The participation of Arab officials and institutions at a major Israeli security conference has drawn staunch criticism from Palestinian and human rights activists.
The annual Herzliya conference, which includes high-profile guest speakers focusing on Israel’s major security challenges, invited a number of key Arab speakers, including Jordan’s Prince el Hassan bin Talal and senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat.
Omar Barghouti of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel slammed Arab involvement at the conference as “an act of complicity in the promotion of Israeli occupation and apartheid.”
The conference, which is being held for the 12th year, aims at enhancing Israel’s national security through developing the country’s military and intelligence fields.
“The participation of any Arab speaker…[is] a move that undermines our struggle for freedom and our right to return and self-determination,” Barghouti said.
The conference is being held under the name of “In the Eye of the Storm: Israel and the Middle East” and will be attended by Israeli and international speakers as well as several Arab political, business and academic figures.
Some of the most prominent participants also include Salman Shaikh, Director of the Brookings Doha Center, and Riad al-Khouri, a member of the International Council of Quest-scope in Amman as well as others.
“The Palestinian civil society calls on all Arab participants to immediately withdraw from the Herzliya conference and respect the demands of the majority of the Palestinians who fully support the BDS campaign,” Barghouti added.
Herzliya’s website listed Saeb Erekat, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) chief negotiator, as a speaker at the conference, but an official source told al-Akhbar that he was never invited to the conference and therefore will not be attending it.
The official, who wished to remain anonymous, said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official was the only member of the PLO to be invited to the Israeli conference, but declined the invitation.
A spokesperson for the Palestinian Embassy in Lebanon – who also wished to remain anonymous – declined to confirm who of the PLO was invited and would attend.
However, sources in Ramallah told Barghouti that Erekat had been invited to the conference, but withdrew following pressure from the Palestinian civil society.
“If true, this would crucially deny other Arab participants their Palestinian excuse,” Barghouti said.
“We hope that all Arab – and international – participants will withdraw from this shameful conference. Raising awareness about this form of Arab complicity is a key goal of our campaign.”
BDS campaigners aim to increase Israel’s international isolation and raise awareness of the plight of Palestinians suffering under Israeli military occupation.
“Our campaign for a boycott of the Herzliya conference is based on this meeting’s singular importance in building Israel’s strategy, especially in the security and military fields, to enhance its oppressive system of settler-colonialism, occupation and apartheid,” he explained.
Barghouti said Israel is “keen to display” the Arab officials and figures at the conference since it “boosts its propaganda efforts and cover up its increasingly isolated regime.”
The BDS activist also condemned the participation of the Brookings Doha Center, whose director is participating in the event despite the institution working to cement itself in the Arab world.
An “academic endeavor should never justify complicity in covering up grave violations of human rights and international law,” Barghouti said.
“At a time when BDS is achieving spectacular successes and turning Israel into a world pariah, these Arab participants are knowingly colluding in Israeli propaganda efforts, siding with the wrong side of history.”
Salman Shaikh of the Brookings Doha Center failed to respond to an interview request before this story was published.
2. Dr. Saeb Erekat: Chief Palestinian Negotiator for “the Process of Settlement” with the Zionist entity since 1996 and senior member of the Palestinian-“Israeli” negotiations, which accomplished “the Oslo Accords” in 1993. On the 12th of February, 2011, he made his resignation to the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas after “the Process of Settlement” had reached a dead end. Seldom has Erekat missed membership in the negotiations of Palestinian delegations with the representatives of the “Israeli” Occupation. In the Conference he is addressing the recent developments of the Palestinian-“Israeli” relations entitled:
“THE RISE OF POLITICAL ISLAM ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST: ARAB SPRING OR ISLAMIST WINTER?”
“THE RISE OF POLITICAL ISLAM ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST: ARAB SPRING OR ISLMAIST WINTER?”
“POST ASSAD: WHAT NEXT FOR SYRIA AND LEBANON?”
“GOVERNING “ISRAEL’S” ECONOMY: SOCIAL JUSTICE VS CAPITALISM”
8. Nahed Khazem: Mayor of the Shafa Amr (Shfaram) Municipality in the Western al-Jalil (Galilee) in the north of occupied Palestine; is well known for his cooperation and good terms with the Zionist-government ministers, particularly with the Culture Minister Gideon Saer. Khazem also participates in merging Arabs with “the “Israeli” community” in the Galilee Region. He is lecturing on:
- Palestinians for Dignity: Saeb Erekat, Go Home (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Last week, as Jewish Lobbies continue to invest enormous efforts in dictating and imposing a rigid and unquestionable Holocaust narrative, Israeli Haaretz published a short, succinct and courageous report challenging the validity of the Wannsee Conference as proof of the Nazi ‘final solution’.
Just ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, the Israeli paper reported that Dr. Norbert Kampe (63), director of the “Wannsee Conference” Memorial Centre in Berlin, has challenged some of the most widely-accepted historical ‘facts’ associated with the conference and its meaning.
Jewish Holocaust scholars have always insisted that the master plan for the Nazi Judeocide was conceived at the Wannsee Conference but Dr. Kampe is quoted as saying that the conference dealt only with “operational matters” instead of being a platform of any form of “decision making”. To prove his point, Kampe pointed to the fact that Hitler and his ministers were not present at the conference. Furthermore, he says, “At the time, January 1942, there was no organized plan for extermination camps.”
And yet, Haaretz admits, “Make no mistake. Kampe is not anti-Semitic. Certainly not a Holocaust denier. On the contrary. As expected of a professional historian, he studied countless relevant texts, documents and testimonies on the particular event… His conclusion is the direct outcome of an educated analysis of written material in his possession.”
So courageously, a Hebrew paper praises Kampe and his “fascinating historical lesson” and also acknowledges that the Israeli Ministry of Education lacks the capacity to engage in any form of informed Holocaust debate. Haaretz clearly admits that
“to this day no one knows with complete certainty and confidence what exactly happened on 20 January 1942, in this pretty villa in the wealthy suburb of Berlin.”
Only one copy of the Wansee Conference protocol, found in 1947, survived the war, others having been deliberately destroyed by the Nazis in an effort to conceal evidence. This protocol is the only authentic documentation as to what happened in Wannsee and one of the few that made explicit use of the term “final solution”. However, Haaretz concedes that, like any historical document, the Wannsee document should be read carefully. The words “death” or “murder” do not appear in the conference protocol. Instead, it refers to “natural diminution”, “appropriate treatment”, “other solution options” and “different forms of solutions.” In fact, the only explicit references in the document deal with deportation rather than extermination. Even the famous table attached to the protocol that counts the Jews in each occupied country, does not state that those Jews are destined to be destroyed.
Just a few days ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, a Hebrew paper found the courage to admit that “decades of Holocaust research could not find a clear and explicit command made by high-level Nazi officials to engage in systematic mass extermination of Jews.”
According to the Israeli paper, the Nazis disguised their true intentions in some “ambiguous orders” and “secret codes”, which were supposed to lead officers to interpret and to react upon what they believed to be Hitler’s will.
The moral here is simple. Once again we learn that some Israelis are far ahead of the Western press and academia in their criticism of Jewish ideology in general and the Zionist Holocaust narrative in particular.
Scottish independence would bring an end to the UK’s nuclear deterrent as there are no other suitable locations for the base in Britain, warns a report from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).
The Nowhere to Go report commissioned by CND revealed there is no viable alternative for the Trident nuclear weapons’ bases than its existing sites in Coulport and Faslane in Scotland, implying that the bases have nowhere to go if Scots vote for independence from the UK.
Kate Hudson, the general secretary of CND, said, “Trident is at a dead end, strategically and economically. Now we can add ‘geographically’ to the list too, as Ministry of Defence sources have confirmed CND’s analysis: that there ‘simply isn’t anywhere else’ for Trident to go.”
Asked in the Scottish parliament last week whether an independent Scotland would do a deal to keep the Trident, the Scottish First minister Alex Salmond replied, “It is inconceivable that an independent nation of 5.25m people would tolerate the continued presence of weapons of mass destruction on its soil.”
However, senior British defence officials have suggested that they could negotiate a treaty permitting the Trident missiles, submarines and warheads to remain in Scotland. Philip Hammond, the UK defence secretary, has also suggested that Scotland would be forced to pay the costs of relocating Trident nuclear deterrent.
Meanwhile, slamming the imposition of nuclear weapons on Scotland, Scottish CND chairman Arthur West described Scotland independence as “an opportunity to make a difference and to put an end to weapons of mass destruction in Britain.”
- How Scottish independence could spell the end of Trident (liberalconspiracy.org)
- Latest Poll: 51% Favour Scottish Independence (ansionnachfionn.com)
US President Barack Obama has confirmed that the United States has used non-UN-sanctioned CIA assassination drones to strike targets in the northwestern tribal belt of Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan.
In reply to questions about the use of terror drones by his administration in a chat with web users on Google+ and YouTube on Monday, the US president said, “a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA” — Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
“For the most part, they’ve been very precise precision strikes against al-Qaeda and their affiliates, and we’re very careful in terms of how it’s been applied,” Obama said.
This is the first time Washington has acknowledged using the remotely piloted aircraft to strike targets within Pakistan.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Liaghat Ali Khan, professor of Washington University, to further talk about the issue. What follows is the text of the interview:
Press TV: Does it make a difference at this point in time now the US president Barack Obama has admitted using drones in Pakistan? Is it going to make a difference in the strategy that the Americans have been using?
Khan: Thank you very much for letting me speak on this issue.
I think this is a great event in international law that the head of the state of the United States openly admits that the United States engages in extrajudicial killing of persons in a foreign country.
Extrajudicial killings are prohibited under international law because the person who is killing is the judge, is the jury and is the executioner.
So this is a great event in this matter that now legal circles can validly ask the United States that what is its bases and what is its legal medium to which it decides to use drone attacks to kill people.
Washington plans to take bids for the management of drone operations in Iraq over the next five years
US President Barack Obama has acknowledged Washington’s unauthorized surveillance drone operations in Iraq where the un-mandated move has sparked outrage among senior Iraqi officials and the public.
“The truth is we’re not engaging in a bunch of drone attacks inside Iraq. There’s some surveillance to make sure that our embassy compound is protected,” said Obama in a chat with web users on Google+ and YouTube on Monday.
The confirmation came after The New York Times disclosed that the US State Department began operating some drones in Iraq last year on a trial basis to help protect the US Embassy and that it stepped up their use after the last US troops left the country in December.
The report has infuriated senior Iraqi officials who say Washington must respect the country’s sovereignty and consult with the Baghdad government before carrying out any operation now that “the war is over.”
“I think that there’s this perception that we’re just sending in a whole bunch of strikes, willy nilly,” Obama said, adding, “It is important for everybody to understand that this is kept on a very tight leash.”
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also claimed that her department uses unmanned aerial vehicles to take pictures of US facilities and personnel abroad.
Meanwhile, The Times said that senior Iraqi officials told the newspaper that the US had not consulted with Iraqi government about the drone operations and that despite the official US withdrawal from Iraq, it maintains a strong presence in the country.
The daily said that since getting the approval for using surveillance drone aircraft over Iraq might be hard given the political tensions between the two countries, the US continues drone operations in the country without formal approval from Iraq.
It added that Washington plans to take bids for the management of drone operations in Iraq over the next five years.
- Iraqis terrified of US drones (rt.com)
- Iraq Is Angered by U.S. Drones Patrolling Its Skies (nytimes.com)
In the media firestorm surrounding the recent Megaupload takedown, there has been little lacking in the way of drama (police helicopters, midnight raids, safe rooms, shotguns, and inflatable tanks, for starters). The legal battles between the government and Megaupload are unlikely to end soon. In the meantime, however, many ordinary users of Megaupload’s services have been swept up in the government’s dragnet, and, as a consequence, have lost access to their own data.
Megaupload, of course, had many lawful customers (see here and here, for example). Yet those people were given no notice that they might lose access to their data and no clear path to getting their property back. Setting aside the legal case against Megaupload, the government should try to avoid this kind of collateral damage, not create it.
We learned yesterday that the government has finished its investigation of Megaupload’s servers and claims that the companies that own those servers – Carpathia and Cogent – are free to delete their contents. Luckily, those companies aren’t following the government’s example of shooting first and asking later. To that end, Carpathia has put together a site at www.megaretrieval.com where Megaupload customers can contact EFF and provide information to help assess the scope of the issue and possible responses.
If you believe you are one of these users, are based in the United States, and are looking for legal help to retrieve your data, please email your contact information to Megauploadmissing@eff.org. While we will try to respond to everyone, you should understand that we are still at the preliminary stages of our investigation.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Defending your rights in the digital world
Obada Saed Bilal and Nili Zahi Safad (Joe Catron)
“This is the life of Palestinian people,” Obada Saed Bilal said one recent morning. “If I hadn’t been detained, I would have been wounded or martyred. I was in detention for over nine years, but I still resist. My marriage and university studies are my ways to keep fighting now.”
Obada and his wife, Nili Zahi Safad, sat in the lobby of the Commodore Gaza Hotel. The Ministry of Detainees in Gaza has temporarily housed them there, along with a number of other former political prisoners who, like Bilal, were freed in the prisoner exchange on 18 October 2011.
Israel forced Bilal, a native of Nablus in the West Bank, to relocate to Gaza following his release, along with 204 other prisoners expelled from their homes in the West Bank.
Safad moved to Gaza shortly after her husband’s arrival. They had been married for only twenty days when his arrest separated them on 16 April 2002.
“I was brutally beaten for two hours,” Bilal said, recalling the 1am military raid in the West Bank village of Aghwar in which he was detained. “Then I was taken to the Petach Tikva detention center in Tel Aviv. They interrogated me for ninety days. This was my most difficult time as a prisoner. I was kept in isolation, handcuffed and blindfolded, and interrogated for about twelve hours every day.”
After his interrogation, the Israeli authorities sent Bilal to Ashkelon, where a military court sentenced him to 26 years.
Safad, also a former political prisoner, told a similar story.
“I was detained at a checkpoint,” she said of her arrest on 11 November 2009. “I was returning from Hebron to Nablus, when they arrested me and sent me to detention. They kept me in isolation for ninety days before transferring me to the HaSharon prison for women. About 17 women were detained at HaSharon then; now there are only seven.
“While being interrogated, women are treated exactly like the men,” she added. “We were deprived of food, sleep and even access to the toilet. They shouted insults at us. I was kept handcuffed and blindfolded. Once they chained my hands to the ceiling for four days.”
Bilal and Safad told The Electronic Intifada that their conditions barely improved after they were transferred to prisons following their ninety-day interrogation periods.
“Our daily life was harsh and difficult,” Bilal said. “Our basic human and medical needs were routinely denied. The jailers treated us poorly, the food was awful and we were routinely denied any contact with our families. I wasn’t able to see mine for three years. We were kept handcuffed for ten hours a day, and only given one hour for recreation. Sometimes they punished us by denying even this.”
The Israeli authorities seemed determined to prevent contact with family members inside the prison. “Once I met my two brothers in prison. But when the jailers learned that we were brothers, they separated us,” Bilal said. “And when my wife was arrested, I asked to be placed with her, but the prison administration refused.” Their reunion seemed less likely after Safad completed her sentence and was released on 10 July 2011.
The authorities also tried to prevent inmates from forming any bonds with each other. “They transferred us among prisons only to confuse us. As soon as we made new friends, they would transfer us again. This was psychological punishment,” Bilal explained.
He had a problem with his eyesight before his arrest, and it became worse in prison. “But they refused to treat it,” he said. “It deteriorated until I couldn’t see at all.”
The International Middle East Media Center reported in late November that there were at least forty persons living with disabilities, such as Bilal’s blindness, among the prisoner population. Many prisoners have died due to systematic medical negligence and torture (“Forty disabled Palestinians are imprisoned by Israel,” 30 November 2011).
Today, Bilal and Safad’s lives go on in a new city, far from their families and community in Nablus.
Bilal, an An-Najah National University public relations student when arrested, has returned to his studies, this time in politics and religion at the Islamic University of Gaza. He and Safad continue supporting Bilal’s brothers, Moad and Othman, both current political prisoners.
The couple also marked the end of their separation by renewing their marriage vows. “We held another wedding party after I was released and my wife came to Gaza, to celebrate our life and resistance,” Bilal said. “This is our message to the world, that we must celebrate our struggle and keep fighting.”
- Released Palestinians build houses, marry, study (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
Most comprehensive and penetrating analysis available ..
The Palestine Nakba: Decolonising History, Narrating the Subaltern, Reclaiming Memory. Nur Masalha. (London: Zed Books, January 2012). 288 pp. Hardback. ISBN: 978-1848139718
2012 marks the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba – the most traumatic catastrophe that ever befell Palestinians. This book explores new ways of remembering and commemorating the Nakba. In the context of Palestinian oral history, it explores ‘social history from below’, subaltern narratives of memory and the formation of collective identity. Masalha argues that to write more truthfully about the Nakba is not just to practise a professional historiography but an ethical imperative. The struggles of ordinary refugees to recover and publicly assert the truth about the Nakba is a vital way of protecting their rights and keeping the hope for peace with justice alive.
This book is essential for understanding the place of the Palestine Nakba at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the vital role of memory in narratives of truth and reconciliation.
‘As a meticulous scholar, historian and above all Palestinian, Nur Masalha is eminently suited to write this excellent book. He has produced a marvellous history of the Nakba which should be essential reading for all those concerned with the origins of the conflict over Palestine.’ — Ghada Karmi, author of ‘Married to Another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine’
‘Nur Masalha has a distinguished and deserved reputation for scholarship on the Nakba and Palestinian refugees. Now, with his latest book, his searching analysis of past and present makes for a powerful combination of remembrance and resistance.’ — Ben White, journalist and author of ‘Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide’
‘Nur Masalha’s ‘The Palestinian Nakba’ is a tour de force examining the process of transformation of Palestine over the last century. One outstanding feature of this study is the systematic manner in which it investigates the accumulated scholarship on the erasure of Palestinian society and culture, including a critical assessment of the work of the new historians. In what he calls ‘reclaiming the memory’ he goes on to survey and build on an emergent narrative. Masalha’s work is essential and crucial for any scholar seeking this alternate narrative.’ — Salim Tamari, Visiting Professor of History, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University
‘This book is the most comprehensive and penetrating analysis available of the catastrophe that befell Arab Palestine and its people in 1948, known as the nakba. It shows how the expulsion and physical obliteration of the material traces of a people was followed by what Masalha calls ‘memoricide’: the effacement of their history, their archives, and their place-names, and a denial that they had ever existed.’ — Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies Department of History, Columbia University
Table of Contents
1. Zionism and European Settler-Colonialism
2. The Memoricide of the Nakba: Zionist-Hebrew Toponymy and the De-Arabisation of Palestine
3. Fashioning a European Landscape, Erasure and Amnesia: The Jewish National Fund, Afforestation, and Green-washing the Nakba
4. Appropriating History: The Looting of Palestinian Records, Archives and Library Collections (1948-2011)
5. New History, Post-Zionism, the Liberal Coloniser and Hegemonic Narratives: A Critique of the Israeli ‘New Historians’
6. Decolonising History and Narrating the Subaltern: Palestinian Oral History, Indigenous and Gendered Memories
7. Resisting Memoricide and Reclaiming Memory: The Politics of Nakba Commemoration among Palestinians inside Israel
Epilogue: The Continuity of Trauma
About the Author:
Nur Masalha is Professor of Religion and Politics and Director of the Centre for Religion and History at St. Mary’s University College, London, and Professorial Research Associate, Department of History, SOAS. He is also Editor of ‘Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal’ (published by Edinburgh University Press).
- New Pappe book highlights plight of forgotten Palestinians (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Newt Unleashes His Tetrodotoxin at the Palestinians (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Unmasking Gershom Gorenberg, historian and apologist for ethnic cleansing (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Mission Statement (altahrir.wordpress.com)
TEL AVIV – Israeli police shut down two organizations in East Jerusalem on Sunday, Israeli media reported.
The soccer club and charity fund in the Silwan neighborhood will be closed for 30 days, Israeli news site Ynet reported.
They are alleged to be connected to Hamas, the report said.
Last week, Israeli forces detained the director and several employees of Wadi Hilweh information center in the same neighborhood.
- Israeli Police Close Charitable Associations in Silwan (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Brutal assault on 16 year old boy (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Family of 12 faces eviction in East Jerusalem (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Arabic place names erased in Municipality’s campaign to Hebrew-ize Jerusalem (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli Authorities Close Mosque, Kindergarten and Shops in Silwan (altahrir.wordpress.com)
By jeaunkes on January 26, 2012
The trailer of the documentary We are Nabi Saleh!
Check out http://www.wearenabisaleh.com/ for more info.
Stay tuned: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jan-Beddegenoodts/211554788917904
We are Nabi Saleh is still looking for Co-funding, screening places and help with translation: Arabic-English. If you wan’t to collaborate, write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We can make it real together. Bless.
- Live sniper-fire injures protester in Nabi Saleh (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- No miracle yesterday in Nabi Saleh: Mustafa Tamimi murdered (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Nabi Saleh Protest Organizer Shot in Face at Weekly Protest (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Protester seriously hurt by gas canister (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Palestinian protester severely injured in Nabi Saleh (alethonews.wordpress.com)
By Yousef M. Aljamal | Centre for Political and Development Studies | 30 January 2012
For the third week in a row, the Centre for Political and Development Studies (CPDS), a Gaza-based think tank, held a video link to explore issues related to the Palestinian cause, with the presence of Palestinian and international activists. Huwaida Arraf, the co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, chair of the Free Gaza Movement, and a prominent Palestinian-American activist, talked to Gaza activists about “The Palestine solidarity movement: Countering Zionist propaganda globally.”
Choosing discourse to communicate with others is one of the basic requirements to get one’s voice heard. Zionists have mastered this, while Palestinians have been misrepresented in the West. Ironically, Palestine’s just story isn’t getting out. “Through the years we have not done a very good job of conveying our plight, and that’s largely because telling our story was left to our ‘official spokespeople’ who didn’t know how to communicate well with the western media”, said Arraf. “On the other side, Israel depends largely on PR, a fundamental part of its strategy. One of the biggest propaganda projects is The Israel Project. Its annual budget for last year alone was eleven million dollars. This is not counting the official support of the Israeli government, companies, and AIPAC”.
“Israel is losing the PR battle for various reasons: law and justice are on our side, there is an increasing awareness among Palestinians, the growth of alternative media like Facebook and Twitter, and, I believe, the effect of the International Solidarity Movement”, Arraf continued.
The second Palestinian Intifada, which was characterized by Israel’s aggression against Palestinian civilians and the role of the media in covering it, pushed Arraf, with the help of other colleagues, to found ISM. It grew to include 8,000 activists, who have worked hard to expose Israel’s grievous and vivid violations of human rights in Occupied Palestine.
“One of the reasons we founded ISM was because we noticed what was happening in terms of Israel’s massive use of violence”, said Arraf. “The media was not portraying the truth of what was happening. We realised that the Palestinian civil society, and Palestinians as a whole, especially after Oslo, needed a resource to be able to stand up and confront what Israel is doing”.
ISM turned out to be something practical, not merely a plan on paper. Its first campaign included 50 people. Since then, over 8,000 activists have actively worked on the ground to help the Palestinian people.
“The first campaign started in August, 2001”, said Arraf. “Fifty people came. We started another campaign. We tried to say the conflict is not about a religion against another. It’s about freedom versus occupation. It’s not Muslims against Jews. We wanted the mass media to know this. ISM aimed at forming advocacy groups and helping the Palestinian people sustain their struggle and get their stories heard”.
Palestinians share values with all other nations, based on tolerance, understanding, and working together for the good of humankind.
“Once, I organised a meeting between a Palestinian farmer from Bodrous village in the West Bank, named Ayed Murra, and a Vermont senator on Capitol Hill”, said Arraf. “We talked about how the wall affects farmers in the West Bank. We spent an hour talking to the senator, who lives in an area full of farmers”.
Israel tries to tell the world that the entire Palestinian movement is Hamas. They play on an anti-Islamic atmosphere in the West. This clearly distorts history and the facts on the grounds.
“Hamas was founded in 1987” said Arraf. “What about the ethnic cleansing in 1948 and 1967? Op-eds and articles were written on Hamas accepting a truce with Israel. In 2003, the late Palestinian president, Yasser Arrafat, arranged a ceasefire included all Palestinian factions. In the first two-and-a-half months, Israel killed 74 Palestinians and destroyed 480 Palestinian homes”.
Absence of leadership is one of the things Palestinians are discussing today. “The current leadership does not represent the Palestinian people, particularly who live in the Diaspora”, said Arraf. Elections should be held to represent the Palestinian people as a whole. This will help them win representation for their aspirations and dreams.
“The Palestinian leadership is gone, of course”, said Arraf. “Direct elections to Palestinian National Council should be held. After years of not having a strong Palestinian official voice to be able to refer to in terms of what to do abroad, there came the unification of the Palestinian civil society in the form of BDS”.
“CPDS is looking forward to work hand-in-hand with ISM to help the Palestinian people get heard”, said Dr. Mahmoud Alhirthani, CPDS chairman. “It would be a good idea to organize lectures and courses with your help to make this idea a success”.
Next Sunday, the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) in the United Kingdom will talk with Gaza activists at CPDS on how to be a good ambassador of Palestine when in the U.K. This link is part of a programme named “For you, Palestine”, aiming at drawing Palestinian people’s attention to global issues that can help them represent their cause.
- “They Have Lies to Spin; We Have Truths to Tell” (desertpeace.wordpress.com)
The essence of the Palestinian struggle is the battle against Zionism. It is a battle against its racism, against its murderous war crimes, against its insatiable territorial hunger, against its disdain for non-Jewish human rights, and against its devoted attempts to destroy Palestinian national identity. As voices of normalization are on the rise, and social media is invaded by paid pro-Zionist bloggers, there is an increased need for anti-Zionists to draw attention to the crimes committed by ‘Israel’, and to speak up against the ongoing media silence and the apologist activities of those misleadingly portraying themselves as ‘peace doves’. Let us first look briefly at the history of the anti-Zionist struggle, and then see where we stand today.
The Ideology of Zionism
Years before the creation of the state of ‘Israel’, there was already a full-blown battle going on against Zionism. On one side, the Palestinians were resisting against the usurpation of their land, having grown aware of the far-stretching implications of the Balfour declaration of 1917, which laid the foundation for the mass-immigration of European Jews into Palestine. In those same decades, there was also an ongoing struggle within the Jewish communities in Europe, where many were opposed to the tenets of Zionism either on a religious basis, or on the realization that colonizing an inhabited land would inevitably cause an injustice that would continue to reverberate for many years to come. A famous example of this in that period of time was the famous genius Albert Einstein, who in 1938 already expressed his opposition to the creation of a ‘Jewish state’, and in a letter to the New York Times that he wrote together with a number of prominent Jews in 1948, strongly denounced the horrendous Deir Yassin massacre.
The ongoing struggle of the Palestinians against Zionism and the continuing expropriation of their land is well-known, but not everyone is aware that within Jewish ranks, true ideological opposition against Zionism still exists. The most well-known group among these is Neturei Karta (‘Guardians of the City’), an organization of international Jews united against Zionism. On another note, within the current framework of the Zionist state, a coalition of groups that call themselves ‘Campus Watchdogs’ recently went as far as labeling 10 % of Israeli academics as ‘anti-Zionist’. It is likely that this number is highly overrated, since this McCarthyism-like approach can be expected to have lumped together a wide variety of people who expressed criticism at their government’s actions. In a similar way that outside criticism of ‘Israel’ quickly gets labeled as ‘anti-Semitism’, many of the one thousand mentioned academics, publicists and journalists are likely to have received the label of ‘anti-Zionist’ despite adhering to many of Zionism’s principles.
Tribal, Religious, or Ideological?
For some, the ongoing misery is a war between two peoples, basically a ‘tribal war’. Others prefer seeing it as a war between religions, with Judaism on one side and Muslims on the other side. Those who adopt this view are ignoring the pluralistic ethnic and religious composition of the Palestinian people, and are for instance ignoring the fact that many Palestinians are Christians, who have not been spared the gruesome fate of their Muslim compatriots. Thirdly, there are those who view the struggle as a battle between ideologies: Zionism on one side, and anti-Zionism on the other.
As the original PLO manifesto (28 May 1964) stated, the organization declared that “Palestine with its boundaries that existed at the time of the British mandate is an integral regional unit” and that it sought to “prohibit the existence and activity of Zionism”. It also contained statements calling for a right of return and self-determination for the Palestinians. When reading the manifesto, it becomes clear that the PLO, the first more officially organized Palestinian movement against the land theft and expulsion committed by the Zionist terrorist organizations that later declared the Zionist state, was an explicitly anti-Zionist movement. The PLO incorporated the various existing political movements in one body, and was declared to be the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. This was widely accepted by an overwhelming majority of Palestinians.
The Oslo Disaster
As illustrated above, the foundations of the Palestinian struggle were based on the territorial integrity of Palestine (i.e. the one state solution) and the right of return of all expelled Palestinians. These original foundations became embedded in an entire generation of Palestinians worldwide. In 1993, the leadership under Yaser Arafat adopted the two-state solution instead, which largely happened in a top-down manner and led to the Oslo accords, However, it soon became clear to all that the Oslo accords were only accepted by ‘Israel’ as a deceptive method to hypnotize the Palestinians as well as the masses of the world into an illusion of Israeli willingness for territorial concessions, while in truth confiscating huge swathes of land, building a separation wall and almost tripling the settler population (from 250,000 to 700,000). It should be no surprise that even early on, as the scam became blatantly clear to all except seemingly to the leadership of the newly created Palestinian Authority, the original tenets of the struggle were yet again embraced by many Palestinians inside of Palestine as well as in the diaspora.
Return to the Struggle
As the state of confusion created by the Oslo accords lingered on, some defeatist voices however also turned to normalization, instead of returning to the basics of the struggle. It is not to be wondered at that disillusion and opportunism play their role in such a complex situation, wherein many lose hope when faced with the overwhelming military, economical and strategic dominance of the Zionist state. Nevertheless, youth movements that are currently active in keeping the struggle for Palestinian rights alive, predominantly see anti-normalization as one of their main strategic goals. They adhere to the above-mentioned basic tenets of the struggle, and reject the failed formula of negotiations that is still pursued by the Palestinian Authority, despite its lack of popular mandate for it. For most Palestinians it is blatantly clear, that the so-called ‘Peace Process’ has only caused damage to their cause and has not brought even the slightest prospects of a better future, let alone of self-determination or independence.
Internationally, pro-Palestinian activists also largely adhere to the basic tenets of the Palestinian struggle, namely the one-state solution and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees. There are other issues as well that are deemed non-negotiable to the majority of Palestinians, such as strong opposition against the Judaization of Jerusalem (Al Quds) which is projected as the future capital of liberated Palestine, and the release of all thousands of Palestinian political prisoners.
There is definitely also a group of ‘two-staters’, but their numbers are dwindling fast, and they rarely engage in activism since their views are largely represented by the Palestinian Authority. The strongest cure for the fallacy of the two-state solution was seeing the Palestinian side of that solution being gobbled up by the Zionist state over the years, faster than one could issue statements of protest against them.
New Shape of the Struggle: Back to Anti-Zionism
It is clear nowadays that the Palestinian Authority is not a useful apparatus for waging any form of struggle, but an administrative body that functions mainly as an extension of the Israeli security apparatus, in a framework inherited directly from the Oslo agreements. This does not mean that the people have stopped struggling. The modern Palestinian struggle has moved towards preferring popular resistance over armed struggle, and employing BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) as a main strategy of generating pressure against the Zionist state. What has also changed, is that this struggle has gained large numbers of international supporters all over the world, who support the Palestinians in their pursuit of freedom from Zionist oppression.
These changes have also brought anti-Zionism back to the forefront, and this has far-reaching implications. Whereas a two-state solution almost automatically implies the undertaking of steps towards normalization, since it implies an acceptance of Zionism and relinquishing the claim of 78 % of Palestinian territory to it, a one-state solution which aims to create a state for all of its inhabitants that does not discriminate on the basis of race of religion, requires a strong and uncompromising return to anti-Zionism as a unifying strategy.
Anti-Zionism versus Normalization
In a struggle that aims to achieve this, normalization is an extremely damaging concession that can never be combined with the dismantling of Zionism, which is the ultimate goal of its strategy. After all, a struggle against racism cannot be successful if the inherently racist tenets of Zionism are accepted. The ‘Oslo-period’ has however sown its sorrowful seeds in more places than may directly become apparent. The vast majority of the Arab masses have not accepted Zionism in their midst, but there are stubborn strands of normalization that seem to be enjoying an increasing momentum within ‘progressive’ ranks of various Arab communities.
Two Egyptian examples can be mentioned in this context. One is Mona Eltahawy, who seems to consider ‘Israel’ to be a civilized state and refused to condemn the genocidal massacre in Gaza that claimed the lives of 1,400 Palestinians (including at least 300 children) by massive attacks from drones, tanks, Apaches and F-16’s – on a population that possesses no bombing shelters or anti-aircraft artillery. Another even more mind-blowing example is Maikel Nabil, an Egyptian blogger who enjoyed wide campaigns for his release when he was arrested for criticizing the SCAF military junta of post-Mubarak Egypt. He expressed his love for Israel on his blog and in Israeli media with an enthusiasm rarely ever seen before in the Arab world. There are other examples too, such as Arab-American comedian Ray Hanania of Palestinian origin, who proclaimed himself a candidate for Palestinian presidency in a video that he posted on Youtube, wherein he called for an acceptance of Israeli settlements, and an end to the Right of Return.
The Only Ziocracy in the Middle East
It is true that these examples do not represent the sentiments of the majority of Palestinians and other Arabs, whether in the Arab world or outside of it, but these voices cannot be ignored either. The main reason for this is that voices of normalization like the ones mentioned above often receive disproportionate attention in Western-dominated mass-media, and thereby have a number of insidious destructive effects upon the struggle.
First of all, they make those who are true to the anti-racist struggle against Zionism seem extremist, by offering alternatives that at first sight strike the general public as being more inspired by peaceful motives. This is a distortion of reality: support for ‘Israel’, the most belligerent state in the Middle East, the only state in the region in possession of (over 300) nuclear arms, and the only ‘Ziocracy’ where ones ethnic background automatically categorizes one as having less rights than others, can never be truthfully designated as ‘peace-loving’.
Secondly, the apparently human inclination of the masses to flock around the famous without delving deeply into their philosophies, brings multitudes of people close to positive truth-distorting evaluations of the Zionist state. For example, progressive Arabs who embrace Mona Eltahawy’s feminist activities, are inclined to also automatically defend their idol’s views on ‘Israel’, simply because they are already in a state of adoration of her person. Another example involves Maikel Nabil: when progressive activists rallied for him due to his unjust incarceration by SCAF, his shocking pro-Israel views seemed to be lumped together with his anti-SCAF views under the label of ‘freedom of speech’, effectively paving the way for the perceived ‘right’ of Egyptians to view ‘Israel’ in an undeservingly positive and gruesomely distorted loving manner.
The Struggle Goes on
The true and original struggle of the Palestinians is a struggle against Zionism, and this is entirely incompatible with the views mentioned above. Normalization must therefore be opposed, vocally, directly, loudly and clearly. There is definitely a need for increased activity on this front, since anti-normalization and BDS do not enjoy the support of mass media, unlike the voices of normalization.
If this means that these voices need to be confronted even on a personal level, then so be it. It may not be a pleasant thing to do, and some might argue that it distracts from calling attention to the continuing atrocities that the Zionist state is inflicting on a daily basis upon the defenseless Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. However, as has been argued in the article “Anti-normalization: an necessary part of BDS campaigning”, calling attention to these injustices will remain highly ineffective if the public is simultaneously exposed by mass media to Arab voices that aim to paint a misleading image of ‘Israel’ as if it were a beacon of civilization, and a saviour for mankind.
In other words: if you value BDS and wish it to be effective, and if you believe in opposing the racist ideology of Zionism, one of your tasks is also to confront those who suck up to power for their own personal gain. And since their number is increasing, it looks like you have work to do.
– Tariq Shadid is a Palestinian surgeon living in the Middle East, and has written numerous essays about the Palestinian issue over the years.