Hebrew University,” said Seidler-Feller. “In particular, it’s been cumbersome regarding the transfer of credits.”

Now, say Hillel leaders, students will once again be able to study in Israel without having to navigate institutional roadblocks.

One student, 21-year-old Ilana Nankin, said that while she experienced no financial hardship from spending last spring at Hebrew University, she has come up against bureaucratic pitfalls trying to get her Hebrew University credits approved at U.C. Berkeley. Nankin, a U.C. Berkeley senior who is majoring in psychology, said that she finally got her credits from Hebrew University approved just last week, some six months after she finished her studies there. “That’s been really difficult because I don’t know what I’m going to need to do to graduate,” she said.

The program’s reinstatement is the result of intensive lobbying by pro-Israel activists. Last winter, student activists redoubled their efforts when they took their case to the California state legislature. In January, former Democratic state senator Carole Migden introduced Senate Resolution 18, which cited the added burdens of studying in Israel without the program, and called for its reinstatement. That resolution passed unanimously.

Then, in August, the U.C. provost requested that an ad hoc working group advise whether the university should, as an exception to its policy, re-establish the program in Israel.

perhaps this is why, in part, the us campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of israel participated in a guerrilla ad to correct the university of california’s study abroad posters (click link here to see before and after versions of the posters).

on media manipulation and the coup in honduras

i’m still catching up on work and news while i was away at summer camp. one of the important developments was the military coup in hondoruas. john pilger was on democracy now! with amy goodman while i was away discussing this coup as well as the way the u.s. responded to honduras in comparison to demonstrations in iran. this four-part interview also covers palestine, obama, and media manipulation by the u.s. and its partner-in-crime, the zionist entity:

one of the first things that comes to mind when looking at the coup in honduras is the vastly different reaction of the u.s. to honduras and iran, which pilger discusses in the above interview. eva gollinger gave a good overview of the coup in honduras and its context in the socialist worker:

THE TEXT message that beeped on my cell phone this morning read “Alert, Zelaya has been kidnapped, coup d’etat underway in Honduras, spread the word.”

It’s a rude awakening for a Sunday morning, especially for the millions of Hondurans who were preparing to exercise their sacred right to vote today for the first time on a consultative referendum concerning the future convening of a constitutional assembly to reform the constitution.

Supposedly at the center of the controversy is today’s scheduled referendum, which is not a binding vote, but merely an opinion poll to determine whether or not a majority of Hondurans desire to eventually enter into a process to modify their constitution.

Such an initiative has never taken place in the Central American nation, which has a very limited constitution that allows minimal participation by the people of Honduras in their political processes. The current constitution, written in 1982 during the height of the Reagan administration’s dirty war in Central America, was designed to ensure those in power, both economic and political, would retain it with little interference from the people.

What you can do

Activist organizations are calling on supporters of democracy to call the State Department and White House and demand: a cut-off of all military aid to Honduras until President Zelaya and Foreign Minister Rodas are safely returned to office; support for international movements to bring the coup plotters to justice; and replace the U.S. ambassador to Honduras.

Call the State Department at 800-877-8339 and the White House at 202-456-1414.

Zelaya, elected in November 2005 on the platform of Honduras’ Liberal Party, had proposed the opinion poll be conducted to determine if a majority of citizens agreed that constitutional reform was necessary. He was backed by a majority of labor unions and social movements in the country. If the poll had occurred, depending on the results, a referendum would have been conducted during the upcoming elections in November to vote on convening a constitutional assembly. Nevertheless, today’s scheduled poll was not binding by law.

In fact, several days before the poll was to occur, Honduras’ Supreme Court ruled it illegal, upon request by the Congress, both of which are led by anti-Zelaya majorities and members of the ultra-conservative National Party of Honduras (PNH). This move led to massive protests in the streets in favor of Zelaya.

On June 24, the president fired the head of the high military command, Gen. Romeo Vásquez, after he refused to allow the military to distribute electoral material for Sunday’s elections. Vásquez held the material under tight military control, refusing to release it even to the president’s followers, stating that the scheduled referendum had been determined illegal by the Supreme Court, and therefore he could not comply with the president’s order. As in the United States, the president of Honduras is commander-in-chief and has the final say on the military’s actions, and so he ordered the general’s removal. The Minister of Defense, Angel Edmundo Orellana, also resigned in response to this increasingly tense situation.

But the following day, Honduras’ Supreme Court reinstated Vásquez to the high military command, ruling that his firing was “unconstitutional.” Thousands again poured into the streets of Honduras’ capital of Tegucigalpa to show support for Zelaya and their determination to ensure that Sunday’s non-binding referendum would take place. On Friday, the president and a group of hundreds of supporters marched to the nearby air base to collect the electoral material that had been previously held by the military. That evening, Zelaya gave a national press conference along with a group of politicians from different political parties and social movements, calling for unity and peace in the country.

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AS OF Saturday, the situation in Honduras was reported as calm. But early Sunday morning, a group of approximately 60 armed soldiers entered the presidential residence and took Zelaya hostage. After several hours of confusion, reports surfaced claiming the president had been taken to a nearby air force base and flown to neighboring Costa Rica. No images have been seen of the president so far, and it is unknown whether or not his life is still endangered.

President Zelaya’s wife, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, speaking live on Telesur at approximately 10 am Caracas time, said that in early hours of Sunday morning, soldiers stormed their residence, firing shots throughout the house, beating and then taking the president. “It was an act of cowardness,” said the first lady, referring to the illegal kidnapping occurring during a time when no one would know or react until it was all over.

Casto de Zelaya also called for the “preservation” of her husband’s life, indicating that she herself is unaware of his whereabouts. She claimed their lives are all still in “serious danger” and made a call for the international community to denounce this illegal coup d’etat and to act rapidly to reinstate constitutional order in the country, which includes the rescue and return of the democratically elected Zelaya.

Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela have both made public statements on Sunday morning condemning the coup d’etat in Honduras and calling on the international community to react to ensure democracy is restored and the constitutional president is reinstated.

Last Wednesday, June 24, an extraordinary meeting of the member nations of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), of which Honduras is a member, was convened in Venezuela to welcome Ecuador, Antigua & Barbados and St. Vincent to its ranks. During the meeting, which was attended by Honduras’ foreign minister, Patricia Rodas, a statement was read supporting President Zelaya and condemning any attempts to undermine his mandate and Honduras’ democratic processes.

Reports coming out of Honduras indicate that the public television channel, Canal 8, has been shut down by the coup forces. Just minutes ago, Telesur announced that the military in Honduras was shutting down all electricity throughout the country. Those television and radio stations still transmitting are not reporting the coup d’etat or the kidnapping of President Zelaya, according to Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas. “Telephones and electricity are being cut off,” confirmed Rodas just minutes ago via Telesur. “The media are showing cartoons and soap operas, and are not informing the people of Honduras about what is happening.”

The situation is eerily reminiscent of the April 2002 coup d’etat against President Chávez in Venezuela, when the media played a key role by first manipulating information to support the coup, and then later blacking out all information when the people began protesting, and eventually overcame and defeated the coup forces, rescuing Chávez (who had also been kidnapped by the military) and restoring constitutional order.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

HONDURAS IS a nation that has been the victim of dictatorships and massive U.S. intervention during the past century, including several military invasions. The last major U.S. government intervention in Honduras occurred during the 1980s, when the Reagan administration funded death squads and paramilitaries to eliminate any potential “communist threats” in Central America. At the time, John Negroponte was the U.S. ambassador in Honduras and was responsible for directly funding and training Honduran death squads that were responsible for thousands of disappeared and assassinated throughout the region.

On Friday, the Organization of American States (OAS) convened a special meeting to discuss the crisis in Honduras, later issuing a statement condemning the threats to democracy and authorizing a convoy of representatives to travel to Honduras to investigate further. Nevertheless, on Friday, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Phillip J. Crowley refused to clarify the U.S. government’s position in reference to the potential coup against President Zelaya, and instead issued a more ambiguous statement that implied Washington’s support for the opposition to the Honduran president.

While most other Latin American governments had clearly indicated their adamant condemnation of the coup plans underway in Honduras and their solid support for Honduras’ constitutionally elected president, Manual Zelaya, the U.S. spokesman stated the following, “We are concerned about the breakdown in the political dialogue among Honduran politicians over the proposed June 28 poll on constitutional reform. We urge all sides to seek a consensual democratic resolution in the current political impasse that adheres to the Honduran constitution and to Honduran laws consistent with the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.”

As of 10:30 a.m., Sunday morning, no further statements had been issued by the Washington concerning the military coup in Honduras. The Central American nation is highly dependent on the U.S. economy, which ensures one of its top sources of income–monies sent from Hondurans working in the U.S. under the “temporary protected status” program that was implemented during Washington’s dirty war in the 1980s as a result of massive immigration to U.S. territory to escape the war zone.

Another major source of funding in Honduras is the U.S. Agency for International Development, which provides over $50 million annually for “democracy promotion” programs that generally support NGOs and political parties favorable to U.S. interests, as has been the case in Venezuela, Bolivia and other nations in the region. The Pentagon also maintains a military base in Honduras in Soto Cano, equipped with approximately 500 troops and numerous combat planes and helicopters.

Foreign Minister Rodas has stated that she has repeatedly tried to make contact with the U.S. ambassador in Honduras, Hugo Llorens, who has not responded to any of her calls thus far. The modus operandi of the coup makes it clear that Washington is involved. Neither the Honduran military, which is majority trained by U.S. forces, nor the political and economic elite, would act to oust a democratically elected president without the backing and support of the U.S. government.

President Zelaya has increasingly come under attack by conservative forces in Honduras for his growing relationship with the ALBA countries, and particularly Venezuela and President Chávez. Many believe the coup has been carried out as a method of ensuring Honduras does not continue to unify with the more leftist and socialist countries in Latin America.

unlike the recent demonstrations in iran, which have garnered all sorts of american media attention and tweets on twitter, the coup in honduras is quite a different story as george ciccariello-maher writes:

The recent street rebellions against the Ahmadinejad regime in Iran were touted by many as the first baptism-by-fire of Twitter as a political tool. Celebrity artilces abounded for a brief time, before such foolish dreams came crashing back to earth under the weight of a metric ton of misinformation, unsubstantiated rumor, and idle gossip.

…And the Tweeters Fell Silent

Any Iranian foolish to put her hopes in this most fickle of constituencies that is the Tweeter must have begun to doubt the wisdom of such an approach as short attention spans inevitably set in and, most devastatingly of all, the death of Michael Jackson stole the headlines. Ahmadinejad couldn’t have planned it better if he had offed MJ himself (in cahoots, perhaps, with South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, the other clear beneficiary of Jackson’s untimely demise). Indeed, the Iranian dissidents were the biggest losers of the day, suffering an even worse fate than Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Billy Mays, condemned to historical oblivion by sheer bad timing. But to this list of those suffering from the technophiles’ abandonment of their brief flirtation with the political, we must now add Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, legitimately elected president of Honduras, recently deposed in a barefaced military coup from the far right.

Zelaya, a former centrist who has recently made leftward moves, raised the ire of the entrenched Honduran oligarchy by, among other things, joining the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), a radical counterpoint to U.S.-promoted free trade agreements. His overthrow has been followed by a press blackout, military curfew, and repression in the streets, as hundreds of thousands have rallied to the cause of their former leader, only to meet an iron heel reminiscent of Honduran military regimes of the past (dodging bullets in the street, as the maganificent BoRev puts it, “is sort of like Twittering, for poor people”). There have been mass arrests, injuries, and deaths, but some exceptions not withstanding, these Hondurans are nevertheless, to quote one observer, “Protesters We Don’t Tweet About.”

jeremy scahill lays out the vested interests the united states has in honduras in the context of the role the u.s. has played in the coup:

First, we know that the coup was led by Gen. Romeo Vasquez, a graduate of the US Army School of the Americas. As we know very well from history, these “graduates” maintain ties to the US military as they climb the military career ladders in their respective countries. That is a major reason why the US trains these individuals.

Secondly, the US has a fairly significant military presence in Honduras. Joint Task Force-Bravo is located at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras. The base is home to some 550 US military personnel and more than 650 US and Honduran civilians:

They work in six different areas including the Joint Staff, Air Force Forces (612th Air Base Squadron), Army Forces, Joint Security Forces and the Medical Element. 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, a US Army South asset, is a tenant unit also based at Soto Cano. The J-Staff provides command and control for JTF-B.

The New York Times reports that “The unit focuses on training Honduran military forces, counternarcotics operations, search and rescue, and disaster relief missions throughout Central America.”

Significantly, according to GlobalSecurity, “Soto Cano is a Honduran military installation and home of the Honduran Air Force.”

This connection to the Air Force is particularly significant given this report in NarcoNews:

The head of the Air Force, Gen. Luis Javier Prince Suazo, studied in the School of the Americas in 1996. The Air Force has been a central protagonist in the Honduran crisis. When the military refused to distribute the ballot boxes for the opinion poll, the ballot boxes were stored on an Air Force base until citizens accompanied by Zelaya rescued them. Zelaya reports that after soldiers kidnapped him, they took him to an Air Force base, where he was put on a plane and sent to Costa Rica.

It is impossible to imagine that the US was not aware that the coup was in the works. In fact, this was basically confirmed by The New York Times in Monday’s paper:

As the crisis escalated, American officials began in the last few days to talk with Honduran government and military officials in an effort to head off a possible coup. A senior administration official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, said the military broke off those discussions on Sunday.

While the US has issued heavily-qualified statements critical of the coup—in the aftermath of the events in Honduras—the US could have flexed its tremendous economic muscle before the coup and told the military coup plotters to stand down. The US ties to the Honduran military and political establishment run far too deep for all of this to have gone down without at least tacit support or the turning of a blind eye by some US political or military official(s).

Here are some facts to consider: the US is the top trading partner for Honduras. The coup plotters/supporters in the Honduran Congress are supporters of the “free trade agreements” Washington has imposed on the region. The coup leaders view their actions, in part, as a rejection of Hugo Chavez’s influence in Honduras and with Zelaya and an embrace of the United States and Washington’s “vision” for the region. Obama and the US military could likely have halted this coup with a simple series of phone calls. For an interesting take on all of this, make sure to check out Nikolas Kozloff’s piece on Counterpunch, where he writes:

In November, Zelaya hailed Obama’s election in the U.S. as “a hope for the world,” but just two months later tensions began to emerge. In an audacious letter sent personally to Obama, Zelaya accused the U.S. of “interventionism” and called on the new administration in Washington to respect the principle of non-interference in the political affairs of other nations.

alberto valiente thoresen offers further clarification on the misuse of language in the context of the coup in honduras:

Currently, there is a tragedy being staged in the Central American republic Honduras. Meanwhile, the rest of humanity follows the events, as spectators of an outdated event in Latin America, which could set a very unfortunate undemocratic precedent for the region. In their rage, the almighty gods of Honduran politics have punished an aspiring titan, President Manuel Zelaya, for attempting to give Hondurans the gift of participatory democracy. This generated a constitutional conflict that resulted in president Zelaya’s banishment and exile. In this tragedy, words are once again the healers of enraged minds. If we, the spectators, are not attentive to these words, we risk succumbing intellectually, willfully accepting the facts presented by the angry coup-makers and Honduran gods of politics.

In this respect, media coverage of the recent military coup in Honduras is often misleading; even when it is presenting a critical standpoint towards the events. Concentrating on which words are used to characterize the policies conducted by President Zelaya might seem trivial at first sight. But any familiarity to the notion of ‘manufacturing of consent’, and how slight semantic tricks can be used to manipulate public opinion and support, is enough to realize the magnitude of certain omissions. Such oversights rely on the public’s widespread ignorance about some apparently minor legal intricacies in the Honduran Constitution.

For example, most reports have stated that Manuel Zelaya was ousted from his country’s presidency after he tried to carry out a non-binding referendum to extend his term in office. But this is not completely accurate. Such presentation of “facts” merely contributes to legitimizing the propaganda, which is being employed by the coup-makers in Honduras to justify their actions. This interpretation is widespread in US-American liberal environments, especially after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the coup is unacceptable, but that “all parties have a responsibility to address the underlying problems that led to [Sunday]’s events.” However, President Zelaya cannot be held responsible for this flagrant violation of the Honduran democratic institutions that he has tried to expand. This is what has actually happened:

The Honduran Supreme Court of Justice, Attorney General, National Congress, Armed Forces and Supreme Electoral Tribunal have all falsely accused Manuel Zelaya of attempting a referendum to extend his term in office.

According to Honduran law, this attempt would be illegal. Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution clearly states that persons, who have served as presidents, cannot be presidential candidates again. The same article also states that public officials who breach this article, as well as those that help them, directly or indirectly, will automatically lose their immunity and are subject to persecution by law. Additionally, articles 374 and 5 of the Honduran Constitution of 1982 (with amendments of 2005), clearly state that: “it is not possible to reform the Constitution regarding matters about the form of government, presidential periods, re-election and Honduran territory”, and that “reforms to article 374 of this Constitution are not subject to referendum.”

Nevertheless, this is far from what President Zelaya attempted to do in Honduras the past Sunday and which the Honduran political/military elites disliked so much. President Zelaya intended to perform a non-binding public consultation, about the conformation of an elected National Constituent Assembly. To do this, he invoked article 5 of the Honduran “Civil Participation Act” of 2006. According to this act, all public functionaries can perform non-binding public consultations to inquire what the population thinks about policy measures. This act was approved by the National Congress and it was not contested by the Supreme Court of Justice, when it was published in the Official Paper of 2006. That is, until the president of the republic employed it in a manner that was not amicable to the interests of the members of these institutions.

Furthermore, the Honduran Constitution says nothing against the conformation of an elected National Constituent Assembly, with the mandate to draw up a completely new constitution, which the Honduran public would need to approve. Such a popular participatory process would bypass the current liberal democratic one specified in article 373 of the current constitution, in which the National Congress has to approve with 2/3 of the votes, any reform to the 1982 Constitution, excluding reforms to articles 239 and 374. This means that a perfectly legal National Constituent Assembly would have a greater mandate and fewer limitations than the National Congress, because such a National Constituent Assembly would not be reforming the Constitution, but re-writing it. The National Constituent Assembly’s mandate would come directly from the Honduran people, who would have to approve the new draft for a constitution, unlike constitutional amendments that only need 2/3 of the votes in Congress. This popular constitution would be more democratic and it would contrast with the current 1982 Constitution, which was the product of a context characterized by counter-insurgency policies supported by the US-government, civil façade military governments and undemocratic policies. In opposition to other legal systems in the Central American region that (directly or indirectly) participated in the civil wars of the 1980s, the Honduran one has not been deeply affected by peace agreements and a subsequent reformation of the role played by the Armed Forces.

Recalling these observations, we can once again take a look at the widespread assumption that Zelaya was ousted as president after he tried to carry out a non-binding referendum to extend his term in office.

The poll was certainly non-binding, and therefore also not subject to prohibition. However it was not a referendum, as such public consultations are generally understood. Even if it had been, the objective was not to extend Zelaya’s term in office. In this sense, it is important to point out that Zelaya’s term concludes in January 2010. In line with article 239 of the Honduran Constitution of 1982, Zelaya is not participating in the presidential elections of November 2009, meaning that he could have not been reelected. Moreover, it is completely uncertain what the probable National Constituent Assembly would have suggested concerning matters of presidential periods and re-elections. These suggestions would have to be approved by all Hondurans and this would have happened at a time when Zelaya would have concluded his term. Likewise, even if the Honduran public had decided that earlier presidents could become presidential candidates again, this disposition would form a part of a completely new constitution. Therefore, it cannot be regarded as an amendment to the 1982 Constitution and it would not be in violation of articles 5, 239 and 374. The National Constituent Assembly, with a mandate from the people, would derogate the previous constitution before approving the new one. The people, not president Zelaya, who by that time would be ex-president Zelaya, would decide.

It is evident that the opposition had no legal case against President Zelaya. All they had was speculation about perfectly legal scenarios which they strongly disliked. Otherwise, they could have followed a legal procedure sheltered in article 205 nr. 22 of the 1982 Constitution, which states that public officials that are suspected to violate the law are subject to impeachment by the National Congress. As a result they helplessly unleashed a violent and barbaric preemptive strike, which has threatened civility, democracy and stability in the region.

It is fundamental that media channels do not fall into omissions that can delay the return of democracy to Honduras and can weaken the condemnation issued by strong institutions, like the United States government. It is also important that individuals are informed, so that they can have a critical attitude to media reports. Honduras needs democracy back now, and international society can play an important role in achieving this by not engaging in irresponsible oversimplifications.

a not-so-holy land grab

those of us active in the struggle for the right of return for palestinian refugees and justice for palestinians in general are well acquainted with article 49 of the geneva convention, which reads:

Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.

Nevertheless, the Occupying Power may undertake total or partial evacuation of a given area if the security of the population or imperative military reasons do demand. Such evacuations may not involve the displacement of protected persons outside the bounds of the occupied territory except when for material reasons it is impossible to avoid such displacement. Persons thus evacuated shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased.

The Occupying Power undertaking such transfers or evacuations shall ensure, to the greatest practicable extent, that proper accommodation is provided to receive the protected persons, that the removals are effected in satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health, safety and nutrition, and that members of the same family are not separated.

The Protecting Power shall be informed of any transfers and evacuations as soon as they have taken place.

The Occupying Power shall not detain protected persons in an area particularly exposed to the dangers of war unless the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand.

The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

what remains troubling for me about how this is interpreted is why the entirety of historic palestine is not also considered occupied filled with settler colonists of that occupying power. every home where zionist colonists live in palestine was acquired either through the initial nakba, which was a uni-directional war on the region, or through the importation of foreign zionist terrorists ever since. and none of these zionist terrorists are civilians. all of them are heavily armed and are required not only to do military service but also to do reserve duty throughout their lifetime.

but even if you buy the line that it is only the colonies in the west bank that are disputed, of course those are only expanding. they are not being “frozen” despite so-called protests form the united states as in this report from ma’an news:

The US demand that Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank must cease includes East Jerusalem, a State Department spokesperson said on Monday.

In response to a question from Israel’s Jerusalem Post newspaper, State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly said, “We’re talking about all settlement activity, yeah, in the area across the line,” he said, referring to the 1948 armistice line, or Green Line.

Speaking at a Washington press briefing, Kelly had no immediate response to the proposed Israeli government 2009-2010 budget that allocates 250 million dollars over the next two years for settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Tens of millions of dollars are specifically earmarked for settlements like Har Homa, which, while they are built on occupied Palestinian land, are within Israel’s expanded municipal boundaries for Jerusalem.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem along with the rest of the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights in June 1967. In 1980 Israel annexed the eastern half of Jerusalem, declaring the whole of the city it ‘eternal capital,’ a step rejected by the UN Security Council.

International law makes no distinction between settlements built in Jerusalem and those in the rest of the West Bank. US policy has also historically not drawn a distinction. In a 1991 Letter of Assurances, entered in the official record of the Madrid Peace Conference, the US said, “We do not recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem or the extension of its municipal boundaries.”

Israel and the US are currently at odds over President Barack Obama’s demand that all construction in settlements must cease as a precondition for renewed peace talks.

apparently, france is also calling for the so-called “freeze,” much to the zionist entity’s dismay as al jazeera reports:

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has rejected a call by the French president to halt settlement activity in the occupied West Bank.

Nicolas Sarkozy had on Wednesday made the plea to impose a “total freeze” on Israeli settlements after holding talks with Netanyahu in Paris, but the Israeli leader signalled that the settlements will remain.

“We will not build new settlements and we will not expropriate additional lands for settlements. We know that our people are living there and, pending a final, political settlement, they have to live a normal life,” Netanyahu said.

Paris, like Washington, wants a complete halt to Jewish settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, but the Israeli leader has already said he will allow for “natural growth” within existing settlements.

The international community considers all settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, which Israel seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, to be illegal.

this whole discourse about the “freeze” is disturbing. basically this means that the colonies cannot be expanded as families grow or in netanyahu’s words so they can “live a normal life.” but what of palestinians? for 122 years they have not been able to live a “normal life” since the zionists began colonizing their land. palestinians cannot build, cannot obtain building permits, and they find their home and their farmland destroyed day after day, year after year. and most importantly palestinian refugees cannot return to their villages and continue to live in exile in refugee camps.

al jazeera’s jacky rowland has done an excellent documentary called “holy land grab” that puts a microscope on this recent process of ethnic cleansing in the city of al quds:

here are two shorter and related clips of the same piece by rowland:

but of course the story is not only about al quds. there are many other parts of palestine where palestinian farmland and homes are destroyed every day by zionist terrorists. yesterday they destroyed palestinian olive trees near ramallah:

Israeli settlers from the illegal Hallamish settlement set fire to olive trees near Deir Nidham west of Ramallah Wednesday afternoon.

According to citizens from the village the fire burnt 120 olive trees on fifteen dunums of local land owned by Samir Dieb Tamimi, Jamil Abdel Qader Tamimi, Karm Mohamed Tamimi and Yousif Nemar Tamimi.

and near nablus more of the same destruction to palestinian property:

Israelis from the settlement of Yizhar, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, raided a Palestinian construction staging area for the third time on Wednesday.

Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Dughlus, who is charged with monitoring settler activity in the northern West Bank said that the settlers destroyed water wells and smashed wood and other materials at the site, located in the Sahal area. The site is owned by Ibrahim Eid, 32, and Abdel Kareem Eid ,40, the official said.

for palestinians who are refugees and who live outside palestine’s ever shrinking borders, the situation is not much better. by now the siege of gaza is on everyone’s tongue, but who remembers the palestinians of nahr el bared? who is fighting for their right not only to return to their camp in north lebanon, but also to return to their original homes and villages in 1948 palestine? nahr el bared, like gaza, continues to be besieged for over two years now. and yet i don’t see people marching in the streets of london or washington dc to fight for their rights. nor do i see anyone in ramallah fighting for their right to return. but the a-films collective consistently provides a platform for their voices to be heard and known. here is their latest film followed by a description of it:

Two years after the outbreak of the war in Nahr al-Bared, the camp’s fate
remains unclear. The reconstruction of the official camp might start soon,
but the army keeps its tight grip on the camp. Several checkpoints, barbed
wire and military posts cut Nahr al-Bared off from its surroundings.

Nahr al-Bared Camp used to be a thriving marketplace in the northern
Lebanese region of Akkar and about half its costumers were Lebanese.
During the war, the Lebanese army has not only defeated the militant group
Fatah al-Islam, but also completely destroyed the refugee camp. Its
businesses were looted, smashed and burnt, even after the war had ended.
The camp’s once flourishing economy was physically eliminated.

Two years later, about half the camp’s population has returned to its
adjacent area. Hundreds of businesses have re-opened, but economic
recovery is seriously hampered by the tight siege imposed by the Lebanese
army. Thus, suspicions have risen that the war’s actual target wasn’t
Fatah al-Islam, but Nahr al-Bared’s economic life.

In this 10-minute film, the co-owner of an ice cream factory, the
president of the local Trader’s Committee and the Imam of the al-Quds
Mosque speak out on the siege and its economic consequences.

mr. carter goes to gaza

there are a lot of people who are very pleased with jimmy carter’s trip to gaza this week. certainly, his trip to gaza helped put gaza back in the news, which is important. but carter’s insistence that there should be a two-state solution with no right of return for palestinian refugees makes me extremely frustrated and unwilling to get behind carter’s political campaigning. he’s right on many issues, such as hamas is a legitimate political party as well as resistance organization, which should be included in any discussion about the future of palestine. and he surprised me by meeting with palestinian families in gaza who have relatives in zionist prisons (11,000+ palestinian political prisoners compared to the 1 zionist pow who gets far too much media attention). still, his refusal to admit that apartheid exists in the entirety of palestine and his refusal to promote the right of return and the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement shows that he is not altogether different from most american political leaders. here are his remarks that he made in gaza as posted on the palestine chronicle website:

Director of UNRWA operations John Ging, thank you for inviting me to Gaza. Distinguished guests, children of Gaza, I am grateful for your warm reception.

I first visited Gaza 36 years ago and returned during the 1980s and later for the very successful Palestinian elections. Although under occupation, this community was relatively peaceful and prosperous. Now, the aftermath of bombs, missiles, tanks, bulldozers and the continuing economic siege have brought death, destruction, pain, and suffering to the people here. Tragically, the international community largely ignores the cries for help, while the citizens of Gaza are being treated more like animals than human beings.

Last week, a group of Israelis and Americans tried to cross into Gaza through Erez, bringing toys and children’s playground equipment – slides, swings, kites, and magic castles for your children. They were stopped at the gate and prevented from coming. I understand even paper and crayons are treated as “security hazards” and not permitted to enter Gaza. I sought an explanation for this policy in Israel, but did not receive a satisfactory answer – because there is none.

The responsibility for this terrible human rights crime lies in Jerusalem, Cairo, Washington, and throughout the international community. This abuse must cease; the crimes must be investigated; the walls must be brought down, and the basic right of freedom must come to you.

Almost one-half of Gaza’s 1.5 million people are children, whose lives are being shaped by poverty, hunger, violence, and despair. More than 50,000 families had their homes destroyed or damaged in January, and parents are in mourning for the 313 innocent children who were killed.

The situation in Gaza is grim, but all hope is not lost. Amidst adversity, you continue to possess both dignity and determination to work towards a brighter tomorrow. That is why educating children is so important.

I have come to Gaza to help the world know what important work you are doing. UNRWA is here to ensure that the 200,000 children in its schools can develop their talent, express their dynamism, and help create the path to a better future.

The human rights curriculum is teaching children about their rights and also about their responsibilities. UNRWA is teaching about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the struggle for these rights all over the world, Gaza’s children are learning that as you seek justice for yourselves, you must be sure that your behavior provides justice for others.

They are learning that it is wrong to fire rockets that may kill Israeli children. They are learning that arbitrary detention and the summary execution of political opponents is not acceptable. They are learning that the rule of law must be honored here in Gaza.

I would like to congratulate both UNRWA and the children who have completed the human rights curriculum with distinction. They are tomorrow’s leaders.

In addition to the tragedy of occupation, the lack of unity among Palestinians is causing a deteriorating atmosphere here in Gaza, in Ramallah, and throughout the West Bank.

Palestinians want more than just to survive. They hope to lead the Arab world, to be a bridge between modern political life and traditions that date back to the Biblical era. The nation you will create must be pluralistic and democratic – the new Palestine that your intellectuals have dreamt about. Palestine must combine the best of the East and the West. The Palestinian state, like the land, must be blessed for all people. Jerusalem must be shared with everyone who loves it – Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

With our new leaders in Washington, my country will move into the forefront of this birth of a new Palestine. We were all reminded of this renewed hope and commitment by President Obama’s recent speech in Cairo.

President Obama’s resolve to resume the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process based on the principle of two states for two peoples must be welcomed. This vision of two sovereign nations living as neighbors is not a mere convenient phrase. It is the basis for a lasting peace for this entire region, including Syria and Lebanon.

We all know that a necessary step is the ending of the siege of Gaza – the starving of 1 ½ million people of the necessities of life. Never before in history has a large community been savaged by bombs and missiles and then deprived of the means to repair itself. The issue of who controls Gaza is not an obstacle. As the World Bank has pointed out, funds can be channeled through a number of independent mechanisms and effective implementing agencies.

Although funds are available, not a sack of cement nor a piece of lumber has been permitted to enter the closed gates from Israel and Egypt. I have seen with my own eyes that progress is negligible.

My country and our friends in Europe must do all that is necessary to persuade Israel and Egypt to allow basic materials into Gaza. At the same time, there must be no more rockets and mortar shells falling on Israeli citizens.

I met this week with the parents of Corporal Gilad Shalit, and have with me a letter that I hope can be delivered to their son. I have also met with many Palestinians who plead for the freedom of their 11,700 loved ones imprisoned by the Israelis, including 400 women and children. Many of them have been imprisoned for many years, held without trial, with no access to their families or to legal counsel. Rational negotiations and a comprehensive peace can end this suffering on both sides.

I know it is difficult now, surrounded by terrible destruction, to see a future of independence and dignity in a Palestinian state, but this goal can and must be achieved. I know too that it is hard for you to accept Israel and live in peace with those who have caused your suffering. However, Palestinian statehood cannot come at the expense of Israel’s security, just as Israel’s security can not come at the expense of Palestinian statehood.

In his speech in Cairo, President Obama said that Hamas has support among Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a full role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, accept existing peace agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

I have urged Hamas leaders to accept these conditions, and they have made statements and taken actions that suggest they are ready to join the peace process and move toward the creation of an independent and just Palestinian state.

Khaled Mashaal has assured me that Hamas will accept a final status agreement negotiated by the Palestinian Authority and Israel if the Palestinian people approve it in a referendum. Hamas has offered a reciprocal ceasefire with Israel throughout the West Bank and Gaza. Unfortunately, neither the Israeli leaders nor Hamas accept the terms of the Oslo Agreement of 1993, but the Arab Peace Initiative is being considered now by all sides.

I have personally witnessed free and fair elections in Palestine when Yasir Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas were elected president and when legislative members were chosen for your parliament. I hope to return next January for a similar event that will unite all Palestinians as you seek a proud and peaceful future.

Ladies and gentlemen, children of Gaza, thank you for inviting me and for sharing this happy occasion with me. Congratulations for your achievements.

for now these are just words. it remains to be seen if carter’s words can translate into action even on a small scale. for his part ismail haniyya, who spoke with carter the other day, vowed to work towards a two-state solution:

Ismail Haniyya, Prime Minister of the dissolved government of Hamas in Gaza, stated Tuesday that Hamas supports ant real effort to establish a sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital.

The statements of Haniyya came in a press conference with the former US President, Jimmy Carter, who is visiting the region.

“I will push for this aim, I will cooperate with all factions to achieve a parallel and extended ceasefire with Israel”, Haniyya said, “But this ceasefire requires Israel to lift the siege on Gaza and to open the border terminals”.

but seriously: what does that mean exactly? let’s say that all palestinian refugees had the right of return and there were those who returned to their villages in 1948 palestine to live under a regime that only allows jews to have full citizenship and rights and the rest returned to gaza and the west bank. how is it that palestinians are supposed to live a life as a people when the zionist entity has laws forbidding palestinians in 1948 palestine to marry palestinians in gaza and the west bank? how are the supposed to travel around their land with zionists controlling all the borders? and how is it that a so-called state can exist when gaza and the west bank are separated by at best an hour’s drive from one “border” to the other? here is a typical issue facing palestinians that i suspect would not change even if a so-called two-state solution were imposed on palestinians:

Israel has imposed new restrictions barring Palestinians living in Gaza from moving to the West Bank, two Israeli human rights groups said on Tuesday.

According to the new regulation, which was presented by the Israeli state to the High Court of Justice in response to several petitions, no Palestinian living in Gaza is allowed to apply for residency in the West Bank except under exceptional circumstances, according to the Jerusalem Post newspaper.

Only Gazans who have close family registered as living in the West Bank will even be considered for a permit to move there, the paper said.

“Israel is systematically taking action to further isolate the Gaza Strip, while increasing the geographic and political separation between Gaza and the West Bank,” said rights groups Gisha and Hamoked.

“The new procedure contradicts a long list of Israeli undertakings to conduct negotiations for the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state, including an explicit commitment in the Oslo Accords to preserve the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as ‘a single territorial unit,'” the groups said.

According to the regulation, there are three criteria for allowing movement from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, but only if the applicant does not have a “security impediment.”

In order to be considered, a Palestinian living in Gaza must fulfill one of the following criteria, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post:

• Someone who suffers from a chronic medical condition and who has no other family member (not necessarily of the first degree) in Gaza to provide care.

• A minor under the age of 16 living with one parent in Gaza who dies and another living in the West Bank, on condition that there is no relative in Gaza to look after the minor. Even if she does have such relatives, Israel may allow her or her to move, depending on the nature of her relationship with the living parent.

• A person over the age of 65 who is in a “needy situation” and has a “first-degree relative” in the West Bank who can help him, conditional, in part, on not having relatives in the West Bank.

According to the regulation, anyone who meets one of these criteria and is allowed to move, will receive a temporary permit, renewable each year, for seven years. After seven years, if he or she has proven he is not deemed a “security threat,” he or she may be entered in the West Bank population registry.

khalil bendib
khalil bendib

this week al mezan published a statistical report on the savaging of gaza which reveals the following data:

On Sunday 14 June 2009, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights published a statistical report entitled, ‘Cast Lead Offensive in Numbers.’ This report presents figures on the persons killed and property destroyed by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) during its recent invasion of the Gaza Strip codenamed ‘Operation Cast Lead’. The report is currently available in Arabic and will be circulated in English soon.

The introduction to the report provides an overview of the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip which was conducted by the IOF during the period 27 January 2008 – 18 January 2009. The report demonstrates that during this invasion, the IOF perpetrated grave and systematic violations of the rules of international law. The report further emphasizes that field investigations clearly indicate that the IOF perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity, deliberately targeting civilians, forcibly displacing hundreds of thousands and attacking displaced persons who had fled to temporary shelters flying the United Nations flag.

The report highlights the timing of first attacks launched and their surprise nature which indicates an intention on the part of the IOF to cause the highest possible number of civilian casualties and injuries. In particular, the first wave of attacks coincided with school arrival and departure times placing school children at great risk. (Gazan schools operate a ‘shift’ system with some children attending morning sessions and others afternoon sessions). The report also presents the field investigation methodology.

The report provides the numbers of persons killed and extent of property destroyed by the IOF. During the offensive, the IOF killed or fatally wounded a total of 1410 persons of which 355 were under the age of 18, 110 were women and 240 were resistance fighters. The IOF also partially or fully destroyed 11,135 homes, 209 industrial premises, 724 commercial establishments, 650 vehicles and 6271 (1000 meters) of agricultural land.

The report presents 16 tables addressing the details of persons killed, including socio-economic information, in addition to information related to the incident. Details of damage caused to property are also presented. The numbers of persons killed by unmanned surveillance aircraft (drones) hints that the State of Israel was trying to market its surveillance aircraft, with which hundreds were killed during the Offensive.

The report concludes that Al Mezan investigations, in addition to investigations by other national (Palestinian) and international organizations, present compelling evidence of the perpetration of a large number of grave and systematic violations of international humanitarian law which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity according to the Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Fourth Geneva Convention. These crimes include: willful killing, including the targeting of houses while the residents were inside without apparent military necessity; shooting civilians waving white flags; indiscriminate use of excessive forces in civilian areas; targeting civilians and civilian objects without distinction, proportionality or military necessity; using civilians as human shields; targeting medical teams; preventing medical access to the injured; refraining from taking any steps to assist and save the lives of the injured; and targeting United Nations premises and teams. These practices resulted in the killing of large number of civilians.

The report also address the consequences of IOF practices against Gaza residents such as the destruction of water and electricity networks and the blocking and destruction of roads connecting the Gaza Strip, the demolition of large areas of cultivated land and a high number of industrial facilities. These policies caused immense suffering by heavily restricting access to food and medicines, especially after years of siege and closure, which represents collective punishment of the entire population. The report also points at the psychological impact of intensive attacks on residential areas, killing and destruction, as well as the indiscriminate use of warnings to civilians across the Gaza Strip in a context where there was no safe place for civilians to go. The warning announcements were dropped in the centres of towns as well as in the shelters set up by the UN to house the displaced.

The report also addresses the internal Israeli investigation into allegations of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead. This investigation was declared closed on Wednesday 22 April 2009 by the Israeli military Attorney General 11 days after it commenced. It concluded that the IOF had operated in accordance with international law and did not perpetrate war crimes during Operation Cast Lead. The nature of this investigation is a continuation of Israeli practices which offer immunity to its soldiers and leaders. This requires the doubling of efforts to hold the perpetrators of war crimes, or those who ordered them, accountable through channels afforded by international law.

Al Mezan asserts that this practice of offering immunity confirms the firm conviction of observers of the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories that the State of Israel does not have the will to investigate crimes perpetrated by its forces. Instead, through statements made by its continued leadership, it deliberately encourages them to perpetrate these crimes and assures them that the political leadership will provide full protection to its forces.

Al Mezan further asserts that the State of Israel’s refusal to conduct an investigation in accordance with relevant international standards, and its provision of protection and immunity to members of its armed forces and government who have perpetrated or ordered war crimes, places the moral responsibility on the shoulders of the international community. Al Mezan stresses that the international community holds both moral and legal responsibility to prosecute the perpetrators of war crimes in accordance with international legal obligations relevant to the prosecution of war criminals.

Al Mezan condemns in the strongest possible terms the perpetration by the IOF of war crimes in the Gaza Strip. These crimes continue today through collective punishment, and the siege imposed by Israel against the Gaza Strip. Further, Al Mezan condemns the State of Israel’s encouragement of the further perpetration of these crimes by offering protection and immunity to their perpetrators.

Al Mezan calls on the international community to:

· Assume its moral and legal responsibility to end the siege on the Gaza Strip in order to pave the way for reconstruction

· Investigate violations of international humanitarian law and human rights perpetrated by the IOF in the Gaza Strip in preparation for perpetrators to be prosecuted and held to account

carlos latuff
carlos latuff

a group of activists and artists recently got together to produce something called “gaza over and over.” it is a 70-page glossy document that catalogues the war crimes committed by the zionist entity in gaza as well as various political and artisitc responses to it such as the khalil bendib and carlos latuff images i posted here. there is also some nice documentation of protests around the world, including the successful boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. you can download their document by going to their website or by clicking this link for the pdf file.

and for someone with much stronger, more factual, historical language who doesn’t only give speeches, but who actually puts his body where his mouth is by doing things like actively supporting boycott, divestment, and sanctions compare this recent piece, posted by pulse media, by ilan pappe to carter. quite a different sort of politics and a point of view that i find it much easier to get behind:

If there is anything new in the never ending sad story of Palestine it is the clear shift in public opinion in this country. I remember coming to these isles in 1980 when supporting the Palestinian cause was confined to the left and in it to a very particular section and ideological stream. The post-holocaust trauma and guilt complex, military and economic interests and the charade of Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East all played a role in providing immunity for the state of Israel. Very few were moved, so it seems, by a state that had dispossessed half of Palestine’s native population, demolished half of their villages and towns, discriminated against the minority among them who lived within its borders through an apartheid system and enclaved two million and a half of them in a harsh and oppressive military occupation.

Almost thirty years later and it seems that all these filters and cataracts have been removed. The magnitude of the ethnic cleansing of 1948 is well known, the suffering of the people in the occupied territories recorded and described even by the American president as unbearable and inhuman. In a similar way, the destruction and depopulation of the greater Jerusalem area is noted daily and the racist nature of the policies towards the Palestinians in Israel are frequently rebuked and condemned.

The reality today in 2009 is described by the UN as ‘a human catastrophe’. The conscious and conscientious sections of the British society know very well who caused and who produced this catastrophe. This is not related any more to elusive circumstances, or to the ‘conflict’ – it is seen clearly as the outcome of Israeli policies throughout the years. When Desmond Tutu was asked for his reaction to what he saw in the occupied territories he noted sadly that it was worse than Apartheid. He should know.

As in the case of South Africa these decent people, either as individuals or as members of organizations, voice their outrage against the continued oppression, colonization, ethnic cleansing and starvation in Palestine. They are looking for ways of showing their protest and some even hope to impact their government into changing its old policy of indifference and inaction in the face of the continued destruction of Palestine and the Palestinians. Many among them are Jews, as these atrocities are done in their name according to the logic of the Zionist ideology, and quite a few among them are veterans of previous civil struggles in this country for similar causes all over the world. They are not confined any more to one political party and they come from all walks of life.

So far the British government is not moved. It was also passive when the anti-Apartheid movement in this country demanded of it to impose sanctions on South Africa. It took several decades for that activism from below to reach the political top. It takes longer in the case of Palestine: guilt about the Holocaust, distorted historical narratives and contemporary misrepresentation of Israel as a democracy seeking peace and the Palestinians as eternal Islamic terrorists blocked the flow of the popular impulse. But it is beginning to find its way and presence, despite the continued accusation of any such demand as being anti-Semitic and the demonization of Islam and Arabs. The third sector, that important link between civilians and government agencies, has shown us the way. One trade union after the other, one professional group after the other, have all sent recently a clear message: enough is enough. It is done in the name of decency, human morality and basic civil commitment not to remain idle in the face of atrocities of the kind Israel has and still is committing against the Palestinian people.

In the last eight years the Israeli criminal policy escalated, and the Palestinian activists were seeking new means to confront it. They have tried it all, armed struggle, guerrilla warfare, terrorism and diplomacy: nothing worked. And yet they are not giving up and now they are proposing a non violent strategy that of boycott, sanctions and divestment. With these means they wish to persuade the Western government to save not only them, but ironically also the Jews in Israel from an imminent catastrophe and bloodshed. This strategy bred the call for cultural boycott on Israel. This demand is voiced by every part of the Palestinian existence: by the civil society under occupation and by Palestinians in Israel. It is supported by the Palestinian refugees and is led by members of the Palestinian exile communities. It came in the right moment and gave individuals and organizations in this country a way to express their disgust at the Israeli policies and at the same time an avenue for participating in the overall pressure on the government to change its policy of providing immunity for the impunity on the ground.

It is bewildering that this shift of public opinion has no impact so far on policy; but again we are reminded of the tortuous way the campaign against apartheid had to go before it became a policy. It is also worth remembering that two brave women in Dublin, toiling on the cashiers in a local supermarket were the ones who began a huge movement of change by refusing to sell South African goods. Twenty nine years later, Britain joined others in imposing sanctions on Apartheid. So while governments hesitate for cynical reasons, out of fear of being accused of anti-Semitism or maybe due to Islamophobic inhibitions, citizens and activists do their utmost, symbolically and physically, to inform, protest and demand. They have a more organised campaign, that of the cultural boycott, or they can join their unions in the coordinated policy of pressure. They can also use their name or fame for indicating to us all that decent people in this world cannot support what Israel does and what it stands for. They do not know whether their action will make an immediate change or they would be so lucky as to see change in their life time. But in their own personal book of who they are and what they did in life and in the more general harsh eye of historical assessment they would be counted in with all those who did not remain indifferent when inhumanity raged under the guise of democracy in their own countries or elsewhere.

On the other hand, citizens in this country, especially famous ones, who continue to broadcast, quite often out of ignorance or out of more sinister reasons, the fable of Israel as a cultured Western society or as the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ are not only wrong factually. They provide immunity for one of the greatest atrocities in our time. Some of them demand we should leave culture out of our political actions. This approach to Israeli culture and academia as separate entities from the army, the occupation and the destruction is morally corrupt and logically defunct. Eventually, one day the outrage from below, including in Israel itself, will produce a new policy – the present American administration is already showing early signs of it. History did not look kindly at those film makers who collaborated with McCarthy or endorsed Apartheid. It would adopt a similar attitude to those who are silent about Palestine now.

A good case in point unfolded last month in Edinburgh. Ken Loach led a campaign against the official and financial connections the city’s film festival had with the Israeli embassy. Such a stance was meant to send a message that this embassy represents not only the film makers of Israel but also its generals who massacred the people of Gaza, its tormentors who torture Palestinians in jails, its judges who sent 10,000 Palestinians – half of them children – without trial to prison, its racist mayors who want to expel Arabs from their cities, its architects who built walls and fences to enclave people and prevent them from reaching their fields, schools, cinemas and offices and its politicians who strategise yet again how to complete the ethnic cleansing of Palestine they began in 1948. Ken Loach felt that only a call for boycotting the festival as whole would bring its directors into a moral sense and perspective. He was right; it did, because the case is so clear cut and the action so simple and pure.

It is not surprising that a counter voice was heard. This is an ongoing struggle and would not be won easily. As I write these words, we commemorate the 42nd year of the Israeli occupation, the longest, and one of the cruellest in modern time. But time has also produced the lucidity needed for such decisions. This is why Ken’s action was immediately effective; next time even this would not be necessary. One of his critics tried to point to the fact that people in Israel like Ken’s films, so this was a kind of ingratitude. I can assure this critic that those of us in Israel who watch Ken’s movies are also those who salute him for his bravery and unlike this critic we do not think of this an act similar to a call for Israel’s destruction, but rather the only way of saving Jews and Arabs living there. But it is difficult anyway to take such criticism seriously when it is accompanied by description of the Palestinians as a terrorist entity and Israel as a democracy like Britain. Most of us in this country have moved far away from this propagandist silliness and are ready for change. We are now waiting for the government of these isles to follow suit.

wanted: zionist palestinians

carlos latuff
carlos latuff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and more homes in al quds:

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

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

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

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

and another home in another neighborhood al quds:

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

and in the jordan valley:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among the facts stated in the report are:

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

Two people were killed during the demolition of their homes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

colonial complicity

today nablus has been declared a closed military zone as saed bannoura reported in imemc:

In an attempt to prevent Israeli peace activists from entering the Nablus area, the head of the Central Command of the Israeli Army, Gadi Shamni, declared Nablus a closed military zone.

The army said that that there had been several complaints by the soldiers against members of the Machsom Watch (Checkpoint Watch) organization.

The army added that this decision applies to all Israeli citizens regardless of their ideology.

The decision was slammed by the Human Rights Organization “Yish Din”. The group said that only totalitarian countries bar human rights organizations from entering areas of conflict between the military and the civilian population.

The group added that such acts are meant to cover-up “criminal activities carried out by the soldiers at the roadblocks”, and added that “it won’t be surprised of Israel starts acting like China, by barring certain internet sites”.

what this means is that security in the prison that is nablus is even tighter than normal and travel in and out of nablus is going to be even more challenging than it already is on a daily basis. of course it is beyond ironic that it is palestinians in nablus being locked up when the terrorizing israeli colonists are on the loose and actively attacking innocent palestinians as saed bannoura reported earlier this week:

Palestinian sources reported on Monday morning that four Palestinians were wounded, one seriously, after being attacked by a group of extremist settlers at the Kidumim junction on the Nablus – Qalqilia road.

Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of the settlements file at the Palestinian Authority, stated that approximately at 5:30 a.m. the four Palestinians were on their way to work when they were attacked by a group of extremist Israeli settlers.

Palestinian medical sources stated that resident Ali Al Sidda, 44, from Jeet village near Nablus, was seriously wounded in his head and was moved to Al Arabi Specialized Hospital in Nablus.

Resident Mohammad Khalid, 32, suffered moderate wounds, while residents Shaker Sidda, and Ahmad Sidda suffered minor wounds. All are from Jayyous village near Qalqilia.

Daghlas demanded the international community and international human rights groups to intervene and put an end to the ongoing attacks carried out by the settlers and the solders.

it seems as if they are following the orders of american jewish rabbi manis friedman, in st. paul minnesota, calling on jewish colonists in palestine to murder with impunity:

“I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral. The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).”

yet another one of friedman’s likely pupils of terrorism unleashed his wrath in al quds yesterday–of course this will never be named terrorism by the zionist or international media, though its effect is the same and is in line with such zionist acts through the course of its colonizing history:

An Israeli settler shot and killed one Palestinian, on Tuesday at dawn, and seriously wounded a Jewish man near the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The Israeli police described the attack as a “random shooting spree”.

while palestinians are imprisoned in nablus, this week israeli terrorist colonists have been busy destroying palestinian farm land in the farmland surrounding the city as palestine news network reported:

Mohammad Raja from the southern Nablus town of Burin sleeps on his land.

Planted with grain, Raja, or Abu Amar, is protecting his harvest.

However, at 2:30 am fire engines rushed to his defense. Israelis from the Itshar Settlement, built in the West Bank in contravention to international law, attacked the fields.

Itshar Settlement is routinely in the news as one of the most violent of Israeli settlements.

Fire fighters were able to save some of Abu Amar’s harvest, the rest of which was destroyed in the fire set by Itshar settlers.

“They have set fire to my home and land over the past three days, leading to total destruction. The barley is gone and with it the cattle feed,” said Abu Amar.

On the same day Israeli settlers attacked the citizens of the town Aurev in southern Nablus. Palestinians were working on their land not far from the center of town when a group of settlers rushed in. “We were attacked,” a farmer named Ghassan said. These assaults come after repeated attacks on southern Nablus.

Yitzhar is another settlement imposed on the Nablus Governorate in the northern West Bank known as strongholds of extremist settlers who launch these attacks under the protection of the occupying Israeli army.

After the fires on Abu Amar’s land settlers then torched crops in Burin just 12 hours later. “Dozens of dunams of barley crops planted in the eastern region of the town were burned,” the head of the Burin town council said.

Last year Israeli settlers burned 3,500 olive trees belonging to the same town.

Khaled Mansour is with the Public Action Committee of Agricultural Relief and said, “The burning of crops, the destruction of crops, the uprooting of trees and the attacks on famers are familiar behavior and are an organized policy each season.”

Not only do Israeli settlers target Palestinian plants and crops for the summer, but also employ a similar policy in the late fall’s olive harvest. Mansour said in a statement to the press today that such a strategy is used by the Israeli administration to force Palestinians to flee their land and send them to work in settlement factories.

of course, nablus is not the only village subjected to israeli terrorist colonialism. in the southern west bank, too, palestinian farmers and farmland is also under attack as katherine orwell reported for imemc:

Villagers from the Southern West Bank village of Safa, north of Hebron, have tried to harvest their lands that are located closely to the settlement of Beit Ayn, on Saturday morning. The Israeli army violently pushed the villagers of their lands, as settlers were gathering on near by hilltops. Later in the morning settlers came down and attacked a group of women and children, a local witness reported to IMEMC.

A group of internationals and Israelis went along with the villagers to help harvest the land. In the past few weeks there have continuously been problems with the army and settlers from the settlement of Beit Ayn, preventing the people of Safa to access and harvest their land.

During this time of year the people in Safa harvest the grape leaves, an important source of income for the village.

After the harvest started, the army arrived and ordered everyone to leave the lands, as they claimed the land, belonging to the Soleiby family, to be a closed military zone. The army gave the harvesters a ten minutes notice, then proceeded to push the group out by kicking and beating them. Two Israelis, that had joined the harvest, were arrested and taken away by the army.

The army told the people that the settlers were gathering and they were afraid that there might be problems. People in the group responded that the army had to take its responsibility and remove the ones creating the problems, not the ones suffering from it.

Instead soldiers turned up with batons, literally pushing the people off the land with their sticks.

During all that time settlers were watching on top of the hill, screaming racist slogans, such as: “Death to all the Arabs”. After some time the settlers came down the hill into the fields that belong to the village and started throwing stones. A group of 16 settlers attacked three old women and one child that were harvesting the grape leaves. Other settlers took the camera of an Israeli.

you can see some of the aftermath of this rampage on palestine video’s blog where there is afp video footage of this attack.

it is amidst this sort of zionist colonist terrorism that the words of some of these colonists are calling the u.s. terrorists, albeit ironically in this context, for asking the zionist colonial project to “freeze” its settlement expansion:

Israeli settler leaders accused the United Sates of “terrorism” on Monday because of calls for a freeze on construction in West Bank colonies.

“The Americans are employing political terrorism against the State of Israel,” said Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council settler organization, according to the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot.

“Not only is the Obama administration renouncing the commitments made by President George W. Bush in April 2004 – it’s looking as if they regret President Truman’s decision on May 14th 1948 to recognize Israel’s independence.”

In an interview with National Public Radio on Monday, Obama reiterated his view that settlement construction should come to a complete stop. “Part of being a good friend is being honest,” Obama said.

of course it does not matter what the u.s. says, as long as american taxpayers continue to fund these colonies full of terrorist colonists they will continue to destroy palestinian land, homes, and people. today there is a new structure to be built in wadi joz on the land where there is now a palestinian kindergarten:

Israeli authorities approved plans on Tuesday to demolish an East Jerusalem kindergarten and wholesale market in order to make way for a hotel and commercial center.

The plan for the hotel, in the Wadi Joz neighborhood near the Old City, was given a green light by the Jerusalem planning and building committee, which submitted the proposal for public comment, according to the newspaper Haaretz.

the zionist colonists will continue to build illegal colonies as they please as they always have. but they will also continue with their rhetoric about promises and laws when it suits them as donald macintyre reports for the independent about netanyahu’s latest claims:

The Israeli government of Benjmain Netanyahu is seeking to deflect Washington’s demand for a total settlement freeze by complaining that it ignores secret agreements between his predecessors and the Bush administration that construction in existing Jewish settlements could continue.

The rift between Mr Netanyahu’s government and the US appeared to deepen yesterday, with a clear declaration by President Barack Obama that a freeze – including on “natural growth” of West Bank settlements – was among Israeli “obligations”.

there is an interesting documentary on al jazeera’s “people and power” this week called “courtroom intifada” that addresses so many of these issues. juliana ruhfus travels to the palestinian village of bil’in where she shows us the on-going, four-year long struggle of the people in this village have been engaged in as the zionist terrorist colony of modi’in ilit continues to confiscate bil’in’s land. ruhfus takes you on a tour of their weekly protests and their land with mohammad khatib and his mother zahia khatib where an apartheid wall, here in the form of an electronic fence, separates zahia from her 1,000 year old olive trees. she takes you through the zionist terrorist colony where about 41,000 of them live; she takes you there with an israeli colonist named nir shalev who seems to think that before 1967 bil’in was jordan (yes, it was controlled by the hashemite regime, but this land never belonged to jordan). you’ll also see the israeli colonist who is helping people in bil’in with a court case that challenges the corporations profiting from the building of this colony.

the video packs in quite a bit. bottom line, as is made clear in ruhfus’ interviews: these are war crimes. the colonists, the corporations, and the governments funding this will one day receive retribution.

max bluementhal reported on more american complicity in zionist terrorist colonialism this week on the mondoweiss blog showing an american casino in hawaiian gardens (los angeles) that funds these zionist terrorist colonialist activities. here is his report and the video accompanying it, though i continue to have issues with the fact that mondoweiss thinks that 1948 palestine is an entity called “israel.” i, of course, refuse to acknowledge that it has a right to exist on stolen palestinian land. colonies are colonies, period.

A gathering of the settlement movement’s leading figures in Jerusalem on May 22, documented in this exclusive Mondoweiss report, revealed the unprecedented influence of the settlers on Israeli policy. The event, a ceremony for the presentation of the Moskowitz Foundation Prize for Zionism, was organized and bankrolled by one of Netanyahu’s closest confidants and backers, the American casino tycoon Irving Moskowitz. For over a decade, Moskowitz has funneled millions in profits from his California-based Hawaiian Gardens casino, where he has been sued for exploiting undocumented workers, into settlement construction projects in the West Bank, including Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. He has also funded several neoconservative think tanks including a research center named after Netanyahu’s brother, Yonatan, who was killed while leading the Entebbe rescue raid in 1976. Moskowitz and Netanyahu have remained close since he established the center.

In 1996, Moskowitz convinced Netanyahu, in his first round as prime minister, to open a tunnel adjacent to the Temple Mount, a controversial act that led to several days of rioting and 70 deaths. Four years later, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to the tunnel set off the so-called Al-Aqsa uprising, the opening salvo of the Second Intifada. Now, Moskowitz’s imprint on the West Bank’s landscape is most clearly reflected in the expansion of the settlement called Kiryat Arba, a hotbed of Orthodox Jewish radicalism located high above the occupied city of Hebron.

Kiryat Arba founder Noam Arnon is the recipient of the 2009 Moskowitz Prize, an honor that included $50,000 in cash. After receiving his prize before a cheering crowd of two thousand settlers, Arnon complained to me, “We think that somehow the Arabs have taken over the international media and the international mood, and they convinced the world to believe that there is a Palestinian people and these people deserve to have a Palestinian state — which is totally untrue.”

Despite the fanaticism of Arnon and his followers, who routinely rampage through Hebron, vandalizing Palestinian homes and attacking local residents (often under the watch of the Israeli army), they are not isolated as a rogue element in Netanyahu’s political world. Indeed, several of notables stood on stage to present Arnon with his prize. They included Professor Moshe Aumann, who won the Nobel Prize in 2005 for his work on understanding conflict through game theory, and Uzi Landau, the Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure. (Landau’s party, Yisrael Beiteynu, has introduced bills that would compel Arab citizens of Israel to take loyalty oaths and which would criminalize open discussion of what the Palestinians call “Nakbah,” or “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding). Also in attendance was Benny Begin, a leading Likud member of Knesset and the son of the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the first Likud prime minister.

After the ceremony, Landau mingled easily with settlement leaders, who beseeched him for support. Though Landau’s bodyguard attempted to prevent journalists from approaching him, my journalistic colleague Jesse Rosenfeld managed to ask him about Obama’s call for freeze on settlement construction. Visibly irritated by the mention of Obama’s demand, Landau issued an unequivocal statement. “Those who say, or are trying to suggest that Arabs can build anywhere and everywhere, and Jews can’t –it’s something that should be totally rejected.”

Since arriving in Israel, I have observed the battle over settlement expansion from an on-the-ground perspective. On May 16, I traveled with the Israeli peace group Ta’ayush to Hilltop 26, an illegal hilltop outpost constructed by settlers from Kiryat Arba – not an aspect of “natural growth.” Four angry settler youths confronted us upon our arrival; within minutes, a squadron of Israeli border police officers, soldiers and a Kiryat Arba security team were on the scene. The army swiftly issued a “closed military zone order,” ordering us to leave within five minutes or be arrested. While the soldiers initially allowed the settler youth to stay, the presence of international media apparently prompted them to briefly remove the teenagers while allowing their outpost to remain – an act that underscored the army’s collaboration with settlers to stifle the activities of peace groups. (See the confrontation in my exclusive Daily Beast video report here.)

if you saw my photographs from khalil the other day you would know that this zionist terrorist colonist speaking in the video–responsible for the attacks on palestinians and their homes–including setting fire to them–that he and his cohorts are clearly terrorists. and yet in this video notice how he says, “we are the most moderate people.” yes, perhaps, but in my book moderate has become the new dirty word.

if it is on palestinian land and inhabited by jews: it is a colony. period.

and yes, i mean jews: the zionist entity insists on being called a “jewish state” that is an apartheid state in which jews have special rights and non-jews have no rights. of course, any jew who lives in occupied palestine is by definition a zionist. but the zionist entity’s laws specify these rights are for jews. and these jewish zionists are the colonists occupying palestinian land.

it may seem like a sign of progress to most outsiders: 2 zionist terrorist colonies in khalil were dismantled by the zionist terrorist army. but notice in this story that it alerts us to the fact that this has happened before. they have removed one of these colonies and it went right back up. this is the norm here:

The Israeli army demolished two illegal settlement outposts installed by extremist far-right wing Jewish settlers, members of a Yeshiva School from Kiryat Arba’ illegal settlement, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Israeli army radio reported that one of the outposts (Havat Federman) was constructed by an extremist right-wing settler, identified as Noam Federman.

The Second illegal outpost Givat (Hill) Avichai, also known as Hill 18, was constructed by Yeshiva students of the illegal Keryat Arba’ settlement.

As the Israeli police and soldiers arrived at the Havat Federman, shortly before the evacuation was to take place, they found out that the construction was already removed, and all of its supplies were placed in one tent, Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported.

The Federman outpost was first dismantled on Friday October 31, 2008, and the settlers clashed with the Israeli police and attacked Palestinian residents in the Hebron area. They settlers rebuilt the outpost later on and the army did not remove it.

The Israeli police was expecting clashes with the extremist settlers but the evacuation went without noticeable clashes.

Israeli sources reported Wednesday that Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had decided to evacuate the outposts in an attempt to avoid pressure by the US Administration.

But the evacuation of the outposts angered several extreme right wing members of Knesset and officials.

Member of Knesset, Michael Ben-Ari, of the National Union Party slammed Netanyahu and Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, for the evacuation of the illegal outposts and added that the “deceived the public and their voters”.

meanwhile more palestinian homes are being destroyed in al quds by zionist terrorist colonitsts:

The Jerusalem Municipality handed on Tuesday orders to demolish 17 Palestinian homes in different parts of East Jerusalem under the pretext that they were constructed without a permit.

The orders are regarding 17 homes in Al Ashqariyya, Beit Hanina, Shu’fat, Al Esawiyya and Jabal Al Mokabbir and Silwan.

Lawyers representing the residents started the legal process in an attempt to stop or freeze the demolishing orders.

The lawyers managed to temporarily freeze some of the orders and managed to delay the demolishing of a home south of the Al Aqsa Mosque until July 10.

The new orders came amidst an ongoing Israeli campaign targeting Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem, as Israel plans to demolish dozens of homes and apartment buildings under the pretext that they were built without a construction permit.

The Jerusalem municipality largely refrains from granting the Palestinians in Jerusalem construction permits in an attempt to force them out of the city while the Israeli government is ongoing with its illegal settlement activities in East Jerusalem and the Arab areas around it.

to get a sense of the political game being played here read jerrold kessel and pierre klochendler’s article in ips:

Netanyahu dug in his heels, although he tried to couch the impending set-to in a mild manner. No new settlements would be built, he told his cabinet colleagues, but settlement expansion should go on, for all the U.S. objections: “Not to address the question of natural growth is simply not fair,” the Prime Minister said.

A close Netanyahu political ally, Transport Minister Yisrael Katz, added: “There is one thing to which we just cannot agree – that the government agenda will look like a witch-hunt against the settlers and the drying up of the settlements.”

And, Defence Minister Ehud Barak lined up behind Netanyahu: “It’s not conceivable that anyone seriously intends that a family with two children who have bought a small apartment will be told that an order has come from the U.S. that they may not add two extra rooms when the family grows – that’s illogical,” Barak said.

The Israeli position is most unlikely to satisfy the U.S. Netanyahu seems fully aware that this could be just the beginning of a major row with Washington. He thus appears to be preparing to parry the comprehensive U.S. ‘no’ on settlements by backing the intention of the Israeli defence establishment finally to move on so-called “illegal settlements” (small outposts that were established on the fringes of government-approved settlements in order to expand Israeli control over Palestinian territory).

The day Netanyahu came back, the army pulled down one such wildcat settlement, but within hours the settlers had rebuilt the outpost. Now, though, the Defence Ministry confirms that a comprehensive plan is being drawn up to dismantle 23 mini-settlements created since 2001 without government approval.

Israeli Public Radio quoted sources in the Prime Minister’s office as confirming that Netanyahu would “stand firm behind” Defence Minister Ehud Barak if he concludes that a showdown with the “illegal” settlers is required. This, even at the risk of an improbable showdown with his own nationalist coalition: “We are first and foremost obliged to respect the law,” Netanyahu insisted at Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

Obama urged the ending of settlement building in order to lay the ground for a resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians. But Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said there is no point in meeting Netanyahu unless he stops settlement construction and agrees to open talks on Palestinian independence.

Over the years, successive Israeli governments have sanctioned 121 settlements, with the settlers themselves putting up an additional 100 or so small outposts since the early 1990s. The overall settler population is around 280,000.

the zionist entity’s destruction of palestinian homes as a form of ethnic cleansing and it’s fake destruction of zionist colonies (which you can see in bold above are temporary). meanwhile, the hasbara propaganda machine is already at work to get obama and clinton to submit to its colonial expansionist regime. i have no doubt they will succeed.

Israel is planning to offer dismantling 26 illegal settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank in exchange for American approval that Israel keeps all of its settlements and expands the existing settlement blocs though all settlements are illegal under the international law.

Israeli officials stated that Israel would dismantle 26 illegal settlement outposts within a number of weeks in exchange for allowing Israel to expand its settlements under the pretext of natural growth.

The new so-called Israeli offer was reached during a Monday night meeting between Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli Ynet News reported that Israel sent on Tuesday a delegation to London in order to hold a meeting with US officials in order to coordinate Ehud Barak’s visit to Washington.

The delegation includes representatives of the offices of Barak and Netanyahu.

Meanwhile, Ehud Barak is scheduled to hold a meeting in Washington with the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, and the National Security Advisor, James Jones.

On his side, Barak claims that removing the 26 illegal outposts is a “gesture of good will” towards the Palestinians.

Removing the already illegal outposts comes at a price of US acceptance to be flexible in its demand regarding Israel’s freezing of settlement construction and expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.

It is worth mentioning that the former US president, George W. Bush, recognized Israel’s illegal settlement blocs in a letter he sent to the former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.

On his side, Benjamin Netanyahu intends to remove some outposts in an attempt to focus the talks with the US on the Iranian issue instead of settlements.

Talks on removing illegal outposts should not be a condition to getting something in return, as such outposts are not only illegal under the international law, but also under Israeli law.

As for settlements and settlements blocs built in the occupied territories, dismantling them should be unconditional; even if Israel considers them legitimate, they are still illegitimate under the international law and the Fourth Geneva Conventions, and constitute a war crime.

It is worth mentioning that Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions clearly states that an occupying power cannot move part of its civilian population into territories it occupies.

so palestinians seem to be working on a new strategy, or at least a very small minority are. kamahl santamaria’s “inside story” the other night on al jazeera featured a discussion about zionist colonies and in the first few minutes of this you can see a report by sherine tadros in which she shoes you some palestinian families living in the illegal zionist colony of pisgat ze’ev in al quds. the discussion that follows addresses the issue of zionist colonialism on palestinian land, though as usual al jazeera pits two zionist colonitst terrorists against one palestinian (jad ishaq, danny seidmann, shmuel berkovich):

in the episode santamaria begins by saying: “Settlements, neighborhoods, suburbs, call them what you will.” well, i call them colonies. because zionism is a colonial ideology and they are a foreign presence here on palestinian land. there is no way around it. but unfortunately the world continues to think of these colonies on “occupied” land in the west bank or al quds as the only occupied colonies when the entire land of palestine is occupied and filled with such colonies. for instance, look at what zionist terrorist colonists did in naqab this week to palestinian olive trees:

The so-called Israel’s Land Authority uprooted on Monday nearly 250 olive trees and several fig trees and grapevines south of Shqeib Al Salaam Arab village in the Negev.

The authorities them loaded the uprooted trees onto trucks and took them away.

The new violation is one of numerous ongoing violations carried out by Israel against the “unrecognized” Arab villages in the Negev. The violations harm the very existence of Arabs in the region as Israel repeatedly demolished their homes and displaced the villagers.

The Regional Council of the Unrecognized Arab Villages in the Negev demanded Israel to recognize the ownership rights of Arabs in the Negev and to recognize the Arab villages there.

Ibrahim Al Waqeely, head of the Regional Council of the Unrecognized Arab villages, told the Arabs48 news website that instead of preserving the greenery, Israel is uprooting trees and terrifying the Arabs to force them out.

He added that Israel is ongoing with its illegal conducts against the Arabs in the Negev while at the same time it is ongoing with constructing malls and Jewish only areas in the area.

Al Waqeely added that the residents will replant their olives “exactly as they rebuild their homes which Israel demolishes”.

He also said that the Arabs inhibited the Negev way before Israel occupied Palestine and declared its independence.

and here is what palestinians have to endure because of zionist terrorist colonists on their land, in their midst:

Local sources reported on Monday at evening that a group of armed extremist settlers attacked Palestinian shepherds east of Yatta town, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

The settlers came from Bait Yatir and Maon illegal outposts, installed on privately owned Palestinian lands, east of Yatta.

Some of the attacked shepherds were identified as Ismail Abu Qbeita, Issa Makhamra, Ibrahim Ali Awad, Ali Mohammad Makhamra, and Mohammad Abu Qbeita.

Resident Mohammad Abu Qbeita stated that nearly twenty armed settlers attacked the shepherds with batons forcing them out of the grazing land, and inflicting wounds on them, especially in their legs.

The Israeli army did not attempt to intervene.

and this is true when palestinian women are subjected to terrorism at the hands of zionist colonists:

A Palestinian woman sustained moderate wounds on Tuesday afternoon after she was attacked by an Israeli settler in northern West Bank.

Hiba abed Al Hak, 21, was going from her city Salfit to Ramallah through Nablus city. She was stopped at Za’tara military checkpoint near Nablus, while waiting at the checkpoint she was attacked and beaten up by the settler, local sources reported.

Medical sources reported that Al Hak was moved to hospital for treatment, medics said that she was attacked while soldiers at the checkpoint were watching.

Resident they have been attacked by settlers at that military checkpoint for the past two days.

still other palestinians find themselves prisoners in their own homes such as the khatib family in al quds because of the pisgat ze’ev illegal colony on palestinian land reported in the above al jazeera piece:

The Israeli construction of the Annexation Wall on the Khatib family land has rendered 24 members of the family on the Israeli side of the Wall, where they are being kept under house arrest. No members of the family have committed any crime, but the Israeli military keeps them under house arrest because the Israeli military constructed the Wall with the family on the Israeli side.

The family’s home and land have been annexed into the Pisgat Ze’ev settlement, and the family has thus been unwillingly “turned into settlers”. To visit the rest of their relatives and friends in their village of Hizma, they are forced to travel to an Israeli checkpoint border crossing. Their friends and relatives who have been rendered on the Palestinian side of the Wall have an extremely difficult time obtaining the permits and permission necessary to cross to visit the Khatib family stuck in Pisgat Ze’ev.

A recent exposé by the Israeli paper Yedioth Ahranoth documented the family’s situation, including interviews with family members. Kifach Khatib, the mother of the family, told Yedioth Ahranoth, “The fact that we have been turned into settlers does not mean that we gave up on our way of life. We continue to raise chickens and sheep for a living.”

But even the simple family farming lifestyle of the Khatib family has been rendered impossible by the Israeli settlers who now surround the family’s home and land. According to Kifach Khatib, the family has faced harassment and theft of animals by the Israeli settlers. The family has had to move their sheep and chickens, which are their main source of income, across the Wall to the Palestinian side, where they are depending on the goodwill of their former neighbors to care for their animals. She added, “A month ago settlers stole my best goat, and from time to time we have to cross over to the other side of the fence to feed our animals. Our Palestinian neighbors cannot raise the animals themselves – I don’t know what to do.”

The Israeli District Coordination Office, which is the main interface between the Israeli military and the occupied Palestinian population in the West Bank, told Yedioth Ahranoth that they are familiar with the Khatib family’s situation, and have issued the family permits to cross the Wall to the Palestinian side, which the Office says will allow the family to maintain a normal life.

Members of the Khatib family, which includes two disabled girls suffering from a neurological condition, say that living under house arrest under the continuous threat of harassment by Israeli settlers, is far from a normal life.

moreover because of these colonies the ground water supply is being contaminated by zionist colonists abusing palestinian land as reported in electronic intifada:

Israeli army bases in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and Israel are contaminating land and water sources, says a letter addressed to Major General Gadi Shamni, commander-in-chief of the central command in Israel.

According to the 12 May letter signed by Issac Ben David, deputy director at the Ministry of the Environment, and seen by IRIN, five bases in the OPT are a major source of contamination due to poor handling of diesel fuel and oil.

The bases in question are Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem; Ramallah (West Bank); another is near Hebron (West Bank); and two are Israeli army fuel stations near Macabim and Halamish.

Ben David’s letter said: “In a recent inspection conducted by the ministry inspectors of [Israeli army] bases in [the OPT] we discovered a bleak picture of neglect and severe damage to the environment due to leakage of fuel and oil. This severely damages the soil and ground water.”

all of this destruction and audacity will continue, i suspect, regardless of anything the u.s. administration says or does as Omar Yousef Shehabi explains in electronic intifada:

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepared for his first meeting with US President Barack Obama earlier this week, preliminary construction began on the Maskiot settlement in the Jordan Valley, which forms the Eastern Bantu of the occupied West Bank. According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, it will be Israel’s first new settlement in the northern West Bank in 27 years.

More accurately, Maskiot was established as an army brigade encampment in 1982, abandoned in the late 1990s, reconstituted as a army preparatory school in 2005, and promised to former residents of an “illegal” Gaza settlement, Shirat Hayam, in 2006. That plan to settle 30 families roughly 15 kilometers east of the Green Line — the internationally-recognized boundary between Israel and the West Bank — was abandoned under American pressure in 2007 and resurrected in the final months of the moribund Bush presidency. Obviously, neither the roughly 50,000 Palestinians of the Jordan Valley nor their listless leaders in Ramallah play any role in this kabuki dance between the Israeli and American governments.

The Obama administration will halt construction of Maskiot once more, likely in exchange for its acquiescence to the further (and nearly complete) Judaization of Jerusalem. Specifically, Netanyahu wants to complete partition of the Palestinian West Bank into northern and southern Bantus by completing development of the “East 1” or E1 area between Jerusalem and the mega-settlement of Maale Adumim. Israel first authorized development in this area in March 1997, during Netanyahu’s first premiership. It opened a massive new police headquarters for the West Bank in E1 this month, intends to build 3,500 housing units for settlers in this area of less than five square miles, and has spent more than NIS 120 million ($30 million) on a segregated road that will connect E1 to Jerusalem for Jews, and shuttle Palestinian Arabs between their northern and southern Bantus without desecrating the holy city with their presence.

Let us remember that Netanyahu orchestrated a similar provocation early in his first premiership to advance his geopolitical agenda. On 24 September 1996, towards the end of protracted negotiations over the Hebron Agreement, Netanyahu ordered that a gate to the Western Wall tunnel be opened along the Via Dolorosa, blasted through the grounds of the Umariya elementary school (incidentally, my father’s primary school). As a result, tourists who once had to retrace their steps to exit the tunnel now exit onto the Via Dolorosa and are escorted by armed Israeli soldiers through the Old City’s Muslim quarter (think of it as a quotidian version of the annual Jerusalem Day celebrations that flaunt Israeli “liberation and reunification” of the city by parading through Arab Jerusalem and dancing atop the ruins of the Moroccan quarter in the Western Wall plaza).