GAZA CITY — Palestinian lawmaker Salah Bardawil says the bid to join the UN is a “tactical move” that supports President Barack Obama’s next election campaign.
Bardawil, of Hamas, warned that the move would “set the borders for a Jewish country,” therefore contributing to normalizing recognition of “the state of occupation and its borders.”
The move would amount to the “criminalization and elimination of Palestinian resistance.”
He added that the step was a mistake akin to the signing of the Oslo Accords.
INfocus | 09-11-2011
‘Two state solution’ legitimizes Israel as a racist state
Before Palestinian politicians go to the General Assembly of the United Nations to ask for recognition of their nominal state, they have to answer this question: Is this what the Palestinian people want?
In a poll conducted by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion, pcpo.org, (poll number 169, published February 1st, 2010) conducted in Gaza, and available in Arabic and English, question 39 asked the following from a representative sample:
“There are lots of strategic concepts for the resolution of the conflict in the region and the self-determination of the Palestinian people. What is your evaluation to each of the following?”
1. One democratic state on the soil of the whole historic Palestine, in which all its citizens should enjoy the same rights without religious, racial or gender discrimination. 62.5%.
2. Two states, one Palestinian, the other Israeli, live in peaceful coexistence side by side as good neighbours (in conformity with the resolution of the Palestinian National Council of 1988 and the UN Resolution No 242). 36.8%.
3. I don’t know.0.7%.
Another poll was conducted by Middle East Consulting (middleeastconsulting.com) in the West Bank and Gaza and published on their website in February 2007, asked the following question: “Do you support or oppose a one-state solution in historic Palestine where Muslims, Christians and Jews have equal rights and responsibilities?” 70.4% approved and 29.6% opposed.
It is reasonable to expect that refugees and Palestinians in Israel would approve the one-state solution with higher rates for reasons we will elaborate below.
Why do Palestinians Support the One Democratic State?
In our discussions with Palestinians, these are some of the responses we received, they ranged from the pragmatic to the moral, and the importance of each varied from one person to another.
First, most people stated the obvious reality: there is no land to have a viable state. There is the geographic separation of the West Bank and Gaza; settlers control much of the West Bank making it non-contiguous. Furthermore, such a state would be economically controlled by Israel and dependent on outside assistance.
Second, even if all the area of the West Bank becomes available, other sources of tension such as Jerusalem and the other holy places, borders, over five hundred thousand settlers, natural resources including water and coastal natural gas, will persist and continue to be a source of tension that may lead to hostilities.
Third, the “two state solution” legitimizes Israel as a racist supremacist state that will continue to be a source of tension in the region and a supporter of international neo-colonialism.
Fourth, a “Palestinian state” considerably weakens the ability of refugees to return to their original homes. This also exposes the Palestinians in Israel to the possibility of being cleansed out, in order to create a truly Jewish state. This puts us in the difficult position of answering the question: “If you want a state for yourselves, why do you deny the same to the Jew?” In asking for two states, are we not contributing to apartheid?
Fifth, some of the Palestinians we discussed this issue with remembered the aim of the revolution in the 1960’s as the “Liberation of Man and Land” not just the creation of an entity no matter how insignificant that may be. Some recalled the resolution of the fifth congress of the Palestinian National Council in January 1969 that stated: “to establish a free and democratic society in Palestine for all whether they are Muslims, Christians or Jews.” (See Documents for Palestine 1969, Institute for Palestine Studies, Beirut, 1970, page 589.) This probably was the only action taken proactively and without capitulation to outside pressure or as a reaction to what Israel did.
Sixth, some of the respondents see the diversity of religions and cultures as a source of enrichment for Palestine and the whole region provided all believe in equality and solidarity. They support the concept of a religious and cultural home for Jews. Such a state would be a source of support of a culture of democracy and human rights for the whole region of West Asia and North Africa that includes all Arab countries together with Turkey and Iran.
Seventh, going with the grain of history. The era of the nation-state is passing; it is changing to the multinational state and regional organizations. Humanity has for long known identity, such as ethnicity and religion, as the source of conflict and solidarity. It is now moving to universal values, such as equality and human rights, as the focus of political contention and solidarity. The One Democratic State will shift the struggle from that over territory to a struggle for values.
Eighth, the political, military and economic elites who are calling for separation are continuously working and will continue to cooperate with their Israeli counterparts. This same stratum wants the mainstream Palestinian and Jewish communities to be separate.
In January 2004, Ahmed Qurae, then prime minister of the Palestine Authority, threatened to call for a bi-national state. A leader of the Democratic Front (name withheld) and its current representative on the executive committee of the PLO was interviewed on Al-Jazeera network for his opinion. He replied that he does not agree because the Palestinian elites are not at the level of the Israelis. This gentleman reminds one of the Romans who would rather be first in a small village than be the second in Rome. He wants to continue exercising his authority in an insignificant quasi-state. However, he needs to answer the question: How can the power-imbalance between two peoples destined to share this small land be corrected? The proposed Palestinian entity is by and for the privileged few and does not serve the interests of most Palestinians.
Addressing the International Community
Some of the peoples and governments who are supporting the two-state solution believe that this constitutes Palestinian independence from Israeli colonialism; however, please recognize that our experience is not the colonialism that many of you experienced. The situation of Palestine/Israeli is that of settler-colonialism. Such conflict has never been and cannot be resolved by separating the indigenous population from the colonialists. Separation can only be done artificially and possibly forcefully and will lead to perpetual tension because the physical and human geography of this small piece of land is totally intertwined. Please understand that this presumed entity is a trap with the flag being the bait. What we would like to you to do is boycott and sanction Israel till it agrees to equal political, social, economic and cultural rights to all who live in historic Palestine and also allow all Palestinian refugees to return to their original homes.
We say to the General Assembly of the United Nations: Those 33 members of your assembly, who are mostly Europeans or Latin American countries who were under the control of the United States, who voted to partition Palestine in November 1947 need to acknowledge that their action brought untold misery to the whole region. You should not persist with this disastrous mistake. Instead, you need to vote for one-state in historic Palestine.
The decision to call for one-state or two-states affects all Palestinians, be they living in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel or are refugees. A referendum should be conducted, after a reasonable period of discussion, on the course to be taken. In the meantime, the Palestine Authority should refrain from acting on behalf of Palestinians.
- Professor Mahmoud N. Musa teaches global politics at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Internationales in Paris. His most recent book is Contesting Global Values: Transnational Social Movements Confront the Neoliberal Order ( AuthorHouse, 2011).
Veterans for Peace (VFP), a progressive organization if ever there was one, took the courageous step of voting for the “impeachment of President Barack H. Obama for war crimes” at its annual national convention in Portland Oregon in August. The resolution, which called on Congress to immediately begin impeachment proceedings, passed with a majority vote.
The resolution sounds the death knell for the view that advocates of Obama’s impeachment are no more than right wing, racist Birthers.
A call for impeachment, whatever the prospects for success, makes clear that the antiwar community regards the President as a criminal – whether that President is Bush or Obama. And it puts a stop to the nasty tactic of shutting up impeachment advocates by calling them racists.
The impeachment resolution is modeled on another that VFP passed some years ago calling for impeachment of Bush. The anti-Obama resolution merits reading in full and is included below. It has telling additions to the one targeting Bush. It opens thus: “Whereas, President Obama, on 19 March 2011, committed a criminal act by ordering the U.S. military to war in Libya without first obtaining the consent of the U.S. Congress in a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution.” Bush told lies to get us into war. Such is his arrogance that Obama, acting in the Democratic tradition of Harry S. Truman in the Korean war, did not even bother to lie. He simply went ahead and trampled on the Constitution without pretense.
The seventh in the list of reasons for impeachment is a tight summary: “Whereas, millions upon millions of Iraqi, Afghani, Pakistani, Yemeni, Somali, and Libyan civilians have been maimed, poisoned, displaced from their homes, and killed in a direct result of ongoing, illegal acts of war by the United States.”
It concludes, “Therefore Be It Resolved that Veterans For Peace call on the U.S. House of Representatives to immediately begin impeachment proceedings against President Barack H. Obama for failure to uphold his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies foreign and domestic, and for his commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, obstruction of justice and the violation of numerous national and international laws, treaties and conventions.”
This victory of the VFP rank and file who submitted the resolutions did not come easily. It took three years. The first such resolution was written shortly after Obama took office, on his fourth day ordering Hellfire missiles to strike Pakistan, killing dozens of civilians including three children. That prompted Tom Santoni of the Central FL VFP chapter to write an impeachment resolution. It was taken up at the national convention the following August and was supported by the admirable Adam Kokesh who was at a meeting next door of VFP’s sister organization, Iraq Veterans Against the War. But the VFP leadership, that is the Board, voted against it, thus requiring a two-thirds vote of the membership.
This bit of gate keeping worked, and the resolution failed at the August convention. Santoni quit in disgust, a big loss to VFP. The Central Florida chapter tried again in 2010 under the leaderhship of its co-chair Phil Restino. This time Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan endorsed the resolution, but again it failed. Finally, this year the Central FL chapter once again submitted the resolution and this time the board did not vote it down! The unstoppable Restino reached out to all 128 VFP chapters urging support and passage. And spontaneously Jesse Perrier of Boston’s Smedley Butler chapter of VFP arose and gave an impassioned speech that brought down the house and won the day. The resolution passed.
Now what about the implementation? The Impeach Bush resolution was pushed aggressively in 2005 running up to the 2006 election when Democrats were running on the promise of impeachment, on which they promptly reneged, most notoriously John Conyers, the poster Congressperson for impeachment. Mike Ferner, at the time executive director of VFP, made an indignant Bush-bashing speech for impeachment in front of the White House. You can view it here in all its glory. A hard copy letter with the signature of the VFP president was mailed to each member of the House calling for impeachment.
How about the present resolution? Mike Ferner opposed it in the floor debate at the August convention. There has been no rally and none is planned – not in front of the White House or anywhere else. This time a fax of the resolution has been sent to the House members without signature of the President. Currently the Central FL chapter is trying to send snail mail letters on its own to every House member once it gets the signature of the president.
Unfortunately this story can be repeated in different ways in a variety of “progressive” organizations with leadership more loyal to Dems than to antiwar principle. This writer has witnessed it himself in organizations like PSR and United for Justice and Peace. But the ground is shifting, and much to its credit VFP has led the way.
John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com. He thanks Phil Restino, co-chair of Central Florida Vets for Peace and Jesse Perrier of the Smedley Butler Brigade of Vets for Peace in Boston for their help. He attempted twice to reach a voice against the resolution but received no reply.
IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT BARACK H. OBAMA FOR WAR CRIMES
Whereas, Barack H. Obama is Commander In Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces and the head of the Executive Branch of the United States government, and
Whereas, President Obama, on 19 March 2011, committed a criminal act by ordering the U.S. military to war in Libya without first obtaining the consent of the U.S. Congress in a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution, and
Whereas, the illegal U.S. invasion, bombing and occupation of Iraq initiated by the Bush administration continues under the Obama administration; and
Whereas, the U.S. government is currently engaged in illegal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, and President Obama pledged to increase the number of military personnel and tax dollars spent on the these wars, and
Whereas, the U.S. military used and continues to use depleted uranium munitions, cluster bombs and white phosphorous in densely populated areas in violation of U.S. laws and international laws and treaties prohibiting the indiscriminate killing of civilians; and,
Whereas, the Geneva Conventions specifically prohibit the use of especially injurious weapons and materials causing unnecessary harm that remain active and lethal after battle, and over large areas of land, and
Whereas, large numbers of babies born in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer life-long illness and deformity like severe disfigurements and brain damage, Down’s syndrome, and weak hearts doctors state are caused by the U.S. military’s massive and widespread use of toxic and radioactive materials, and
Whereas, millions upon millions of Iraqi, Afghani, Pakistani, Yemeni, Somali, and Libyan civilians have been maimed, poisoned, displaced from their homes, and killed in a direct result of ongoing, illegal acts of war by the United States, and
Whereas, illegal, immoral and counterproductive detainee torture and brutalization at the hands of the U.S. military’s Immediate Reaction Force continue at Guantanamo under the Obama administration and in particular, the torture of Pfc. Bradley Manning at Quantico, Virginia, and
Whereas, President Obama is an accessory after the fact in obstructing justice by failing to order the Department of Justice to initiate investigations into numerous and blatant U.S. war crimes committed by the Bush administration, for which it is manifestly accountable under the law, and
Whereas, millions of Americans, including Veterans For Peace and Prosecute Them Now, supported the impeachment of Bush/Cheney for the same war crimes that are being committed now by Obama in violation of the U.S. Constitution, U.S. federal laws, the United Nations Charter, the Hague Convention, the Geneva Conventions, The United Nations Convention Against Torture and the Nuremberg Tribunal Charter, and
Whereas, Veterans For Peace and Prosecute Them Now are committed to the stated mission to restrain our government from intervening overtly and covertly in the internal affairs of other nations, to seek justice for veterans and victims of war, to increase public awareness of the exact costs of war, and to abolish war as an instrument of national policy;
Therefore Be It Resolved that Veterans For Peace call on the U.S. House of Representatives to immediately begin impeachment proceedings against President Barack H. Obama for failure to uphold his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies foreign and domestic, and for his commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, obstruction of justice and the violation of numerous national and international laws, treaties and conventions.
Approved at the 2011 VFP National Convention
Supporting Palestinian farmers in Beit Ummar, international activists joined the weekly Saturday activities–clearing the land for cultivation despite the harassment of Israeli military and illegal settlers, which resulted in the injury of a Palestinian man and the arrest of a British national, Jude Wells.
At 9 AM the solidarity march to protect the farmland of Beit Ummar began from the local mosque to the main gate of the illegal Israeli settlement, Karmi Tzur. Dozens of citizens, Israeli and foreign activists participated in the march. Volunteers removed the brush and thorns as well as the irrigation networks that the settlers put in to desecrate the farmland. An Israeli flag was staked into the farmland to mark the creation of a settler outpost. Internationals removed the flag, and participants started chanting slogans in support of the creation of a Palestinian state.
Israeli soldiers arrived in the lane next to the field and began entering the field to prevent the farmers working. When work began again soldiers and border police briefly showed a military closure order to one of the Palestinian farmers. It was not possible to check the legality of the order and a request to photograph the order was refused.
But with the insistence of the participants in the march, a significant number of the participants were able to access the land intended to be controlled. Flags were held up and the Israeli army violently reacted by brutally beating activists. A large number of settlers were gathered and started screaming and insulting the Palestinians, offending Muslims, as the army stood by.
Photo by Nigel O’Connor
Two participants in the action were arrested including 27 year old Jude Wells of Britain, and 45 year old Ali Abad, a member of the local Popular Committee who sustained injuries to his right hand. For a video of the arrests, visit this link.
Abad who was originally handcuffed to be arrested was transported by the Red Crescent to Alya hospital to treat his broken wrist. Wells was released from detainment after ten hours.
Riyad Abuayyash, a farmer who was present and witnessed the aggression said, “I want to live in peace with my neighbors, with mutual respect, my dream is to have my own house here and grow grapes on my land.”
After the second Intifada farmers of Beit Ummar were driven from the land which borders the illegal Israeli settlement. Without support and presence of internationals, the risk of farming their own land would be potentially fatal.