Comparing Current Draft of Egypt’s 2013 Neo-liberal Constitution to that of the Publicly Approved Constitution of 2012
In order to show various so-called “alternative” and “anti-globalist” activists what the real cause of the State Department sponsored coup in Egypt back in July of this year was all about, I have put together just a few comparisons of the publicly approved Egyptian constitution of 2012 and their respective counterparts in the new draft constitution being put together by the illegal junta run by their new dictator, al Sisi.
As many of the fake alternative journalists have often raged against the “Islamist” nature of the previous constitution without ever linking their readers to the document so they could read it and judge it for themselves, I resolve to provide links to both the translated Egyptian Constitution of 2012 and the current draft version written by the technocrats and advisers on behalf of Big Global Business and the financial elites.
What I have done is taken a few articles and simply listed them side by side for you to view. I have created 4 PDFs of this which I will link to below and 4 JPEGS so you can view them without having to download the other files. The PDFs are obviously easier to read, but I will do my best with the pics. I sincerely hope that you will take the time to read both the original 2012 version as well as the new neo-liberal one.
If you wish to know why I spent so much time working on this when the story of the illegal coup in Egypt is all but over, remember this…
They are currently working on producing a climate in this country which will provide them the needed pretext to begin rewriting our constitution. It’s not that far off folks. Heard some “progressives” on NPR chatting about that very thing just yesterday.
You want to see how they (the Chicago School of Economics technocrats) remake constitutions? The Egyptian model should serve as a fine example of what we can expect to see very soon.
Here are the PDF versions:
- 2012 to 2013 Layout1 (1)
- 2012 to 2013 Layout1 (2) (1)
- 2012 to 2013 Layout1 (3) (1)
- 2012 to 2013 Layout1 (4) (1)
And here are the photos (JPEGs)
The new constitution institutionalizes entry points for various global multinational corporations and financial institutions, setting as a priority the notions of the creation of a financial environment which will encourage hot money speculation and foreign investment. It’s all about “sustainable development” and protecting the “economic services” industry (i.e. financial institutions)
Notice that the new constitution states that the natural resources “belong to the people” but make no mention of their right to the profits of those resources they own. The 2012 constitution did.
The 2012 constitution said the property of the state is not to be disposed of while the neo-liberal 2013 draft says it can be under law.
The slickness of the legalese is notable as well. Notice how the new constitution, rather than guaranteeing the people various rights like the 2012 constitution does, instead they “aim” or “commit” to these ideals as if they were goals they promise to attempt to fulfill. Legally speaking, big difference.
I only scratched the surface with this comparison. Others have pointed out that the 2013 draft empowers the elements in Egypt that sided with the Obama administration during the coup like the judiciary, the military and the police.
Some have pointed out that the new constitution allows for military detentions of civilians, which it does.
Given the nature of the current dictatorship in Egypt (the way they are outlawing political parties like the Apartheid government did to the ANC based on the arbitrary ruling that they are a “terrorist organization”, the way they are arresting peaceful protesters if they don’t just shoot them dead in the streets) it’s quite remarkable that anyone who claims to be opposed to our imperialist interventions across the globe could possibly still imagine that this illegal coup has any form of legitimacy whatsoever. I hope that this simple comparison will make it clearer what is happening in Egypt and more importantly, why it happened.
- Army Powers Expanded in Egyptian Draft Constitution (mascareignas.blogspot.com)
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
The (interim) nuclear agreement that was signed on 24 November 2013 by Iran and the so-called P5+1 group in Geneva is questionable on a number of grounds.
The Irony and Absurdity of the Negotiations: When the Guilty Tries the Innocent
The underlying logic for the Iran nuclear negotiations was (and continues to be) altogether preposterous: on one side of the negotiating table sat major nuclear powers who are all in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which requires them to have either dismantled or drastically reduced their nuclear arsenal; on the other side, an NPT–compliant country (Iran) that neither possesses nor pursues nuclear weapons—a fact that is testified to both by the U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies. Yet, in an ironically perverse way, the culprits have assumed the role of the police, the prosecutor and the judge, shamelessly persecuting and prosecuting the innocent for no other reason than trying to exercise its NPT-granted right to peaceful nuclear technology.
This obviously means that Iran is essentially negotiating under duress. Largely shut out of normal international trade, and constantly threatened by economic strangulation, it is essentially negotiating with a bullet to its head. As an astute observer of the negotiations has pointed out, “Iran voluntarily agreed to the [nuclear] deal the same way that a robbery victim voluntarily agrees to give up valuable possessions” to save his/her life.
The Imbalance between what Iran Gave and what it Took
To reach the interim deal, the Iranian negotiators agreed to a number of concessions with very little reciprocity in terms of relief from sanctions. These included: limiting its enrichment of uranium to only 3-5 percent purity, from the current level of 20 percent purity; rendering unusable its existing stockpile of 20 percent fuel for further enrichment; not using its more advanced IR-M2 centrifuges for enrichment; not activating its heavy-water reactor in Arak; and consenting to highly intrusive inspections.
This means that under the deal, the Iranian negotiators have agreed to more than freezing Iran’s nuclear technology; perhaps more importantly, they have reversed and rolled back significant scientific achievements and technological breakthroughs of recent years. One can imagine the feeling of disappointment (and perhaps betrayal) on the part of the many dedicated scientists, engineers and technicians who worked so hard to bring about such scientific advances; only to see them dishonored or degraded by reversing and freezing them at a much lower level.
In return for these significant concessions, the U.S. and its allies would agree: to unfreeze less-than 7 billion dollars of Iran’s nearly 100 billion dollars of oil revenue frozen in bank accounts overseas; to consider easing sanctions banning trade in precious metals, petrochemicals and auto industry; and to suspend the EU and U.S. sanctions on insurance and transportation services for the drastically reduced sale of Iran’s oil.
The most crippling sanctions on Iran’s oil and banks, which served as the financial facilitators of international trade, would remain intact under the proposed interim deal.
Threat to Iran’s Sovereignty
A careful reading of the interim agreement reveals that the Iranian negotiators gave up more than scaling down and freezing their country’s nuclear technology and/or knowledge. More importantly, if implemented, the deal effectively places Iran’s nuclear program (through IAEA) under total control of the United States and its allies. This is no speculation; it follows from the interim deal’s vastly invasive inspections regime, which is described under the subheading “Enhanced Monitoring”:
- Provision of specified information to the IAEA, including information on Iran’s plans for nuclear facilities, a description of each building on each nuclear site, a description of the scale of operations for each location engaged in specified nuclear activities, information on uranium mines and mills, and information on source material. This information would be provided within three months of the adoption of these measures.
- Steps to agree with the IAEA on conclusion of the Safeguards Approach for the reactor at Arak, designated by the IAEA as the IR-40.
- Daily IAEA inspector access when inspectors are not present for the purpose of Design Information Verification, Interim Inventory Verification, Physical Inventory Verification, and unannounced inspections, for the purpose of access to offline surveillance records, at Fordow and Natanz.
- IAEA inspector managed access to: centrifuge assembly workshops; centrifuge rotor production workshops and storage facilities; and, uranium mines and mills.
The fact that provisions of “enhanced monitoring” tend to infringe upon Iran’s national sovereignty was implicitly acknowledged by the Washington Post when it reported on the morning following the signing of the deal (24 November 2013) that, according to Western officials in Geneva, the Iranian concessions “not only halt Iran’s nuclear advances but also make it virtually impossible for Tehran” to make any changes in its nuclear technology “without being detected.”
Another indication of Iran’s national sovereignty being threatened is the interim deal’s establishment of “a financial channel to facilitate humanitarian trade for Iran’s domestic needs. . . . This channel could also enable: transactions required to pay Iran’s UN obligations; and, direct tuition payments to universities and colleges for Iranian students studying abroad.” Although the financial channel would be using Iran’s own money, currently frozen abroad, it would not be controlled or managed by Iranians—sadly reminiscent of Iraq’s “oil for food” neo-colonial deal under Saddam Hussein.
Did Iran Have to Give up so Much for so Little?
Deprived of more than half of its oil exports/revenue, and largely locked out of the international banking and/or trade system, the Iranian economy and its people are already gravely suffering from the ravages of economic sanctions. Additional sanctions, which are pre-packaged and frequently brandished as a Damocles’ Sword in the background of the nuclear negotiations, are bound to further depress Iran’s economy and the living conditions of its people.
Under these circumstances, Iran basically faced (or faces) two options. One option would be embarking on the path of a war economy, as it has, in effect, been subjected to a brutal economic war by the United States and its allies. This would be similar to the eight years (1980-88) of war with Iraq, when at the instigation and support of regional and global powers Saddam Hussein launched a surprise military attack against Iran. The other option would be compromising its legal and legitimate rights to peaceful nuclear technology in order to appease the global bully (the U.S.) and its minions in the hope that this may prevent a further tightening of the noose of economic sanctions around the neck of the Iranian people.
During the eight-year war with Saddam’s Iraq, not only did the Western powers and their allies in the region support the Iraqi dictator militarily but they also subjected Iran to severe economic sanctions. With its back against the wall, so to speak, Iran embarked on a revolutionary path of a war economy that successfully provided both for the war mobilization to defend its territorial integrity and for respectable living conditions of its population. By taking control of the commanding heights of the national economy, and effectively utilizing the revolutionary energy and dedication of their people, Iranian policy makers further succeeded in bringing about significant economic developments. These included: extensive electrification of the countryside, expansion of transportation networks, construction of tens of thousands of schools and medical clinics all across the country, provision of foodstuffs and other basic needs for the indigent at affordable prices, and more.
Despite its record of success, this option is altogether ruled out by today’s Iranian ruling powers. There are a number of reasons for this aversion to a regimented war economy. A detailed discussion of such reasons is beyond the purview of this essay. Suffice it to say that many of the revolutionary leaders who successfully managed the 1980-88 war economy have now become business entrepreneurs and prosperous capitalists. Having effectively enriched themselves in the shadow of the public sector economy, or by virtue of the political/bureaucratic positions they held (or still hold) in various stations in the government apparatus, these folks have by now lost all appetite they once had for the radical economic measures required by a war economy. Instead, they now seem eager to strike business and investment deals with their counterparts in the West.
More than any other social strata, President Rouhani and his administration represent the interests and aspirations of this ascending capitalist–business class in Iran. Representatives of this class wield economic and political power through the highly influential Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture (ICCIMA). Ideological and/or philosophical affinity between President Rouhani and the power-brokers residing within ICCIMA is reflected in the fact that, immediately upon his election, the president appointed former head of the Chamber of Commerce Mohammad Nahavandian, a U.S.-educated neoliberal economist and an advisor to former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, as his chief of staff.
It was through Nahavandian and the Iran Chamber of Commerce that, in September 2013, an Iranian economic delegation accompanied President Rouhani to the United Nations in New York to negotiate (behind the scenes) potential business/investment deals with their American counterparts. The Iran Chamber of Commerce also organized a number of economic delegations that accompanied Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif to Geneva in pursuit of similar objectives in Europe.
It is understandable, therefore, why major factions within Iran’s ruling circles, especially the Rouhani administration and their allies and co-thinkers, have no stomach for a regimented, war-like economy; and why, instead, they opted for compromises over Iran’s nuclear program. The question remains, however, why did they make so many concessions in return for so little? Did they have to compromise as much as they did?
Two major reasons can be identified for why they could strike a better nuclear deal in Geneva than they actually did. For one thing, President Rouhani’s and his team of negotiators’ liaison with the P5+1 group got off on the wrong foot: they showed their hand prematurely by approaching the negotiations with a sense of desperation and an attitude of eagerness to reach a deal.
Indeed, it is fair to argue that President Rouhani condemned Iran to an unsound or flawed deal long before he was elected. He did so during his presidential campaign by pinning his chances for election on economic recovery through a nuclear deal. This was a huge mistake, as it automatically weakened Iran’s bargaining position and, by the same token, strengthened that of the United States and its allies. By exaggerating (perhaps opportunistically) the culpability of his predecessor in the escalation of economic sanctions against Iran, he committed two blunders: one downplaying the culpability of the U.S. and its allies; the other (and by the same token) placing the onus of reaching a nuclear deal largely on Iran.
Secondly, whereas the U.S. and its junior partners constantly brandished the so-called “stick” of additional sanctions in the background of the Geneva negotiations to extract more concessions from Iran, the Iranian side does not seem to have effectively used its country’s recent geopolitical successes in the region to resist the one-sided concessions. While the United States and its allies have in recent months experienced a major setback over the Syrian crisis, Iran and its allies (Russia, Syria, Hezbollah and, indirectly and minimally, China) have by the same token experienced success. And while the results of the U.S. military adventures of the past dozen years or so have been chaos and civil war in countries like Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, Iran remains a relatively stable and an ascending regional power, indeed, a power-broker—sanctions-induced economic distress notwithstanding.
It is thus altogether reasonable to argue that had the Iranian negotiators (a) not gone to Geneva with such an openly eager attitude to reach a nuclear deal, and (b) taken more effective advantage of their country’s recent geopolitical successes in the region, they could have struck a better nuclear deal than they actually did. For example, while agreeing on the freezing of their nuclear technology was (under the circumstances) unavoidable, they could more strongly argue that there was no reason for them to roll back Iran’s scientific achievements from 20 percent enrichment of uranium to 5 percent—20 percent enrichment is both NPT-sanctioned, or legal, and required for the Tehran Research Reactor, which manufactures medical isotopes.
Likewise, while agreeing to more intrusive inspections of nuclear sites was (again, under the circumstances) inescapable, Iranian negotiators could reasonably resist allowing inspectors access to and monitoring of their country’s centrifuge assembly workshops, or its uranium mines and mills. Furthermore, the Iranian team could, again quite reasonably, insist on making the elements of the “final agreement,” which is supposed to remove all of the sanctions against Iran, more specific. As they now stand, these elements are so vague, fluid and inconsistent that they seem to be crafted in order to be broken.
Regime Change From Within
Ever since the 1979 revolution in Iran, which significantly undermined the U.S. influence in Iran and elsewhere in the region, the United States has been on a “regime change” mission in that country. Its efforts in pursuit of this nefarious goal are rather well established. They range from instigating and supporting Saddam Hussein to invade Iran, to training and supporting destabilizing terrorist organizations to attack Iran, to constant war and military threats, to efforts to sabotage the 2009 presidential election through the so-called “green revolution,” and to systematic escalation of economic sanctions.
Not only have these imperialistic schemes fallen short of their goal of “regime change” in Iran, they have, in fact, driven that country to become a major power in the region, which has further thwarted the geopolitical plans of the United States in the area. While the U.S.–supported mercenary forces in Syria as well as its allies in Ankara, Cairo and Riyadh have experienced serious setbacks in their efforts to overthrow the government in Damascus, the Iran-Russia-Syria-Hezbollah alliance has (by the same token) gained strength and prestige in recent months.
Having thus failed at its plots for “regime change” in Iran from without, the U.S. (or more precisely, a major faction of its ruling powers) now seems to have opted for regime change (or reform) from within; that is, through political and economic rapprochement with Iran. Even some of the U.S. allies such as Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Israel that have always been wary of Iran’s radical influence in the region, and who initially opposed vehemently the Iran–P5+1 nuclear agreement, are beginning to see the “moderating” or “stabilizing” benefits of the success of this tactic.
What has made this option more promising (to the U.S. and its client regimes) is the rise of an ambitious capitalist class in Iran whose chief priority seems to be the ability to do business with their counterparts in the West. These folks literally mean business, so to speak; for them, issues such as nuclear technology or national sovereignty are of secondary importance. As mentioned earlier, they are the staunchest supporters of President Rouhani and the unquestioning supporters of his lopsided concessions in the nuclear deal. Also as mentioned before, it was the representative delegations of this class of Iranian capitalists that accompanied President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif to the United States and Europe in order to negotiate business/investment deals with their counterparts in the West.
To be sure, the jingoistic factions of the U.S. ruling circles, headed by the beneficiaries of war dividends and the Israeli lobby, continue to push for direct military intervention and/or further economic strangulation of Iran. But the leaders and/or beneficiaries of non-military industries such as oil, automobile, airlines, agriculture, and the like are lobbying the Obama administration for economic and political rapprochement with Iran.
Which of these two major factions of the U.S. ruling powers (Proponents of regime change from within or from without) would succeed, depends largely on the process and/or outcome of nuclear negotiations. While making threats of additional sanctions, the hardline or militaristic faction seem to be for now sitting on the fence: if Iran continues to make more one-sided concessions, which would basically mean giving up its right to a level of uranium enrichment that is necessary for its peaceful domestic needs, they would soften their positions and gradually lower their shrill and menacing voices. On the other hand, if Iran does not relent on its legal and legitimate enrichment rights, and insists that the U.S. and its allies need to reciprocate Iran’s interim concessions by lifting the sanctions, they would further harden their positions by calling for additional sanctions and/or military intervention. Under this latter scenario, proponents of rapprochement with Iran, having failed in their tactic of regime change/reform from within, would most probably join the hardliners, thereby embarking, once again, on the long-standing policy of regime change from without—back to square one, so to speak.
So, how would all of these new developments on both the Iranian and the U.S. side affect and/or be affected by the interim nuclear deal toward a “comprehensive final step”?
Problematic and Uncertain Future of the Interim Nuclear Deal
Components of the interim agreement are so vague, inconsistent and even contradictory that it makes them subject to divergent interpretations and, therefore, potential breaches of the deal in the future. This explains why soon after the agreement was signed conflicting understandings of it began to surface. While the Iranian president and his team of negotiators have frequently declared that the agreement acknowledges the country’s right to uranium enrichment, the U.S. side, headed by President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, has vigorously denied that right.
Equally vague and (potentially) problematic is the meaning of the “elements of the final step of a comprehensive solution.” According to Iran’s negotiators, the “final step” would “Comprehensively lift UN Security Council, multilateral and national nuclear-related sanctions,” as it is, indeed, stipulated as such in the interim agreement. However, the agreement immediately adds that the final step would “Involve a mutually defined enrichment program with mutually agreed parameters consistent with practical needs, with agreed limits on scope and level of enrichment activities, capacity, where it is carried out, and stocks of enriched uranium, for a period to be agreed upon.” And it is this ambiguous and condition-laden (“mutually defined enrichment…, mutually agreed parameters…, agreed limits on scope…, for a period to be agreed upon”) sentence in the interim deal that is frequently highlighted by the United States as governing the status of the “final step.”
This is an indication, as pointed out by Gareth Porter (among others), “of uncertain U.S. commitment to the ‘end state’ agreement.” U.S. reservations or unfaithfulness toward a clear, comprehensive and sanctions-free final deal, Gareth further points out, “came in a background press briefing by unidentified senior U.S. officials in Geneva via teleconference late Saturday night [23 November 2013]. The officials repeatedly . . . referred to the negotiation of the ‘comprehensive solution’ outlined in the deal . . . as an open-ended question rather than an objective of U.S. policy”. It is this ambiguous, unsure and noncommittal U.S. approach to the nuclear deal that serves as grounds for the pessimistic conclusion that the deal is facing an uncertain future.
Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He is the author of The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave–Macmillan 2007) and the Soviet Non-capitalist Development: The Case of Nasser’s Egypt (Praeger Publishers 1989). His latest book, titled Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis: Parasitic Finance Capital, is forthcoming from Routledge Books.
The new media venture from billionaire philanthropist Pierre Omidyar will enlist the muck-raking talents of Glen Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill. Omidyar’s record of promoting and funding “free-market solutions” to social problems is a good indicator of what the limitations of the project will be.
Pierre Omidyar is a Punahou school alumnus who holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He is also the multibillionaire philanthropist behind Hawaii-based Civil Beat, a Right-Libertarian, pro-business, pay-walled media website that focuses its critique on the shortcomings of democratic governance and the public sector. Omidyar’s Civil Beat offers analysis which seems to exist in a strange land without class conflict, where the ruling-class and the working-class struggle shoulder to shoulder against the forces corrupting liberal democracy. As a result, the editorial slant is marked by a distinct disconnect from the every-day lives of non-billionaire philanthropists, those who don’t stand to gain from the schemes of Omidyar, the “classless angel.”
Omidyar’s latest project is to launch a media group whose roster of reporters will include the muckraking talents of Glen Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill. To assess the potential for this new project, it is important to know his basic ideological outlook, which we can find in the projects he has participated in.
After striking it rich by helping to establish ebay, Omidyar decided to engage in targeted philanthropy to promote opportunity and a better world. He believes he earned his billions without taking anything from society, so his philanthropic impulse cannot be traced to a sense of guilt regarding his fortune. In fact it’s the other way around: “To Omidyar, ‘giving back’ implies that, before philanthropy, you were taking away. Not so, says Omidyar, who believes that people succeed when they create value for society.”
One of Omidyar’s “value creating” projects has been to invest heavily in the micro-loan industry, through groups like Kiva which allows investors to profit off of loans to the poor, especially in impoverished regions of India. The ideology behind this business venture saw free markets magically lifting all boats where government funding did not. The actual results were often financial collapse, leaving the borrowers prey to lenders demanding repayment. “It is tough to find a household in this village in an impoverished district of Andhra Pradesh that is not deeply in debt to a for-profit microfinance company.”
The Omidyar Network states on its website that it “is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives.” Omidyar is often identified as an “economist,” perhaps explaining his profoundly distorted idea of what markets do and how capitalism works. For him, markets seem to act as avenues which unleash people-power and democracy, especially when noble-minded entrepreneurs are navigating them.
But the misguided nature of Omidyar’s philanthropy comes into sharpest focus when looking at his projects around education. He has given ten million dollars to the Skoll Foundation, a major backer of “Teach For America“, which specializes in placing undertrained Ivy League idealists in classrooms in underperforming neighborhoods. They commit to two years on the job after graduation, and are (perhaps unwittingly) deployed as part of an end run around teachers unions. TFA promotes legislation that seeks to undermine tenure, and “reward good teachers” while making it easier to fire “bad” ones. They promote charter schools as inherently superior to public ones, and advocate for a business-model-of-education with school principals acting more like CEOs than head teachers.
Opponents of Teach For America have pointed out, that TFA is an “incubator for the privatization movement”:
TFA plays a key role in developing and connecting personnel, political support, and financial backing for neoliberal and market based policies, specifically charter school reform, the deregulation of teacher education, and accountability policies.
While TFA uses the rhetoric of justice and equity, these reforms in fact stifle democratic processes and are used to justify budget cuts and the takeover of public institutions by privately funded and privately run companies.
Jeff Skoll was Omidyar’s business partner and the first President of ebay. Skoll was a major funder of the movie “Waiting For Superman” which featured Michelle Rhee as its protagonist, giving her a national platform to attack teachers’ unions and promote her privatization agenda which has resonated with both Republicans and Democrats carrying out austerity-governance. Diane Ravitch’s description of the movie (and related education “reform” films) shows how it is a perfect fit for Omidyar’s vision of entrepreneurial genius coming to the rescue of a world mired in public sector programs that are alleged to have “failed”:
The message of these films has become alarmingly familiar: American public education is a failed enterprise. The problem is not money. Public schools already spend too much. Test scores are low because there are so many bad teachers, whose jobs are protected by powerful unions. Students drop out because the schools fail them, but they could accomplish practically anything if they were saved from bad teachers. They would get higher test scores if schools could fire more bad teachers and pay more to good ones. The only hope for the future of our society, especially for poor black and Hispanic children, is escape from public schools, especially to charter schools, which are mostly funded by the government but controlled by private organizations, many of them operating to make a profit
The Omidyar Network is behind “Teach For All,” the globalized version of the Teach For America model. A look at the Board of Teach For All, provides a clear illustration of both its detachment from the educational field, and the corporate world view it embodies. Its members include top brass from Rolls Royce, Visa, Goldman Sachs, the founder of Teach For America, and Dr. Rufus Black a “theologian and ethicist” who is presumably there to provide rationalizations for their atrocious attacks on working teachers, students, unions, and communities.
Especially appalling is the push by Omidyar and other corporate education “reformers” to link teacher assessments to their students’ scores on standardized tests, and then to utilize those assessments in determining whether a teacher retains employment or not. This correlates to the “business model of education.” A profile on the Omidyar Network states that “[t]he model of investing in social change organizations requires that measurable good flows from the investment, just as accounting methods tell executives whether a for-profit investment is producing profits.” This is the lens through which corporate reformers like Bill Gates, the Broad Foundation, and Omidyar see the world. Numerical data will reflect the “measurable good” provided by a teacher, but the data will be detached from factors like poverty, student access to nutrition, problems at home, the level at which particular schools are funded and the educational resources they have access to, etc. These aspects will be abstracted out, as is the fashion in the neoliberal economics that underpin Omidyar’s crusades to create social value. Teachers with students who are learning English as a second language, who have learning disabilities, or who face issues stemming from poverty, still the main determinant in negative educational outcomes, are assessed as “failing” if their students’ scores are low.
Omidyar, and the other billionaire philanthropists who push top down, non-democratic crusades to empower the people, genuinely believe they possess the knowledge that the “best minds” have to offer. One problem is that their money gives them the right to engage in these projects whether or not they have any kind of relevant expertise, or even a grasp on reality. The corporate-philanthropist take on reality amounts to little more than ideology; specifically capitalist:
Property rights are the keys to economic security, identity, and wealth creation. … Societies that enforce these rights benefit from greater economic growth, transparency, and political stability, as they encourage investment, promote the rule of law, and give people a stake in the future.
Any grounding of capitalism in history shows that, while it unleashed productive powers never before dreamed of, it cannot be a truly liberating force for humanity. Beyond whatever role it had in overturning feudal social relations, it came with inherent problems of its own, and the concept of “property rights” is one of them. From the English enclosures carried out by the landed gentry, enabled by laws created by the parliaments they owned, to the hangings of thousands of “vagrants” who had become criminalized via this process, capitalism’s beginnings were brutal by design. Property rights as enshrined in law has mainly to do with preserving the ownership of the “means of production” in a very few hands while the masses own little more than their own labor power, which they must sell to a boss. For every gain made via capitalist production, so to have these inequalities of the class system been reproduced. The hangings were part of a ruling class pedagogy, because people had to be taught to respect the new restrictive capitalist property relations which made it so hard for them to survive. With this in mind, its hard to get on board with Omidyar’s goal of creating value for society, when the system of value production he promotes as a panacea is the same one that reinforces the process of alienation.
The idea that property rights make people free should be especially offensive when Omidyar targets former colonies for philanthropic rehabilitation. With Teach For India, we see a project promoting markets as the savior of Indian social infrastructure. Unfortunately, the impact of the market system on India has a deeply disturbing history, completely relevant to Omidyar’s present efforts. In his book Late Victorian Holocausts, Mike Davis has illuminated the incredible human toll markets unleashed on the subcontinent under British colonial rule: “Davis’ primary focus in fleshing out his story is the crown jewel of Britain’s colonial empire: India. Drought was the precipitating cause of the hardship faced by the Indian people. However, Davis demonstrates with statistics and anecdotes that it was the unregulated “free market” system imposed on India by Britain that led to the deaths of tens of millions in the mid-1870s and late 1880s.”
Aside from his ideologically dubious philanthropy, Omidyar has also drawn outrage closer to his present Oahu home from the residents of the island of Kauai, where he has proposed to develop a mixed residential and low-density hotel resort. “Despite 5,000+ petition signers, strong, visible community opposition, and several attempts to dialog directly with Mr. Omidyar, the Oahu resident and billionaire founder of eBay has thus far declined to personally dialog with concerned Kauai Community leaders.” It should be noted that Kauai’s population is roughly 68,000, so 5,000 signatures is proportionally significant. A member of Save Hanalei River Ridge, wrote to Omidyar, complaining that:
To introduce multi-million-dollar homes sitting on top of the ridge looking down on Black Pot, would break the hearts of the thousands of people who live here and also those who come to visit and enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the River and the Bay. A resort development on this massive scale on the Hanalei River Ridge opens the door to letting it become more like Laguna Beach and less like Hanalei; this Garden of Eden that so well defines Kauai.
Despite the fact that his projects consistently put him at odds with the poor and working-class, Omidyar still sees himself as a benefactor of the people. The new venture, he explains “was fueled by his ‘rising concern about press freedoms in the United States and around the world’.” Natasha Vargas-Cooper hit what is perhaps a more telling note about Omidyar’s interest in independent media when she wrote of Glen Greenwald in a profile of him for The Advocate. She believes that Greenwald’s “obsession with surveillance and privacy issues have made him into an ideological pillar of the rather sterile, unfriendly world of civil libertarian politics, a group not known for its warmth and humanism.” Omidyar’s union-busting politics, his focus on private sector saviors, his backing of disruptive land developments, and his misnomered “social entrepreneurship” put him in that world.
Reading Omidyar’s description of how his private sector experience will create success for his new media outlet, one would be justified in suspecting the blind spot toward working-class issues, so glaring in Civil Beat, will be replicated in the new venture: “Companies in Silicon Valley invest a lot in understanding their users and what drives user engagement. … That process got me thinking about what kind of social impact could be created if a similar investment was made in something entirely new, built from the ground up. Something that I would be personally and directly involved in outside of my other efforts as a philanthropist.” Omidyar’s idea of a community of readers empowered by truth is again seen through a commodified lens: “Users,” (themselves a product to deliver to advertisers and others who can utilize information they generate about themselves) are driven to engage with his product, in this case news.
For the working-class, Omidyar’s pursuit of freedom of both information and markets cannot be seen as inherently progressive. His top-down billionaire philanthropist/savior antics are as insulting as Andrew Carnegie’s public infrastructure campaigns, which created public libraries and parks from the private fortune he’d amassed repressing wages and workers’ movements. In Omidyar’s world a classless civil society fights the powers that impede the market’s ability to liberate human potential. In the real, historically grounded world there is an employing class and a working-class that “have nothing in common”. No billionaire media mogul is ever going to be in the service of working people, no matter how much rhetoric about freedom of speech is deployed in the promotion of his or her product.
David Carr is an organizer with LaborFest Hawaii and a History instructor at Leeward Community College.
The UN General Assembly has unanimously adopted a nuclear disarmament resolution that includes proposals forwarded by Iran President Hassan Rouhani as head of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
The resolution, adopted on Thursday, calls on nuclear-power states to make more efforts to scale down and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear arms.
In an address to the UN Disarmament Conference in New York on September 25, President Rouhani called for the “total elimination” of nuclear weapons across the world and said no one should possess such weapons.
Rouhani’s proposals included the holding of immediate negotiations on the conclusion of a comprehensive international convention on banning the production, proliferation and use of nuclear weapons; the holding of a high-level conference in 2018 on nuclear disarmament; and designating September 26 as the international day for total elimination of nuclear weapons.
The UN General Assembly’s resolution urges nuclear-weapon states to rapidly adopt the necessary measures in order to abide by their international commitments regarding disarmament. It specifically calls for the full annihilation of nuclear arsenals, transparently, irrevocably, and under international supervision.
According to the resolution, non-nuclear states should be given guarantees that they will not be threatened or attacked with nuclear weapons.
It also calls on the General Assembly to urge all signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to follow up on the implementation of their obligations as agreed in the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences.
Here we go again. On Israel and the US losing their UNESCO voting rights, ‘Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan, ‘said in an interview that his country supports the U.S. decision [to suspend contributions], “objecting to the politicization of UNESCO, or any international organization, with the accession of a non-existing country like Palestine.” (AP 8-11-13)
Palestine-denial, next to straight out violent ethnic-cleansing, is Israel’s sinister stratagem to wipe Palestinians off the face of their own ancestral land in order to lay a fictitious claim to the whole of historic Palestine.
Like the boy who cried ‘wolf’, Israel’s frenetic cries of ‘delegitimisation’ or’ anti-semitism’ at criticism of its illegal occupation and apartheid policies, are falling on the skeptical ears of the decent masses fed up with Israel’s double standards of delegitimising Palestine and dehumanising Palestinians as non-people.
In between the years spanning Golda Meir’s “There were no such things as the Palestinians… They did not exist.” (June 15, 1969) to the regurgitation by US Presidential nominee candidate, Newt Gingrich, Sheldon Adelson’s ventriloquist dummy, “Remember, there was no Palestine as a state — (it was) part of the Ottoman Empire. I think we have an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs” (10 12- 11) and up to Barkan’s present absurdity, are torrents of similar Zionist gibberish in the media.
Just as the English people evolved over millennia through the assimilation of indigenous folk and conquering colonisers and migrants, ie Picts, Celts, Britons, Romans, Angles, Saxons and Normans, so too modern Palestinians descended from sundry peoples; Canaanites, Edomites, Eremites, Moabites, Assyrians, Egyptians, Philistines, Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Europeans,Turks.
In fact the nation of England didn’t manifest from multiple kingdoms until the 10th century CE and English identity only began to develop after the Norman conquests in the 12th century. At that time Palestine was part of the Arab Caliphate that took over from 600 years of Roman rule in 634 and held Palestine until 1516 three times longer than the sum of historic Jewish control sans the fictitious monarchies of Saul, David and Solomon:
“There is no evidence of a United Monarchy no evidence of a capital in Jerusalem or of any coherent, unified political force that dominated western Palestine, let alone an empire of the size the legends describe. We do not have evidence for the existence of kings named Saul, David or Solomon; nor do we have evidence for any temple at Jerusalem in this early period. What we do know of Israel and Judah of the tenth century does not allow us to interpret this lack of evidence as a gap in our knowledge and information about the past, a result merely of the accidental nature of archeology. There is neither room nor context, no artifact or archive that points to such historical realities in Palestine’s tenth century. One cannot speak historically of a state without a population. Nor can one speak of a capital without a town. Stories are not enough.” The Bible in History: How Writers Create a Past, Thomas L Thompson
Thus the Israeli claim to Palestine on historic grounds has much less validity than a claim by modern Italians or Greeks on Palestine, or say Italians or Danes on England or Germans on France or the Syrians on Spain. In his book, ‘The Invention of the Land of Israel’, Israeli historian Prof. Shlomo Sand ‘argues that for 2,000 years the Jews did not constitute a people and that only religion, belief and culture united them.’(Haaretz 24-5-13)
To alchemise the myth that Palestine is the birthplace of the Jewish people into ‘reality’, Israel fused two elements, the Bible and archeology. As the Hebrew Bible is the basis of Christianity, which itself is a pillar of western civilisation, Biblical archeology then becomes the focus and front for a fabricated and dominant Zionist history, a ‘master story’ totally obscuring the rich heritage of Palestinian history. In short, Palestine-denial:
“Appropriations of the past as part of the politics of the present… could be illustrated for most parts of the globe. One further example which is of particular interest to this study, is the way in which archeology and biblical history have become of such importance to the modern state of Israel. It is this combination which has been such a powerful factor in silencing Palestinian history.” ( p.16 The Invention of Ancient Israel: the silencing of Palestinian history, Keith W Whitelam)
The findings of Biblical archeology have gone unquestioned until recently with the advent of The Copenhagen School which challenged the Bible’s literal value as history.
These scholars agree that the heroic biblical accounts of David and Solomon were written between the 5th and 3rd centuries BC; hundreds of years after the so-called Iron Age united monarchy. Much the same as Homer’s heroic Iliad and Odyssey were written 400 years after its Bronze age setting. Nevertheless, the state of Israel has invested heavily in the David myth for its false historic claim to Jerusalem as its capital because it was the city of David.
Indeed, archaeology has become a state apparatus for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the Zionist fairyland aka the City of David Archaeological Park located in the Palestinian village of Silwan in East Jerusalem,
‘De-Arabizing the history of Palestine is another crucial element of the ethnic cleansing. 1500 years of Arab and Muslim rule and culture in Palestine are trivialized, evidence of its existence is being destroyed and all this is done to make the absurd connection between the ancient Hebrew civilization and today’s Israel. The most glaring example of this today is in Silwan, (Wadi Hilwe) a town adjacent to the Old City of Jerusalem with some 50,000 residents. Israel is expelling families from Silwan and destroying their homes because it claims that king David built a city there some 3000 years ago. Thousands of families will be made homeless so that Israel can build a park to commemorate a king that may or may not have lived 3000 years ago. Not a shred of historical evidence exists that can prove King David ever lived yet Palestinian men, women, children and the elderly along with their schools and mosques, churches and ancient cemeteries and any evidence of their existence must be destroyed and then denied so that Zionist claims to exclusive rights to the land may be substantiated.’ — Miko Peled, Israeli dissident.
Furthermore Prof. Ze’ev Herzog at Tel Aviv University in Deconstructing the walls of Jericho debunks a historic Exodus myth, “This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel.” The emergence from the desert and creating a unified state where the desert blooms and the brave pioneering Jews prosper lies at the core of Israeli identity and echoed here by President Shimon Peres:
“I remember how it all began. The whole state of Israel is a millimeter of the whole Middle East. A statistical error, barren and disappointing land, swamps in the north, desert in the south, two lakes, one dead and an overrated river. No natural resource apart from malaria. There was nothing here. And we now have the best agriculture in the world? This is a miracle: a land built by people” (Maariv, 14 -4-2013).
The old ‘there was nothing here’ strikes agin! Peres knows this is charlatanry. Palestinian agriculture and trade was booming when the Zionist colonists arrived and was vibrant, booming, and plenteous for centuries.
Guy Le Strange, in 1890, translated in his fascinating book, Palestine Under the Moslems; From AD 650 to 1500, the works of 20 medieval Muslim geographers including the famous Jerusalemite, Al Mukaddasi and Ibn Battuta:
“Filasîn is watered by the rains and the dew. Its trees and its ploughed lands do not need artificial irrigation; and it is only in Nâbulus that you find the running waters applied to this purpose. Filastîn is the most fertile of the Syrian provinces.
“From Palestine come olives, dried figs, raisins, the carobfruit, stuffs of mixed silk and cotton, soap and kerchiefs. “ From Jerusalem come cheeses, cotton, the celebrated raisins of the species known as ’Ainûnî and Dûrî, excellent apples, bananas—which same is a fruit in the form of a cucumber, but when the skin is peeled off, the interior is not unlike the water-melon, only finer flavoured and more luscious—also pine nuts of the kind called ‘ Kuraish-bite’ and their equal is not found elscwhere; further, mirrors, lamp-jars, and needles. “ From Jericho is brought excellent indigo. “ From Sughar and Baisân come both indigo and dates, also the treacle called Dibs. “
“Unequalled is this land of Syria for its dried figs, its common olive-oil, its white bread, and the Ramlah veils; also for the quinces, the pine-nuts called ‘ Kuraish-bite,’ the ’Ainûnî and Duri raisins, the Theriack-antidote, the herb of mint, and the rosaries of Jerusalem. And further, know that within the province of Palestine may be found gathered together six-and-thirty products that are not found thus united in any other land. Of these the first seven are found in Palestine alone; the following seven are very rare in other countries; and the remaining two-and-twenty, though only found thus gathered together in this province, are, for the most part, found one and another, singly, in other lands. Now the first seven are the pine-nuts, called ‘ Kuraish-bite,’ the quince or Cydonian-apple, the ’Ainûnî and the Duri raisins, the Kâfûrî plum, the fig called As Sabâ’i, and the fig of Damascus. The next seven are the Colocasia or water lily, the sycamore, the carob or St. John’s bread (locust-tree), the lotus-fruit or jujube, the artichoke, the sugar-cane, and the Syrian apple. And the remaining twentytwo are the fresh dates and olives, the shaddock, the indigo and juniper, the orange, the mandrake, the Nabk fruit, the nut, the almond, the asparagus, the banana, the sumach, the cabbage, the truffle, the lupin, and the early prune, called At Tarî; also snow, buffalo-milk, the honey-comb, the ‘Âsimî grape, and the Tamri—or date-fig. Further, there is the preserve called Kubbait; you find, in truth, the like of it in name elsewhere, but of a dififerent flavour. The lettuce also, which everywhere else, except only at Ahwâz (in Persia), is counted as a common vegetable, is here in Palestine a choice dish.
What is intriguing in these Muslim chronicles is their acknowledgement of the Jewish and Christian narratives, “In the middle of the Lake of Tiberias is a projecting rock, which they say is the tomb of Solomon, the son of David. Now, the sinking together of the waters of the Lake of Tiberias will be a sign of the coming of the Antichrist, called Ad Dajjâl.” and according to Sand, “it was not until the arrival of the armies of Islam in the early seventh century that Jews were finally allowed to freely enter and reside in their ancient holy city.”
So unlike Israel’s perpetual denial that Palestine ever existed as a nation that disregards the definition of ‘nation’ includes both the legal entity of nation as state and also nation as ‘a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, or history inhabiting a particular country or territory.’ For example in Australia there are over 200 Indigenous nations and over 500 in America.
There are countless historic references to Palestine to counter Israeli denial such as:
1150 BC: “Peleset transliterated from hieroglyphs as P-r-s-t referring to the people and land of the Philistines during Egypt’s Twentieth Dynasty.
800 BC: The Assyrians referred to region as Palashtu
5th Century BC: “The first known occurrence of the Greek word Palaistine is in the Histories of Herodotus, written near the mid-fifth century B.C. Palaistine Syria, or simply Palaistine, is applied to what may be identified as the southern part of Syria, comprising the region between Phoenicia and Egypt.”
306 -337 CE: Of the Roman Emperor Constantine, Eusebius the Palestinian writes in his Vita Constantini: In this manner, then, the emperor executed in Palestine the noble works I have above described: and indeed in every province he raised new churches on a far more imposing scale than those which had existed before his time. Chapter xlvii book III and includes a letter from Constantine to “”Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to Macarius, and the rest of the bishops in Palestine “ LII
Arab Caliphate 650-1500: “the early division of Syria into five Junds. These corresponded very nearly with the old Roman and Byzantine provinces, such as the Arabs found in existence at the time of the conquest, and which are described in the Code of Theodosius, a work that dates from the fifth century A.D. Palæstina Prima, with Cæsarea for its capital, comprising Judsea and Samaria, became the Arab Jund of Filastîn, with Ramlah for capital. Palæstina Secunda, with Scythopolis (Beth Shean, Baisân) for its capital, comprising the two Galûees and the western part of Persea, became the Jund of Al Urdunn (the Jordan), with Tiberias for the new capital. Palæstina Tertia, or Salutaris, including Idumsea and Arabia Petraea, was absorbed partly into the Damascus Jund, and partly was counted in Filastîn. ( le Strange)
“ The population of Palestine consists of Arabs of the tribes of Lakhm, Judhâm, ’Âmilah, Kindah, Kais ( le Strange)
The discovery of the 7th Century Standing Caliph Coins of Aylah-Filastin
Circa 1603: Shakespeare’s Othello, Act4 Sc.3 ll38-9
EMILIA: I know a lady in Venice would have walked barefoot to Palestine for a touch of his nether lip.
1896: Even the father of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, recognised Palestine within the Ottoman Empire,”If His Majesty the Sultan were to give us Palestine, we could in return undertake to regulate the whole finances of Turkey.” (The Jewish State,)
1915-8: The Australian War memorial and the official Australian Light Horse website recognise the WW1 Sinai and PALESTINE campaigns.
1927: “the Currency Board put into circulation a new currency which in 1928 became the sole legal currency. This was the Palestine pound, equivalent in value to the pound sterling and divided into 1,000 mils. The notes in current circulation in Palestine are £P ½, 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500. There are also silver coins of 50 and 100 mils and bronze and nickel coins of 5, 10 and 20 mils.”
February 1927: ultra Zionist David Ben Gurion said
“The right which the Arabs in Palestine have is one due to the inhabitants of any country . . . because they live here, and not because they are Arabs . . . The Arab inhabitants of Palestine should enjoy all the rights of citizens and all political rights, not only as individuals, but as a national community, just like the Jews.”
The same Ben Gurion who, according to Prof. Ilan Pappe, was the “architect of ethnic cleansing” during the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe) when, 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed by Zionist militias and 750,000 Palestinians were forced to leave their ancestral land while thousands of innocents were murdered.
Israel has compelled the criminalisation of Holocaust denial in Europe and elsewhere even though it has enacted domestic laws criminalising Nakba commemoration. The flaccid reaction of world governments to Israel’s galling double standards is as ethically contemptible as Israel’s effrontery to expunge an oppressed people and their lineal land.
Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.
Former South African President and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela passed away Thursday evening at the age of 95 and eulogies from world leaders began to appear soon after his death.
US President Barack Obama was one of the world leaders who paid their glowing tribute to South Africa’s anti-apartheid legend.
“We’ve lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with,” the US President said. “He no longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages … His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to.”
Nevertheless, it was not until 2008 that the US government removed Mandela’s name from its terrorism watch list.
Following the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, when forces of South Africa’s apartheid regime shot 69 people dead in protests in the township of Sharpeville, Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) was banned.
The apartheid regime designated the ANC as a terrorist organization because it fought against the regime’s apartheid system which legalized racial discrimination from 1948 to 1994.
The apartheid system banned the black people from voting, traveling without permission, or even possessing land.
In 1987, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also described Mandela’s ANC as a “typical terrorist organization.”
The US State Department under the presidency of Ronald Reagan also deemed Mandela’s ANC a terrorist organization and Reagan vetoed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 passed by US Congress. Reagan’s veto was later overridden by Congress.
By Stephen J. Sniegoski ~ 2003
Is there any evidence that Israel and her supporters have managed to get the United States to fight for their interests?
To unearth the real motives for the projected war on Iraq, one must ask the critical question: How did the 9/11 terrorist attack lead to the planned war on Iraq, even though there is no real evidence that Iraq was involved in 9/11? From the time of the 9/11 attack, neoconservatives, of primarily (though not exclusively) Jewish ethnicity and right-wing Zionist persuasion, have tried to make use of 9/11 to foment a broad war against Islamic terrorism, the targets of which would coincide with the enemies of Israel.
For some time prior to September 11, 2001, neoconservatives had publicly advocated an American war on Iraq. The 9/11 atrocities provided the pretext. The idea that neocons are the motivating force behind the U.S. movement for war has been broached by a number of commentators
To understand why Israeli leaders would want a Middle East war, it is first necessary to take a brief look at the history of the Zionist movement and its goals. Despite public rhetoric to the contrary, the idea of expelling (or, in the accepted euphemism, “transferring”) the indigenous Palestinian population was an integral part of the Zionist effort to found a Jewish national state in Palestine. Historian Tom Segev writes:
The idea of transfer had accompanied the Zionist movement from its very beginnings, first appearing in Theodore Herzl’s diary. In practice, the Zionists began executing a mini-transfer from the time they began purchasing the land and evacuating the Arab tenants…. “Disappearing” the Arabs lay at the heart of the Zionist dream, and was also a necessary condition of its existence…. With few exceptions, none of the Zionists disputed the desirability of forced transfer — or its morality.
However, Segev continues, the Zionist leaders learned not to publicly proclaim their plan of mass expulsion because “this would cause the Zionists to lose the world’s sympathy.”
The key was to find an opportune time to initiate the expulsion so it would not incur the world’s condemnation.
A clear illustration of the neoconservative thinking on war on Iraq is a 1996 paper developed by Perle, Feith, David Wurmser, and others published by an Israeli think tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, titled “A clean break: a new strategy for securing the realm.” It was intended as a political blueprint for the incoming government of Benjamin Netanyahu. The paper stated that Netanyahu should “make a clean break” with the Oslo peace process and reassert Israel’s claim to the West Bank and Gaza. It presented a plan whereby Israel would “shape its strategic environment,” beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad, to serve as a first step toward eliminating the anti-Israeli governments of Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.
Note that these Americans — Perle, Feith, and Wurmser — were advising a foreign government and that they currently are connected to the George W. Bush administration: Perle is head of the Defense Policy Board; Feith is Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy; and Wurmser is special assistant to State Department chief arms control negotiator John Bolton. It is also remarkable that while in 1996 Israel was to “shape its strategic environment” by removing her enemies, the same individuals are now proposing that the United States shape the Middle East environment by removing Israel’s enemies. That is to say, the United States is to serve as Israel’s proxy to advance Israeli interests.
In September 2000, the neocon think tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC) issued a report, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” that envisioned an expanded global posture for the United States. In regard to the Middle East, the report called for an increased American military presence in the Gulf, whether Saddam was in power or not., maintaining that “the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” The project’s participants included individuals who would play leading roles in the second Bush administration: Cheney (Vice President), Rumsfeld (secretary of defense), Wolfowitz (deputy secretary of defense), and Lewis Libby (Cheney’s chief of staff). Weekly Standard editor William Kristol was also a co-author.
The September 11 atrocities provided the “revolutionary times” in which Israel could undertake radical measures unacceptable during normal conditions. When asked what the attack would do for U.S.-Israeli relations, former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded: “It’s very good.” Then he edited himself: “Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.” Netanyahu correctly predicted that the attack would “strengthen the bond between our two peoples, because we’ve experienced terror over so many decades, but the United States has now experienced a massive hemorrhaging of terror.” Sharon placed Israel in the same position as the United States, referring to the attack as an assault on “our common values” and declaring, “I believe together we can defeat these forces of evil.”
In the eyes of Israel’s leaders, the September 11 attacks had joined the United States and Israeli together against a common enemy. And that enemy was not in far-off Afghanistan but was geographically close to Israel. Israel’s traditional enemies would now become America’s as well. And Israel would have a better chance of dealing with the Palestinians under the cover of a “war on terrorism.”
In the October 29, 2002, issue of The Weekly Standard, Kagan and Kristol predict a wider Middle Eastern war:
When all is said and done, the conflict in Afghanistan will be to the war on terrorism what the North Africa campaign was to World War II: an essential beginning on the path to victory. But compared with what looms over the horizon — a wide-ranging war in locales from Central Asia to the Middle East and, unfortunately, back again to the United States — Afghanistan will prove but an opening battle…. But this war will not end in Afghanistan. It is going to spread and engulf a number of countries in conflicts of varying intensity. It could well require the use of American military power in multiple places simultaneously. It is going to resemble the clash of civilizations that everyone has hoped to avoid.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, administration heavyweights debated the scope of the “war on terrorism.” According to Bob Woodward’s Bush at War, as early as September 12 Rumsfeld “raised the question of attacking Iraq. Why shouldn’t we go against Iraq, not just al Qaeda? he asked. Rumsfeld was speaking not only for himself when he raised the question. His deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz, was committed to a policy that would make Iraq a principal target of the first round in the war on terrorism.”
Woodward adds, “The terrorist attacks of September 11 gave the United States a new window to go after Hussein.” On September 15, Wolfowitz put forth military arguments to justify a U.S. attack on Iraq rather than Afghanistan. Wolfowitz expressed the view that “attacking Afghanistan would be uncertain,” voicing the fear that American troops would be “bogged down in mountain fighting…. In contrast, Iraq was a brittle, oppressive regime that might break easily. It was doable.”
Within Israel herself, however, the Arabs would not be expected to adopt a “new political culture”; they would be expected to vanish.
Even the dean of Israel’s revisionist historians, Benny Morris, explicitly endorsed the expulsion of the Palestinians in the event of war. “This land is so small,” Morris exclaimed, “that there isn’t room for two peoples. In fifty or a hundred years, there will only be one state between the sea and the Jordan. That state must be Israel.”
As is now apparent, the “war on terrorism” was never intended to be a war to apprehend and punish the perpetrators of the September 11 atrocities. September 11 simply provided a pretext for government leaders to implement long-term policy plans. As has been pointed out elsewhere, including in my own writing, oil interests and American imperialists looked upon the war as a way to incorporate oil-rich Central Asia within the American imperial orbit. While that has been achieved, the American-sponsored government of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan is in a perilous situation. Karzai’s power seems to be limited to his immediate vicinity, and he must be protected by American bodyguards. The rest of Afghanistan is being fought over by various war lords and even the resurgent Taliban. Instead of putting forth the effort to help consolidate its position in Central Asia, Washington has shifted its focus to gaining control of the Middle East.
It now appears that the primary policymakers in the Bush administration have been the Likudnik neoconservatives all along. Control of Central Asia is secondary to control of the Middle East. In fact, for the leading neocons, the war on Afghanistan may simply have been an opening gambit, necessary for reaching their ultimate and crucial goal: U.S. control of the Middle East in the interests of Israel. That is analogous to what revisionist historians have presented as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “back door to war” approach to World War II. Roosevelt sought war with Japan in order to be able to fight Germany, and he provoked Japan into attacking U.S. colonial possessions in the Far East. Once the United States got into war through the back door, Roosevelt focused the American military effort on Germany.
The deductions drawn in this essay seem obvious but are rarely broached in public because Jewish power is a taboo subject. As the intrepid Joseph Sobran puts it: “It’s permissible to discuss the power of every other group, from the Black Muslims to the Christian Right, but the much greater power of the Jewish establishment is off-limits.”
So in a check for “hate” or “anti-Semitism,” let’s recapitulate the major points made in this essay. First, the initiation of a Middle East war to solve Israeli security problems has been a long-standing idea among Israeli rightist Likudniks. Next, Likudnik-oriented neoconservatives argued for American involvement in such a war prior to the atrocities of September 11, 2001. Since September 11, neocons have taken the lead in advocating such a war; and they hold influential foreign policy and national security positions in the Bush administration.
If Israel and Jews were not involved, there would be nothing extraordinary about my thesis. In the history of foreign policy, it has frequently been maintained that various leading figures were motivated by ties to business, an ideology, or a foreign country. In his Farewell Address, George Washington expressed the view that the greatest danger to American foreign relations would be the “passionate attachment” of influential Americans to a foreign power, which would orient U.S. foreign policy for the benefit of that power to the detriment of the United States. It is just such a situation that currently exists.
More – entire essay
A French report ruling out poisoning in Yasser Arafat’s 2004 death has a glaring inconsistency, the co-author of a Swiss probe said Thursday, sticking by his team’s conclusion that the Palestinian leader was likely killed.
“Our data lean more towards the thesis of poisoning than in the opposite direction,” Professor François Bochud, head of the Lausanne Institute of Applied Radiophysics, told AFP.
Bochud is the co-author of a report published last month that said the high levels of polonium – a rare and highly radioactive element – found in Arafat’s remains and personal effects indicated third party involvement in his death.
An as-yet unpublished French report however rules out poisoning, a source close to the probe said this week, with an argument that the naturally occurring radioactive element radon, found in the ground, explained the high polonium levels.
Bochud, who has read the French report, stressed that the 107-page Swiss study had presented numerous arguments against that theory, the most compelling being that other remains exhumed from the same cemetery did not contain excessive levels of polonium.
Both the Swiss and the French experts thoroughly cleaned Arafat’s bones to remove external contamination before carrying out their measurements, and proceeded to find identical levels of polonium, he pointed out.
“I have a hard time understanding why they, on one side say they have thoroughly cleaned the bones and eliminated contaminations, and at the same time explain their measurements with the very contamination they supposedly eliminated,” he said.
“It’s a bit difficult to follow their reasoning,” he added.
The circumstances of Arafat’s death aged 75 at a military hospital near Paris in November 2004 after a sudden deterioration in his health have long been mired in rumor and speculation.
France opened a formal murder inquiry in August 2012, a month after an documentary by the al-Jazeera television network linked Arafat’s death to polonium poisoning.
Some 60 samples were taken from his remains in November 2012 and divided between Swiss and Russian investigators and a French team carrying out a probe at his widow’s request.
Many Palestinians believe he was poisoned by Israel – a claim denied by the Jewish state.
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).
With the U.S. Congress safely in his back pocket, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has turned his charm offensive on the Vatican. How is that working out for him?
It does not look promising. The Prime Minister forgot the first rule of charm school: Target your prey gently. Avoid all punches to the mid-section.
The international Jewish News Agency (JTA) reported on Monday’s meeting between Netanyahu and Pope Francis:
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Vatican audience with Pope Francis reportedly invited the pontiff to visit Israel. No date has been set for a visit by Francis to Israel, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said. Netanyahu on Monday presented the pope with a book about the Spanish Inquisition written by his father, the late historian Benzion Netanyahu.”
An invitation to drop by for a visit to Tel Aviv along with a gift to the Holy Father recalling the dark moments of the Spanish Inquisition? Bad form, Mr. Prime Minister.
The book delivered to the Pope was written by Netanyahu’s father, Ben-Zion Netanyahu, who died recently at the age of 102. The pride of a son could be one justification for the gift. The book, The Origins of the Inquisition in 15th Century Spain, is considered the elder Netanyahu’s finest work.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was quick to note the incongruity of a book as a gift to the Pope which denounces the sins of Pope Francis’ 15th century predecessor, one that “largely revolves about Spanish Catholics questioning, torturing, and punishing Jewish converts to Catholicism,” a practice first legally sanctioned by Pope Innocent IV in 1252.
The Seattle PI adds:
“The elder Netanyahu’s impact on his politician son is well-known within Israeli circles. In 1998, David Remnick of the New Yorker wrote that while Ben-Zion Netanyahu’s opinions frequently differed from his son, the pessimism of his right wing worldview influenced his son’s hawkish policies. ‘His dilemma is always to what degree he can, or should, remain true to the ideals, the stubbornness, of his father,’ Remnick observed. The book given to the pope, Remnich adds ‘reflects that deep pessimism.’”
If the Pope accepts Netanyahu’s invitation and presents his own tit-for-tat gift to Netanyahu, there is a document in the Vatican library he could copy and take with him to Tel Aviv.
From what we are learning about this new pontiff, that Vatican document is not a gift Francis is likely to consider. Tit-for-tat does not appear to be the style of this pope.
Nevertheless, the document resting in the Vatican library files is one the Pope might read closely before he engages in further dialogue with the Israeli leader.
This Vatican document is referenced in an important new book by Scott Anderson, Lawrence In Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East.
So important is this book that it received two laudatory views in the New York Times, one month apart.
In his Times review, Alex von Tunzelmann capsules the narrative of the book:
“Scott Anderson, a veteran war correspondent and an author of both fiction and nonfiction, gives Lawrence’s story a new spin by contextualizing him in a group biography. He weaves in the lives of three contemporary Middle Eastern spies: Curt Prufer, a German conspiring with the Ottomans to bring down the British Empire; Aaron Aaronsohn, a Zionist agronomist of Romanian origin, settled in Palestine; and William Yale, an East Coast aristocrat and an agent of Standard Oil who ended up in the service of the American State Department.”
A month later, Janet Maslin is back with her review, equally laudatory. She writes:
“As to why such acclaim elevated one renegade Briton and his feat of creating a guerrilla Bedouin army, Mr. Anderson writes that the short answer may seem anticlimactic. His reason: ‘This was a time when the seed was planted for the Arab world to define itself less by what it aspires to become than what it is opposed to: colonialism, Zionism, Western imperialism in its many forms.’”
In their reviews, both Alex von Tunzelmann and Janet Maslin avoid mentioning a key moment in Scott Anderson’s book. It is an important episode Pope Francis should be reminded of should he choose to visit Tel Aviv.
The episode, described by Scott Anderson (pages 298 to 305, your Holiness, if I may be so bold) describes a successful propaganda campaign orchestrated by, among others, Aaron Aaronsohn, described by reviewer Alex Von Tunzelmann as “a Zionist agronomist of Romanian origin, who had settled in Palestine.”
Scott Anderson tells the story in his superb history of the period, Lawrence In Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East.
The In in the title is underlined to distinguish it from Lawrence Of Arabia, the 1962 David Lean film.
Here is how the Anderson narrative is developed, summarized and quoted in part:
In the spring of 1917, the Turkish Ottoman ruler of Syria was Djemal Pasha. When the British army was poised to strike Gaza City in February, Djemal Pasha ordered the evacuation of Gaza City’s entire population, a total or around 20,000 citizens. He wanted to clear the area for his army to move in and defend Gaza. After defeating the British in a cleared out Gaza, Djemal Pasha and his German commanders looked north.
They suspected that the British would next attack Jaffa (now a modern Tel Aviv). The city had a population of 40,000, of which around 10,000 were Jews and around 4,000 were Arab Christians, living alongside Arab Muslims. After the defeat in Gaza, the Ottomans were afraid that the British would attack Jaffa from the sea, using the city’s smooth beaches for easy access.
The British defeat at Gaza came on March 26, 1917. Two days later, assuming the British would turn north, Dejmal ordered the evacuation of the entire population, Christians, Jews and Muslims. He gave the residents a week to prepare to move out. When Jewish leaders protested that the sacred Passover holiday was about to begin, Dejmal extended the evacuation order for an additional eight days.
Anderson writes: “By clearing the city, Djemal Pasha unwittingly set in motion one of the most consequential misinformation campaigns of World War I.”
Ignoring the fact that Jews were joined by Christians and Muslims in the forced evacuation, the Zionist propaganda machine went into action, building the movement of the Jaffa population into an attack on all Jews of Palestine. The British Jewish Chronicle newspaper led the way with a May 4 story that carried the subhead: “Grave Reports — Terrible Outrages — Threats of Wholesale Massacre.”
The Chronicle story continued:
“But even worse is threatened. For the Turkish Governor, Dejeml Pasha, has proclaimed the intention of the authorities [sic] to wipe out mercilessly the Jewish population of Palestine, his public statement being that the Armenian policy of massacre is to be applied to the Jews.” That message swept “through Jewish communities in Britain, the United States and continental Europe and drew anguished appeals to their governments that some kind of action be taken.”
William Ormsby-Gore, a Conservative member of Parliament who had been favorably impressed with Aaron Aaronson, the Jewish spy leader in Palestine, cabled British War Cabinet member Mark Sykes (of Sykes-Pico fame) May 4:
“I think we ought to use pogroms in Palestine as propaganda. Any spicy tales of atrocity would be eagerly welcomed by the propaganda people here, and Aaron Aaronsohn could send some lurid stories to the Jewish papers.”
Aaronsohn gave Sykes the names of 50 Zionist leaders throughout the world, urging him to spread the word of the “dire threat” against the Jews of Palestine. Soon, The New York Times printed its story with this headline: “Cruelty to Jews Deported in Jaffe.”
The Turkish government was slow to respond to the false accusations, including one that claimed, falsely, that all the Jews had been evacuated from Jerusalem.
Finally, facing worldwide condemnation based on Jewish propaganda which spread rapidly, Dejaml Pasha pointed out that the entire population of Jaffe, 40,000 residents, had been evacuated, only 10,000 of which were Jewish and 4,000, Christians.
Scott Anderson concludes his account of the successful misinformation campaign surrounding Jaffa’s Jewish population in 1917: (p. 304)
“Spain, Sweden and the Vatican, all neutral entities in the conflict, sent envoys to investigate what had happened [in Jaffa]. Both the Spanish and Vatican envoys quickly concluded that the reports of Jewish massacres and persecutions were without foundation, while their Swedish counterpart went even further.
“‘In many ways,’ he wrote, ‘the Jewish community of Jaffa had fared far better — and certainly no worse — than the resident Moslem population in the evacuation.’ Shortly afterward, the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem also reported that the accounts of violence against the Jaffa Jews were ‘grossly exaggerated.’
“It didn’t matter, of course. In war, truth is whatever people can be led to believe and Dejaml Pasha had just handed his enemies a ‘truth’ that would change Middle Eastern history… The fiction of what happened in Jaffa in 1917 — a fiction repeated as act by most historians writing on the period since — would now become the ur-myth for the contention that the Jewish community in Palestine could never be safe under Muslim rule, that to survive it needed a state of its own.”
Pope Francis does not have to make a gift to Netanyahu of either the Vatican 1917 Jaffa report or Scott Anderson’s book, should the two leaders meet in Tel Aviv. What he can do is prepare for his meeting by reading both the Vatican document and Lawrence In Arabia.
Having read the document and the book, he will be prepared to confront the Prime Minister with some hard truths about a history that is more recent, and certainly more pertinent to this moment, than the 15th century Spanish Inquisition.