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69 years ago today – The Deir Yassin Massacre Israel Forces Murder over 100 Palestinians Including Women and Children

By Dina Elmuti | American Herald Tribune | April 9, 2017

I grew up in a country far removed from the horrors of Deir Yassin, but I’ve lived with the snapshots of the massacre my entire life. My grandmother’s Nakba trauma has permeated my inner life, and I’ve known the world of acute agony and the mockery of what human life has been reduced to for the Palestinian people. Every massacre and assault carried out in Zionism’s calculated desire for control adds another layer to the trans-generational transmission of trauma of Palestinians everywhere. Like the bombs that Israel drops on civilian populations, dispersing their incendiary fallout in distant places long after the initial explosion, the psychological trauma continues.

When they said that there would come a time when the old would die and the young would forget, they didn’t realize that Palestinians who grow up fluent in a language of trauma and resistance could never forget. But more importantly, they refuse to.

The significance of the need to preserve the memory of what happened at Deir Yassin remains woven into our DNA. It’s a name that flickers at the edge of our consciousness, resonating in the Palestinian collective memory with chilling significance. My grandmother’s story has taken up residence in my soul. It became the blood coursing through my veins, reverberating in my heart and graven in my memories.

The collective Palestinian narrative is written in indelible link and though it’s a story of unimaginable terror and devastation, shattered dreams and decimated hopes, it’s also one of extraordinary sumud (steadfastness) and resistance. It’s a story that remains unfinished and determined, standing with hope defiant.

Operation Nahshon

My grandmother was nine years-old on the morning of Friday, April 9th 1948 when the Zionist terrorist organizations – the Irgun and Lehi, with the agreement of the Haganah in Jerusalem, carried out Operation Nahshon and opened fire on the villagers of Deir Yassin. By evening, nearly 110 villagers were executed and the village was cleared. But the evidence of the Zionist criminality lay in the rivers of blood and the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of men, women and children.

The villagers endured barbarity at the hands, boot heels, and the edge of bloodied knives of Zionist terrorists who rounded up villagers executing them in decimation for crimes they had never committed. Men were paraded around on trucks before being taken to the village quarry and shot execution style.

Menachem Begin, the leader of the Irgun at the time, consciously inflated the death toll of the massacre from just over 100 to 254 to instill a sense of incoherent terror within people in hopes of eliminating and erasing the Palestinian people from the landscape and from human consciousness – root and branch, bone and blood. News of the massacre triggered the mass, forced exile that emptied Palestine of 80% of its native Arab population. Over 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from the only homes they had ever known. Today, displaced Palestinians remain the largest and longest-standing refugee population in the world.

The beginning of the Nakba was more than an atrocity; it was completely and intentionally genocidal.

It’s been 69 years since the Deir Yassin massacre and the world has moved past it, but its selective amnesia remains present. Its survivors, however, have never forgotten that Palestine continues to be left with human devastation on an unimaginable scale by Israel in its successive operations and assaults. In the litany of Israel’s gruesome crimes and indiscriminate massacres, Deir Yassin was not the most massive in scale but it’s the one that reduced the Palestinian people to ungrievable, dehumanized convenient objects of hatred and violent retribution whenever convenient. It became the precondition for the calculative, prolonged violence and subhuman slaughter of Palestinians. This became the operative philosophy of the Zionist regime that exists today.

“Man’s inhumanity to man” – A poignant irony

Deir Yassin is one of the few Palestinian villages where the Zionist state attempted to erase its inhabitants, but kept its homes and buildings completely intact. Behind the security cameras, guard posts and fence where my family’s village and home once stood now exists a closed psychiatric facility – Kfar Shaul – which houses people with severe mental illness. The irony is not lost on me: The birth of a state predicated on the wholesale slaughter of innocent people on command, a state that has attempted to anesthetize itself to death and depravity, would surely drive anyone of conscience insane. Another breathtaking irony chills my bones every time I stand on the stolen land of my ancestors. Israel’s official Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, is built in panoramic view of Deir Yassin, standing as a haunting, insidious testament to “never forget man’s inhumanity to man” in absolute denial of the souls of martyrs buried deep beneath.

Zionist vindictiveness created a deeply-rooted psychological transference onto a people who had nothing to do with the Nazi Holocaust. Prior to 1948, Deir Yassin was a relatively prosperous and peaceful village, and its residents lived in peace with their Jewish neighbors in nearby villages, especially those in Givat Shaul whom they had signed a peace pact with. My grandmother recalls a different time when Arabs and Jews lived as neighbors attending each other’s weddings and celebrations, smoking arghila, eating dried watermelon seeds, sharing news, and going to the cinema together with their Jewish friends. The Orthodox community of Givat Shaul was one of the first to help the survivors of Deir Yassin following the Irgun-Lehi assault. This was never a conflict that has existed for thousands of years. The Palestinians have never had a problem with Judaism; it’s with injustice.

But here’s the thing about stories of survival: They affirm an inescapable truth that reacquaints both victims and perpetrators with memory, with history, with life, and with justice. Aggressors cannot seem to live with the inconvenient truth of their guilty history but survivors refuse to live without it. The people of the world continue to demonstrate that they are so capable of conveniently forgetting the murderous atrocities in which their fellow peers have participated, so it becomes morally imperative and essential, at the very least, to regularly remind them of it.

Palestine has never been a land without a people. It has always been home to a rich landscape filled with a beautiful people, with their own native land, language, and holy sites at the center of their religions. The Zionists tried to expel a people and attempt to scatter a people into oblivion, for they learned from colonizers before them that there is no precedent for a scattered people’s remaining a people. Their dispersion meant their disappearance. Or so they thought.

Tell the stories

The late Dr. Edward Said once said, “To recall Deir Yassin is not just to dwell on past disasters, but to understand who we are and where we are going. Without it we are simply lost.”

My grandmother’s face aches with despair as she narrates the horror and trauma of Deir Yassin.  Her body has kept score for the past sixty-nine years. She has been acutely aware of the sense of displacement dully throbbing with determination inside the dark spaces between her organs and bones, haunted by a history that has sat uncomfortably out of joint for a lifetime. The emotional pain of displacement and dislocation hurts like no other.

The collective inventory of the Palestinian people rests on our shoulders. To never forget the incomprehensible violence and intolerable pain, the extraordinary valor and the steadfastness that have defined Palestinians. It is our duty to record of every life lived, every sentence spoken, every word transmitted still reverberating within it. As the story of the massacre moves on in memory, the aim of remembering the atrocity and bearing witness takes on new meaning. The words of our parents and grandparents remain a talisman that will continue to be passed down for generations.  These are the stories that teach us resilience, joy, hope and incarnation.

The Nakba continues

What drove the exterminatory impulses of the Zionists was not only the contempt that branded millions of Palestinians as dispensable and sub-human, but also the ideologically pervasive mixture of terror and hatred that continues to blame the Palestinians for all of Israel’s ills and seeks their destruction as a matter of life and death in the interests of the Jewish people’s survival. This is the politics and colonial neurosis of Zionism. Israel justifies its policy of mass eradication through its demagogic abuse of portraying itself the perpetual victim. And for those who don’t understand the sadistic nature of the Israeli settler colonialist violence, the only mention of Israel will continue through the perpetual victim narrative, nothing more than a kind of ersatz victory every time. No matter what Israel has ever done, it’s because they’re always defending themselves – armed with bombs and artillery that unearth entire societies – against the Palestinians. Everything Israel ever does is painted as reactionary under the normalization of Zionist brutality.

Israel has a very finely-tuned feel for how many atrocities it can get away with before the world reacts with revulsion. But when entire families are butchered, immolated[DE1], bombed to oblivion upon breaking their fasts[DE2], when mass murder has become an annual event, when the reprise of internment camps and the reinstitution of torture become acts of policy, where were the cries of “Never again”?

The truth is that for the Palestinian people, the truer shout is not “Never again” but “Again and again and again.”

The post-Holocaust vow that genocide would never again be tolerated has long been hollow. The Palestinian people are living proof that murder looks on its victims with a casual eye. The extraordinary and soul-crushing pain that the Palestinian people have endured, for nearly seventy years now, has been perceived as just and mutable.

The Nakba did not penetrate the world consciousness in the same manner as the Holocaust. Slaughtering people, village by village, didn’t seem too high a price to pay, nor did it appear inhumane. These origins contain the historical seeds of genocide. The silence absorbed the lack of noise with a lack of sound so potent that it blackened this world with something so much richer than Zionist hate. Since Deir Yassin, we’ve known what man is capable of: the silent acquiescence in genocide of another people.

The Nakba never ended. It is an ongoing catastrophe. 

Justice and only justice

From its inception, Israel has had an insatiable addiction to blood, pouring more bodies into pits of slaughter never allowing the dead to rest in peace. But peace can never be built on the blood and bone of others. The robotic mass annihilation of the Palestinians had brought human bloodlust to a climax which nobody had considered possible by the victims of the Nazi genocide. Zionists have relied on decades of distortion and deceit, but what they always forget is that the millions of bodies have buried them more than anyone else. With each assault on the most vulnerable, disenfranchised, and traumatized people in which Israel pours endless young bodies into pits of death, they follow it. With every massacre, entire generations are revolutionized and filled with more conviction and sumud.

A truly “free” state can never exist when it’s enslaved to the organized aggression it has chained itself to. One day, Israelis will realize the ceaseless turmoil disrupting their peace has nothing to do with opposition to a Jewish state but is rooted in the fact that no human beings anywhere are created to accept injustice so casually. There will come a time when the world will stop asking the Palestinian people to stop resisting their oppression when the boots of the oppressor remains on their throats. The Palestinian people remain the only colonized and oppressed people who are constantly told to guarantee the security and rights of their occupiers and oppressors, who continue to be held responsible for nothing.

While Israeli expansion, expulsion, colonization, and the indefinite justification for violent retaliation under apocalyptic conditions continue, Palestinians are asked to concede and give more. Each year, their beloved homeland and rights wither away, like a diseased heart, speckled, clotted, and hollowed out. A homeland annulled. No two-state delusion will ever be a viable solution. There will be no peace in Israel and Palestinian until a modicum of justice is achieved for the Palestinians.

Our voices will not be muted by dispossession, expulsion, trauma, and denial. In attempting to erase us, the reality created by the Zionists became a fertile soil for the expression of steadfast resistance and perseverance. No matter how many innocent Palestinians are rounded up and executed, disappeared and silenced, there will always be more of us out there: living, excelling, falling in love, getting married, having children to pass on our narrative to. That resistance is what continues to ensure that ‘never again’ is not hollow.

Dina is a first-generation Palestinian-American living in Chicago. She works in the States and overseas with an NGO for victims of torture in the Occupied Territories of Palestine (Ramallah).

April 9, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Everything Israel does is part of a plan, not a forced ‘response’ to ‘terrorism’

MEMO | May 15, 2016

dissapearing-palestine-map-1200x800On the 68th anniversary of the Nakba (Catastrophe), when the Zionist State of Israel was created on Palestinian land, it is worth reflecting on the propaganda that the world has been fed ever since. Arguably the most pervasive is the perennial claim that Israel only ever “responds” to Palestinian “terrorism” every time it sends its tanks, jets and drones over the border into the Gaza Strip, or its troops into the West Bank and East Jerusalem to destroy Palestinian homes and lives.

Let’s put aside for one moment the fact that the Palestinians have a legal right – some would say obligation – to resist Israel’s brutal military occupation of their land with all means at their disposal. Their legitimate resistance is neither “terrorism” nor mindless violence; it is focused and with a clear purpose in mind: the liberation of Palestine. This is a fact that is ignored by media and politicians alike when they back Israel’s offensives against Palestinian civilians with the claim that Israel has a “right to defend itself”. It certainly does if it is attacked by a belligerent state, but not, in law, to defend itself against the people living under its military occupation. Statements by Western politicians dismiss the Palestinians’ legal rights at a stroke, exposing their blatant support for Zionism in the process.

Scrutiny of how Israel’s offensives have been launched against the people of Gaza over the past few years demonstrates that the Zionist state is the prime cause of the violence through its vicious occupation policies in the occupied West Bank and the blockade of the Gaza Strip; indeed, its polices before, during and since the Nakba. Rockets fired from the territory and other acts of resistance have to be viewed within that context if there is to be a genuine attempt to decipher the reality of the situation. The same is true of the three major Palestinian uprisings in 1987-1991, 2000-2005 and 2015-present. All were in response to Israeli oppression and occupation, rather than the over-simplistic “violence against Israelis” that some claim.

When Israel’s “Declaration of Independence” was read out by David Ben-Gurion in 1948, the pro-Israel narrative insists that “Arab armies” immediately invaded the nascent state to strangle it at birth, ignoring very conveniently that, apart from anything else, a deal had been struck by the Zionists with the then King Abdullah of Jordan (the current monarch’s grandfather), who also had his eyes on Palestinian territory. The context of the ethnic cleansing and massacres committed as part of “Jewish terror tactics” (Guerrilla Warfare, Robin Corbett, 1986) in the run-up to May 1948 is not mentioned, nor is the steadily-rising levels of Jewish immigration to British Mandate Palestine during the 1920s and 1930s; nor, indeed, is the Zionist lobbying that went on to squeeze the infamous Balfour Declaration out of the British government in 1917, when Britain had no right whatsoever to promise to give Palestine, or parts thereof, to “the Jewish people”. In short, the narrative, which has been picked up and disseminated by pro-Israel politicians and media in the West for decades, was and remains that Israel – “the only democracy in the Middle East” – is always being attacked by “the Arabs” and so must be supported with endless military, political and economic assistance. Context is everything, and it is missing from this narrative, as is the fact that Israel has nuclear and possibly chemical weapons.

If there is an iota of sincerity in Israel’s claims that its legitimacy was provided by either Balfour (which mentioned a “national home” not a state) or the 1947 UN Partition Plan (passed without consulting the indigenous people of Palestine), then let its government pull back to the land designated under the UN plan and place Jerusalem under international control; end the occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, and around 25 per cent of what is now part of Israel. This will never happen, of course, for the simple reason that the aim of Zionism is to establish “Greater Israel”, from the sea to the River Jordan, at the very least. This was described by Joseph Weitz, the head of the Jewish National Fund (which buys land in Palestine for settlement by Jews) in 1940 as “… the Western Israel”. Some argue that it goes further (as Weitz implied), and includes southern Lebanon (which was occupied by Israel from 1982 to 2000), the Sinai Peninsula (occupied from 1967 to 1982, apart from Taba, 1989), across to the Euphrates and south into what is now Saudi Arabia. Israel remains to this day the only member state of the United Nations which has never declared what its borders are.

This is all consistent with what prominent Zionist Israelis have expressed over the years. In 1954, for example, Ben-Gurion wrote, “To maintain the status quo will not do. We have to set up a dynamic state, bent upon creation and reform, building and expansion.” (Rebirth and Destiny of Israel, 1954, p419).

A year later, ex-prime minister Menachim Begin, who was wanted in Britain until the day he died for his role in massacres carried out by the Zionist terror group Irgun in the 1940s, told the Knesset (Israeli parliament): “I deeply believe in launching preventive war against the Arab states without further hesitation. By doing so, we will achieve two targets: firstly, the annihilation of Arab power; and secondly, the expansion of our territory.”

Begin’s “preventive war” came about in 1956, with the British-French-Israeli assault on the Suez Canal, and in 1967 when, again contrary to the pro-Israel narrative, Israel attacked and destroyed the Egyptian air force in a pre-emptive strike to launch the “Six-Day War”. Former minister Mordechai Ben-Tov denounced the claim that Israel’s existence had “hung upon a thread” in the run-up to the war: “The entire story of the danger of extermination was invented in every detail and exaggerated a posteriori, to justify the annexation of new Arab territory.” Furthermore, General Ezer Weizmann was quoted in Maariv, also in 1972, as saying “There was never a danger of extermination [prior to the Six-Day War in 1967].”

In 1972, Yitzhak Rabin, a general and then Prime Minister of Israel, who was assassinated by a Zionist fanatic in 1995, told France’s Le Monde, “I do not believe that Nasser [Egypt’s president] wanted war. The two divisions which he sent into Sinai on 14 May [1967] would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.”

Numerous Israeli politicians have, over the years, expressed their intentions with regards to the land of Palestine, and what should be done to the Palestinians. Before his first term as prime minister, the then Deputy Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told students at Bar Ilan University in 1989, “Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China [Tiananmen Square], when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the [occupied Palestinian] territories.”

According to the late Ariel Sharon in 1998, “It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonisation, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.”

With this in mind, it is worth remembering that Israel has wiped off the map more than 500 Palestinian towns and villages since 1948 in a deliberate effort to destroy all evidence that Palestine was ever an Arab land. “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages,” said former General Moshe Dayan in Haaretz in April 1969. “You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.” (Quoted by Edward Said in, Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Victims, Social Text, Volume 1, 1979, 7-58)

It should be obvious, therefore, that Israel does not “respond” to Palestinian violence, but the Palestinians are defending themselves against the existential threat that is the State of Israel and its expansionist policies. The ethnic cleansing that began prior to the creation of the Zionist State in 1948 has been ongoing for 68 years and shows no sign of abating.

That is the lesson that we must learn from the Nakba: everything that Israel does is part of a well-thought out plan; it is not prone to spontaneous “responses” to Palestinian resistance, but it is very good at being the aggressor and blaming the victims. We – and the Palestinians – forget that at our peril.

May 16, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 3 Comments

A History of Silencing Israeli Amy Whistleblowers From 1948 Until Today

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | March 23, 2016

One might expect that only historians would care to revisit the 1948 war that created Israel. And yet the debate about what constitutes truth and myth from that period still provokes raw emotions.

Much rests on how those events are reconstructed, not least because the shock waves have yet to subside. Israelis fear, and Palestinians crave, a clearer picture of the past because it would powerfully illuminate the present. It might also influence the international community’s proposed solutions for the conflict.

That is why the unearthing of an Israeli soldier’s letter from 1948 detailing what was probably the war’s worst massacre – one long buried by Israel – is of more than historical significance.

It comes as Moshe Yaalon, the defence minister, this week accused Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organisation that exposes military abuses, of “treason” for collecting evidence from the army’s current whistle-blowers.

Western understandings of the 1948 war – what Palestinians term their Nakba, or catastrophe – are dominated by an enduring Israeli narrative. Israel’s army, it is said, abided by a strict moral code. Palestinians left not because of Israel’s actions but on the orders of Arab leaders.

In this rendering, the Palestinians’ mass dispossession was the fault of the Arab world – and a solution for the millions of today’s refugees lies with their host countries.

For decades Israel’s chief concession to the truth was an admission that a massacre took place just outside Jerusalem, at Deir Yassin.

Israel claimed the atrocity was the exception that proved the rule: a rogue militia killed more than 100 villagers, violating Israel’s ethical codes in the chaotic weeks before statehood was declared.

Palestinians have always known of dozens of other large massacres of civilians from 1948 carried out by the Israeli army. The barbarity, they say, was intended to terrorise the native population into flight. This account puts responsibility on Israel for taking the refugees back.

But history is written by the victor.

In recent decades a few brave Israeli scholars have chipped away at the official facade. In the late 1990s a Haifa University student collected testimonies from former soldiers confirming that over 200 Palestinians had been massacred at Tantura, south of Haifa. After the findings were made public, he was pilloried and stripped of his degree.

A decade ago, the historian Ilan Pappe wrote a groundbreaking book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, arguing that massacres like the one at Tantura were exploited to drive out Palestinians. He and others noted the suggestive titles of military operations such as “Broom” and soldiers’ orders to “clean” areas.

Pappe now lives in academic exile in the UK.

The biggest obstacle to shifting Israeli and western perceptions of 1948 has been the lack of a clear paper trail connecting the political leadership to the massacres. Israel locked away bundles of documentation precisely not to jeopardise the official narrative.

But things are changing slowly.

Last year a key deception was punctured: that Israel urged many of the war’s 750,000 Palestinian refugees to return. In a letter to Haifa’s leaders shortly after the city’s Palestinians were expelled, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, demanded that any return be barred.

Now another letter, located by Israeli historian Yair Auron and published last week for the first time in English by the Haaretz newspaper, trashes the idea of an ethical Israel army.

Written by Shabtai Kaplan, a soldier and journalist, the letter confirms long-held suspicions of a massacre – one that dwarfs Deir Yassin – at Dawaymeh, near Hebron. Soldiers executed hundreds of men, women and children who offered no resistance.

The massacre, near the end of the war, was carried out by elite troops under the command of Yitzhak Sadeh. He developed the Israeli army’s famous doctrine of “purity of arms”.

Kaplan argues that the Dawaymeh massacre was part of “a system of expulsion and destruction”, with a clear goal: “The fewer Arabs who remain, the better.”

Kaplan’s letter was consigned to the vaults, as were so many other documents from 1948 that officials considered too damaging.

Nearly seven decades later, in an age of 24-hour news and social media, Israel is still desperately trying to conceal its darkest episodes by bullying the army’s current whistle-blowers.

Last week Benjamin Netanyahu’s government launched an investigation into Breaking the Silence. On Sunday Netanyahu called the collection of soldiers’ testimonies “intolerable”, indicating that he may try to ban the group.

It is hard not to see parallels between the cover-ups of 1948 and those of today. Breaking the Silence’s disclosures, especially those relating to Israel’s series of attacks on Gaza, each of which has left hundreds of civilians dead, similarly give the lie to the army’s continuing claims of ethical behaviour.

In his 1948 letter, Kaplan observed of the failure by the political leadership to hold anyone to account for the massacres: “Inaction is in itself encouragement.”

Israel’s politicians hoped then that the Palestinians could be quickly terrorised from their lands. Decades later, the atrocities continue – and to the same end. But Israel must face facts: the days when such systematic brutality could be kept under wraps are now over.


Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books).

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Israel can’t erase the Nakba from history’

By Saeb Erekat | Ma’an | May 15, 2014

252851_345x230Today is the anniversary of what we Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, our catastrophe – although a single word cannot begin to explain it, and a single day cannot begin to commemorate it.

More than ever before, Israel needs come to terms with the horrors it has caused since 1948, by ending its subjugation of millions rather than intensifying its denial and trying to legitimize its persecution. Peace can only come through justice and reconciliation.

This day, in 1948, marks the forced exile of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and lands. Some were subjected to brutal massacres, many fled for fear of their lives. A few managed to stay in what would become Israel. All suffered. Sixty-six years later, all continue to suffer.

The Nakba is a story of fear and intimidation, of denial and persecution, a cruel, unending reality.

Today in occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian families are evicted from their homes due to claims that their property belonged to Jews before 1948, while being forbidden from returning to their pre-1948 homes in West Jerusalem.

In Gaza – one of the most densely populated areas in the world – 1.2 million refugees overlook the open areas of what is now southern Israel. In my own home town, Jericho, there are two refugee camps where thousands continue to live in miserable conditions. In 2014, Palestinian children died of starvation at the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria.

Israel, which claims to be a democracy for all its citizens, continues to ban the villagers of Iqrit and Kufr Birem, two Christian villages in the Galilee, from returning to their lands, despite a ruling from the Israeli High Court of Justice on the matter.

This is not the only example of persecution within Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promotion of the “nationality bill,” determining Israel as the Jewish nation-state, is one more in a long line of discriminatory laws against a fifth of Israel’s own population, the original inhabitants of the land.

A list of laws make it not only acceptable, but legally admissible, to discriminate against Israel’s own citizens for belonging to a different ethnic-religious group.

Meanwhile, in the land which Israel has illegally occupied since 1967, settlers and soldiers use similar methods of intimidation and fear to force Palestinians from their homes.

The reality in the West Bank is no less than apartheid, and, in Gaza, out and out siege. Both within occupied Palestine and further afield, those who have been waiting 66 years, with their keys in hand, continue to wait.

Palestine has recognized Israel’s right to exist since 1988. We are not asking for Hebrew not to be an official language or Jewish holidays not to be official holidays. The character of Israel is not for us to define.

But we will not allow any Palestinian to be portrayed as the immigrant or intruder in his or her own land. We were here in 1948: We were here for centuries before that – Muslims, Christians and Jews – all Palestinians. The concept of an exclusively Jewish state naturally entails the denial of the Nakba. It tells us: “This is our land. You were on it illegally, temporarily, by mistake.” It is a way of asking us to deny the existence of our people and the horrors that befell them in 1948. No people should be asked to do that.

We will not be complicit in the notion that any ethnic-religious group should have dominance over any other. We will not accept the denial of basic human rights to which all are entitled.

Rather than accepting historical responsibility, rather than acknowledging a painful truth about the birth of Israel and addressing it, as a step toward peace, the Israeli government attempts to wipe the event from history.

In Israel, it is forbidden by law to even commemorate the Nakba. If you can erase the narrative, it is much easier to erase the people. This Israeli government, in particular, is taking extraordinary measures to achieve this. Is it any wonder that we have not managed to reach an agreement at this time?

Today, we remember those who have lost their lives, at the hands of their oppressors, in their quest for freedom and dignity. Despite this, we are ready to live side by side in peace with our Israeli neighbors. We hope Israelis, if not their current government, will move in that direction.

At this point we do not know what the future will look like in terms of a solution, or when it will come. What we know for certain is that we will remain.

Saeb Erekat is chief negotiator for the PLO.

May 15, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Israel can’t erase the Nakba from history’

On Nakba Day, Israelis Forced to Guiltily Confront a Secret

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | May 15, 2014

For 66 years Israel’s founding generation has lived with the guilt of a secret, one it successfully concealed from the generations that followed. Forests were planted to hide war crimes. School textbooks mythologised the events surrounding Israel’s creation. The army was blindly venerated as the most moral in the world.

Once, “Nakba” – Arabic for “Catastrophe”, referring to the dispossession of the Palestinian homeland in 1948 – would have failed to register with any but a small number of Israeli Jews. Today, only those who never watch television or read a newspaper can plead ignorance.

As marches and festivals are held today by Palestinians across the region to mark Nakba Day – commemorating the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and the erasure of more than 500 villages – Israelis will be watching.

In fact, the Israeli media have been filled with references to the Nakba for the past 10 days, since Israel celebrated its Independence Day last week. The two anniversaries do not quite coincide because Israel marks its founding according to the Hebrew calendar.

While Israeli Jews were trying to enjoy guilt-free street parties last week, news reports focused on the activities of their compatriots – the Palestinians who remained inside the new state of Israel and now comprise a fifth of the population. Estimates are that one in four of these 1.5 million Palestinian citizens is from a family internally displaced by the 1948 war.

More than 20,000 staged a “March of Return” to one destroyed village, Lubya, buried under a forest near Tiberias and close to a major Israeli highway. Long tailbacks forced thousands of Israeli Jews to get a close-up view as they crawled past the biggest Nakba procession in Israel’s history.

For others, images of the marchers waving Palestinian flags and massively outnumbering Israeli police and a counter-demonstration by Jewish nationalists were seen on TV news, websites and social media.

The assault on Israel’s much cherished national mythology is undoubted. And it reflects the rise of a new generation of Palestinians no longer willing to defer to their more cautious, and traumatised, elders, those who directly experienced the events of 1948.

These youth see themselves as representing not only their immediate relatives but Palestinians in exile who have no chance to march back to their village. Many of Lubya’s refugees ended up in Yarmouk camp in Damascus, where they are suffering new horrors, caught in the midst of Syria’s civil war.

Palestinians in Israel are also being galvanised into action by initiatives like prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to legislate Israel as a Jewish state. They see this as the latest phase of an ongoing nakba – an attempt to erase their nativeness, just as the villages were once disappeared.

Palestinians are making a noise about the Nakba on every possible front – and not just on Nakba Day. Last week media around the world reported on one such venture: a phone app called iNakba that maps the hundreds of destroyed villages across Israel. Briefly it became one of the most popular iPhone downloads, connecting refugees through new technology. iNakba visibly restores a Palestine that Israel hoped literally to have wiped off the map.

The app is the initiative of Zochrot, an Israeli organisation that is jointly run by Jews and Palestinians. They have been finding ever more creative and provocative ways to grab headlines.

They arrange regular visits to destroyed villages that a growing number of curious Israeli Jews are participating in, often in the face of vehement opposition from the communities built on the rubble of Palestinian homes.

Zochrot has created a Hebrew information pack on the Nakba for teachers, though education officials ban it. Last year it staged the first Nakba film festival in Tel Aviv. It is also creating an archive of filmed interviews with Israeli veteran fighters prepared to admit their part in expulsions.

Zochrot also held last year the first-ever conference in Israel discussing not just the principle but how to put into practice a right of return for the millions of Palestinian refugees across the region.

Palestinian youth are taking up the idea enthusiastically. Architects are designing plans for new communities that would house the refugees on or near their old lands.

Refugee families are trying to reclaim mosques and churches, usually the only buildings still standing. Israeli media reported last month that internal refugees had been attacked as they held a baptism in their former church at al-Bassa, now swamped by the Jewish town of Shlomi.

Workshops have been arranged among refugee groups to imagine what a right of return might look like. Youth from two Christian villages, Iqrit and Biram, have already set up camps at their old churches, daring Israel to hound them out like their grandparents. Another group, I Won’t Remain a Refugee, is looking to export this example to other villages.

The size of the march to Lubya and the proliferation of these initiatives are a gauge of how Palestinians are no longer prepared to defer to the Palestinian leadership on the refugee issue or wait for an interminable peace process to make meaningful progress.

“The people are sending a message to the leadership in Ramallah that it cannot forget or sideline the right of return,” says Abir Kopty, an activist with the Lubya march. “Otherwise we will take the issue into our own hands.”

Meanwhile, progress of a kind is being made with Israeli Jews. Some have come to recognise, however reluctantly, that a tragedy befell the Palestinians with Israel’s creation. But, as another march organiser notes, the struggle is far from over. “That is a first step. But now they must take responsibility for our suffering and make amends.”

May 15, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Comments Off on On Nakba Day, Israelis Forced to Guiltily Confront a Secret

The Negev… Land and Man

Documentary shows scenes of home demolitions by Israel in Negev

Ma’an – 08/12/2013

BEERSHEBA – A Palestinian organization based in the Negev has released a documentary depicting what the organization called the “ongoing Nakba (catastrophe) against the population of the Negev since 1948.”

The film brings to light the suffering and embittered lives of the Palestinian Bedouin residents of Negev, especially those villages which the government of Israel doesn’t recognize.

Those residents, according to the film “Negev … Land and Man,” have been deprived of basic life requirements including water and electricity networks as well as schools and clinics.

The documentary warns of Israeli plans to displace the population and “steal their land” through heavy restrictions to make their lives unbearable. The film warns in particular of the Prawer displacement plan which will “bring back the Palestinian Nakba on the land of Negev” while the world watches.

Documented scenes of home demolitions, land bulldozing and displacement of residents by Israeli forces are included in the film.

The film also sheds light on the major role Palestinians who live in Israel play to support the Bedouin residents of the Negev and help strengthen their determination to remain on their land. These efforts include construction projects, relief activities and voluntary work to defy Israeli plans.

The film was directed by Muhammad Abu Rizqa and produced by Sanabil Productions.

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | Comments Off on The Negev… Land and Man

The Nakba: an historical event or a continuing political process?

By Bob Finch | January 6, 2009

The Nakba is commonly perceived around the world and even, unfortunately, by Palestinians themselves, as a discrete historical event which happened in the late 1940s when Jewish terrorists established a Zionist state in Palestine. However, looking back at what has transpired in Palestine over the last six decades, it would be more accurate to describe the Nakba as an ongoing political process in which the racist state has continually implemented its policy of ethnically cleansing and moved ever closer to its long term goal of becoming a Jews-only state.

Adam Horowitz linked to an article suggesting that the Jews’ current military operation in Gaza could be regarded as a new Nakba as if, with the passing of time, this too will be seen as another discrete historical phenomena. “Palestinians reported that many families have left their homes in Beit Lahiya’s al-Atatra neighborhood and are staying with relatives in “safer” areas. Hundreds of residents, who are afraid to travel in their own cars for fear of IDF strikes, could be seen leaving the neighborhood on foot toward central Jabalya. “It was a difficult site and reminded us of images we saw on television during the 1948 Nakba (displacement of Palestinians following Israel’s inception),” one resident who left his home told Ynet. “The sense is that of a new Nakba.”” (‘Gazans say experiencing ‘another Nakba’ January 05, 2009).

Philip Weiss has added to the perception of the Nakba as a discrete historical event by demanding that more effort should be given to commemorating the political disaster that befell the Palestinians in the late 1940s. Given the way that the Zionist dominated media in the western world has pushed the Nakba into an historical ‘hole of oblivion’ it seems laudable trying to remind the global community about what befell the Palestinians in the late 1940s. However, treating the Nakba as an isolated historical event which happened long ago in the mists of time gives the impression that the racist Jewish state has never since resorted to such an odious war crime as ethnic cleansing.

In a recently published article Ilan Pappe fell victim to such a fallacy in an otherwise invaluable essay. He pointed out that Zionism is an ideology based on ethnic cleansing and that current events in Gaza were being airlifted out of their historical context. “It seems that even the most horrendous crimes, such as the genocide in Gaza, are treated as discrete events, unconnected to anything that happened in the past and not associated with any ideology or system.” And yet in the preceding paragraph he’d talked of the Nakba as precisely such a discrete historical event! “And yet, we cannot allow 2009 to be just another year, less significant than 2008, the commemorative year of the Nakba, that did not fulfill the great hopes we all had for its potential to dramatically transform the Western world’s attitude to Palestine and the Palestinians.” (Ilan Pappe ‘Israel’s righteous fury and its victims in Gaza’ ).

Pappe rightly argues that it is imperative that the historical context of the slaughter in Gaza is understood. “Therefore, it is the role of an activist academia and an alternative media to insist on this historical context. These agents should not scoff from educating the public opinion and hopefully even influence the more conscientious politicians to view events in a wider historical perspective.” (Ilan Pappe ‘Israel’s righteous fury and its victims in Gaza’ January 02, 2009). But what seems to elude Pappe is that the best way of providing such an historical context is by suggesting that every single Jewish attack on Palestinians over the last sixty years has been part of an ongoing Nakba whose ultimate goal is a Jews-only state in Palestine. In other words, it is imperative to see the Nakba as an ongoing political process not a one-off historical event.

From its formulation Zionism was intent on removing all Palestinians from Palestine. This had to be done either by murdering Palestinians, terrorizing them into leaving their homes and their own country, or by making the areas in which they lived uninhabitable whether by stealing water resources, damaging sewage systems, or simply by militarily pulverizing Palestinian infrastructure and buildings. The Zionist project is intent on ethnic cleansing and everything the Zionists have done since they established their racist state has been to move remorselessly towards a Jews-only country.

The assumption underlying the two Nakba thesis (if for the moment we accept the proposition that Gaza is a second Nakba) is that the period in between these two political disasters was a time of peace and tranquility when the Zionists made little effort to implement their ethnic cleansing ideology. Of course, in reality during this period the Jewish separatists were all too successful in advancing their piecemeal ethnic cleansing campaign. They have stolen a massive proportion of Palestinian land during this period but always taking care to keep within the bounds of what is acceptable to political and public opinion in the Western world.

But, it might be argued, if the Zionists were really pursuing their goal of ethnic cleansing then surely they would not only have stolen huge amounts of Palestinian land, they would also have dramatically reduced the Palestinian population. At present the population of Palestinians and Jews is roughly equal. But this demographic equality is highly deceptive. The Jews have been pursuing their ethnic cleansing campaign by pushing Palestinians into smaller and smaller enclaves. This leaves the Palestinian population extremely vulnerable to economic blockade and military attack. Jewish society can be visualized as a broadly based pyramid spread out over large areas of Palestinian land. In comparison Palestinian society can be visualized as an inverted pyramid. All the Jews have to do is quietly make these ghettoes less and less inhabitable and eventually these intense concentrations of Palestinians will collapse leading to mass emigration. The Zionist policy seems to have been first, steal their land, then corral Palestinians into ghettos, then make these ghettos increasingly uninhabitable until Palestinians are confronted only with the option of emigrating.

The differences between the political implications of these two characterizations of the Nakba are profound. The implication of the Nakba as an historic event is that Palestinians have a chance to create peace with the Jews because Jews haven’t been vile enough to pursue ethnic cleansing. The implication of the Nakba as ongoing event is that Palestinians do not have any chance of creating peace with such racist monsters and that any peace efforts they make, or hopes they may have, are an error, and a dangerous one because it leaves them highly vulnerable to annihilation. Of the two diametrically opposed perspectives the latter seems far more realistic, far truer to historical realities. The Zionists have never had any intention of allowing the Palestinians to create a Palestinian state. They stopped the Palestinians from forming a state in 1948 and ever since they have sabotaged all peace negotiations between the two sides to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state. Jennifer Loewenstein is but the latest commentator to reach this obvious conclusion. “The answer is because Israel has no intention of allowing a viable, sovereign Palestinian state on its borders.” (Jennifer Loewenstein ‘If Hamas Did Not Exist Israel Has No Intention of Granting a Palestinian State’ January 01, 2009). But it has to be suggested even this view does not get to the whole truth. Jewish racists have no intention of allowing Palestinians to remain in Palestine.

The great advantage of treating the Nakba as a continuing political process is that the so-called ‘Jewish Holocaust’ is precisely what the Nakba is deemed to be: a discrete historical event. (I say ‘so-called’ because I dispute the way the holocaust industry has transformed this event into humans’ greatest ever tragedy and not because I dispute the facts outlined by those such as Hannah Arendt). The Nakba is more important politically than the Holocaust for the simple reason that it is an ongoing political process affecting real people and not a distant historical event. It is remarkable, and exasperating, that on the one hand the Jews have resurrected a dead historical event and are able to use it as an important factor in current political events while, on the other hand, Palestinians have allowed their ongoing tragedy to lapse into a long forgotten historical event which is entirely without political relevance. The Jews have hyped up their historical tragedy to such an extent that in the Western world it is deemed to be more politically significant than the Jews’ ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign against the Palestinians. Indeed, this historical event continues to be the Jews’ best propaganda weapon for justifying whoever they might wish to slaughter whether they are Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, or Iranians. The Nakba should be accorded moral superiority over the ‘Holocaust’ since it affects millions of real people whereas the Holocaust is a mere chapter in human history. There is therefore no moral equivalence between the two because the Holocaust is a long gone historical event whilst the Nakba is a current event.

Pappe is correct, “By connecting the Zionist ideology and the policies of the past with the present atrocities, we will be able to provide a clear and logical explanation for the campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions.” But the best means of doing this is by talking about Israel continuing to inflict a Nakba on the Palestinians for the sake of a racially pure Jewish state in Palestine. Every time Palestinians are held up at checkpoints they are being forced to endure another manifestation of the Nakba; every time pregnant Palestinian women are denied medical facilities they are suffering because of the Nakba; every time that Palestinians are assassinated this is because of the Zionists continuing Nakba on the Palestinians. Jews have turned ‘the Holocaust’ into a potent conceptual weapon which now bears considerable propaganda clout: the Zionists pretended they were being threatened by another holocaust by Saddam Hussein’s and Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons. The Palestinians don’t have to hype up their Nakba in the same lurid way. All they have to do is show that the Nakba still continues after six decades. The Nakba should be treated as something that started in the late 1940s not that it finished soon after.

Over the last six decades or more, the efforts of Jewish racists to create a racially pure Jewish state have been highly successful. They have slaughtered tens of thousands of Palestinians. They have stolen the overwhelming majority of the land in Palestine not to mention virtually all of its resources. They have waged wars against their Arab neighbours causing, whether directly or indirectly, the slaughter of millions of Arabs. On the international front their political triumphs have been even more overwhelming. This rogue state pursuing Nazi policies has managed to convince the Western world to join its racist ‘war against terrorism’. This war against Islamic people was invented and then branded by Jewish supremacists who have persuaded the Western world to buy the brand. Conversely, Western politicians have totally failed to abolish the Jewish apartheid state and bring it within the fold of the multicultural, multi-ethnic, democratic, societies in the Western world. On the contrary, Western countries have adopted the rogue state’s racist ideology. Zionism has become the world’s dominant ideology determining the world’s political agenda. It is hyping up Islamophobia in order to pressure the Western world into engaging in world war three against the Islamic world.

Jewish racists have been laughing all the way to the land bank. Surely Zionist success in portraying the Nakba as an historical event of no current political importance is their greatest ever political conjuring trick. What is so frightening about the current dominance of racist Zionist ideology throughout the Western world is that even the victims of Jewish racism seem convinced that Jewish racists are not involved in ethnic cleansing and that the Nakba was a one-off event which has never been repeated.

Source

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel’s Right Targets Textbooks

Conservative parties are lobbying to remove Palestinian history from school curriculum

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | October 8, 2013

Israel’s right-wing government and its supporters stand accused of stoking an atmosphere of increasing intimidation and intolerance in schools and among groups working for a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The latest efforts by the right to stifle dissent have included censoring schoolbooks and seeking to silence organisations that raise troubling questions about Israel and its past – in what appears to be an escalating war for the minds of Israelis.

Groups allied to the government tried to prevent the recent staging of an international conference in Tel Aviv that examined events surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948 – known as the “War of Independence” to Israelis and the “Nakba”, or catastrophe, to Palestinians.

At the same time, it emerged that one of the far-right groups involved, Im Tirtzu, had initiated a campaign to shut down the organisation behind the conference, Zochrot, accusing it of violating Israeli law by “rejecting Israel’s existence”.

Zochrot challenges Israel’s greatest taboo: the right of millions of Palestinians to return to the homes from which they and their ancestors were expelled in 1948. Many Israelis vehemently oppose such a move because they see it as entailing the end of their state’s Jewishness.

Eitan Bronstein, Zochrot’s founder, said the two-day conference had been particularly threatening to the right. “For the first time we considered more than just the theoretical right of return,” he said.

“This time the emphasis was very much on considering how we can implement the return. Refugees even offered us computer-simulated models of how it could be effected on the ground.”

The timing is embarrassing for Israel as long-stalled peace talks with the Palestinians were recently revived under pressure from the United States. One of the key issues to resolve is whether the refugees should be allowed to return to more than 500 villages Israel subsequently destroyed.

More generally, far-right groups close to Benjamin Netanyahu’s government have sought ways to shut down funding for organisations seen as either being too critical of Israel, or working to protect the human rights of Palestinians under occupation.

Politicised learning

Over the summer, one of the governing coalition parties introduced legislation to block such funding for what it terms “anti-Israel” activity.

A right-wing group that helped to draft the legislation, NGO Monitor, used the Zochrot conference to underline the illegitimacy of foreign funding.

Yitzhak Santis, an NGO Monitor official, said European backers of the conference had conspired in an event that amounted to “a call for the elimination of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people”.

The government has also come under fire for its growing efforts to police the school curriculum to remove references to the Nakba and play down the rights of Israel’s Palestinian citizens, who comprise a fifth of the population.

Revisions to the civics programme, which all pupils must study to pass their matriculation exam, were criticised in a report that doubted the education ministry’s ultra-nationalistic approach “is even consistent with a democratic regime”.

The new textbook echoes legislation being drafted by members of the ruling coalition to define Israel’s character as the exclusive homeland of the Jewish people, and to emphasise that only Jews have a right of self-determination in Israel.

Halleli Pinson, a professor of education at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva who conducted the study, said increasingly a “regime of fear” was emerging within Israel’s schools.

“Democratic, liberal and human rights values are now seen as illegitimate among education officials,” she said. “They are considered to undermine Israel’s status as a Jewish state. Now the perspective being promoted in education is entirely right-wing.”

At the recent right of return conference, local and international scholars discussed practical plans to bring Palestinian refugees back to Israel.

Entry restrictions to Israel meant few Palestinian refugees outside Israel could attend. But several internal refugees, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, did participate. Despite their citizenship, they are barred like other refugees from returning to their villages. The conference was held at the Eretz Israel Museum, a prestigious archeological museum in Tel Aviv.

‘Remembering’

Zochrot, which means “Remembering” in Hebrew, is the first organisation to try to educate Israeli Jews about the Nakba. Since its founding in 2002, it has taken thousands of Israelis on visits to destroyed villages, leaving signposts in Hebrew and Arabic identifying streets, cemeteries and lost buildings such as mosques, churches and schools, often arousing hostility from local Jewish residents.

As part of its mission, Zochrot has created Nakba kits for teachers, though education officials have barred them from classrooms. The ministry has also tried to stop teachers from taking part in Zochrot seminars in their own time.

Last year Zochrot established a film archive documenting the testimonies of Israeli veterans of the 1948 war. Many speak on camera for the first time about committing war crimes, and carrying out ethnic-cleansing operations.

The organisation’s work directly challenges efforts by the government to suppress discussion of the events surrounding Israel’s founding.

In 2008, shortly before he became prime minister, Netanyahu declared that he would put a stop to Israelis learning about the Nakba. Referring to the school curriculum, he said: “The first thing we will do is remove the Nakba.”

Three years later, Netanyahu’s government passed a law barring public institutions, including schools and libraries, from receiving state funds if they refer to the Nakba.

Zochrot’s increasing prominence and combativeness in questioning Israel’s traditional narrative about 1948 has antagonised the government and its supporters, said Bronstein.

“As it becomes harder to ignore our work and we become better known, the right wing has been more aggressive in the methods it uses against us.”

Last year police surrounded Zochrot’s offices in Tel Aviv on the day Israelis celebrate their “independence” and Palestinians commemorate the Nakba to prevent staff attending an event where they were to read out the names of destroyed Palestinian villages in a central public square.

The police, who arrested three Zochrot members who tried to break free of the cordon, justified their actions on the grounds that the group was in danger of being attacked by crowds in the square.

Leading the attack on Zochrot has been a far-right youth movement known as Im Tirtzu. Bronstein said the group had worked closely with the government on drafting the Nakba law.

Investigations by the Israeli media have shown part of Im Tirtzu’s funding comes via the Jewish Agency, which enjoys semi-governmental status in Israel. The group is known to be close to leading government ministers, including Interior Minister Gideon Saar, who was the keynote speaker at its annual conference in 2010. He described its work as “blessed” and “hugely vital”.

Far-right groups including Im Tirtzu are reported to have heavily lobbied the Eretz Israel Museum to cancel the Zochrot conference, including a campaign to boycott the museum if the event went ahead.

At the last minute, nervous museum officials tried to change the conditions for holding the conference. Zochrot was required both to fund extra security guards to protect the venue from right-wing protests and to obscure references on posters and invitations to “Sheikh Muwannis”, the destroyed Palestinian village on whose lands the museum is built.

Zochrot refused and the museum relented only after lawyers threatened to sue it for breach of contract. Michael Sfard, representing Zochrot, called the museum’s requirements “illegal” and said they constituted “intellectual and ideological discrimination”.

‘Fascist’ group

Im Tirtzu’s efforts to stop the conference followed revelations earlier this year that its director, Ronen Shoval, had hired private investigators to spy on left-wing organisations such as Zochrot. The investigators had broken into the offices of Michael Sfard, a prominent human rights lawyer, and stolen documents relating to these organisations.

The revelations emerged during a court case in which Im Tirtzu sued eight activists for calling it “fascist” on Facebook. In a humiliating moment for the movement and the government, the judge in the case backed the activists after hearing Israeli experts on fascism argue that the description was justified.

Another far-right group, NGO Monitor, has worked closely with the government on trying to shut down the main source of funding, from European governments, for left-wing and human rights organisations in Israel.

Bronstein said NGO Monitor had persuaded one German funder, the EVZ Foundation, to withdraw its money last year.

An attempt by the government to draft legislation to block foreign funding was quietly dropped in 2011 under pressure from the US and the EU.

However, one of Netanyahu’s government coalition partners, the Jewish Home party, announced in the summer it was reviving the legislation. Organisations questioning Israel’s democratic claims or supporting investigations against Israeli soldiers for war crimes will face closure.

Jafar Farah, director of Mossawa, a political advocacy group for the Palestinian minority in Israel, said many funders were now “running scared” because of the campaign.

“Funding is starting to dry up for human rights organisations and for Arab organisations in Israel as this campaign succeeds in its goal of intimidating donors,” he said.

He pointed to the decision of a major donor, the Ford Foundation, to stop funding projects in Israel because of the pressure.

‘Liberal bias’

Meanwhile, the government was harshly criticised recently for allowing another far-right group, the Institute for Zionist Strategies, to revise textbooks used in schools to prepare pupils for their matriculation exam, as part of efforts to make the curriculum more overtly nationalistic.

The education ministry has held a review of textbooks searching for signs of “liberal bias”, including history books that refer to the Nakba.

The chief battleground, however, has been over civics courses, the only part of the curriculum that tackles issues such as democracy, human rights, equality and universal principles of citizenship.

Last year the education ministry’s supervisor of the civics curriculum, Adar Cohen, was sacked despite a petition opposing the decision from hundreds of civics teachers.

He had been criticised by the right for publishing a textbook that included references to the Goldstone Report, a United Nations fact-finding mission that criticised Israel for carrying out what appeared to be war crimes during an attack on Gaza in winter 2008-09.

Asher Cohen, a senior member of the Institute for Zionist Strategies, was appointed as head of the ministry’s civics committee. Founded by settler leaders, the Institute is heavily reliant on funding from neoconservative groups in Washington.

Another Institute member, Aviad Bakshi, was given exclusive oversight over rewriting the main civics textbook, Being Citizens in Israel, after the right complained it was too critical of the country.

The study by Pinson from Ben Gurion University found the new edition was heavily slanted towards a nationalist conception of Israel that promoted the state’s Jewish characteristics at the expense of democratic principles.

“The influence of the Institute for Zionist Strategies is clear in the new textbook. The perspective is very disturbing: that minorities in Israel should not have the right to influence the public sphere.”

The education ministry was unavailable for comment.

Yousef Jabareen, the director of Dirasat, a social policy centre in Nazareth that commissioned the report, said he had received numerous complaints from teachers in Israel’s Arab schools.

“They say they are finding it impossible to teach the curriculum because its message is opposed to equality and integration,” he said. “It is especially problematic because this material is mandatory and the pupils cannot matriculate without passing the civics exam.”

Pinson said the book also implicitly blamed the country’s Palestinian citizens for the discrimination they face, including difficulties finding employment. She said the implied message was “as if the Arab minority itself is responsible for its low participation in the workforce”.

October 8, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Comments Off on Israel’s Right Targets Textbooks

On the Fallacy of ‘Engaging’ with the Israeli Academy

Should Oral Historians Meet in an Occupied Land in 2014?

By HAIM BRESHEETH and SHERNA BERGER GLUCK | CounterPunch | September 20, 2013

A standard argument against BDS – the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Israeli occupation – and especially the academic boycott- has been the “‘need to engage” with Israelis. In fact, during the 46 years of the occupation, numerous efforts to ‘engage’ have been made repeatedly, all of which are warmly embraced by Israel and its academic institutions.

The most recent example is an “International Oral History” conference being organized by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, featuring renowned Italian oral historian Alessandro Portelli. The conference topics included trauma studies, holocaust studies and conflict studies and assiduously avoiding any reference to the Nakba.

Such typical elision has become an iconic political battle-zone between the supporters of Palestinian rights and pro-Israelis, who promote ‘dialogue’ and ‘engagement’; Nor is it surprising that the Hebrew University avoids the topic, given its own complicity in the ongoing Palestinian trauma. The recently passed Nakba Law in Israel bans even the commemoration of the Nakba, so this avoidance is part of a larger project of Israeli denial.

Private efforts to dissuade the two scheduled speakers failed, and it became clear that they firmly subscribed to the value of ‘engagement,” even with an institution like Hebrew University whose complicity in the violation of Palestinian rights and international law we fully documented. Following this exchange, the original webpage for the conference was replaced, and an elliptical reference seemed to open the door for some discussion of the unmentioned Nakba.

The issues involved in this planned conference go beyond the ill-informed and misguided participation of the featured speakers; A public call to boycott the conference signed by 72 international academics was issued in August. Now, in just over a month, there are more than 250 signatories, of whom one third are oral historians from 19 countries, including South Africa, Brazil, Spain and India.

Because the further discussion of boycott was shut off on the US listserv where the conference was initially announced, a message posted by the conference organizer was the last substantive comment on the issue.  In it, she claims boycotting the Hebrew University “only serves as a disservice to many individuals, organizations and communities who dedicate their professional and personal life to finding a just resolution to the conflict.” [i] Thus, the argument for “engagement” was permissible, but the US academic community was denied access to the compelling evidence for boycott. In effect, they were given a response to a question not yet publicly debated.

The dispute playing out among academics, and the timidity of those in the US compared to other internationals, is not new. Furthermore, it represents a conflict that goes much deeper, touching on the very question of “engagement”.

The Folly of Engagement

Academics have been going to conferences in Israel, especially in Jerusalem, for five long decades of occupation, engaging with their Israeli counterparts. It’s bad enough that these engagements have resulted in nothing positive, but to make matters worse, they have become part and parcel of Israeli political strategy: more engagement, discussions, meetings, negotiations between the sides ad infinitum. The current phase of such fruitless exercises recently initiated by US Secretary of State John Kerry will  likely join the others in the dustbin of history

Worse yet, under the guise of continuing discussions and negotiations – a delaying tactic developed by PM Shamir in the 1980s – Israel has managed to add 700,000 illegal settlers in the Occupied Territories of Palestine and Syria. This is almost the number of Palestinian refugees who were forcibly driven out of Palestine in 1948 by the Israeli forces and never allowed back, despite numerous UN resolutions.

In over six decades of its existence, Israel has defied the UN on the most crucial resolutions passed on the rights of the Palestinians; it illegally settled the territories it occupied; it defied the Geneva Convention on numerous counts, including its failure to look after the population under occupation. Among other things, it has refused to grant Palestinian universities a license to operate, and closed the existing institutions for long periods.  During this time, not once did Israeli faculty unions or the university senates call for reopening of Palestinian universities, or for the restitution of academic freedom in Palestine. Israeli universities have themselves been directly complicit in Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights and international laws, and all have collaborated in some way with the military occupation, including assisting the military-security-industrial complex.[ii]  In the case of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, its Mt. Scopus campus was expanded onto illegally occupied and confiscated land.

Yet, in contrast to South African apartheid, most academics throughout the world remained silent for years, mounting little opposition to Israel’s crimes. Only in 2005, following the PACBI call for an academic boycott, did the BDS and academic boycott campaign start in earnest in the UK.  Since then, BRICUP (British Committee for Universities in Palestine) has been involved in numerous successful actions, including the recent withdrawal of leading physicist Stephen Hawking from the Presidential conference of 2013 – an action that galvanized scientists and academics elsewhere[iii].

Four years after the founding of BRICUP, and in response to Operation Cast Lead, campaigns in both the US (USACBI) and France (AURDIP) were initiated. [iv] While short of the success of Hawking’s repudiation, both campaigns have been very active. In the US, perhaps the most significant success on the academic front was the passage of an academic boycott resolution at the Asian American Studies Conference in May 2013. AURDIP, while being severely hampered by the repressive policies initiated by Sarkozy, fully applied under Hollande, remains an important clearinghouse on the academic boycott, regularly using public events showcasing cooperation between French and Israeli academic institutions as a platform to promote BDS.

Today, there are active boycott campaigns in Spain (PBAI), Berlin (BAB) and India (IncACBI), all of which were initiated in 2010[v], and in Ireland – AFP (Academics for Palestine) was created in 2012[vi]. Perhaps the most important development was the development of a BDS movement inside Israel – Boycott from Within. Recently, these boycott campaigns have garnered increasing support, often from some of the most notable scholars in their countries, like Josep Fontana, the prestigious Spanish (Catalan) historian. The boycott groups in Spain, India and the US are currently organizing against partnerships being forged with Israel’s Technion.  Even in Germany, where any criticism of Israel is highly suspect, the BAB is challenging a funded cooperation agreement between the Free University and the Hebrew University.

Quite obviously, the message is spreading, gradually penetrating academic institutions everywhere. In response, Israel and the Zionist movement have devoted tremendous efforts to counter the boycott campaign, funded by government Ministries. The long-term policy that was devised initially prioritized the UK. A number of Israeli task forces drawn from Israeli universities, arrived in Britain to ‘explain’ the need for ‘engagement’ and ‘dialogue’. The same professors who for years disengaged from any support of the human and civic rights of Palestinians, including their right to education, were now globe-trotting in support of the ‘real victim’ – Israel – promoting ‘engagement’ with the occupation forces under the banner of dialogue. The latest, but surely not last iteration, is the government campaign to use Israel’s students against the boycott. Recent revelations exposed the creation of covert units at Israeli universities, designed to work with the Israeli National Student Union, using social media.

Whatever else one might think about Israeli universities, they could never be accused of being liberal or supportive of human rights. A few months before the Gaza incursion in December 2008, a petition for academic freedom in the Occupied Territories was circulated to over 10,000 Israeli academics. This mild petition, merely requesting the government to allow Palestinians the same freedom enjoyed by Israeli academics, was signed by only 407 Israeli academics – 4% of the total.  The Academic Staff unions in Israel never even discussed or acted on the matter. Although Tel Aviv University is by far the most ‘liberal’ of all, with 155 faculty signing the said petition, in 2012, Shlomo Sand felt compelled to castigate his colleagues in the history department for concealing the problematic history of their own university, built on the former Palestinian village of Sheikh Muwanis[vii].

Israeli academics continually ignore calls of Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel’s aggressive occupation, arguing instead for  ‘dialogue’ with Israeli colleagues. In fact, the Hebrew University conference is promoted as a “participatory site in which ‘difficult dialogues’ on memory and perspectives will be discussed.”  As usual, instead of promoting dialogue with Palestinian academics, the best that the conference organizers can muster is a reference to “the issues that this country and region face.” One wonders – is the occupation such an issue?

What could possibly be wrong with dialogue, you might ask? Instead, perhaps the appropriate question might be: “is it moral to collaborate with a militarized, racist, colonial state, in order to cleanse its crimes?” Doesn’t this mean that crimes continue and newer ones are perpetrated? Indeed, evidence clearly demonstrates that continuing ‘engagements’ have not led to resolution, but instead served to numb the sensibilities of international academia to the realities of occupied Palestine. In the case of South Africa, it was clear to all academics that there was no way to ‘engage’ with apartheid by speaking to its representatives; the only way to deal with apartheid was to oppose it – to boycott, divest and apply sanctions; to deny South African institutions any support and dialogue; and to follow the advice of the ANC.

Though not yet on the same scale as the South African campaign, the BDS campaign has been successful. Many academics worldwide are now sensitized to becoming complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation, its settler-colonial policies and its apartheid practices and have stopped participating with Israeli institutions. The campaign to boycott the Hebrew University “international” oral history conference is part of the growing world wide effort to honor the Palestinian call for an academic boycott of Israel.

Because so many oral historians view their work as a means of giving voice to the oppressed and silenced, boycotting this conference should be a no-brainer. Indeed, for the internationally-minded oral historians, it is just that, even as so many US practitioners have basically buried their heads in the sand, following their government’s lead.

We wonder what the two advocates of engagement solicited for keynotes will do, and especially how the Hebrew University will respond. Will it, for instance, throw generous travel stipends to participants, rendering them party to the Israeli propaganda machine? We hope, instead, that oral historians around the world will heed the call not to cross the Palestinian picket line, thereby honoring the basic ethical/moral foundation of the historian’s work. [viii]

Haim Bresheeth and Sherna Berger Gluck are part of an international group that initiated this  boycott campaign and which includes Sami Hermez, Nur Masalha, Ilan Pappe, Rosemary Sayigh and Lisa Taraki, among others. Bresheeth is Professor of Film Studies at SOAS London and active in BRICUP; Gluck is Director Emerita of the Oral History Program at California University, Long Beach and one of the founders of the US Academic and Cultural Boycott Campaign of Israel

Notes.

[i]Dr. Sharon Kangisser Cohen posted on HOralHIST listserv August 5, 2013: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=H-Oralhist&month=1308&week=c&msg=29F8Sr%2BcGUQuYBM5ggshvw.

[ii] Keller, U. (2009) the Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Israeli Academic Institutions in Occupation of Palestinian Territories. The Economy of the Occupation: A Socioeconomic Bulletin: Alternative InformationCentre. http://www.alternativenews.org/images/stories/downloads/Economy ofthe_occupation_23-24.pdf

[iii] See “Stephen Hawking’s message to Israeli elites: The occupation has a price”

[iv]  AURDIP – Association Universitaire pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine

[v] PABI – La Plataforma para el Boicot Académico a Israel; BAB – Berlin AB; InCACBI – Indian Campaign ACBI

[vi] Started with the successful passage on November 9th, 2012, of an Academic Boycott motion at the academic union TUI (Teachers Union of Ireland),  in early 2013, see “TUI Dublin Colleges Branch AGM passes motions in support of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions; recognises Israel’s apartheid nature”

[vii] Sand, S in concluding chapter of  The Invention of the Land of Israel: From Holy Land to Homeland, Verso, London, (2012) pp. 259-281

[viii]  The letter in English, French, Portugese and Spanish can be accessed at: http://www.aurdip.org/Call-to-Boycott-the-Oral-History.html and usacbi.org

This is not a general petition but is intended as an open letter to international academics and oral historians. If you fit this bill, please send your relevant information to: hebrewUconferenceboycott@gmail.com

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on On the Fallacy of ‘Engaging’ with the Israeli Academy

The Nakba Continues: Israel’s Bedouin Face Mass Displacement

By Nadia Ben-Youssef | New Left Project | July 15, 2013

I met Aziz Al-Touri nearly three years ago in a well-constructed tent of 2x4s and brightly-coloured tarp, erected next to the concrete remains of his family home and the exposed roots of hundreds of his olive trees.  With the sound of crushing bulldozers and the sight of thousands of Israeli security forces still haunting the dreams of his five children, he spoke of his life in terms of before and after. Before and after 27 July 2010.  Before and after the demolition of his entire village, Al-Araqib, one of 35 so-called “unrecognized villages” in the Negev desert in southern Israel. Today, when Aziz tells the story of his village, in an English that was completely foreign to his tongue three years ago, he corrects me when I say Al-Araqib has been demolished 52 times since July 2010. “That wasn’t the first demolition,” he says. “The first demolition was in 1948.”

Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 (known as the Nakba or catastrophe in Arabic) some 92,000 Palestinian Bedouin lived in distinct and fixed villages and controlled 99% of the land in the Negev (Naqab).  Land ownership and transactions were regulated within a sophisticated traditional system, and recognized by both the Ottoman Government and the British Mandate.  Following the Nakba, and the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland, the majority of the Bedouin community was forced to flee to neighbouring States; only 11,000 Bedouin remained, including a few families in the village of Al-Araqib. The remaining community was concentrated into a restricted military zone called the Siyag (Arabic for “fence”) by the Israeli Military Authority, with the internally displaced communities being told that they would be able to return to their own land within 6 months.

65 years later, none of the internally displaced Bedouin have been allowed to return, nor have they been given any proprietary rights to the land onto which they were moved. Similarly, the State did not recognize the land rights of the Bedouin communities that lived within the Siyag prior to the concentration.  According to Israeli law, none of the Bedouin have any legal right to their ancestral land; the 1953 Land Acquisition Law (Actions and Compensation) declared all of the land of the Negev to be “state land.”  With the passage of the law, the Bedouin were deemed “trespassers” and all of the Bedouin villages (both historic, and those created by the military government) were declared “illegal” and to this day have been denied recognition.

Successive Israeli governments have been faced with what the state regards as the “Bedouin problem.”  This classification is all the more troubling when one considers that the Bedouin, like all Palestinians who remained in Israeli territory after the Nakba, were granted Israeli citizenship by 1954.  The “problem” for the Jewish state is primarily one of demography.  The Bedouin, who now number some 200,000 people, comprise around 32% of the population in the Negev; next to the Galilee, the Negev is the region in Israel with the highest percentage of non-Jewish citizens. Israel’s solutions, which are developed without community consultation, are often disguised as general regional development or described in patronising terms as benevolent attempts to “modernise” the Bedouin.  However, all reflect the state’s acute anxiety about the “demographic threat” as well as the normalised discrimination against its Palestinian citizens.

Beginning in the late 1960s, the Israeli state’s first imposed solution was to urbanise its rural, pastoral citizens, creating seven urban townships over the next two decades.  These urban townships are annually featured in the lowest socioeconomic bracket in Israel, and suffer from the highest rate of poverty, crime and unemployment.  The forced urbanisation of traditional farmers and shepherds looks exactly as one would expect: bails of hay line the major roads, and herds of sheep, goats and camels are kept in pens attached to homes.  Half of the Bedouin community, or roughly 100,000 people, live in these seven townships, though 85% of the residents are those who were internally displaced into the Siyag by the Israeli military government after the Nakba.  Most of the Bedouin who were never moved from their ancestral land have remained in their historic villages, despite the fact that these villages are “unrecognized” by the State of Israel.

Unrecognized villages do not appear on any official maps, and their residents are denied access to all basic services including water, electricity, roads, sewage, schools and health clinics, in order to “encourage” them to abandon their homes.  All of the structures in the villages are “illegal”, in that they were built without permits from the State, and are thus subject to frequent demolition (around 1,000 Bedouin homes were demolished in 2011).  Beginning in 2003, after intensive efforts by an elected group of Bedouin leaders who formed the Regional Council of the Unrecognized Villages, 11 unrecognized villages were recognized.  Though these villages do not face a future of mass demolition and displacement, ten years later they remain disconnected from all state infrastructure, and as there is no elected authority from which to request building permits, new or renovated buildings are also regularly demolished.

However, it is the remaining 35 unrecognized villages, home to some 70,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel, that are the target of the Prawer Plan, the government’s most recent “solution” for the Bedouin community.  Named after the architect of the plan and former deputy chair of the National Security Council, Ehud Prawer, the Prawer Plan aims within three years to destroy the remaining villages, displace up to 70,000 Bedouin into the existing townships and recently-recognized villages, and resolve all outstanding Bedouin land claims (of which there are over 3,200, amounting to 5% of the land of the Negev) in favour of the State of Israel.  If fully implemented, the Prawer Plan would result in the largest confiscation of Palestinian-owned land since the 1950s, and confine the Bedouin population to less than 1% of the Negev.  Not only does the Prawer Plan officially deny Bedouin the rights to their land and their agency as citizens to determine where and how to live, it proposes a new discriminatory legal reality that applies only to the Bedouin community.  According to the implementing legislation of the plan, the Prawer-Begin Bill, the process of judicial review is explicitly and severely restricted for Bedouin citizens of Israel by eliminating court-ordered and supervised demolitions and evictions in favour of speedy administrative orders.  The Prawer-Begin Bill does not apply to Jewish citizens of Israel, for whom all constitutional protections remain intact.

The devastating plan was developed, as usual, without consultation with the Bedouin community and approved by the government in September 2011.  Following considerable local and international pressure, the government conceded to holding a post-facto “public listening” process whereby Minister Benny Begin (a minister without portfolio in the Netanyahu administration) heard 1,000 Bedouin citizens and representatives.  When Minister Begin finally presented his recommendations to the government a year later, it was clear that neither the grievances, nor the comprehensive planning alternatives proposed by the community in partnership with professional planners (in the form of an Alternative Master Plan to recognize the villages) had been incorporated into the Prawer Plan.  Further, in the year that Minister Begin was writing his recommendations, the government silently approved the Regional Master Plan for the Be’er Sheva Metropolitan Area, which sets out the state’s “development” plans and outlines in concrete terms the state’s confiscation of Bedouin land and the eviction and destruction of most of the unrecognized villages.

The Regional Master Plan in some instances merely confirms already existing facts on the ground.  In Al-Araqib for instance, the Master Plan grants legitimacy to two Jewish National Fund forests that are zoned for the area of the village, and today are almost entirely planted.  In many other cases, however, the planting of new forests or park reserves, establishment of new Jewish settlements, and construction of new industrial parks, roads and military zones laid out in the Master Plan is hindered by the presence of the unrecognized villages.  The Prawer Plan and the Prawer-Begin Bill enables the state to swiftly remove the villages and villagers to proceed with “development” projects that privilege state interests at the expense of its Bedouin citizens.

The Bedouin community and the Arab political leadership in Israel, together with civil society, have spent the last two years opposing and challenging the Prawer Plan and the Prawer-Begin bill.  The community has organized mass protests in the Negev, and human rights organizations in Israel and around the world have mobilised thousands of people to speak out against the mass displacement.  Meanwhile, the international community has condemned the discriminatory plan and the legislation, including the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing and the European Parliament in 2012.  Yet, on 24 June 2013, the Prawer-Begin bill passed its first reading in the Israeli Knesset.

The Prawer-Begin bill joins a wave of discriminatory legislation directly targeting Palestinians living under Israeli control, both citizens of Israel and Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).  31 bills were proposed or passed during the 18th Knesset, and already in the first four months of the new 19th Knesset, 29 new discriminatory bills have been proposed that attack the rights of Palestinians.  Normalised discrimination against Palestinians in Israel, fueled by widespread ignorance and misinformation, lends popular support to these legislative initiatives.  In the case of the Prawer-Begin bill, it is likely that it will pass its second and third readings and be enacted into law before the closing of the Knesset session at the end of this month.

The approval of the Prawer-Begin bill only makes sense within this larger context, just as the 52 most recent demolitions of the village of Al-Araqib only make sense when one considers, as Aziz rightfully pointed out, the first demolition in 1948.  Beneath the Prawer-Begin bill, and the discriminatory legislation that marks this era in the history of the Jewish state, lies a national project that has always sought to control for the Jewish people as much land with as few Palestinians as possible.  The international community must intervene at the highest level to stop the Prawer-Begin bill. But the mass displacement of Israel’s Bedouin community is not just a problem; it is a symptom of the inherent contradiction between a state that defines itself in ethno-religious terms while also claiming to be a democracy. Where 1 in 5 Israeli citizens is excluded from full civic protection and participation simply for being Palestinian, and where a Palestinian Bedouin citizen of Israel and a Jewish citizen of Israel living in the Negev are treated according to different laws and policies, no democracy exists.

Nadia Ben-Youssef is a human rights lawyer living in the Naqab and serving as an international advocacy consultant for Adalah The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

July 23, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mass graves of Palestinians killed in 1948 Nakba discovered in Jaffa

Al-Akhbar | May 30, 2013

Six mass grave sites dating back to the 1936 Palestinian uprising and the 1948 Nakba were discovered around the Jaffa cemetery, the al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage reported Wednesday, revealing hundreds of bodies of Palestinians killed by Zionist forces.

“During [the foundation’s] repair and maintenance work on the [Kazkhana] cemetery, we discovered nozzles to dig into the ground where we found the mass graves…including hundreds of skeletons and human remains of rebels, martyrs and civilians who perished during the Nakba,” head of the Islamic Movement in Jaffa, Sheikh Mohammed Najem, said in the report.

A picture by the al-Aqsa Foundation shows skeletons buried in a mass grave

The foundation has proved the remains date back to the victims killed in the 1948 war, whether from bombings and shelling of residential neighborhoods or snipers located around the city, the report said.

“The Kazkhana cemetery has exposed the historical facts that Israel has tried to hide and erase for over 65 years relating to the massacres committed by Zionist gangs during the 1948 Palestinian Nakba,” it read.

“These mass graves have banished all doubts of the certainty of oral histories collected by historians of people who lived through the Nakba of 1948 and parts of the war documenting massacres in Jaffa and its suburbs,” the report added.

Some of the recorded histories document eyewitnesses witnessing piles of bodies scattered around in all of Jaffa’s neighborhoods, which were buried in mass graves due to the violent circumstances at the time.

The report shares an eyewitness account explaining how the residents of Jaffa were forced to move bodies to the cemetery and bury them in mass graves as the town was being heavily bombarded by Zionist forces.

“The foundation will continue to conduct research and scientifically test the remains…to send media messages to the whole world that Israel is built on the skulls of the Palestinian people,” Abed al-Majid Ighbariya, the head of the files on holy sites of the foundation, said.

The Nakba, or “Catastrophe,” refers to the expropriation and mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland by Zionists.

May 30, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on Mass graves of Palestinians killed in 1948 Nakba discovered in Jaffa

Israel’s dirty little secret: the ‘internally displaced persons’ it continues to deny basic rights

By Dr. Daud Abdullah | MEMO | May 17, 2013

Inevitably, the 65th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba – Catastrophe – was overshadowed by calls to exercise refugees’ right of return. Although the vast majority of Palestinians live in forced exile and the focus tends to dwell on their plight, there are now an estimated 370,000 ‘internally displaced persons’ (IDPs) within the Israeli state. They are also denied the right to return to their homes and villages. No Nakba anniversary can pass without remembering them.

Unlike their compatriots in the wider Diaspora, the displaced Palestinians in Israel enjoy little international assistance and far less protection. Ever since the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) stopped providing services for them in 1952, they have remained refugees in their own land and second-class citizens in the state established around them.

From the very first, Israel never intended to accord equal rights to the 150,000 Palestinians who remained on their land as 750,000 of their compatriots were being driven into exile, despite an undertaking given in its ‘declaration of independence’ to ‘uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of religion, race or sex’. The Palestinians have always been regarded as a ‘fifth column’ and a threat to the security of the state. As such, they were subjected to military rule from 1948 until 1966.

Under Israeli law, the IDPs are present in so far as they are obliged to pay taxes but absent in terms of their rights to employment, health care, water and education. They were assigned the absurd legal designation, unique to Israel, of ‘present-absentees’.

With no regard for their rights to ownership, the state has used its Absentee Property Law of 1950 to confiscate some 97 per cent of Palestinian land, leaving 1.5 million Palestinian citizens’ access to the remaining three per cent. These are either administered by the state or allocated to Zionist institutions such as the Jewish National Fund (JNF) for the exclusive use of Jews. Priority is given routinely to American Jews, followed by Europeans, Russians and others in that order.

While Palestinian villages which pre-date the state of Israel are denied basic services, newly-established Jewish settlements are granted them unconditionally. In 1992, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the Palestinian villages should be connected to the Israeli national water system. That has still not been done.

On another level, the Regulation and Construction Law prohibits Palestinians from repairing let alone building their homes on land which Israel classifies as ‘agricultural land’ or ‘closed military zones’. Their villages, mostly in the Negev and the Galilee, are ‘unrecognised’ by the state and, therefore, by definition ‘illegal’. The underlying purpose of all these classifications by Israel is to force its Palestinians citizens to leave; it is, in other words, ethnic cleansing by stealth.

If Palestinian homes in the West Bank, including Ramallah, are destroyed with impunity on the pretext that they have no proper licence, one can only imagine what is done to the ‘unrecognised villages’ in what Israel regards as its sovereign territory. Using the Emergency Laws inherited from the British Mandatory government, officials often post notices on homes earmarked for demolition, which are thereafter destroyed within forty-eight hours.

In the Negev, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – Adalah – reported the destruction of 2,200 homes and the forced displacement of more than 14,000 people between 2008 and 2011. In these villages women and children die in childbirth because they have no access to basic medical care of a kind accessible by Jewish immigrants the moment they land at Tel Aviv airport.

Nevertheless, the fact that Palestinians in Israel marked this year’s Nakba anniversary across the country demonstrates that after 65 years Israel has failed to erase their sense of identity and link to their land. Nor has it succeeded with its discriminatory laws to break the bonds between them and the rest of the Palestinian people; in fact, this has grown stronger. They all, to this day, share the common aspiration to return to their homes. After all the sacrifices they have made over the past 65 years it is inconceivable that the displaced Palestinians in Israel will submit to further ethnic cleansing.

The problem of the IDPs in Israel differs only marginally from that of the refugees in the Diaspora. Without doubt, they all share the common experience of dispossession and dislocation but because the IDPs didn’t cross international borders they have no access to humanitarian aid from the UNHCR or UNRWA. Though initially recognised and served by UNRWA, that came to an abrupt end in 1952 when Israel assumed responsibility for them not, it transpired, in order to provide for all of its citizens. Quite simply, and very cynically, the Israeli government wanted to divert attention from their officially-sanctioned maltreatment of its Palestinian citizens and prevent them from having access to international legal protection.

The full story of the IDPs in Israel is yet to be told. After 65 years their dream of return remains unfulfilled. Like the generation who were forcibly evicted in 1948 they also have a right to return to their homes. Their living, striving and dying over the past six decades were all with this objective in mind. Israel may delay it for some time but cannot prevent it in the long-term, because no people in history have ever accepted completely the loss of their homeland. The Palestinians’ day will come, with or without the approval of the Israeli government.

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel’s dirty little secret: the ‘internally displaced persons’ it continues to deny basic rights