Unilever Israel Foods is planning move its Beigel & Beigel company plant from the Barkan industrial zone, located in the occupied West Bank, to a location inside Israel, reports the Hebrew-language daily Maariv.
This moves follows intense Palestinian and international pressure on the parent company, Unilever International, to move its operations out of the settlement industrial zone or to divest from the factory, which collects profits due to the advantages given to Israeli businesses in the West Bank, including extensive subsidies by the Israeli government.
Unilever International, the UK and Dutch-owned multinational company, has been trying to divest from Beigel & Beigel since 2008, following the refusal of British stores to sell products manufactured in Israeli settlements. However, given the location of the factory in the illegal Ariel settlement and the growing international calls for accountability from the settlements industries, the company was unable to sell its shares.
“Following the divestment in recent years of a number of non-core businesses … the decision has been reached to divest of its interests in the bakery business and will therefore seek to find a buyer for Unilever’s share in the Beigel & Beigel partnership,” the company said in a statement at the time.
United Civilians for Peace, a Dutch organization, published a report in 2006 entitled Dutch economic links to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and/or Syrian territories, and then began “a constructive dialogue with Unilever Netherlands on the ethical implications of the company’s investment in the settlement,” according to the UCP website.
According to the UPC report, “The land of the Barkan industrial zone was confiscated from surrounding Palestinian villages by a military order issued by the Israeli Defence Force in 1981, and declared “state land”. International Law prohibits the confiscation of occupied land not for military purposes.”
UCP also noted that the “Location in the settlement makes Unilever complicit with violations of international law, Palestinian human rights and labour rights,” and that “Beigel & Beigel benefits from subsidies allocated by the Israeli government to the industrial zones in the settlements. Also, the factory has been guaranteed a state grant for a plan of expansion.”
According to a 2008 Guardian newspaper article, “At Beigel & Beigel, 45% of the 140 workers are Palestinians from the surrounding villages whose land was confiscated for the construction. Most of them work on the assembly line operating machines and contrary to Unilever’s own labour standards, they are not paid the Israeli minimum wage.”
In 2008, Unilever Israel, which bought half of the Beigel & Beigel pretzel company in 2001, said their plan to sell Beigel & Beigel stocks was strategic, not ethical, but given their inability to sell stocks and divest from the company during this two year time period, Unilever’s recent action is a tacit admission that their decision to divest was a direct result of the pressure of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
With direct “peace talks” between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government headed nowhere fast after the Netanyahu government let the so-called “settlement freeze” lapse, the groundwork for the media narrative on who to blame if the “peace talks” officially break off is being laid. Predictably, it will be, and already is, a narrative of Palestinian rejectionism versus Israeli generosity.
Matt Duss, a must-read blogger on Middle East issues over at Think Progress’ Wonk Room, picks up on this, pointing to the headlines written after the Palestinian Authority pointedly said “no” to Netanyahu’s “offer” of a partial extension of the “settlement freeze” in exchange for the Palestinians recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. The Palestinians recognizing Israel as such would effectively sign away the Palestinian right of return and relegate once and for all Palestinian citizens of Israel to institutionalized and official second-class status (which is the case already.)
As opposed to a settlement freeze, the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish State is an entirely new one. What Netanyahu is essentially saying to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, then, is that, in return for Abbas meeting this new demand, Netanyahu generously offers to partially, temporarily meet one of Israel’s already existing obligations.
Of course the Palestinian Authority has refused this “offer.” Is it really unclear why? Now let’s look at some of the headlines:
The Washington Post: “Israeli prime minister offers conditional settlements freeze”
Associated Press: “Israeli PM offers conditional settlements freeze”
Ha’aretz: “Netanyahu pleads to save talks as Palestinians threaten walkout”
Jerusalem Post: “PA quashes PM’s offer for renewed building freeze”
And thus, magically, the Palestinians have threatened the talks by rejecting yet another generous Israeli offer.
Here’s some more headlines on that theme:
You get the picture. Israel is now essentially saying: we will partially obey international law for 60 days (and then go back to violating it), as long as you sign away basic human rights–refugees and their descendants returning to homes they were expelled from and equality for all–forever. And media, both in the U.S., in Israel and around the world, are adopting Israel’s framing of the issue.
The media narrative of Israeli generosity and Palestinian rejectionism is an old one that was prominently displayed in the aftermath of the collapsed Camp David peace talks in 2000.
Seth Ackerman, writing for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting’s Extra! magazine in July/August 2002, documented the U.S. media’s telling of the Camp David story in an excellent article:
The seemingly endless volleys of attack and retaliation in the Middle East leave many people wondering why the two sides can’t reach an agreement. The answer is simple, according to numerous commentators: At the Camp David meeting in July 2000, Israel “offered extraordinary concessions” (Michael Kelly, Washington Post, 3/13/02), “far-reaching concessions” (Boston Globe, 12/30/01), “unprecedented concessions” (E.J. Dionne, Washington Post, 12/4/01). Israel’s “generous peace terms” (L.A. Times editorial, 3/15/02) constituted “the most far-reaching offer ever” (Chicago Tribune editorial, 6/6/01) to create a Palestinian state. In short, Camp David was “an unprecedented concession” to the Palestinians (Time, 12/25/00).
But due to “Arafat’s recalcitrance” (L.A. Times editorial, 4/9/02) and “Palestinian rejectionism” (Mortimer Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report, 3/22/02), “Arafat walked away from generous Israeli peacemaking proposals without even making a counteroffer” (Salon, 3/8/01). Yes, Arafat “walked away without making a counteroffer” (Samuel G. Freedman, USA Today, 6/18/01). Israel “offered peace terms more generous than ever before and Arafat did not even make a counteroffer” (Chicago Sun-Times editorial, 11/10/00). In case the point isn’t clear: “At Camp David, Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians an astonishingly generous peace with dignity and statehood. Arafat not only turned it down, he refused to make a counteroffer!” (Charles Krauthammer, Seattle Times, 10/16/00).
This account is one of the most tenacious myths of the conflict. Its implications are obvious: There is nothing Israel can do to make peace with its Palestinian neighbors. The Israeli army’s increasingly deadly attacks, in this version, can be seen purely as self-defense against Palestinian aggression that is motivated by little more than blind hatred.
As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
It has been ten years since 13 Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by the Israeli police force during nonviolent demonstrations at the outset of the second Palestinian intifada.
And while the victims’ families haven’t stopped demanding accountability and justice for their loved ones, a frightening realization is taking shape: in today’s Israel, what happened in October 2000 could easily happen again, if not worse.
“After this, everything is possible. The worst happened and after that it can only be worse,” said Mohammad Zeidan, the General Director of The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA), based in Nazareth.
“There are a million reasons for an explosion concerning the racism and discrimination against the Palestinian minority [in Israel]. It just needs a small spark. And if that happens, we feel that the general political environment is worse than it used to be in 2000. It will be much worse than in 2000,” Zeidan said.
Unarmed demonstrators killed
At the end of September 2000, months before he was elected Israel’s prime minister, Ariel Sharon made his infamous visit to occupied East Jerusalem’s Haram al-Sharif, accompanied on all sides by Israeli security forces. This inflammatory move sparked the already-growing unrest in the occupied West Bank, where Palestinians took to the streets in what became the start of the second Palestinian intifada.
Days later, on 1 October 2000, the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens in Israel announced a general strike and mass demonstrations were organized in many Arab towns inside Israel to show support for the Palestinians in the occupied territories. These protests were met with extreme violence on the part of the Israeli police force. Rubber-coated steel bullets, live ammunition and tear gas were used unsparingly on the demonstrators, while Israeli snipers were also set up in various cities.
Three young men — Mohammed Ahmed Jabareen (23), Ahmed Ibrahim Siyyam Jabareen (18) and Rami Khatem Ghara (21) — were killed on that first day of demonstrations.
As a result of these killings, the High Follow-Up Committee extended the strike, and demonstrations continued. These too were met with violent police repression, and over the course of eight days, a total of 13 Palestinian citizens of Israel, between the ages of 17 and 42, had been killed. A Palestinian resident of the occupied Gaza Strip was also killed.
“The general feeling was that all the red lines were broken [in October 2000] and that the deterioration was very fast. The very scary part of this was that at the official level of the Jewish majority there wasn’t any kind of reaction to stop the deterioration and the killings that were happening in the streets,” Zeidan said.
Thousands of Palestinians were injured and hundreds were subsequently detained or arrested in relation to the events that took place in October 2000.
A month later, in November 2000, the Israeli government set up a fact-finding team, the Or Commission, to look into what happened. Its findings were released in September 2003; the Or Commission found that the Israeli police illegally used rubber-coated bullets, live ammunition and snipers to disperse demonstrators, refuted the police’s claim that it had acted in self-defense and recommended that criminal investigations be opened for each of the deaths.
Two years later, in September 2005, the Ministry of Justice’s Police Investigations Department, known as Mahash, released its own report, stating that it wouldn’t indict any Israeli police officer in relation to the violence.
This decision was met with gross indignation on the part of Palestinian citizens of Israel and faced large-scale public criticism.
As a result, then-Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz launched his own investigation into Mahash’s decision, and in January 2008, Mazuz endorsed Mahash’s position that there was no reason to convict members of the Israeli police, who he argued had acted in self-defense against the demonstrators.
“[The Attorney General] closed the file on the argument that the Arab demonstrators almost used arms and they closed streets, and that in this situation, the police felt that they were in danger. In fact, he blamed the victims,” said Hassan Jabareen, the Founder and Director General of Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and the lead lawyer for the October 2000 victims’ families.
“But if we want to analyze [Mazuz's] rhetoric, we find that he treated the demonstrators not as civilians, but as combatants. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Palestinian civilian or Palestinian combatant, whether you are citizen or resident or non-resident, your ethnicity is the matter. The Attorney General treats them [Palestinians] as enemies,” Jabareen said.
“It shows that the impunity here is very, very strong for the police.”
A deteriorating situation
In an April 2001 report looking into the behavior of Israeli police officers during the violence, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) described Israel’s law enforcement systems as being “tainted by institutionalized racism.”
“During the events of September-October 2000, this was reflected in ugly and widespread manifestations of violence and humiliation. Yet this racism is also reflected in less overt ways in legislation, regulations and procedures that effectively discriminate against these citizens,” the report, titled “Racism, Violence and Humiliation,” stated.
The report added, “Official spokespeople for the State of Israel often describe the country as ‘the only democracy in the Middle East,’ and as a member of the family of progressive and enlightened nations. The behavior of agents of the state — security force personnel and other authorities — towards its Palestinian citizens threatens to render such declarations hollow and meaningless.”
Indeed, according to Hassan Jabareen, the situation for Palestinian citizens of Israel is getting worse by the day.
“They are facing, more than in any other situation, direct racist policy and this racist policy justifies using violence against them. It seems that the situation is going towards escalation,” Jabareen said.
Mohammad Zeidan agreed, explaining that recent proposals and laws passed by the Israeli Knesset signal increasing hostility towards the country’s Palestinian minority, which makes up nearly twenty percent of the Israeli population.
“We see that the whole notion of a Jewish state is being legalized in different laws and proposals, and that creates an environment that delegitimizes our existence as citizens. This environment is the right environment for such attacks and such violence again the Palestinian minority,” Zeidan said.
He added, “Without international actual action towards the situation, nothing will be moving in Israel. I think the situation will be deteriorating more and more and that it will be much harder to speak about solutions in the future.”
Currently, Adalah is appealing to Israel’s new Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, to re-open investigations into the October 2000 killings.
More specifically, Adalah is asking Weinstein to look into the evidence collected against police officers involved in the killings, as well as to examine the work and procedures used by the Mahash and former Attorney General Menachem Mazuz during their separate investigations into what happened ten years ago.
“The families will continue to struggle,” said Hassan Jabareen. “Our demand today from the new Attorney General is to open the file and renew the criminal investigation. This is our demand right now.”
Anyone that has studied the various ‘Alternatives’ to the US-managed ‘peace process’ that were put forward to the Arab League by Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, on 8 October 2010, has likely been able to piece together four different Alternatives that were proposed, and their likely chronology:
(1) The PA will ask the US to unilaterally recognize the ‘State of Palestine’;
(2) The Arab League will petition United Nations Member States to recognize a Palestinian State, via a new UN resolution calling for such recognition from all UN Members;
(3) The Arab League will take action at the UN to have the occupied Palestinian Territories (oPTs) placed under direct UN custody;
(4) Finally, the PA will be dissolved – following the resignation of Abbas – and the oPTs will consequently fall back under full Israeli sovereignty. At that point in time, it is hoped that Israel will be regarded as an apartheid state, and that a global movement for ‘one-man, one-vote’ shall then presumably commence to bring about full Palestinian civil rights.
The Arab League has given the US one month to force a new settlement freeze/slowdown upon Israel – the apparent logic being that if Israel concedes a partial 8-week settlement freeze applying only to the West Bank, it might also be willing to hand back East Jerusalem and to facilitate the Palestinian ‘Right of Return’ (both of which are Palestinian demands for any final status agreement) – after which time the League is set to discuss and finally select from Abbas’ four Alternatives to the US-orchestrated process.
It seems appropriate to give some consideration to each of Abbas’ four proposed Alternatives at this moment. The starting point in any such consideration must be the Palestinian National Council ‘Declaration of Independence’, of 15 November 1988. In this Declaration, the PNC called for: “An endeavour to place the occupied Palestinian territories, including Arab Jerusalem, under United Nations supervision for a limited period, in order to protect our people and to provide an atmosphere conducive to … the attainment of a comprehensive political settlement”. The ultimate purpose of such UN supervision was to have been “to enable the Palestinian State to exercise its effective authority over those territories”; a ‘Palestinian State’ the PNC had just declared.
When considering Alternative #1 mooted by Abbas, it should probably be remembered that the US voted against UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution A/RES/43/177, of 15 December 1988, which “Acknowledges the proclamation of the State of Palestine by the Palestine National Council on 15 November 1988”, and “Affirms the need to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their sovereignty over their territory occupied since 1967” – the US and Israel were in fact the only two UN Members to vote against this UNGA resolution. Likewise, according to the US legal expert that advised upon the PNC Declaration, Francis Boyle, some months after that November 1988 Declaration, “the PLO ratified the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 on behalf of the state of Palestine … [and] transmitted its instrument of ratification to the government of Switzerland, which is the official depository for the Geneva Conventions. Yet, because of massive overt pressure mounted by the United States government, the Swiss government did not formally accept the PLO’s instrument of ratification.” So, not only did the US government not support the Palestinian declaration of statehood of 1988, it aggressively sabotaged it.
It is a little known fact that within five years of the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence, more than 114 states had recognized the newly declared Palestinian State; no more than 93 states having had diplomatic relations with Israel at that time. Apparently, there is no need to spend any more time analysing Abbas’ Alternative #2. It seems that who recognizes your state is far more important than the number that recognize it, and US recognition of a Palestinian State without Israel’s blessing is nothing but a pipe-dream.
It can be seen from the text of the 1988 ‘Declaration of Independence’ that the Palestinian representatives have in fact already called for: “An endeavour to place the occupied Palestinian territories [oPTs], including Arab Jerusalem, under United Nations supervision”. Therefore, if the US and Israel won’t support Alternative #3, history tells us that there is no point even discussing it. Which UN Member is willing to airlift its soldiers into the oPTs in order to implement a UNGA resolution placing those territories under UN authority, without the full co-operation of Israel and the US? Israel-US aside, is Hamas likely to accept the imposition of UN administration upon the Gaza strip, owing to a PA decree announced from the occupied West Bank?
Now for Alternative #4: Abbas resigns, the PA is dissolved, and the Palestinian Territories fall under immediate and complete Israeli sovereignty (it should be remembered that Gaza is still occupied by Israel, under the terms of international law). It seems clear from media reports that Abbas has already informed US negotiators that he will resign if the current round of US-staged ‘peace talks’ fail; something that is assured if a new Israeli West Bank settlement building slowdown is not announced within the coming weeks. Given that the dissolution of the PA that is to follow has been threatened for many years now, this threat also seems entirely credible; particularly within the current context. At that moment, it is hoped that ‘the Palestinian problem’ would become a global problem. Recent moves in South Africa to endorse an academic boycott of Israel suggest that this might not be an entirely naïve Alternative, if left with no others. However, the main question that ought to be asked is how long would the ensuing global campaign for ‘one-man, one-vote’ take to bring about full Palestinian civil rights within historic Palestine? 10 years? 20? Why not longer? What is to stop Israel from a ‘unilateral withdrawal’ from all of those (arid/Arab) sections of the West Bank that it does not wish to call home? Likewise, this approach ignores the fact that Israel is very much in control of the demographic equation within historic Palestine; unlike the situation that had existed in apartheid South Africa. Should Israel make a special effort to bring in/grant citizenship (and voting rights) to an unprecedented number of (Jewish) migrants, when would the Palestinians actually achieve their rights under a ‘one-man, one-vote’ approach; something that is clearly intended to play into the favour of Palestinian demographics over the coming decades, though need not?
Fortunately for those sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, there is an Alternative #5 that was not suggested to the Arab League: the ‘No-State Alternative’. Under this solution, historic Palestine would be internationalized in its entirety – meaning no ‘State of Palestine’, and no longer any ‘State of Israel’ – and the UN would become immediately responsible for the administration of the newly internationalized territory. Unlike the other four ‘Alternatives’ just discussed, Alternative #5 comes with a simple and realistic implementation plan:
(1) The Arab League pushes forcefully for the UN General Assembly to revoke UNGA resolution 181 – the ‘partition resolution’ – which provided the legal (and moral) basis for the establishment of the State of Israel, through the partition of historic Palestine – a revocation that the US (or any of the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council) could not veto.
It is widely agreed by legal experts that UNGA resolution 181 is fundamental to the State of Israel’s continued legitimacy under international law.
(2) The UNGA revokes operative paragraph 1 of its resolution 273, which decided that “Israel is a peace-loving State”; UN membership only being available to “peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the … Charter”.
The UN Charter declares that membership of the UN is open to “peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations”. It is the UNGA (not the UNSC) that is tasked with making this “judgment”; membership in the UN being “effected by a decision of the General Assembly”. Operative paragraph 1 of UNGA resolution 273 formally decided that “Israel is a peace-loving State which accepts the obligations contained in the Charter and is able and willing to carry out those obligations”; paragraph 2 going on “to admit Israel to membership in the United Nations”. The UNGA should revoke operative paragraph 1 of its resolution 273 immediately, and should ask the International Court of Justice for an Advisory Opinion on the legal consequences for Israel’s ongoing participation in the UN.
(3) The UNGA adopts a new resolution authorizing and calling for wide ranging (excluding cultural) sanctions against Israel, pouring life into the already vibrant BDS/sanctions movement initiated by the Palestinians in 2005.
For anyone wishing to argue that the UNGA does not have the power to authorize sanctions, that only the UN Security Council (UNSC) can, those people need only study UNGA resolution A/RES/ES-8/2, of 14 September 1981, which both called for and authorized “all States, in view of the threat to international peace and security posed by South Africa, to impose against that country comprehensive mandatory sanctions” – the US had blocked a similar resolution by the UNSC at the time with its (fictitious) ‘veto power’, in support of an ally the international community could no longer tolerate. This UNGA resolution was fundamental to the sanctions campaign that brought about the end of apartheid in Africa – as well as the subsequent dismantlement of the only nuclear weapons arsenal on that Continent (weapons Israel had helped the regime to build).
(4) The Arab League pressures the European Union to cancel the ‘EU-Israel Association Agreement’, which according to Article 2 of that same Agreement, is “based on respect for human rights and democratic principles”.
It should not be forgotten that the European Union is Israel’s largest trading partner, absorbing over 25 percent of Israel’s exports and supplying it with more than 40 percent of its imports; all upon the basis of preferential trading privileges, owing to the aforementioned Agreement. Additionally, some comfort should be taken in the knowledge that in April 2002, the European Parliament – after condemning an Israeli military escalation in the Palestinian Territories that it said “violates international and humanitarian law” – voted to suspend the Association Agreement, but that this move was blocked at the time by Britain, Germany and the Netherlands (those three members demonstrating neither “respect for human rights”, nor “respect for … democratic principles”).
(5) The Arab League challenges the legality of US aid to Israel, in US courts, and under US law.
It can be easily argued that US aid to Israel violates the US Constitution, as it appears to violate the First Amendment. The US Supreme Court decided in its majority opinion delivered in Everson v. Board of Education (1947), that: “The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: … Neither [a state nor the Federal Government] can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another… No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion.” What if that Institution were called the ‘Jewish and democratic state’ of Israel? What if the form that Institution adopted “to teach or practice religion” was labelled the ‘nation-state of the Jewish people’?
(6) The UNGA votes on and adopts a ‘unification resolution’, calling on the UN Trusteeship Council (which was slated for abolition in 2005, despite its anti-colonization mandate) to draw up a ‘Trusteeship Agreement’ for the new ‘UN Trust Territory of the Levant’, encompassing the entirety of historic Palestine.
I outlined the details of this ‘Trust Territory of the Levant’ in my earlier Article, Two-State Chimera, No-State Solution, of 24 May 2007.
Instead of immediately ruling out Alternative #5 – despite the absence of any other feasible alternatives – those wishing to advance Palestinian rights might instead ask themselves the following (abridged) questions of Abbas’ Alternatives #3 and #4 (Alternatives #1 and #2 having already been discounted), which entail either UN or Israeli administration of the occupied Palestinian West Bank:
(1) How would the UN prevent the ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements onto Palestinian lands? The UN has kept a register of the dispossession of Palestinian lands and homes since 1948. How has that helped the Palestinian people?
We needn’t spend any time discussing what Israel would do to stop the expansion of Israeli settlements onto Palestinian lands.
(2) Would the more than 5 million Palestinian refugees see their ‘Right of Return’ fulfilled in the next 10-20 years in the case of a UN-administered West Bank? Will the UN smuggle those refugees in from Jordan, through the Israeli-controlled Jordan Valley? Will it fly them in through Israeli-controlled airspace?
Again, we needn’t bother discussing the fulfilment of the Palestinian Right of Return under an Israeli-administered West Bank.
(3) How would either outcome advance the civil rights of Palestinians living within the State of Israel; so-called ‘Arab-Israelis’? Would they not continue to be discriminated against by a ‘Jewish and [paradoxically] democratic State’?
(4) Will Israel immediately release the thousands of Palestinian prisoners it is holding indefinitely, and without trial, if it suddenly found itself again in control of the West Bank? What if the UN administration in the West Bank politely asked Israel to release them?
(5) Israel already chokes UN deliveries to the Gaza Strip (and attacks UN storage facilities there with illegal weapons-of-war). What if Israel someday also decides to put a UN-administered West Bank “on a diet”? Likewise, will the UN be able to prevent Israel from imposing whatever duties on Palestinian goods that it feels necessary to ‘protect its domestic economy’, if Israel controls the borders of the West Bank?
(6) Would Israel end all torture of Palestinian prisoners if it again reigned-supreme in the West Bank? If the UN ruled the West Bank, would it forcefully arrest any Israelis that it suspected of the torture of Palestinian civilians, thereby bringing such torture to an end?
(7) Would the UN administration in the West Bank immediately begin dismantling the ‘Separation Barrier’ that the UN’s principal court has declared illegal? Would it forcefully engage any agents of the occupation involved in the barrier’s further expansion/encroachment?
(8) How would West Bank access to religious sites in Jerusalem (and in other Israeli-controlled areas such as Hebron and Bethlehem) be facilitated by either outcome?
(9) How would either the UN or Israeli administration of the West Bank facilitate the reunification of the Palestinian nation – of Gaza and the West Bank – a precursor to the fulfilment of the Palestinian ‘Right to National Self-Determination’?
Of the five Alternatives available to the Palestinian leadership, only the No-State Alternative can bring about the fulfilment of all Palestinian rights; whilst also sparing the Israelis their own. Only the No-State Alternative has a realistic plan of implementation. Only the No-State Alternative can be implemented without regard for the objections of either the US, or the erstwhile ‘State of Israel’.
- Cameron Hunt is the author of Pax UNita – A novel solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
NEGEV — The Israeli municipality teams tore down 40 Palestinian homes in the Araqib village in the Negev desert, occupied since 1948, on Wednesday under heavy police protection.
Locals said that the inhabitants appealed for support in face of their ordeal, describing the repeated demolition of their village homes as a reflection of “deep-rooted hatred”.
Israeli police and special forces blocked journalists from entering the village and forced them to park their cars two kilometers away.
Awad Abu Freih, a spokesman for the committee in defense of Araqib, said that the demolition teams “want to establish special plantations for Jews at the expense of the villagers”.
The Israeli municipality teams left the village after leveling it to the ground as a huge bulldozer on its way out destroyed a large placard carrying the name of the village.
It has come to my attention that the Jewish Federation of New Mexico and Hillel at the University of New Mexico are actively trying to censor my lecture at the University of New Mexico next month by writing to departments and professors who may co-sponsor it as they co-sponsor countless other educational events on campus. Below is a copy of a letter that has been sent to departments, signed by Sam Sokolove, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico and Sara Koplik, Director of Hillel at the University of New Mexico.
Typically, they throw in everything to try to defame and tar me: Hamas, Hizbullah, anti-Semitism, making Jewish students feel uncomfortable — all the usual defamatory silencing tactics to try to suppress debate and discussion about Israel’s apartheid and the alternatives that respect everyone. As they surely know, I have been an unflagging advocate of full equality and human rights for all Palestinians and Israeli Jews and others living in historic Palestine, and am guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Why do they not want students at the University of New Mexico to hear this message?
Instead of trying to censor my speech and intimidate departments from co-sponsoring it with the most lurid, false and manipulative charges, I invite them to attend and to urge students to attend and listen and ask me any questions they want.
It has come to our attention that the XXXXXXXXXX Department at UNM is co-presenting an appearance by Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada at the University of New Mexico campus on Sunday, November 7th. We are deeply troubled by the implications of the XXXXXXXXXX Department lending its support to this presentation.
As you are likely aware, Abunimah is a representative of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a global movement intent on destroying Israel and her credibility in the world. It is an adjunct to what Hamas and Hezbollah are doing frontally, and according to the Anti-Defamation League, “BDS is about the three ‘D’s: “Demonization, Deligitimization, and applying a Double Standard.”
This movement is disinterested in peace, the exchange of ideas or legitimate dialogue. Its tactics deny Israel’s cultural products; deny Israel’s emissaries the right to be heard; delegitimize the Jewish historical ties to Israel; and portray Zionism not as an expression of peoplehood, but as an extension of European colonization.
This is all anti-Semitism in its clearest, most noxious form.
Whatever your personal views are on this matter, you should be aware of two things:
- The XXXXXXXXXXX Department’s support of this speaker sends a tacit message of support for the anti-Semitic message of BDS;
- The department’s endorsement sends a chilling message to the Jewish students and faculty of this public institution that the legitimacy of Israel within your department is questioned.
For those who care deeply about true peace, this is not an issue of “equal time” or “balance” on behalf of the pro-Israel perspective. Nor do we oppose Abunimah’s right to speak. Rather, we oppose the patina of respectability that your sponsorship provides to the message of demonizing The Other that is part and parcel of the BDS movement.
We ask in the strongest terms that you reconsider your department’s presentation of Ali Abunimah.
Jewish Federation of New Mexico
Sara Koplik, PhD.
Hillel at the University of New Mexico
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Far right Israeli Knesset member Michael Ben-Ari called for the death penalty to be placed against “everyone who throws stones or endangers the lives of settlers.”
The two Arab members of Knesset Talab Al Sane and Ahmed Al Tibi described Ben-Ari as an “extremist fascist”. The former responded by accusing them of “using children to kill”.
This came during an urgent meeting that was convened to deliberate the incident of the settler chief in east Jerusalem David Bari who ran over and seriously injured two boys after they allegedly threw stones at his vehicle.
“This is not the first time Arab citizens in Silwan have used children in dangerous circumstances, and send them to confront Jewish citizens who are passing by,” said MK Danny Damon
Ben-Ari previously said that 500 Palestinians should be killed against every one Jew, and not six to one as is the case today, claiming that this is the only way to stop “Palestinian terrorism”.
Israel’s Internal Security minister Yitzhak Aharonovich has instructed the Jerusalem police force to launch a wide-ranging arrest campaign in the eastern areas of the city in an effort to reduce the phenomenon of stone-throwing at Jewish settlers in the regions.
Aharonovich said while touring the Jerusalem districts of Issawiya and Silwan Tuesday morning: “Dozens of stone throwers will be arrested if necessary in order to restore calm and order.”
The statement was made in the wake of dozens of youngsters who confronted the provocative tour by throwing stones at the cars of right-wingers from the Israeli Knesset.
Just yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu demanded that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as a Jewish state in exchange for Israeli compliance with international law. Shortly after, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley illuminated the United State’s official position on the proposal, explaining, “We recognize the special nature of the Israeli State. It is a state for the Jewish people.” While President Obama’s views on the institutionalization of Israel’s ethnic character are of no surprise, such an outright endorsement of Netanyahu’s insult to the PA stands in stark contrast with the vision of the United States as impartial mediator the American public has been spoon-fed over the past few months.
If the admission of offering military, financial and political concessions in exchange for a partial extension of the so-called settlement “freeze” hadn’t done enough to destroy the Obama Administration’s credibility in the peace process, this was surely the final blow. How could any casual observer continue to believe Obama had the interests of both parties at heart while simultaneously lauding Netanyahu’s inanity as even remotely legitimate?
Israel’s settlement construction is illegal under international law. The United Nations General Assembly, United Nations Security Council and International Court of Justice all concur: Settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem must immediately halt and reverse, along with construction of the partition wall. Just as chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said, Israel’s Jewish character has no bearing the illegal status of Israel’s settlements. Netanyahu’s condition is a wanton distraction.
The proposal also has nothing to do with Israel’s right to exist as a nation. Far from being existentially threatened, Israel has enjoyed full recognition of its sovereignty by Fatah and the PA for the past 17 years. The issue lies in Israel’s insistence that its statehood be defined on ethno-religious terms. Yet somehow the implications of this definition is utterly lost on Obama. Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunimah illustrates the point well in two of his recent tweets:
Would Obama align himself with the moral argument underpinning either of these assertions? One would hope not. Then why is it somehow permissible to endorse the same position when it comes to Israel? And how can his administration support linking the PA’s acceptance of such assertions to Israel’s admittedly partial and temporary compliance with standards of international law?
What’s more, who could defend Obama as a worthy proponent of peace while he cheers Netanyahu on in his quest to force Abbas into selling out Israel’s Arabs, further codifying their second-class status, while at the same time attempting to settle the question of Palestinian refugees’ Right of Return prima facie?
To summarize, if the PA were to accept such a deal, Israel would have achieved the following:
- Further military, financial and political support from the United States;
- Formal permission from the PA to continue subjugating Israeli Arabs;
- And nullification of the Right of Return for Palestinian Refugees of the Nakba
The PA would achieve the following:
- A temporary “freeze”of settlement construction on what is to become a Palestinian state if talks succeed, one that would presumably not include freezing construction in East Jerusalem (in contravention of international law), nor the construction of current projects including the thousands that began just a few weeks ago, nor suspending the confiscation of Palestinian property to make room for further construction, just as the last “freeze”did not include these things
The United State’s endorsement of such an insulting proposal makes clear Obama’s complete disregard for Palestinian interests, and his commitment to repeating the mistakes of his predecessors. The authors of The Israel Lobby explain, “As Aaron David Miller, an adviser to six different secretaries of state on Middle East and Arab-Israeli affairs and another key player in the Clinton administration’s peace effort, put it during a 2005 postmortem on the failed negotiations: ‘Far too often, we functioned…as Israel’s lawyer'” (Mearsheimer and Walt 48). How exactly has Obama done anything to improve upon this characterization?
Ma’an news has recorded photographic evidence of the settlers attacking the Palestinians in the olive groves in Boreen
Palestinian sources reported, on Wednesday, that settlers have attacked the Palestinians olive groves in Boreen village, in the southern part of Nablus. The attack comes at the beginning of this year’s olive harvest.
One Palestinian farmer stated that more than fifty settlers from Aitsear settlement in the southern part of Nablus, attacked and hit him with stones, resulting in wounds to his back, in an attack attempting to steal his horse. He added that they stole two bags of olive and many tools from his land.
Ghassan Doughlass, a Palestinian official in charge of settlement activity in the North of the West Bank, stated that it is not the first time that settlers attack the Palestinian olive orchard.
He noted that many attacks have occurred in the villages surrounding Nablus, such as Yanon, Amaten, Orta and Far’ta, especially after an Israeli rabbi had made an advisory opinion that allows settlers to steal olives. Doughlass added that settlers had cut the trees after they picked all the olives.
The olive harvest is an important season for the Palestinians, with the harvest producing significant quantities of foodstuff for the Palestinian peoples and being the mainstay of the West Bank’s economy.