By Gilad Atzmon | January 3, 2009
Communicating with Israelis may leave one bewildered. Even now when the Israeli Air Force is practicing murder in broad daylight of hundreds of civilians, elderly persons, women and children, the Israeli people manage to convince themselves that they are the real victims in this violent saga.
Those who are familiar intimately with Israeli people realise that they are completely uninformed about the roots of the conflict that dominates their lives. Rather often Israelis manage to come up with some bizarre arguments that may make a lot of sense within the Israeli discourse, yet make no sense whatsoever outside of the Jewish street. Such an argument goes as follows: ‘those Palestinians, why do they insist upon living on our land (Israel), why can’t they just settle in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon or any other Arab country?’ Another Hebraic pearl of wisdom sounds like this: ‘what is wrong with these Palestinians? We gave them water, electricity, education and all they do is try to throw us to the sea’.
Astonishingly enough, the Israelis even within the so-called ‘left’ and even the educated ‘left’ fail to understand who the Palestinians are, where they come from and what they stand for. They fail to grasp that for the Palestinians, Palestine is home. Miraculously, the Israelis manage to fail to grasp that Israel had been erected at the expense of the Palestinian people, on Palestinian land, on Palestinian villages, towns, fields and orchards. The Israelis do not realise that Palestinians in Gaza and in refugee camps in the region are actually dispossessed people from Ber Shive, Yafo, Tel Kabir, Shekh Munis, Lod, Haifa, Jerusalem and many more towns and villages. If you wonder how come the Israelis don’t know their history, the answer is pretty simple, they have never been told. The circumstances that led to the Israeli Palestinian conflict are well hidden within their culture. Traces of pre-1948 Palestinian civilisation on the land had been wiped out. Not only the Nakba, the 1948 ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians, is not part of the Israeli curriculum, it is not even mentioned or discussed in any Israeli official or academic forum.
In the very centre of almost every Israeli town one can a find a 1948 memorial statue displaying a very bizarre, almost abstract, pipe work. The plumbing feature is called Davidka and it is actually a 1948 Israeli mortar cannon. Interestingly enough, the Davidka was an extremely ineffective weapon. Its shells wouldn’t reach more than 300 meters and would cause very limited damage. Though the Davidika would cause just minimal harm, it produced a lot of noise. According to the Israeli official historical narrative, the Arabs i.e., Palestinians, simply ran away for their lives once they heard the Davidka from afar. According to the Israeli narrative, the Jews i.e., ‘new Israelis’ did a bit of fireworks and the ‘Arab cowards’ just ran off like idiots. In the Israeli official narrative there is no mention of the many orchestrated massacres conducted by the young IDF and the paramilitary units that preceded it. There is no mention also of the racist laws that stop Palestinians from returning to their homes and lands.
The meaning of the above is pretty simple. Israelis are totally unfamiliar with the Palestinian cause. Hence, they can only interpret the Palestinian struggle as a murderous irrational lunacy. Within the Israeli Judeo- centric solipsistic universe, the Israeli is an innocent victim and the Palestinian is no less than a savage murderer.
This grave situation that leaves the Israeli in the dark regarding his past demolishes any possibility of future reconciliation. Since the Israeli lacks the minimal comprehension of the conflict, he cannot contemplate any possible resolution except extermination or cleansing of the ‘enemy’. All the Israeli is entitled to know are various phantasmic narratives of Jewish suffering. Palestinian pain is completely foreign to his ears. ‘Palestinian right of return’ sounds to him like an amusing idea. Even the most advanced ‘Israeli humanists’ are not ready to share the land with its indigenous inhabitants. This doesn’t leave the Palestinians with many options but to liberate themselves against all odds. Clearly, there is no partner for peace on the Israel side.
This week we all learned more about the ballistic capability of Hamas. Evidently, Hamas was rather restrained with Israel for more than a long while. It refrained from escalating the conflict to the whole of southern Israel. It occurred to me that the barrages of Qassams that have been landing sporadically on Sderot and Ashkelon were actually nothing but a message from the imprisoned Palestinians. First it was a message to the stolen land, homes fields and orchards: ‘Our beloved soil, we didn’t forget, we are still here fighting for you, sooner rather than later, we will come back, we will start again where we had stopped’. But it was also a clear message to the Israelis. ‘You out there, in Sderot, Beer Sheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Tel Aviv and Haifa, whether you realise it or not, you are actually living on our stolen land. You better start to pack because your time is running out, you have exhausted our patience. We, the Palestinian people, have nothing to lose anymore’.
Let’s face it, realistically the situation in Israel is rather grave. Two years ago it was Hezbollah rockets that pounded northern Israel. This week the Hamas proved beyond doubt that it is capable of serving the South of Israel with some cocktail of ballistic vengeance. Both in the case of the Hezbollah and the case of the Hamas, Israel was left with no military answer. It can no doubt kill civilians but it fails to stop the rocket barrage. The IDF lacks the means of protecting Israel unless covering Israel with a solid concrete roof is a viable solution. At the end of the day, they might be planning just that (link).
But this is far from the end of the story. In fact it is just the beginning. Every Middle East expert knows that Hamas can seize control of the West Bank within hours. In fact, PA and Fatah control in the West Bank is maintained by the IDF. Once Hamas takes the West Bank, the biggest Israeli population centre will be left to the mercy of Hamas. For those who fail to see, this would be the end of Jewish Israel. It may happen later today, it may happen in three months or in five years, it isn’t a matter of ‘if’ but rather a matter of ‘when’. By that time, the whole of Israel will be within firing range of Hamas and Hezbollah, Israeli society will collapse, its economy will be ruined. The price of a detached villa in Northern Tel Aviv would equal a shed in Kiryat Shmone or Sderot. By the time a single rocket hits Tel Aviv, the Zionist dream will be over.
The IDF generals know it, the Israeli leaders know it. This is why they stepped up the war against the Palestinians into extermination. The Israelis do not plan upon invading Gaza. They have lost nothing there. All they want is to finish the Nakba. They drop bombs on Palestinians in order to wipe them out. They want the Palestinians out of the region. It is obviously not going to work, Palestinians will stay. Not only they will they stay, their day of return to their land is coming closer as Israel has been exploiting its deadliest tactics.
This is exactly where Israeli escapism comes into play. Israel has passed the ‘point of no return’. Its doomed fate is deeply engraved in each bomb it drops on Palestinian civilians. There is nothing Israel can do to save itself. There is no exit strategy. It can’t negotiate its way out because neither the Israelis nor their leadership understand the elementary parameters involved in the conflict. Israel lacks the military power to conclude the battle. It may manage to kill Palestinian grassroots leaders, it has been doing it for years, yet Palestinian resistance and persistence is growing fierce rather than weakening. As an IDF intelligence general predicted already at the first Intifada. ‘In order to win, all Palestinians have to do is to survive’. They survive and they are indeed winning.
Israeli leaders understand it all. Israel has already tried everything, unilateral withdrawal, starvation and now extermination. It thought to evade the demographic danger by shrinking into an intimate cosy Jewish ghetto. Nothing worked. It is Palestinian persistence in the shape of Hamas politics that defines the future of the region.
All that is left to Israelis is to cling to their blindness and escapism to evade their devastating grave fate that has become immanent already. All along their way down, the Israelis will sing their familiar various victim anthems. Being imbued in a self-centred supremacist reality, they will be utterly involved in their own pain yet completely blind to the pain they inflict on others. Uniquely enough, the Israelis are operating as a unified collective when dropping bombs on others, yet, once being slightly hurt, they all manage to become monads of vulnerable innocence. It is this discrepancy between the self-image and the way they are seen by the rest of us which turns the Israeli into a monstrous exterminator. It is this discrepancy that stops Israelis from grasping their own history, it is that discrepancy that stops them from comprehending the repeated numerous attempts to destroy their State. It is that discrepancy that stops Israelis from understanding the meaning of the Shoah so can they prevent the next one. It is this discrepancy that stops Israelis from being part of humanity.
Once again Jews will have to wander into an unknown fate. To a certain extent, I myself have started my journey a while ago.
 Jews only law of return- http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/1950_1959/Law%20of%20Return%205710-1950
Palestine Information Center – December 5, 2013
GAZA — Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said that any conciliatory agreement resulting from the current negotiations between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the occupation is non-binding for the Palestinian people.
Zahhar made his remarks during a special session held on Wednesday by the Palestinian legislative council to discuss the report that was submitted by its political committee on the negotiations between the PA and the Israeli occupation regime.
Zahhar called for forming a national front opposing the peace negotiations with the occupation and addressing their detrimental impacts on Palestinian rights and constants.
“The Palestinian negotiators are illegitimate, they neither represent the national consensus nor have the majority that allows them to speak on behalf the Palestinian people,” the Hamas official stated.
He affirmed that the Fatah faction took the Palestinian cause to a dangerous level in its negotiations with the Israeli occupation and waived many Palestinian rights, noting that the results of the negotiations had been settled in advance by the US sponsor in favor of the occupation.
Fatah chose to obey America in order to protect its presence as a representative of the people and insure financial support, he stressed.
Continuation of negotiation condemned
Dr. Ismail Radwan, Minister of Religious Affairs in Gaza, condemned the continuation of negotiation between Israeli and Palestinian authorities despite the national consensus on its rejection.
During his participation in a workshop concerning the current Palestinian situation, Radwan said that the Palestinian situation is “painful” in light the continued detention of thousands of Palestinian behind Israeli bars, escalated Judaization schemes, and security coordination between Israeli and Palestinian forces, in addition to the Islamic nations preoccupation with their internal problems.
Radwan praised the workshop, which contained participants from all Palestinian political parties, considering it a contribution to national reconciliation.
Radwan pointed to the Israeli settlers’ escalated break-ins into al-Aqsa mosque under Israeli forces’ protection in total disregard of Muslims’ feelings and freedom of religion.
He said that the continued Israeli violations in al-Aqsa Mosque aim at imposing a new fait accompli in al-Aqsa Mosque and toward building their alleged Temple on its ruins, stressing that what is happening to Jerusalem is a shame on leaders of the Islamic nations.
He praised the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem who continue to defend al-Aqsa Mosque.
Radwan said that the unfair Israeli siege on Gaza aims at undermining Palestinian resistance, praising Gazan people’s steadfastness.
Radwan called on the Fatah movement to implement Doha and Cairo agreements that stipulate the formation of a national unity government and achieving national reconciliation.
Commenting on a statement by one of the participants, Radwan stressed that resistance is a “red line”, adding that it is a strategic option for the Palestinian people.
Freedom is guaranteed to all Palestinian people under the rule of law, he finally said in response to a question by one of the participants.
- Israeli forces detain three Palestinians trying to enter Al-Aqsa (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Israeli Extremists Invade Yards Of The Al-Aqsa Mosque (imemc.org)
The American Studies Association, a 60-year old US academic organization with 5,000 members, passed a resolution on Wednesday committing to the boycott movement against Israel.
Citing its commitment to “the pursuit of social justice” and to “the struggle against all forms of racism,” the ASA revealed in a statement published on its website that it had voted to support the academic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
“The American Studies Association endorses and will honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions,” the statement read.
“The ASA supports the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking about Israel-Palestine and in support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.”
ASA noted the “significant role” played by the United States “in enabling the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the expansion of illegal settlements and the [apartheid] Wall in violation of international law, as well as in supporting the systematic discrimination against Palestinians, which has had documented devastating impact on the overall well-being, the exercise of political and human rights, the freedom of movement, and the educational opportunities of Palestinians.”
The BDS movement has gained traction over the past years, as a growing number of scholars and academic entities have committed to the cause.
More than 950 scholars working in American institutions have endorsed the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
The Association for Asian American Studies became the first US academic organization to officially support the boycott movement in April.
In May, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking withdrew from an Israeli conference, citing his decision to respect the Israel boycott.
David Letwin (Jews for Palestinian Right of Return) interviews Dr. Haidar Eid, Associate Professor, Department of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza Strip, Palestine. Dr. Eid is also a one-state activist and a member of Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).
David Letwin: Many Palestinian solidarity activists in this country put their main efforts into opposing the 1967 occupation and more recently, Israel’s siege of Gaza. But you and other Palestinians have argued that Palestinian refugees’ right to return is at the core of the struggle for justice. Why is this?
Haidar Eid: Zionist dispossession and oppression of Palestinians does not begin with 1967. It goes back to 1948, when more than 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from villages and towns in Palestine, and were deported to neighboring countries: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria ,Gaza and the West Bank to make way for an apartheid “Jewish state.”
Then, in 1967, Israel occupied the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem, which represents the remaining twenty-two percent of historic Palestine.
As a result of this systematic and ongoing ethnic cleansing, fully two-thirds of the Palestinian people are refugees entitled to their right of return to their original homeland, in accordance with United Nations resolution 194. This is the root of the Palestine issue.
Solidarity supporters that only take the cause back to 1967 are ignoring the source of the problem, and reflecting the Zionist Left in Israel, which wants separation of Palestinians from Israeli Jews.
Can this central right of return be realized if there is a Jewish state anywhere in historic Palestine?
No, that is an impossibility. Zionism, by nature, is an exclusionary ideology that doesn’t accept the “Other.” And the “Other,” in Zionist ideology, is the Palestinian — the Arab in the historic land of Palestine. So a Jewish state means the denial of rights to non-Jews. I am from a refugee family, but because I am not born from a Jewish mother, I’m not entitled to citizenship in the state of Israel; I’m not entitled to my right of return.
How does this fit into your analysis of the Two-State versus the One-State Solution?
The two-state solution is a racist solution that calls for a “pure Jewish state”, and a “pure Palestinian state,” both of which would be based on ethno-religious identities. It does not take into account the rights of two-thirds of the Palestinian people. Neither does it take into consideration the national and cultural rights of 1.2 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, who live as second-, if not third-class citizens of the state. This is extremely important.
Furthermore, the Palestinian struggle is not about independence — it is about liberation. Liberation is very different from independence, because our right to self-determination must lead to the right of return and full equality for all inhabitants of the state of Palestine.
The two-state solution is a racist dogma that cannot guarantee all the rights demanded by the 2005 BDS call around which we have a Palestinian consensus: withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Arab lands occupied in 1967; implementation of UN resolution 194, which calls for the right of return of all Palestinian refugees and their descendants; and an end to Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel. I’m sorry that we have solidarity activists who have fallen into the trap of supporting this so-called solution. Would supporters from the United States of America accept a state that officially discriminates against African Americans? Did South African supporters accept the “Bantustan solution”? No, they didn’t! So why accept it for the Palestinians?
And the One-State Solution?
The one-state solution is the only solution through which the Palestinian rights called for by the BDS movement can be achieved. Moreover, it is a very generous compromise from the oppressed colonized to the settler colonialists, offering citizenship in a state with total equality, exactly like what happened in South Africa, where white settlers were offered the same generous compromise by the indigenous population.
This is the 21st century, after all! We are offering a humane, inclusive solution that is not based on ethno-religious identity: a secular state for ALL of its citizens, regardless of religion, ethnicity, gender, etcetera.
If you’re really a supporter of Palestine, you are supposed to support our right to self-determination, which ultimately leads to a secular democratic state throughout all of historic Palestine. Otherwise, you would be supporting a racist solution! I don’t think that genuine support for Palestine excludes Right of Return. If that is the case, then where are the Palestinian refugees supposed to return? To an apartheid state that defines itself in ethno-religious terms? A state that is not their state since it is the state of Jews only?!
In a 2009 interview, BDS leader Omar Barghouti said, “I am completely against bi-nationalism. A secular, democratic state, yes, but not bi-national. There is a big difference.” Do you agree? And what, in your opinion, is the difference?
Yes, I completely agree. A bi-national state by definition is a state made up of two nations. These two nations are historically entitled to the land. But Jews do not constitute a nation. Israeli Jews constitute a settler-colonialist community, not unlike the whites of South Africa or the French in Algeria. Settler colonists are not entitled to self-determination. However, the indigenous people of Palestine, Muslims, Christians and Jews, are all entitled to self-determination and they do constitute a nation.
In fact, bi-nationalism is a Zionist idea since it looks at ALL Jews as a nation that is entitled to the land.
What do you say to people who say, “OK, I agree with what you’re saying. But let’s be honest. Two-states is the only realistic solution, and if you really want to help Palestinians, you should focus on ending the immediate problem of the Occupation and supporting the two-state solution”?
I would say that the one-state solution is more practical/realistic than the two-state solution. South Africa proved that civic democracy for all the inhabitants of South Africa was the way forward; the land of South Africa, according to the Freedom Charter, belongs to ALL those who live on it. That’s a lesson that we need to learn from history.
Israel has shot the two-state solution in the head by creating news facts on the ground: by annexing Jerusalem, having a “Greater Jerusalem,” and by increasing the number of settlers and expanding the existing illegal colonies (all colonies are illegal). In 1993, when the Oslo Accords were signed, the illusion of peace prevailed, unfortunately. People believed that it was possible to have two states: a Palestinian state on twenty-two percent of historic Palestine.
That year, 1993, the number of Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was 193,000. Twenty years later, the number of settlers in the West Bank has risen to 600,000. Israeli settlements — or rather the Jewish-only colonies, since Palestinians are not allowed to live there — have become towns and cities. Which means that Israel is not planning to leave the West Bank at all. And during these twenty years, Israel has erected a monstrous apartheid wall that separates Palestinians from Israelis, and Palestinians from Palestinians.
Israel has also transformed the Gaza Strip into a concentration camp (as much as these two words might disturb some people who claim to have monopoly on victimhood), an open-air prison. There is no communication between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The whole issue is personal for me; it is personal for all Palestinians. For example, my sister lives in Bethlehem, just a one-hour drive from Gaza. But I have not been able to see her for fifteen years. When both our parents died back in 2005, she was not able to come to their funerals. That personal experience tells you about the impossibility of having two-states.
So, just to clarify, you don’t support the one-state solution just because a two-state solution has “failed”; you support it because one-state is the only just solution, is that correct?
Absolutely correct. Even if you implemented the two-state solution — which is an impossibility — it does not fulfill the right of self-determination, which is right of return, equality and freedom. The two-state solution doesn’t do that.
At the 2013 Left Forum in New York, Steven Shalom argued that, while unjust, the “two-state solution” nevertheless paves the way for one democratic state and should be supported on that basis. Do you agree?
No, I do not! Does also think that the Anti-apartheid movement should have accepted the Bantustan solution based on the same logic? I have already made it clear in my previous answers and articles as to why that is a fallacy. A racist solution cannot pave the way to a just solution.
Archbishops Desmund Tutu said that “[they] wanted the full menu of rights.” Why are we expected to cater for less than that? I fail to understand.
Is it presumptuous for Jews and other non-Palestinians to endorse the call for one democratic state?
I strongly believe that all solidarity supporters should heed the call for one-state made by the oppressed Palestinians. They should be principled in their support for human rights and democracy as expressed through the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. Does the two-state solution subscribe to that declaration? No. Then logic and principle demands they should support the call for the solution that does, the solution that calls for civic democracy and equality throughout all of historic Palestine.
After all, activists didn’t feel it was presumptuous to support a single democratic state in South Africa, did they? And when the “president” of Transkei called on the international community to support and recognize his “independent homeland,” – his version of the “two-state solution” — international anti-apartheid activists did not buy that line!
And, by the way, most South Africa anti-apartheid activists who have visited Palestine now support the one-state solution. Some of my South African friends and comrades say it very clearly: “The one-state solution is the only solution, because we can’t support a racist solution.” That’s why even the official South African line of supporting a two-state solution is not that popular amongst South African solidarity supporters of Palestine — not to say even amongst members of the cabinet! They know what racism is all about! The five-state solution in South Africa was the brainchild of the architects of Apartheid: White South Africa on 88 per cent of the land, and four “Independent Homelands”/Bantustans for the natives! In fact, the original plan was to have 11 Bantustans, if four was not enough for you!
The solidarity movement supported the call for civic democracy and a secular democratic state in South Africa, because that was the only solution. There could be no compromise, no negotiations with apartheid. The same thing should apply to the Palestine solidarity movement. Why is that so difficult to understand?!
In a recent interview, Noam Chomsky said that the one-state solution was an “illusion” because it “has no international support.” How do you respond?
Did he also add the that the two-state solution has become a facade, a fantasy in the head of those who believe in fantasies? Didn’t he also argue in his latest piece in Mondoweiss that Israel and the US have killed the two-state solution?
Personally, I feel heart-broken when I see an extremely smart thinker like Chomsky missing the point and deciding to adopt a soft-Zionist position! There is something with people like Chomsky and Finkelstein with whom you tend to agree about everything in the world except on Palestine. That’s why, understandably, some BDS and one-state activists in the US call them PEP (Progressive except on Palestine!)
There is an overwhelming international support for our right to self-determination; and this entails our right of return and equality. How is the two-state solution going to deal with these two internationally sanctioned rights? Chomsky fails to provide an answer, unless he thinks we are not entitled to our right of return and equality! He is smart enough to know that the two-state solution is a racist one. Didn’t he think so about the Bantustans of South Africa?!
You recently said, “At one point in time, the BDS movement will be asked to take that stand” in favor of one democratic state. Why has the BDS campaign refrained from taking this stand so far, and should it do so now?
Every activist knows very by now that the BDS movement is rights-based, rights that are guaranteed for ALL human beings regardless of ethnicity, gender, nationality, religion, etcetera. BDS is guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That is why most, if not all, BDS activists are staunch human rights defenders.
I am, nevertheless, aware of tensions arising from the Boycott National Committee’s lack of a political program and its focus on a rights-based approach. This issue is certainly worthy of discussion within the BNC’s secretariat.
But we also need to take into consideration that the BNC is a coalition with all the compromises coalitions have to make in order to work as a front. That is why the BNC has become the frame of reference for international boycott movements. I believe that a good comparison with the South African experience, within this context, can be made, which shouldn’t overlook the role of the United Democratic Front (UDF) that functioned with representation from the National Congress Party, as well as other political parties and civil society organizations in exactly the same manner as the BNC. The UDF adopted two out of what South Africans called the “four pillars of struggle,” namely mass mobilization and the boycott campaign. History stands witness to this approach that contributed immensely to ending apartheid. In my opinion, the BNC has learnt this historical lesson from South Africa. But it took the international community about 30 years to heed the call made by the anti-apartheid movement, whereas the Palestinian BDS call was made in 2005 only.
That is why I think there will come a time when BDS will be asked to take a stand vis-à-vis the one or two-state solution. And I strongly believe that it will come in support of the former.
How is the call for a single secular democratic state throughout historic Palestine connected to other liberation struggles in the region?
When the Arab Spring started in Tunisia and Egypt, Israel was extremely worried because the struggle in the Arab world is for human rights and democracy. And democracy is the antithesis of Zionism; exactly the same way democracy in South Africa was the antithesis of apartheid, and which ultimately led to the end of institutional apartheid there in 1994. (I still think that economic apartheid exists in South Africa, but this is something we can address in another context)
As a Zionist project, Israel knows very well that true democracy in the Arab world would spread and reach Palestine. Israel would be expected by the international community and by the Arab Spring to be truly democratic. That means one person, one vote. And after the right of return, one person, one vote would ultimately lead to the collapse of the Zionist enterprise in Palestine.
That, to my mind, is the link between the Palestinian struggle for freedom, self-determination, and liberation, and the struggle for democracy and human rights in the Arab world.
Speaking of BDS, Norman Finkelstein recently accused the BDS campaign of hypocrisy for appealing to international law when it comes to Palestinian rights, but refusing to respect international resolutions, like the 1947 UN partition, that — he claims — legitimize the existence of the “Jewish state.” How do you respond?
I’m so sorry to hear that from a smart person like Norman Finkelstein.
As US solidarity supporters, you have principles. You can’t reconcile an unjust partition and apartheid with human rights and democracy. Has Norman Finkelstein forgotten that Israel defines itself as the state of Jews only? Do you expect me to recognize something like this, just because the United Nations declared it to be so? We recognize those laws and resolutions, like 194, that are just and reject those, like the partition resolution, that are unjust. That is the way all human rights struggles have operated. How is that hypocritical?
That is how it was in the struggle against apartheid South Africa. Whether it was Norman Finkelstein or his mentor Noam Chomsky, everybody heeded the call by South Africans. We all said, “What do you want, you oppressed, colonized South Africans?” They said, “We want an end to apartheid.” And right now, Palestinians are saying we want an end to Israeli apartheid.
And I would have understood him had he supported the two-state solution based on UN resolution 181, passed in 1947; it offered to partition Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state as THE solution! It is a very unfair and problematic resolution in that it offered the Jewish minority (660,000 out of 2 million people) the larger part of the land (56%). This 56 percent, offered to the Jews, included an equal number of Jews and Palestinians. And since most Zionists, soft or not, fought for a Jewish majority in Palestine, that ultimately led to the NAKBAH, i.e, an orchestrated process of ethnic cleansing. Two-staters, such as Finkelstein, do say that a Palestinian state should be established on 44 per cent of Palestine based on UN resolutions!
So I would argue that it’s Norman Finkelstein who’s being hypocritical, because he is unwilling to do for Palestinians what he and all other activists did for South Africans. And in fact, he’s being Zionist and racist when he actually expects us Palestinians to listen to what he has to say in the first place. No, excuse me — he is supposed to listen to what *we* have to say. Unless he has decided to ignore the fact that the 2005 BDS call has been endorsed by the overwhelming majority of Palestinian Civil Society, including National and Islamist forces! Is that not enough for you if you were a genuine supporter of Palestine?
It has been twenty years since Oslo Accords were signed. What effect did these accords, and the so-called “Peace Process,” have on the struggle for the core Palestinian rights called for by BDS: equality, right of return, and end of Occupation?
I’ll sum it by quoting Edward Said in 1993: the Oslo Accords are a second Nakba. Oslo has reduced the Palestinian people to those who only live in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, while excluding Palestinian refugees and Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel. Oslo never alluded to Palestinian’s right to return to their villages and towns from which they were ethnically cleansed in 1948 and never alluded to equality in the 1948 territories. Oslo basically codified and legitimized the ethnic cleansing — the Nakba — of 1948.
Oslo also gave a false impression to the international community that you have “two equal parties” — Palestinians on the one hand, and the Israelis on the other — engaged in “dialogue” to solve their problem. But there are not two equal parties. There is no dialogue. There is an apartheid regime seeking to perpetuate its rule on the one hand, and an indigenous people struggling for their inalienable rights on the other.
Rather than acknowledging the necessity of disassembling this apartheid regime once and for all, Oslo fetishized the trappings of statehood, that if you offer Palestinians a flag and a red carpet for its president and a national anthem, then you have solved the Palestinian question once and for all!
Going back to Norman Finkelstein: you have the struggle of colonized Palestinians against settler colonialists — thanks to the BDS movement, thanks to the formation of the BNC, thanks to the formation of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and thanks to the revival of the one-state idea. You have intellectuals and activists like Edward Said, Azmi Bishara, Ali Abunimah, Omar Barghouti, Ramzy Baroud, Joesph Masaad, Ilan Pappe and all these people who have decided to say farewell to the two-state solution, and to endorse the one-state solution.
As solidarity supporters you need to support democracy and human rights — the same principles you followed in the Eighties against apartheid South Africa. You didn’t waste time discussing the practicalities of having Bantustans in South Africa. So you need to join us in putting the two-state solution on the shelf in a museum, because it delays our liberation, and support our call for one-state.
- David Letwin is a member of Jews for Palestinian Right of Return. Dr. Haidar Eid is an Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza Strip, Palestine. Dr. Eid is also a one-state activist and a member of Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).
CNN reports on Israeli PM Netanyahu’s reception at the Vatican and plans for the Pope to visit Israel in May.
Recalling the shabby treatment of religious leaders on previous visits to the Holy Land, let us hope Pope Francis takes a firmer line than his predecessor and insists on seeing Gaza and ministering to his terrorised flock there.
In May 2009, when Benedict was Pope, the Vatican told the Israeli press that the Holy Father would refrain from visiting Gaza. The word ‘refrain’ was a peculiar one in the circumstances. “The Pope will refrain from visiting Gaza….” smacks of abstinence, as in refraining from sexual intercourse. Setting foot in Gaza was as sinful as sneaking into a brothel, it seems. Israel’s hoodlums of course were keen to prevent him seeing how the tiny, overcrowded enclave had been devastated 16 months earlier by their murderous blitzkrieg codenamed Cast Lead. And the Pope went along with it.
Gaza’s isolated and besieged Catholic community were none too happy with the Pope’s attitude, judging by the reaction of their redoubtable old priest Fr Manuel Mussallam. “We will ask him why he came, what he intends saying to the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims and why he isn’t coming to Gaza,” said Fr Manuel. “We’ll tell him that this is not the right moment to come and visit the holy places, while Jerusalem is occupied.”
Time for the Pope to join BDS?
Having decided to go to Palestine (via Israel) it was imperative for the Pope to include Gaza or it would look like he didn’t give a damn about the appalling persecution in the very land where Christianity was born. He might as well hammer one more nail into Christendom’s coffin. Then again, should he be going to Israel at all while Jerusalem, Bethlehem and many other places dear to Christian and Muslim religious belief are under the jackboot?
Indeed, has it finally come to the point where the Pope ought to do the decent thing and boycott Israel… join the BDS movement? Admittedly, it’s a tough call given the Catholic Church’s considerable interests out there.
But we have seen enough wimpish conduct by Christian leaders while Israel defiles the Holy Land. The previous November, while the regime was planning its vicious assault, codename Operation Cast Lead, on Gaza’s Muslims and Christians after softening them up with two years of blockade and starvation, we were treated to the spectacle of the Archbishop of Canterbury joining the Chief Rabbi on a visit to Auschwitz to show joint solidarity against extreme hostility and genocide. The Archbishop called it “a place of utter profanity” and spoke of the collective corruption and moral sickness that made the Holocaust possible.
Would the pair show the same spirit of righteous solidarity by visiting Gaza? The scale of horror might be different but the moral sickness is just as obscene. And this being the Holy Land the profanity is many times worse.
The Pope too had been to Auschwitz to pray for the people murdered there. “I had to come here as a duty to truth and to those that suffered,” he said and spoke of the Nazis’ mania for destruction and domination.
Very commendable. But he wasn’t so keen to come and pray for those suffering in Gaza, victims of much the same kind of criminal insanity. Nevertheless, he turned up at Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and the Western (Wailing) Wall, and hobnobbed with the chief rabbis… but not with his brave priest and the shattered congregation in Gaza. What had happened to his ‘duty to truth’?
After my visit to Gaza in late 2007, 18 months after Israel’s merciless squeeze began, I wrote:
Fuel is running out, so are basics like washing powder. Shattered infrastructure and food shortages mean serious public health problems. Power cuts disrupt hospitals and vital drugs cannot be kept refrigerated. Thousands look death in the face as medicare collapses.
A friend emailed:
“Today in Gaza we have no cement to build graves for those who die.”
The subjugation and dispossession of Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land continues. It remains a mystery to me why our largely Christian democracy in Britain slavishly supports the Middle East ethnocracy that’s doing this…
The last six years have seen things go from bad to worse – much worse. Palestinians in the Holy Land, and especially Gaza, need to be shown that the Christian Church cares about them even if nobody else does. So where are these extravagantly robed and mitred Men of God when needed?
No repetition of the Benedict debâcle, please
Archbishop Rowan Williams, visiting in 2010, did manage to get into Gaza. But as far as I could discover he made no public statement about the wretched conditions there, nor did he reveal his findings to the House of Lords where he had the support of a large gaggle of bishops. This despite his claim to be “in a unique position to bring the needs and voices of those fighting poverty, disease and the effects of conflict, to the attention of national and international policy makers”.
And despite his declaration that “Christians need to witness boldly and clearly”.
And despite his urging greater awareness of the humanitarian crisis to ensure that the people of Gaza were not forgotten.
The Israelis, I heard, refused him access to Gaza from the start and only at the last minute allowed the Archbishop an hour or so, just enough for a quick visit to the Ahli Hospital and nowhere else. For that concession one wonders if he had to sign a gagging order.
His website, however, described how he, like the Pope, hobnobbed with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and paid respects to Yad Vashem and the Holocaust. He also talked with the President of Israel, who no doubt enjoyed his guest’s frustration at being prevented from seeing the horrors that had been inflicted on Gaza.
And news of any get-together with senior Islamic figures on the ground was conspicuously absent, leaving a question-mark over his commitment to inter-faith engagement.
Why on earth did he agree to fraternise with Jewish political and religious dignitaries when it was clear that his wish to carry out his Christian duty in Gaza would be obstructed? Does Lambeth Palace not realise that meekly accepting such insults only serves to legitimise the Israelis’ illegal occupation and gives a stamp of approval to the brutal siege of Gaza, the daily death-dealing air strikes against civilians, the persecution of Muslim and Christian communities and the regime’s utter contempt for international law and human rights?
One can only hope the Vatican realises it too and avoids a repetition of the Benedict debâcle.
The Israelis walk all over fawning sycophants masquerading as Western political leaders. Our spiritual leaders, however, are supposed to be made of sterner stuff and to have the moral backbone to face down evil.
By Dan Lieberman | Online Journal | July 6, 2009
Three huge granite stones rest comfortably on the top of Midbar Sinai Street, in Givat Havatzim, Jerusalem’s northernmost district. Cut to specification, the imposing stones represent one of several preparations by the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement’s to erect a Third Temple on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.
Since the Islamic Wafq owns and controls all the property on the Haram al-Sharif, by what means can these stones be transferred to the Temple Mount and how can a temple be constructed there? Not by any legal means.
The stones are a provocation, which the Israel government refuses to halt. Neglect and passivity lead to a belief that an eventual Muslim reaction to the increasing provocations will give Israel an excuse to seize total control of the Holy Basin — the ultimate of the properties that Israel intends to incorporate into a greater Jerusalem.
For decades, Israeli authorities have spoken of a united Jerusalem — suggesting a spiritual quality to its message — as if Israel wants the home for the three monotheistic faiths to be solid and stable. By being guided from one central authority, a united Jerusalem also offers a preservation of a common and ancient heritage. However, by stressing the word ‘unification,’ Israel disguises the lack of a sufficiently supporting and verifiable historical narrative that could bolster its thrust to incorporate all of an artificially created greater Jerusalem into its boundaries. Coupled with inconsistencies and contradictions, Israel’s eagerness to create a greater Jerusalem under its total control becomes suspect. The intensive concentration on a ‘united’ Jerusalem reveals a hidden agenda that debases Jerusalem’s religious ingathering and heightens division, hatred and strife.
Examine the Holy Basin. The Holy Basin contains well-marked Christian and Muslim institutions and holy places that have had historical placement for millenniums. Although people of the Jewish faith had major presence in Jerusalem during the centuries of Biblical Jerusalem, which included rule by King Hezekiah and control by the Hasmonean dynasties, their control and presence were interrupted for two millennia. Extensive commentary has enabled the two thousand years of lack of control and presence to seem as if it never happened and that today is only a short time from the years of Hezekiah. Some remains of Jewish dwellings and ritual baths can be found, but few if any major Jewish monuments, buildings or institutions from the Biblical era exist in the “Old City” of today’s Jerusalem. The often cited Western Wall is the supporting wall for Herod’s platform and is not directly related to the Second Temple. No remains of the Jewish Temple have been located in Jerusalem — not even a rock.
According to Karen Armstrong, Jerusalem, Jews did not pray at the Western Wall until the Mamluks in the 15th century allowed them to move their congregations from a dangerous Mount of Olives and pray daily at the Wall. At that time, she estimates that there may have been no more than 70 Jewish families in Jerusalem. After the Ottomans replaced the Mamluks, Suleiman the Magnificent issued a formal edict in the 16th century that permitted Jews to have a place of prayer at the Western Wall.
The only remaining major symbol of Jewish presence in Jerusalem’s Holy City is the Jewish quarter, which Israel cleared of Arabs and rebuilt after 1967. During its clearing operations, Israel demolished the Maghribi Quarter adjacent to the Western Wall, destroyed the al-Buraq Mosque and the Tomb of the Sheikh al-Afdhaliyyah, and displaced about 175 Arab families.
Although the Jewish population in previous centuries comprised a large segment of the Old City (estimates have 7,000 Jews during the mid-19th century), the Jews gradually left the Old City and migrated to new neighborhoods in West Jerusalem, leaving only about 2,000 Jews in the Old City. Jordanian control after the 1948 war reduced the number to nil. By 2009, the population of the Jewish quarter in the Old City had grown to 3,000, or 9 percent of the Old City’s population. The Christian, Armenian and Muslim populations are the principal constituents and their quarters contain almost the entire Old City commerce.
In an attempt to attach ancient Israel to present day Jerusalem, Israeli authorities continue the attachment of spurious labels to Holy Basin landmarks, while claiming the falsification is due to the Byzantines, who got it all wrong.
King David’s Tower’s earliest remains were constructed several hundred years after the Bible dates David’s reign. It is a now an obvious Islamic minaret.
King David’s Citadel earliest remains are from the Hasmonean period (200 B. C. E.). The Citadel was entirely rebuilt by the Ottomans between 1537 and 1541.
King David’s tomb, located in the Dormition Abbey, is a cloth-covered cenotaph (no remains) that honors King David. It’s only an unverified guess that the casket is related to David.
The Pools of Solomon, located in a village near Bethlehem, are considered to be part of a Roman construction during the reign of Herod the Great. The pools supplied water to an aqueduct that carried the water to Bethlehem and to Jerusalem.
The Stables of Solomon, under the Temple Mount, are assumed to be a construction of vaults that King Herod built in order to extend the Temple Mount platform.
Absalom’s Tomb is an obvious Greek sculptured edifice and therefore cannot be the tomb of David’s son.
The City of David contains artifacts that date before and during David’s time. However, some archaeologists maintain there is an insufficient number of artifacts to conclude any Israelite presence, including that of King David, before the late ninth century. In any case any Israelite presence must have been in a small and unfortified settlement.
The Jerusalem Archaeological Park within the Old City, together with the Davidson Exhibition and Virtual Reconstruction Center also tell the story. Promising to reveal much of a Hebrew civilization, the museums shed little light on its subject. The Davidson Center highlights a coin exhibition, Jerusalem bowls and stone vessels.
The Archeological Park in the Old City contains among many artifacts, Herodian structures, ritual baths, a floor of an Umayyad palace, a Roman road, Ottoman gates, and the façade of what is termed Robinson’s arch, an assumed Herodian entryway to the Temple Mount. The exhibitions don’t reveal many, if any, ancient Hebrew structures or institutions of special significance.
Reliable archaeologists, after examining excavations that contain pottery shards and buildings, concluded that archaeological finds don’t substantiate the biblical history of Jerusalem and its importance during the eras of a united Jewish kingdom under David and Solomon.
Margaret Steiner in an article, titled It’s Not There: Archaeology Proves a Negative, in the Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August, 1998, states: “ . . . from the tenth century B. C. E. there is no archaeological evidence that many people actually lived in Jerusalem, only that it was some kind of public administrative center . . . We are left with nothing that indicates a city was here during their supposed reigns (of David and Solomon) . . . It seems unlikely, however, that this Jerusalem was the capital of a large state, the United monarchy, as described in Biblical texts.”
West Jerusalem is another matter. With banditry prolific and Old City gates being closed before nightfall, living outside the city gates did not appeal to the population. Wealthy philanthropist Moses Montefiore wanted to attract the Jewish population to new surroundings and he constructed the first Jewish community outside of the Old City — Yemin Moshe’s first houses were completed in 1860. From that time, Jewish presence played a role in creating a West Jerusalem. Other institutions, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Russian Orthodox and Muslim soon ventured forth and owned much property in the evolving West Jerusalem.
In 1948, After the Israeli army seized absolute control of West Jerusalem, the new Israeli government confiscated all West Jerusalem property owned by Muslim institutions. Reason — enemy property. Few Muslims and no mosques remain in today’s West Jerusalem.
One contradiction. By attacking and ethnically cleansing the Christian Arab communities of Deir Yassin and Ein Kerem, Israeli forces characterized Christian Palestinians as an enemy. Nevertheless, Israel did not confiscate Christian properties, many of which are apparent in West Jerusalem. The Greek Orthodox Church owns extensive properties in West Jerusalem, many marked by its “TΦ” (Tau + Phi) symbol, interpreted as the word ‘Sepulchre.’
Another contradiction. Israel has cared for the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives and expanded it as a heritage site. Part of the famous Muslim Mamilla cemetery in West Jerusalem has been classified as refugee property and is being prepared to be demolished for the new Museum of Tolerance.
East Jerusalem reveals more contradictions. The repeated warning by Israeli leaders that co-existence is not feasible and that it is necessary to separate the Jewish and Palestinian communities is contradicted by Israel’s desire to incorporate East Jerusalem into Israel. Incorporation means accepting somewhere between 160,000 and 225,000 Palestinians into a Jewish state. Or does it? Whereas the older historical Jewish neighborhoods in West Jerusalem have their character meticulously maintained or are rebuilt in their original style, the older Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem are entirely neglected (all of Arab East Jerusalem is neglected) or destroyed. How much deterioration and destruction can Palestinians absorb before they decide to leave?
Construction of Jewish homes in East Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods proceeds and destruction of Arab homes, either declared illegally constructed or illegally purchased, continues. On 44 dunums of lands confiscated from Palestinian families, a private company has constructed the gated community of Nof Zion, and conveniently separated Palestinian Jabal Al Mukabir from other parts of East Jerusalem. No Arabs need apply. The million dollar condominiums are advertised for American investors.
The Israeli ministry of Interior has approved a plan to demolish a kindergarten and wholesale market in East Jerusalem’s Wadi Joz neighborhood in order to construct a new hotel close to the Old City and near the Rockefeller Museum. The result will be the destruction of an Arab neighborhood and its replacement by Jewish interests, which will one day join other Jewish interests.
These are only two examples of a master plan to replace the centuries old Arab presence in East Jerusalem with a modern Jewish presence. The ancient Arab presence in an ancient land is further subdivided by the Separation Wall, which runs through the East Jerusalem landscape and detaches East Jerusalem from the West Bank, making it unlikely for a Palestinian state to have its capital in East Jerusalem. The master plan extends the boundaries of Jerusalem to include the large Israeli settlement (city) of Maale Adumim. Between Maale Adumim and East Jerusalem, Israel proposes to construct the E1 corridor, which joins settlements in a ring and adds to the separation of East Jerusalem from the West Bank. The E1 corridor will divide the northern and southern West Bank and will impede direct transit between Palestine Bethlehem, which is south of E1 and Palestine Ramallah, which is north of E1. Construction of the E1 corridor, portions of which are owned by Palestinians, could prevent the formation of a viable Palestinian state.
So, if Israel is destroying Jerusalem’s heritage and subjugating its spiritual meaning, why does Israel want to unify Jerusalem?
Israel’s Hidden Agenda
Israel is a physically small and relatively new country with an eager population and big ambitions. It needs more prestige and wants to be viewed as a power broker on the world stage. To gain those perspectives Israel needs a capital city that commands respect, contains ancient traditions and is recognized as one of the world’s most important and leading cities. Almost all of the world’s principal nations, from Egypt to Germany to Great Britain, have capitals that are great cities of the world. To assure its objectives, Israel wants an oversized Jerusalem that contains the Holy City.
That’s not all.
Jerusalem has significant tourism that can be expanded. It can provide new commercial opportunities as an entry to all of the Middle East. An indivisible Jerusalem under Israeli control is worth a lot of shekels.
Israel competes with the United States as the focus of the Jewish people. It needs a unique Jerusalem to gain recognition as the home of Judaism.
By controlling all of the holy sites, Israel commands attention from Moslem and Christian leaders. These leaders will be forced to talk with Israel and Israel will have a bargaining advantage in disputes.
Whatever Israel gains, the Palestinians are denied. Even if Israel agrees to the establishment of a Palestinian state, it will direct its policies to limit the effectiveness of that state. Since East Jerusalem and its holy sites greatly benefit a Palestinian economy and increase Palestine legitimacy, Israel will do everything to prevent East Jerusalem being ceded to the new state of Palestine. An “indivisible” Jerusalem is part of that effort.
West Jerusalem only gives Israel a North/South capital. An indivisible Jerusalem gives Israel a forward look towards an East/West capital or a centralized capital of the land of previous biblical Jewish tribes.
The Zionist socialist ideals and the cooperative Kibbutzim received support and sympathy from idealistic world peoples for many years. Israel’s attachment to the Holocaust tragedy extended that sympathy and support to more of the world. With the end of the Zionist dream, the decline of kibbutz life and the over-popularizing of the Holocaust, Israel needs a new symbol of identity that captures world attention.
If Israel has legitimate claims to Jerusalem, then those claims should be heard and discussed in a proper forum. However, that is not the process forthcoming. The process has the Israeli government using illegal and illegitimate procedures, as well as deceitful and hypocritical methods to force its agenda. Israel is not presenting its case but is exerting its powers to trample all legal, moral and historical considerations.
In the Museum of the Citadel of David is an inscription: The land of Israel is in the center of the world and Jerusalem is the center of the land of Israel.
This self-praise was echoed at a West Jerusalem coffee house in a conversation with several Israelis. A youthful Israeli abruptly sat at the table and entered the conversation with the words: “All the world looks to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the center of the world and Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Everyone needs Jerusalem and they will need to talk with Israel.”
And that is why Israel desperately wants its greater Jerusalem.
Dan Lieberman is the editor of Alternative Insight, a monthly web based newsletter. Dan has written many articles on the Middle East conflict, which have circulated on websites and media throughout the world. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yusuf Fahri Mussa Ahleil, 1995-2011
Yusuf Fahri Mussa Ahleil, aged 16, was shot and killed on January 28th, 2011, probably by a settler. The prosecution took 14 months to appoint an attorney to the case, and eventually closed it due to lack of evidence.
Many of the posts in this blog deal with the incompetence of Israeli police investigations, and it’s possible that the death of Yusuf Fahri Mussa Ahleil, a 16-year old boy from Beit ‘Ummar, will be added to this list; but for the time being, it is a story of criminal negligence on behalf of the prosecution.
On January 28th, 2011, something happened in the village of Beit Ummar in the Hebron region. The testimonies describe an assault by Israeli civilians from two different directions simultaneously. Both incidents involved shooting; the second one ended in death. Witnesses describe a large group of Israeli civilians raiding the village, among whom three fired at the Palestinians using weapons, likely M-16 assault rifles. According to one of the witnesses, the Israelis were conducting some sort of ceremony, blew a shofar, and then opened fire. The witnesses agree that no military troops were present and that they arrived only after the shooting.
When it was all over, Yusuf Ahleil, who was on his way to help his father with his work in the field, lay dead on the ground. The testimony of the father, Fahri, is worth quoting: “I work in agriculture, and that is my main profession. During their vacations the children help me. Before I went to work [on the morning of the incident] I asked my son Yusuf to come with me to work later during the day. At some point I heard the sound of gunshots; I did not know what it was about and kept on working. And then, I don’t remember the time, some people from the village came with a vehicle and asked to take me home. I did not understand why – I refused but they insisted, took me with them and brought me back home. When we arrived, I saw that most of the village was gathered next to my house. I asked what happened? I was told, your son was shot. I said, how can that be? We agreed that he should join me at work. This is how I learned that my son, while on his way to work with me, had been wounded by the settlers.” Yusuf was shot in the head, and died.
The family filed a complaint with the police that same day. From that point onwards, our monitoring tells the story. On February 16th, 2011, the police informed us that the case was under investigation. On March 14th, 2011, it told us it received testimonies and photographs, and asked that we provide any further information we may come across. On May 2nd, 2011, the police informed us that the case had been transferred to the Jerusalem District Prosecution Office.
On June 5th, 2011, we called the Jerusalem District Attorney Office to ask which prosecuting attorney is handling the case. None had yet been appointed. We asked the same office again on August 24th, 2011, i.e. almost seven months after the incident, but the prosecution did not consider the violent death – this fact is not disputed – of a 16-year old boy as something requiring the immediate attention of an attorney. We repeated our query in September 25th, 2011. We might as well be speaking to the walls.
October 24th came and went, and the death of Yusuf still did not hinder the sleep of the prosecutors. We had reached December 15th, 2011, and the boy who had dropped dead from a bullet in his head still failed to arouse the interest of the prosecutors. On January 15th, 2012, almost a year since he had been killed, Yusuf’s prosecution file was still gathering dust. We kept on pestering, and on March 20th, 2012 – that is almost 14 months since the killing – we were informed that on this happy day a prosecutor had been assigned to the case. A week later, we tried to verify with her what steps she she had taken with the case so far. We were not dignified with an answer.
We repeated the question, to no avail, two months later. We are stubborn people, studied in the ways of banging our heads against the system’s wall, so we asked once again on July 30th, 2012 whether the prosecutors made any decision – four months since a prosecutor had been assigned to the case, and more than 18 months since the killing itself, but who’s counting. We did not receive a response.
On January 3rd, 2013, nearly two years after the killing and nine months after a prosecutor was assigned to the case, she still had no answer for us. Six months breezed by, and on August 4th, 2013, the prosecutor informed us that on July 30th, 2013, she had made the decision to close the case. The police had identified four suspects; the prosecutor closed the case against three of them for lack of evidence and against the fourth, for lack of criminal culpability.
That was the beginning of August. Since then we’ve been trying to get a hold of the investigative file so we can appeal the decision to close it. Until recently, the prosecution had failed in the rather simple job of providing us with it. There were contradictory claims as to what happened to it. The prosecution said it was sent back to the Hebron Police, which in turn said they never got it back. We are happy to report, however, that recently the file was found, photocopied, and will be reviewed by us soon.
Let’s conduct a mental experiment. Let’s say the victim is still 16 years old, still residing in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, but is not burdened with a foreign, Palestinian, name like Yussuf Alhleil; let’s say his name is something familiar, say Yossi Hebroni. Our hypothetical Yossi Hebroni was shot near a Palestinian village. Can anyone imagine that the prosecution would amble slowly to the case after 14 months? Or that it would need 16 more months to make up its mind?
The prosecution is entrusted, since Israel controls the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with protecting its residents from violence. When they are the victims of theft, it ought to bring the thief to justice. When they are killed, its duty is to bring justice for the dead.
The case of Yusuf Fahri Mussa Alhleil shows us how seriously the prosecution takes this duty. It removes another thin layer of the already crumbling patina of the claim that there is something you may refer to with a straight face as “rule of law” in the West Bank. Where the rule of law is absent, what we see is the law of nature, where the strong rule over the weak. The point of our social contract with the government is to overcome nature’s law, under which, to quote Hobbes, life is “nasty, brutish and short.” In the most gentle words possible, in Yusuf’s case – and, unfortunately, in far too many others – the prosecution has betrayed the social contract.
The result that there is the father who waits in vain for his son to return to him in the field, and killers who know that nothing will happen to them if they kill once more.
- Israeli admits shooting at Palestinian children on TV game show (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Nablus woman injured in hit and run vehicular assault by Jewish settler (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Jewish Terrorism (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Outrage as Palestinian child faces possible life prison sentence for throwing stones (gazasolidarity.blogspot.com)
- Israel to displace Palestinian community south of Hebron (altahrir.wordpress.com)
Following Israel’s resumption of ties with the United Nations Human Rights Council, six Western countries; the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Canada and the United States are pressuring the United Nations to allow Israel to permanently join the Western European and Others Group (WEOG). The text of the letter, which has been made available online, states: “we, the undersigned, would like by this letter to recall Israel’s long standing request to join the WEOG regional group in Geneva. We are strongly supportive of Israel’s membership at the earliest opportunity.” The letter also exhorts a sense of urgency, requesting inclusion of the matter in the next meeting to be held in Geneva.
Exclusive treatment in Israel’s regard, ostensibly in return for its continuous human rights violations, remains a priority for the colonising power’s allies. Israel’s return to the Human Rights Council was characterised by negotiated leniency, including a concession preventing countries from criticising Israel’s human rights violations – a stipulation valid for the next two years during which any comments relating to Israel’s infringements on human rights will be deemed ‘empty of content’.
Discourse regarding political and regional isolation applied to Israel has been propagated, depicting an ongoing contrivance to enhance Israel’s victimised stance. In 2007 Canada deemed Item 7 as specific targeting of a particular country in a “politicised, selective, partial and subjective” manner which breaches the United Nations’ objectivity. In 2010 the US echoed similar sentiment, declaring the stipulation as a “disproportionate focus on Israel … the Council has too often been exploited to unfairly single out Israel, while ignoring significant human rights situations elsewhere”. This stance has been described as “working constructively on aspects that need change”. The hypocrisy within human rights discourse is easy to decipher – it is inadmissible to challenge Israel’s human rights violations. Instead, the international community should devise the means through which Israel is allowed to oppress with impunity – a trend which it has been perfecting for decades.
There is no justification for the removal of Item 7 – the only requirements are flawed reasoning, international complicity and oblivion. Claims that Israel fails to achieve support for its actions are erroneous and should be examined within the exclusive impunity bequeathed to Zionist ideology prior to the establishment of the illegal state. The depiction of Israel as a politically disadvantaged country has been utilised to the point of exhaustion, yet the deceitful reasoning is still upheld as inviolable, thus diverting attention from the problems faced daily by Palestinians whose rights have yet to be acknowledged, let alone implemented. According to conventional rhetoric, equality should only be applied when the issues at stake do not restrain Israel’s ability to perfect its oppression. Any objectivity and justified impartiality is vehemently rejected, lest Israel should declare a fictitious and detrimental isolation. Far from remaining isolated within the international community due to a degree of extra scrutiny, the coloniser has been embraced by world powers on account of its compatibility in maintaining the exploitation of land, people and countless human rights charters.
- | Exposing impunity: Israel’s ‘exceptionalism’ and the UN! (truthaholics.wordpress.com)
Israeli forces demolished a water tank and an agricultural structure in a West Bank village near Nablus on Wednesday, a local official said.
Deputy mayor of Aqraba Bilal Abdul-Hadi told Ma’an news agency that three bulldozers escorted by seven military vehicles stormed the neighborhood of al-Taweel and began demolishing the structures, claiming they were built without authorization.
Shaddad Attili, who heads the Palestinian Water Authority, said the World Bank, the United Nations and other international organizations have issued reports condemning Israel’s attacks on Palestinian water rights.
“Israel controls all the water resources in the occupied West Bank. It exploits these resources for near exclusive Israeli use, allocating a mere fraction of the available water supply to Palestinians,” Ma’an quoted Attili as saying. “While Israelis enjoy some of the highest water consumption rates in the world, Palestinians continue to face a series of crippling water shortages artificially engineered by Israel as a matter of policy.”
Israel has destroyed more than 558 Palestinian properties in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the beginning of this year, displacing 919 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Between 2009 and 2011, Israel’s military destroyed 173 water, sanitation and hygiene structures in the West Bank including 40 wells, 57 rainwater collection cisterns and at least 20 toilets and sinks, OCHA reported.
A 2012 report by the Emergency Water, Sanitation and Hygiene group slammed Israel’s policies towards water and sanitation facilities in the West Bank, saying their extensive destruction was in contravention of international law.
- Israel to displace Palestinian community south of Hebron (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Israeli Forces Open Fire On West Bank Protests, Injuring Dozens (eurasiareview.com)
- LA Times – Israel’s policy of erasure (iajv99.wordpress.com)
The parliament of Scotland has passed a legislation to hold a referendum on Scottish independence from the rule of the United Kingdom.
Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) unanimously approved on Thursday the bill, which sets out the independence referendum rules, including campaign spending limits and the question that will be put to voters.
The law confirms that Scottish people will vote in a referendum on September 18 next year on the yes/no question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?”
The bill will also allow those aged 16 and 17 on the referendum day in Scotland to take part in the poll.
Moreover, an independent electoral commission will oversee the vote, which is planned to be preceded by a 16-week campaign period.
During a debate before MSPs approved the bill, Scottish Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was “proud” that the parliament was “passing legislation that will put Scotland’s future into Scotland’s hand.”
“I hope the people of Scotland will seize that opportunity, seize that future, seize that prospect of a better Scotland with a resounding yes vote in September next year,” she added.
The legislation on the independence referendum came as latest census figures showed that nearly two thirds of Scotland’s population identify themselves as “Scottish only.”
According to the results of the 2011 survey on national identity released in September, 62.4 percent of Scotland’s 5.3 million residents feel they are “Scottish only,” compared to the 18.3 percent who consider themselves to be “Scottish and British only.”
The independence referendum could result in Scotland’s break-up from the United Kingdom after more than 300 years of political union.
A 16-year-old Palestinian stabbed an Israeli soldier to death on a bus on Wednesday in an attack apparently motivated by the jailing of his relatives in Israel, police said.
The death came as Israel backtracked on an announced plan to expand illegal settlements in the West Bank, calling for “intelligent and coordinated” construction despite international condemnation.
The killing, in the town of Afula in Occupied Palestine, follows a surge in violence in the West Bank, where 10 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli troops and three Israelis killed since peace talks resumed in July.
Israel’s northern police commander, Ronny Attia, said the attacker was from the West Bank town of Jenin, and that he was in custody.
According to police, the Palestinian youth did not have a permit to be inside Israel.
“By his account, his uncles are in prison in Israel and this is the reason he decided to carry out the terrorist attack,” Attia said.
Israel refers to many acts of protest against the decades-long occupation – whether violent or non-violent – as terrorism.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the soldier, aged 18, was pronounced dead in hospital.
The attack occurred a day before the one-year anniversary of the Israeli Pillar of Cloud offensive on Gaza, in which six Israelis and more than 100 Palestinian civilians were killed in eight days.
Peace talks orchestrated by US Secretary of State John Kerry have faced serious obstacles, including the high rate of Palestinians incarcerated in Israeli prisons, many in indefinite administrative detention, as well as extensive plans to expand Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
A report by British newspaper The Guardian on Tuesday revealed that Israeli troops conducted mock arrests and raids in the West Bank without informing the local population that their actions were drills, causing extreme distress to many Palestinians.
The attack came as Israel’s Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz urged “coordinated” settlement building, a day after a new plan for settler homes in the West Bank drew international condemnation.
Settlements in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem and the West Bank “must be done in an intelligent and coordinated way,” Steinitz told Israeli public radio on Wednesday.
The settlements are deemed illegal under international law.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late Tuesday cancelled plans to build 20,000 new settler homes in the West Bank, hours after their announcement sparked US and Palestinian criticism.
State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki had said Washington was not only concerned by the initial announcement, but also “surprised” and sought an explanation from Israel.
She repeated the longstanding US position on settlements that “we do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity.”
Netanyahu then ordered Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel “to reconsider all of the steps for evaluating planning potential (for the settler homes) that he distributed without any advance coordination,” the premier’s office said.
(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)
Prawer Won’t Pass Campaign | November 10, 2013
Occupied Palestine – On the 24th of June, the Israeli Knesset approved the Prawer-Begin plan, which if implemented will result in the destruction of more than 35 unrecognized villages in Al-Naqab and the forced expulsion and confinement of more than 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins. The Prawer plan is the largest Israeli land-grab since 1948. It epitomizes the nature of Israel’s policy; Israeli-Jewish demographic expansion and Palestinian-Arab demographic containment.
The International community has repeatedly called on Israel to halt the implementation of the Prawer Plan due to its discriminatory nature and the severe infringement it causes on the rights of Palestinian Bedouins in Al-Naqab. The UN committee on the elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Israel to withdraw the proposed legislation of the Prawer Plan. Also, in 2012, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on Israel to stop the Prawer plan and its policies of forced displacement and dispossession.
Injustice, humiliation and forced displacement are a recurring theme in Palestine’s history. This is lesson that we as a group of youth take to the heart. We will oppose, resist and work against the continuous assault that our communities, across Palestine face. Therefore, we launched the “Prawer will not pass” campaign with an eye to preventing this plan to be yet another chapter in Palestine’s long and tragic history.
Opposing the Prawer Plan is to oppose ethnic cleansing, displacement and confinement in the 21st century.
Join us by organizing marches, protests, sending letters to those with positions of influence in your country or community, by doing whatever you can, in order to force Israel to stop the Prawer plan.
Join us on the 30th of November in saying “Prawer shall not Pass”.
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