Archive | April 30th, 2010


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I have been an activist since I was a teenager, and yet, the night of April 28 in the Pauley Ballroom of UC Berkeley will surely stand out as one of the most remarkable activist achievements I have ever witnessed.

And I am grateful that you were there, represented by thousand of green stickers: each with a name, a place, an identity.

While the senate at UC San Diego sent a similar proposal to a committee for further study, divestment proponents at Berkeley failed by just one vote to reverse a presidential veto of their original overwhelming vote to divest.

The members of Berkeley’s Students for Justice in Palestine wanted UC to divest from 2 companies that profit from killing and harming of civilians as part of Israel’s occupation. Yes, companies that make money from death. From control. From destruction. They needed 14 votes out of 20 to overturn the veto.

Despite truly heroic efforts on the part of countless students, including such impressive student senators, in the end they had 13 votes. The 14th abstained.

And yet, if you ask the question, after weeks of multiple hearings and votes, Who really won here?, the numbers speak for themselves:
Nearly 30 hours of hearings and testimony with standing room only audiences and in some cases, people flying in from other parts of the country to testify, others sending video or being Skyped in from Palestine and Gaza.

The support of some 100 professors, over 40 student groups, 5 Nobel Laureates, 9 Israeli peace groups, 263 community Jews in one ad plus 40 pages and growing of notable Jewish endorsements, some 8,000 JVP supporters like you from around the globe who in just 5 days created a sea of visible support.

At this last and final hearing alone, there were 500 people, standing room only.
A speaker asked the supporters of divestment to stand up: nearly 80% stood.
A senator announced that 62% of that night’s registered speakers were pro-divest, while 38% were against.

After everything, 13 of 20 senators at one of the United States’ leading academic institutions stood clearly on the side of divestment.

And that’s why so many left with a feeling of both anger and jubilation. But more than anything, determination.

If the theme of the all-night hearing in mid April-at which a final vote was tabled- was that there was every bit as much, if not more Jewish support for divestment as against it on the UC campus, the narrative running through April 28th’s all-night session was that this is about the Palestinian story, Palestinian resilience, Palestinian humanity and one day, in their quest for justice and full equality, Palestinian victory.

Imagine hours and hours of testimony from Palestinian and Arab student after student, each standing in front of a microphone and hundreds to tell their story- stories of broken bones, destroyed homes, arbitrary imprisonment and torture. Stories of bombs through living room windows, and strips searches at checkpoints. Stories of not being able to learn because schools are closed down for years at a time. Stories that until now seemed to have been banished from the public square because the mere fact of their telling, and in so doing asserting the full beauty and humanity of the teller, has been taken as a threat.

But not on this night. Not for these hours. Not in this room.

Above: Sea of bright green: supporters before and during the epic all-night hearing on divesting from Israel’s occupation at UC Berkeley.

Unless they physically plugged their ears and closed their eyes, there was not one person in that room who was not forever changed by hearing those students. Not the 80% who supported divestment. And not the 20% who didn’t.

Many of you personally helped make the room a sea of green of support. In just 5 days, over 8,000 people from all over the country, many from all over the world, said, “we stand with you.” We printed out thousands of stickers and they became like trading cards as people poured over your names and statements. “Oh look, David is a rabbinical student from Philadelphia. Dina is a Muslim teacher from New York.

Let me wear Izak, a Quaker from Boston. No, wait, I’m wearing the Zeyde (grandfather) from Atlanta.” I saw more than one Palestinian student wearing a green sticker on her heart as she stood at the microphone, showing the most remarkable kind of courage. The kind required to tell your most painful family story, a story of death and heartbreak, without knowing it would actually be heard by those in front of you. But I know she was supported in telling her story by the massive visible support you showed her. We all felt it.

There are so many lessons to be learned from these past weeks, from what started as a nonviolent call for Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) from Palestinians in 2005, moved to US campuses like Hampshire and University of Michigan at Dearborn, and is now just beginning to spread across the country.

Divestment is a tactic meant to build a movement for justice and equality, not an end unto itself. The outcome of the vote became far less important than the way the fight for the bill electrified the campus, the community, and thousands of people all over the world. It’s impossible to convey the life changing and movement-building impact of this experience.

Take Emily Carlton, an ASUC senator who sponsored the bill. She spoke eloquently of starting out as a “privileged white, mainstream” sorority member who first became educated about the issue when SJP students came to lobby her, but who then found an entirely new community of friends in a world she never before knew existed. One in which Muslim, Arab, Jewish, Christian, and other students blend easily as classmates, as friends, as activists. Her life, she said, will never be the same- and she is just one person.

In the coming weeks, we will share the lessons learned, some in our own words, many in the words of UC students, staff and alum.

But first let me tell you how the night ended.

By the final vote, it was close to 5am. Still dark out.

When the vote was announced, the room silently received the news. Supporters placed the green stickers on our mouths to protest the fact that in the end, just a few votes had blocked the will of the majority of students. A student senator stood up and told everyone to put one hand on their heart on the other in the air, symbolically holding seeds in their fist with which we would all spread the movement outside and across the community, the country, the world.

So here is one seed.

The supporters silently filed out to Sproul Plaza, where the original Free Speech movement began.

Hundred remained outside, talking, chanting, singing, laughing, hugging, crying.

Yes, students were angry, but they were exhilarated. They understood they had done something remarkable. That in so many ways, life would never be the same.

It was the end of a long year, but the beginning of a new stage of the movement.

And I am so grateful that you were all there in the room with us.

It’s clear now. It is only a matter of time until we are all able to recognize each other’s full humanity, and thereby reclaim our own.

Cecilie Surasky,

Jewish Voice for Peace

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on STUDENT FOR JUSTICE IN PALESTINE



Shocker: Speaker of Knesset calls for making one state with Palestinian citizens

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 08:31 AM PDT

Amazing. My heart is leaping. Once again, the Israeli press and the Israeli discourse is way ahead of the American one, where the belief in a thriving “Jewish democracy” stops all free thinking. Here is the speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin, saying that Palestinians are a part of Israel,

we ate the West Bank a long time ago, so let’s forget about this two-state crap and make them citizens. He meets Ali Abunimah on Abunimah’s fair and democratic ground. He dismisses the New Republic’s hysteria about the delegitimization of the Jewish state. He answers the great challenge to the Israeli psyche— At the end of every sentence in Hebrew is an Arab smoking a hookah– with ringing affirmation.

Note that Rivlin is a Likudnik, about the same age as Judge Goldstone. Note that you will never see such creative thinking in Washington, where the Diaspora Jews are about 50 lightyears behind the realities of the Middle East, locked in fearful, reactive Holocaust consciousness and dumb to the murderous occupation and the cycle of violence.

Will anyone in the US pick up the ball? Put another way, How many times have friends murmured to me, I’d be for a binational state [translation, I’d be for democracy] if only there wouldn’t be a ton of bloodshed getting there. I’ve murmured that myself. Well isn’t that just a matter of imagining? The most disputed territory is the space between American Jews’ ears. Enough drumroll, Haaretz:

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said Thursday that he would rather accept Palestinians as Israeli citizens than divide Israel and the West Bank in a future two-state peace solution.

Speaking during a meeting with Greece’s ambassador to Israel Kyriakos Loukakis, Rivlin said that he did not see any point of Israel signing a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority as he did not believe PA President Mahmoud Abbas “could deliver the goods.”

Referring to the possibility that such an agreement could be reached, Rivlin said: “I would rather Palestinians as citizens of this country over dividing the land up.”

Berkeley student body sustains veto of divestment measure

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 07:49 AM PDT

It’s evident from the thrilling twitter feed in Adam’s post below, but that’s the news. The Berkeley student senate voted 13-5 to override the student government president’s veto, at 4 a.m. California time. They needed 14 votes. Note that the measure urged the university to divest from two companies doing business in the Occupied Territories.

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb will speak on BDS in Brooklyn tonite

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 07:20 AM PDT

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb–“one of the first eight women to serve as rabbi”–will be speaking in Brooklyn tonight on Why divestment? 7 o’clock. Here’s Brooklyn for Peace announcement. Co-sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews Say No! 

Abunimah: Refugees returned to Bosnia, why not Israel?

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 07:05 AM PDT

Ali Abunimah, writing from South Africa, publishes a piece in The Hill criticizing the Zbig Brzezinski-Stephen Solarz plan for a two-state-solution:

Even more devastating to Palestinian rights, Brzezinski and Solarz float “a
solution to the refugee problem involving compensation and resettlement in
the Palestinian state but not in Israel.” This they call “a bitter pill” but argue that “Israel cannot be expected to commit political suicide for the sake of peace.”
Palestinian refugees have an internationally recognized legal right to
return to their homes and lands, but Israel has always denied this on the
sole grounds that Palestinians are not Jews. Thus Gaza, where 80 percent of the population are refugees, is essentially a holding pen for humans of the “wrong” ethno-religious group. Would Brzezinski and Solarz be so sanguine about accommodating Israel’s discriminatory character if its grounds for refusing the return of refugees was that they had the “wrong” skin color?
I write from downtown Pretoria, once the all-white capital of the South
African apartheid state, which also argued that ending white rule would be
“political suicide.” The notion that people of different groups cannot or
should not mix is belied by the vibrant multiracial reality in the streets
of Pretoria outside my window today.
And precedents for the actual return of refugees abound. Under the
US-brokered 1995 Dayton Agreement that ended the Bosnia war, almost half a million refugees and internally displaced persons returned home with
international assistance, to areas that had become dominated
demographically and politically by members of another ethno-national
community — an enormous achievement in a country with a total population
of 3.5 million and deep traumas as a result of recent war.
Other than Israel’s discriminatory aversion to non-Jews it is difficult to see why Palestinian refugees could not also return to their lands inside Israel, the vast majority of which remain uninhabited.

Is the binational state becoming a realist argument?

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:57 AM PDT

Meron Benvenisti in the New York Times– oh wait, sorry, in the Guardian. The Times won’t cover this! Note that on the same day as this sympathetic coverage of Benvenisti’s ideas, Steve Walt challenges American leadership: if the peace process is dead, as it seems to be, what have liberal policymakers come up with to answer that fact? The neocons have a clue, of course. They want apartheid, or amalgamating what’s left of Palestine in the West Bank to Jordan thru Churchillian hocus-pocus.

Here is Benvenisti:

“The entire discourse is wrong. By continuing that discourse you perpetuate the status quo. The struggle for the two-state solution is obsolete…

“For the last 20 years I have questioned the feasibility of the partition of Palestine and now I am absolutely sure it is impossible,” he says. “Or, it is possible if it is imposed on the Palestinians but that will mean the legitimisation of the status quo, of Bantustans, of a system of political and economic inequality which is hailed as a solution by the entire world – unlike in South Africa.

“The entire paradigm is wrong. We are doing this because it is self-serving. It is convenient for us to stick to the old slogan of two states as if nothing has happened since we began advocating it in the 1980s.”

…”Israel’s domination of the West Bank does not rely on the numbers of settlers or settlements,” he argues. “The settlements are totally integrated into Israeli society. They’ve taken all the land they could. The rest is controlled by the Israeli army.”

…He avoids speculating about future scenarios and makes do with the concept “bi-nationalism” – “not as a political or ideological programme so much as a de facto reality masquerading as a temporary state of affairs … a description of the current condition, not a prescription.” And he sees signs that the Palestinians are beginning to adjust to the “total victory of the Jews” and use the power of the weak: demanding votes and human rights may prove more effective than violence, he suggests.

“The peace process,” Benvenisti concludes, “is more than a waste of time. It is an illusion and it perpetuates an illusion. You can engage in a peace process and have negotiations and conferences – which have no connection whatsoever to reality on the ground.”

Chomsky says Israel is pillaging Gaza’s natural gas reserves

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:57 AM PDT

Important piece by Noam Chomsky, from a forthcoming book, that mourns the late great peace process for producing a fair deal that the US and Israel rejected and that sees a material motive in the continued control of Gaza. At the bottom of the excerpt, I’ve included Chomsky’s arrow at Obama. Well-feathered.

It cannot be too often stressed that Israel had no credible pretext for its 2008–9 attack on Gaza, with full U.S. support and illegally using U.S. weapons. Near-universal opinion asserts the contrary, claiming that Israel was acting in self-defense.

That is utterly unsustainable, in light of Israel’s flat rejection of peaceful means that were readily available, as Israel and its U.S. partner in crime knew very well. That aside, Israel’s siege of Gaza is itself an act of war, as Israel of all countries certainly recognizes, having repeatedly justified launching major wars on grounds of partial restrictions on its access to the outside world, though nothing remotely like what it has long imposed on Gaza.

One crucial element of Israel’s criminal siege, little reported, is the naval blockade. Peter Beaumont reports from Gaza that, “on its coastal littoral, Gaza’s limitations are marked by a different fence where the bars are Israeli gunboats with their huge wakes, scurrying beyond the Palestinian fishing boats and preventing them from going outside a zone imposed by the warships.” According to reports from the scene, the naval siege has been tightened steadily since 2000.

Fishing boats have been driven steadily out of Gaza’s territorial waters and toward the shore by Israeli gunboats, often violently without warning and with many casualties. As a result of these naval actions, Gaza’s fishing industry has virtually collapsed; fishing is impossible near shore because of the contamination caused by Israel’s regular attacks, including the destruction of power plants and sewage facilities.

These Israeli naval attacks began shortly after the discovery by the BG (British Gas) Group of what appear to be quite sizeable natural gas fields in Gaza’s territorial waters. Industry journals report that Israel is already appropriating these Gazan resources for its own use, part of its commitment to shift its economy to natural gas. The standard industry source reports:

“Israel’s finance ministry has given the Israel Electric Corp. (IEC) approval to purchase larger quantities of natural gas from BG than originally agreed upon, according to Israeli government sources [which] said the state-owned utility would be able to negotiate for as much as 1.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas from the Marine field located off the Mediterranean coast of the Palestinian controlled Gaza Strip.

“Last year the Israeli government approved the purchase of 800 million cubic meters of gas from the field by the IEC…. Recently the Israeli government changed its policy and decided the state-owned utility could buy the entire quantity of gas from the Gaza Marine field. Previously the government had said the IEC could buy half the total amount and the remainder would be bought by private power producers.”

The pillage of what could become a major source of income for Gaza is surely known to U.S. authorities. It is only reasonable to suppose that the intention to appropriate these limited resources, either by Israel alone or together with the collaborationist Palestinian Authority, is the motive for preventing Gazan fishing boats from entering Gaza’s territorial waters…

Barack Obama’s June 4, 2009, Cairo address to the Muslim world kept pretty much to his well-honed “blank slate” style — with little of substance, but presented in a personable manner that allows listeners to write on the slate what they want to hear.

‘Washington Post’ prints forthright call for boycott

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:50 AM PDT

of Arizona, that is, for its immigration law. Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney on the ethics of boycott:

The question isn’t whether to start an economic boycott to pressure Arizona to repeal its new immigration law. For me, that’s a given.

The question is which products and services to blacklist to get results fastest, while minimizing needless harm.

Also, note that British prime minister Gordon Brown referred to an anti-immigration activist in Europe as a “bigot.” Attitudes toward unreconstructed nationalism are changing all over, in the era of globalization.

And 20 percent of Israel’s population is not represented in the country’s leadership. h/t Janet McMahon of Washington Report.

Expulsion and persecution rationalize… expulsion and persecution

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:12 AM PDT

Simon Schama in the Financial Times disputes Shlomo Sand re Jewish identity and says we’re connected to Palestine. Typical of Sand’s reviewers, Schama accuses him of having a political value system (yes, he’s an anti-nationalist) but fails to interrogate his own, more-traditional political attachment:

the legitimacy of Israel both within and without the country depends not on some spurious notion of religious much less racial purity, but on the case made by a community of suffering, not just during the Holocaust but over centuries of expulsions and persecutions. Unlike the Roman deportations, these were not mythical.

The Goldstone report alleges that the Palestinians suffer “persecution” in Gaza. I saw that for myself. And yes, they too have experienced expulsion. When are Jewish historians going to integrate Jewish privilege into the picture? Isn’t that what General Jones’s anti-Semitic joke was all about?

Jlem mayor comes to US capital to explain, Screw Obama and the horse he rode in on

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:08 AM PDT

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat came to Washington to say there’s no settlement freeze in Jerusalem, so screw you and the horse you rode in on, Obama. The good thing about this is that the Netanyahu-Obama clash has opened up more room for sensible mainstream Jewish dudes to question the lobby. Here is Mike Isikoff blasting the Israel Project for its blind support of colonization.

Follow the UC divestment votes tonight

Posted: 28 Apr 2010 07:26 PM PDT

Both the UC Berkeley and UC San Diego Student Senates will be considering divestment bills tonight. Jewish Voice for Peace, Nora Barrows-Friedman and Rae Abileah will be live tweeting the proceedings at Berkeley and students at UC San Diego are tweeting from their meeting as well. You can follow all of their reports below or on their twitter pages – @jvplive, @norabf, @raeabileah and @ucsddivest.


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You may be too afraid or too far away to join the Friday Bil’in protest but you can be there in spirit

Posted: 30 Apr 2010 08:32 AM PDT

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Pictures are frrom Hamde Abu’s photostream. On facebook, Hamde reports that CRH refers to an Irish cement company.

Four people were arrested today, including a female journalist and an international activist. Prior to the demonstration, two Israeli activists broached the Wall and attempted to post flyers calling for the arrest of the soldier who shot Emad Rizka in the forehead at last Friday’s demonstration. When soldiers approached them, they moved away, and soldiers instead arrested two Al-Jazeera cameramen who were sitting in a car by the Wall.

Injuries this week consisted of a girl who was struck from behind with a tear gas canister. Cameraman Haitham al-Khatib was also hit in his stomach by a canister. The international activist who was arrested was treated roughly by the soldiers, who ripped off his gas mask and threw him to the ground, resulting in a 3-inch gash on his leg and a wound to his ear.

Today’s demonstration was held in solidarity with the actions of IPSC – the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign – which is organizing major demonstrations this week against the Irish multinational company CRH. CRH acquired a 25% shareholding in the Israeli group Mashav Initiating and Development Ltd, which is the holding company for Nesher Cement. Nesher is the sole Israeli cement company, meaning it supplies cement and building materials for the ongoing construction of the illegal Separation Wall, the Jerusalem Light Railway project, the illegal colonial settlements and the network of apartheid settler-only roads, underpasses, bridges and tunnels in occupied Palestine.

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the great American awakening is upon us (and the CFR is clueless)

Posted: 30 Apr 2010 07:50 AM PDT

I always miss the best lines. A friend, Ilene Cohen, spotted the best line in Henry Siegman’s takedown of Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. It’s the last one, below:

Forty plus years into this conflict and into the creeping Israeli annexation of territory in the 22 percent of Palestine left the Palestinians, Haass pleads for patience for the situation to “ripen” before we try to end it by putting forward an American plan. He maintains that what is missing is not ideas, but the will and ability of the parties to compromise. Haass notes that “Palestinian leadership remains weak and divided; the Israeli government is too ideological and fractured; U.S. relations are too strained for Israel to place much faith in American promises.”

One would have thought the problem has been placing faith in Israeli promises.

Ask Haaretz: What drives ’secret’ US policymaking?

Posted: 30 Apr 2010 07:38 AM PDT

From Haaretz, on the Israel lobby, its sociological roots. Why doesn’t this stuff ever get exhumed here? Note the reference to money. The Washington Post has said 60 percent of Democratic giving. I guess that’s not a story; and Jews and money is an antisemitic, pogrom-producing canard.

Until the midterm elections in November, U.S. President Barack Obama cannot permit himself a rift with Israel. Eighty percent of Jews vote for Democrats. The Jews of New York, California and Florida alone contribute 40 percent of campaign expenses. A clandestine battle is now being waged between Bibi and Obama as to when American Jews will tell Obama, who is putting on the pressure: “We’ve had it.” But for all the covert contempt of our leftists, the Pentagon has no interest in weakening Israel.

The absurdity is that Israel’s most inflated cabinet ever is dominated by two people. And the two of them are now secretly concocting a formula with the U.S. administration that will enable a renewal of negotiations with the Palestinian leadership.

Guess what, Jews are good at capitalism. Jerry Muller says this in his great new book. We are actually valued for this in the U.S. And this is from J Weekly in the Bay Area, about some high-tech awards being made this week.

At least four of the six CEO of the Year nom[inee]s are Jewish – an interesting achievement.

Jacqueline Rose on Zionism

Posted: 30 Apr 2010 07:01 AM PDT

My quotation of the day. Well, call it an excerpt. From Jacqueline Rose, The Question of Zion (2005):

This book arises for me out of an anguished curiosity. Appalled by what the Israeli state perpetrates on a daily basis in the name of the Jewish people, committed to Palestinian self-determination, or to full political and civic equality, I am nonetheless unable to follow some of the most obvious paths open to someone for whom this is the case. I am not happy, to put it at its most simple, to treat Zionism as an insult. A dirty word. Today, notably since 9/11, Zionism has, I believe, become almost impossible to talk about. “Look,” insisted distinguished poet and critic Tom Paulin, “you’re either a Zionist or an anti-Zionist, there’s no middle way. Everyone who supports the state of Israel is a Zionist.”…

In a strange repetition of messianism, Zionism seems to require either unconditional rejection or belief. You are Zionist or anti-Zionist. No argument. In fact inside Israel, “anti-Zionist” has a very specific meaning–it refers to those who see the project in Palestine as colonialist from the start (unlike left Zionists, for whom things began to go wrong only with the occupation of the territories that followed the 1967 Six-Day War). But there were also Zionists–Noam Chomsky was one of them in his youth–who believed that the Jews in Palestine should never acquire a sovereign state. And there were others before him, like Martin Buber, for whom the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 was, to use the term of the Palestinian refugees, a “catastrophe.” Does it make any difference–can it make a difference today (the question of the second chapter)–that Zionism was from the beginning riven by internal critique?

This study therefore asks of the reader to do what may well seem impossible. To suspend both belief and disbelief. To try to enter the imaginative mind-set of Zionism in order to understand why it commands such passionate and seemingly intractable allegiance. I am convinced that a simple dismissal of Zionism fatally undermines the case it is intended to promote. On three grounds. First political. As Lenin once said, you must always construe your enemy at their strongest point. Otherwise your refusal or blindness will expose you to the enemy’s unacknowledged strengths. Second, psychoanalytic. Insult an identity and you will drive it in deeper (for the same reason, you will not have any effect on Zionism by simply accusing it of being based on a set of myths). Finally, historical. Such a dismissal leaves us in complete ignorance as to what Zionism is, or was. “To paraphrase Marc Bloch to the historians of the French Revolution,” Bensoussan concludes his opening paragraph, “we would like to say to the present-day protagonists: ‘Zionists, anti-Zionists, for pity’s sake tell us what Zionism was!'”

…[A]s a divided, torn, fraught historic entity, Zionism slips back into a nightmare or a dream. Today we are often told either that the worst of Israel is the fulfillment of Zionism or that Israel today is a travesty of the true spirit of the earliest Zionist faith. … I therefore want to issue a wager, or use this study to attempt an experiment. To enter the house of Zionism without blocking the exits. To try to understand what Zionism thought, at the deepest and often most disturbing level, it was doing, in its own language and terms, without cutting off the path to dissent…

I start on the basis that Zionism is one of the most potent collective movements of the twentieth century, whose potency needs urgently to be understood. It has the capacity to foster identifications that are as immutable as, indeed, the ineffable Name. As a movement, Zionism has the power, that is, to sacralize itself.

Boycotts from Arizona to Palestine

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 07:42 PM PDT

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

A new order allows enforcement officials to stop anyone who “looks illegal” (read: has brown skin) and demand that they produce documents proving their right to be in a place they call home. Failure to produce such documents can lead to fines, jail time, or deportation. Widely seen as a violation of basic rights, this new order leads to widespread calls for boycott.

I’m speaking, of course, about Arizona’s new racist law, SB1070–but I could just as easily be talking about Palestine.

If you haven’t heard, SB1070 effectively mandates racial profiling by giving local police officers the right to demand immigration documentation from anyone they think might be in the country without documents. Here’s the Washington Post summarizing the new law (and insisting on calling human beings “illegal”):

“The law gives local police broad authority to stop and request documents from anyone they reasonably suspect is an illegal immigrant. It calls for aggressive prosecution of illegal immigrants, and officers can be sued if they do not enforce the law.”

SB 1070 is so racist and over the top that it has led to a wave of outrage around the country, including condemnation from a wide spectrum of faith leaders and President Barack Obama. Many organizations and individuals have called for a boycott of Arizona, including Arizona Member of Congress Raul Grijalva, award-winning author Tayari Jones, and Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney.

I support these calls, just as I support efforts to oppose so-called “Secure Communities” initiatives that would require local law enforcement to work with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a manner sure to promote racial profiling and ruin community policing efforts.

I have to wonder, though, how calls to boycott Arizona–including sports boycotts and boycotts on travel to the state–are so easily endorsed in the Washington Post (McCartney: “I like the idea of a boycott because it’s so all-American”), while calls to boycott Israel for its consistent violations of Palestinian human rights and international law are deemed “controversial.”

The connections are eerie: earlier this month, a new Israeli military order came into effect in the Palestinian West Bank, which would allow the military to demand that any Palestinian, anytime, produce proof of their right to be in a place they call home. According to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz:

“A new military order will take effect this week, enabling the army to deport tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank and prosecute them on infiltration charges, which carry long prison terms….The order’s vague language will allow army officers to exploit it arbitrarily to carry out mass expulsions, in accordance with military orders which were issued under unclear circumstances. The first candidates for expulsion will be people whose ID cards bear addresses in the Gaza Strip, including children born in the West Bank and Palestinians living in the West Bank who have lost their residency status for various reasons.”

Sound familiar? As with SB1070, the Israeli military order purports to be in response to illegal migration (“infiltration”), but is actually a license for racial profiling and mass deportation–i.e., ethnic cleansing. And yet where was the Washington Post call for boycott?

There’s more: The Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli violations of international law came one year after the International Court of Justice ruled against the Israel’s “Separation Barrier,” which annexes massive sections of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. That “Barrier” (read: apartheid Wall) is being built, in part, by Elbit, an Israeli military contractor that also has half of the contract on the U.S./Mexico Border Wall.

And SB1070 is likely to lead to the type of checkpoints and arbitrary “searches” and arrests that have been daily reality for West Bank Palestinians for decades. The West Bank currently has over 500 checkpoints, roadblocks, and closures–in an area the size of Delaware, not Arizona.

Of course, in Arizona and in Palestine/Israel, many of the people affected by racist laws and policies can trace their ancestral connection to the place back well before the current (predominantly white-skinned) regimes making such racist laws came into power. That’s how colonialism and occupation works. And as Jewish Israeli Assaf Oron writes at DailyKos, racial profiling linked to ID documents is a fact of life for Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel as well.

So here’s what I’m saying: all those calling for boycotting Arizona because of a racist “documentation and deportation” law–I’m with you. And everyone who supports the Palestinian BDS call should be with you too. But we’re asking you to support boycotts targeting such racist laws, mandating displacement and ethnic cleansing, that are supported by U.S. policy and U.S. corporations, no matter where these “laws” are being made.

And yes, that includes you, faith leaders who have rightfully condemned SB1070. The Palestinian Christian community is asking you for your support, too.

Now is the time. It’s the right thing to do. And it just makes sense.

David Hosey is the National Media Coordinator of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. For more information on how you can get involved with boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), check out the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation’s BDS resources.

Mearsheimer’s realistic/crystal ball: incipient apartheid, apartheid, then binational state

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 07:34 PM PDT

John Mearsheimer gave a splendid lecture today at the Palestine Center in D.C. titled “The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. the New Afrikaners” in which he stated that the two-state-solution is over (“most Israelis are opposed to making the sacrifices that would be necessary to create a viable Palestinian state, and there is little reason to expect them to have an epiphany on this issue”) and we are now in a process that will result in a binational state. But how long, dear, how long? Apartheid will give way to a binational state, Mearsheimer argued, because once “those [American] Jews who comprise the great ambivalent middle” understand that Israel is a full-fledged apartheid state, they will side with the “righteous Jews,” such as Naomi Klein, Tony Judt, and Roger Cohen, and not the lobby, and thus help to produce a real democracy.  Excerpt:

[T]there is going to be a Greater Israel between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. In fact, I would argue that it already exists. But who will live there and what kind of political system will it have?

It is not going to be a democratic bi-national state, at least in the near future. An overwhelming majority of Israel’s Jews have no interest in living in a state that would be dominated by the Palestinians. And that includes young Israeli Jews, many of whom hold clearly racist views toward the Palestinians in their midst. Furthermore, few of Israel’s supporters in the United States are interested in this outcome, at least at this point in time. Most Palestinians, of course, would accept a democratic bi-national state without hesitation if it could be achieved quickly. But that is not going to happen, although as I will argue shortly, it is likely to come to pass down the road.

Then there is ethnic cleansing, which would certainly mean that Greater Israel would have a Jewish majority. But that murderous strategy seems unlikely, because it would do enormous damage to Israel’s moral fabric, its relationship with Jews in the Diaspora, and to its international standing. Israel and its supporters would be treated harshly by history, and it would poison relations with Israel’s neighbors for years to come. No genuine friend of Israel could support this policy, which would clearly be a crime against humanity. It also seems unlikely, because most of the 5.5 million Palestinians living between the Jordan and the Mediterranean would put up fierce resistance if Israel tried to expel them from their homes. 

Nevertheless, there is reason to worry that Israelis might adopt this solution as the demographic balance shifts against them and they fear for the survival of the Jewish state. Given the right circumstances – say a war involving Israel that is accompanied by serious Palestinian unrest – Israeli leaders might conclude that they can expel massive numbers of Palestinians from Greater Israel and depend on the lobby to protect them from international criticism and especially from sanctions.

We should not underestimate Israel’s willingness to employ such a horrific strategy if the opportunity presents itself. It is apparent from public opinion surveys and everyday discourse that many Israelis hold racist views of Palestinians and the Gaza massacre makes clear that they have few qualms about killing Palestinian civilians. It is difficult to disagree with Jimmy Carter’s comment earlier this year that “the citizens of Palestine are treated more like animals than like human beings.” A century of conflict and four decades of occupation will do that to a people.

Furthermore, a substantial number of Israeli Jews – some 40 percent or more – believe that the Arab citizens of Israel should be “encouraged” to leave by the government. Indeed, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni has said that if there is a two-state solution, she expected Israel’s Palestinian citizens to leave and settle in the new Palestinian state. And then there is the recent military order issued by the IDF that is aimed at “preventing infiltration” into the West Bank. In fact, it enables Israel to deport tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank should it choose to do so. And, of course, the Israelis engaged in a massive cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948 and again in 1967. Still, I do not believe Israel will resort to this horrible course of action.

The most likely outcome in the absence of a two-state solution is that Greater Israel will become a full-fledged apartheid state. As anyone who has spent time in the Occupied Territories knows, it is already an incipient apartheid state with separate laws, separate roads, and separate housing for Israelis and Palestinians, who are essentially confined to impoverished enclaves that they can leave and enter only with great difficulty.

Israelis and their American supporters invariably bristle at the comparison to white rule in South Africa, but that is their future if they create a Greater Israel while denying full political rights to an Arab population that will soon outnumber the Jewish population in the entirety of the land. Indeed, two former Israeli prime ministers have made this very point. Ehud Olmert, who was Netanyahu’s predecessor, said in late November 2007 that if “the two-state solution collapses,” Israel will “face a South-African-style struggle.” He went so far as to argue that, “as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.” Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who is now Israel’s defense minister, said in early February of this year that, “As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic. If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.” 

Other Israelis, as well as Jimmy Carter and Bishop Desmond Tutu, have warned that if Israel does not pull out of the Occupied Territories it will become an apartheid state like white-ruled South Africa. But if I am right, the occupation is not going to end and there will not be a two-state solution. That means Israel will complete its transformation into a full-blown apartheid state over the next decade.

In the long run, however, Israel will not be able to maintain itself as an apartheid state. Like racist South Africa, it will eventually evolve into a democratic bi-national state whose politics will be dominated by the more numerous Palestinians. Of course, this means that Israel faces a bleak future as a Jewish state. Let me explain why. 

For starters, the discrimination and repression that is the essence of apartheid will be increasingly visible to people all around the world. Israel and its supporters have been able to do a good job of keeping the mainstream media in the United States from telling the truth about what Israel is doing to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. But the Internet is a game changer. It not only makes it easy for the opponents of apartheid to get the real story out to the world, but it also allows Americans to learn the story that the New York Times and the Washington Post have been hiding from them. Over time, this situation may even force these two media institutions to cover the story more accurately themselves.

The growing visibility of this issue is not just a function of the Internet. It is also due to the fact that the plight of the Palestinians matters greatly to people all across the Arab and Islamic world, and they constantly raise the issue with Westerners. It also matters very much to the influential human rights community, which is naturally going to be critical of Israel’s harsh treatment of the Palestinians. It is not surprising that hardline Israelis and their American supporters are now waging a vicious smear campaign against those human rights organizations that criticize Israel. 

The main problem that Israel’s defenders face, however, is that it is impossible to defend apartheid, because it is antithetical to core Western values. How does one make a moral case for apartheid, especially in the United States, where democracy is venerated and segregation and racism are routinely condemned? It is hard to imagine the United States having a special relationship with an apartheid state. Indeed, it is hard to imagine the United States having much sympathy for one. It is much easier to imagine the United States strongly opposing that racist state’s political system and working hard to change it. Of course, many other countries around the globe would follow suit. This is surely why former Prime Minister Olmert said that going down the apartheid road would be suicidal for Israel.

Apartheid is not only morally reprehensible, but it also guarantees that Israel will remain a strategic liability for the United States…

I believe that most of the Jews in the great ambivalent middle will not defend apartheid Israel but will either keep quiet or side with the righteous Jews against the new Afrikaners, who will become increasingly marginalized over time. And once that happens, the lobby will be unable to provide cover for Israel’s racist policies toward the Palestinians in the way it has in the past.

Israel’s democratic values: Punish human rights organizations, not war criminals

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 07:33 PM PDT

Were you scared by the recent poll finding that the majority of Israeli Jews have profoundly anti-democratic attitudes and support restricting human rights groups, punishing Israeli citizens who call for boycotting the country, and punishing journalists who expose news that expose immoral actions by the military? Well then get all the way underneath your covers.

Those sentiments may be made the law of the land soon if a centrist coalition has its way and the Knesset passes a bill concerning non-governmental organizations. According to Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the proposed bill would prevent “the registration of a non-governmental organization (NGO) or would shut down an existing NGO, ‘if there is a reasonable basis to conclude that the organization is providing information to foreign bodies or is involved in lawsuits abroad against senior officials in the government in Israel and/or officers in the Isareli army regarding war crimes.’” 

Is that Israel’s way of saying, yes we commit war crimes, but we don’t want anyone to know about it?

The bill is being spearheaded by Ronit Tirosh of the Kadima Party, the supposedly “centrist” opposition party, and has the support of 19 members of the Knesset, according to Adalah.

The Guardian’s Rory McCarthy has more:

Israeli human rights groups say they are deeply concerned about a newly proposed bill that could shut down any organisation that investigates and mounts legal challenges to abuses by the military.

The bill was introduced in the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, yesterday with the support of at least 17 MPs from different parties. If it became law it would prevent any organisation from being registered, or would close down existing groups if they were found to be passing information “to foreign entities” or were “involved in legal proceedings abroad against senior Israeli government officials or IDF officers for war crimes”.


In a joint statement today, 10 Israeli human rights groups said the bill would “trample” democratic values. “Instead of defending democracy, the sponsors of this bill prefer to reduce it to ashes,” they said. “This bill is the direct result of irresponsible leadership that is doing all it can to undermine democratic values and the institutions that are the backbone of a democracy: the supreme court, a free press and human rights organisations.”

The groups included B’Tselem, Gisha, Adalah, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel and Rabbis for Human Rights. Adalah, which works on Arab minority rights within Israel, said the bill was “a dangerous step” against human rights groups. The bill “seeks to restrict the freedom of expression and freedom of association of these organisations”, it said.

However, the bill already has significant cross-party support. “The bill will put an end to the rampage by NPOs [non-profit organisations] who are trying to subvert the state under the guise of human rights,” Ronit Tirosh, an MP from the centrist opposition Kadima party, told the Ma’ariv newspaper.

The claim that Israel is a democracy that shares the values of the United States is becoming more farcical by the day.

AIPAC would marry apartheid

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 07:17 PM PDT

Henry Siegman, at Foreign Policy, imagines the inevitable result of the current policies in Israel that Obama has done little to buck– apartheid– and wonders what a president would do then:

Most of the political parties that comprise Netanyahu’s government, including Yisrael Beiteinu, led by Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu’s Foreign Minister, and Shas, have left no doubt that if forced to choose between democracy and the state’s Jewish identity, they would opt without the slightest hesitation to end Israel’s democracy.

What exactly would an American president do when confronted with such a new reality, which undoubtedly would again produce a spate of full-page advertisements and AIPAC resolutions in the U.S. Congress stressing the Jewish people’s biblical attachment to the land and demanding that we stand by our traditional ally? How would a less than forthright U.S. response to such a situation play in the rest of the world? Isn’t it in America’s national interest-not to speak of the interests of the State of Israel and its people and of the Palestinian people-for an American president to exert every effort to prevent such a likely deterioration that would force our policymakers to make the most agonizing and fateful decisions?

Joseph Massad reads from the Zionist dictionary

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 07:07 PM PDT

The patent absurdity of much of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict begs for a satirical treatment. On Wednesday night at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, Professor Joseph Massad answered the call with an incisive and funny lecture on “the language of Zionism.”

No one will be be surprised by the overarching theme of his talk — Israel as a colonial state, etc. But students told me they were surprised by Massad’s approach, a marked contrast, they said, from his normally buttoned-down manner in lecturing.

Sponsored by the Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine, the speech gave an abridged version of the dictionary according to Zionism, backing it up with scholarly facts and quotes galore (always book-ended by the spoken “quote… unquote”). Throughout the speech, Massad built upon his dictionary until he ended with this brief statement of Zionist language:

Colonialism is peace, is security.
Anti-colonialism is war, is terrorism.
The West Bank is half the West Bank. 

A Bantustan is a sovereign, independent state.

The Pragmatist is someone who accepts all the above.
The Extremist is someone who rejects it. 

The language needs little explanation, save the third point, where Massad presented a critical look at the numbers on the West Bank — expanding settlements, the growth of annexed Jerusalem (which takes land from the West Bank), the wall, the Jewish-only roads. All this ends up, according to Massad, with the current Israeli/ U.S./ PA discourse on the Wes Bank actually referring to 49 to 53 percent of what was the Jordanian-annexed West Bank in 1950.

The lexicon frames the conflict and distinctions between players are made “between those who accept the language of Zionism and those who don’t.”

 Massad offered the Fatah’s PA as an example. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is fluent in the language. Despite this, Massad points out, the PA’s goal of a two-state solution remains an event of ever diminishing likelihood. “Even learning the language of Zionism and speaking it fluently,” he said, “it still has not happened.”

It was only one of the downers that Massad emphatically stated in his talk (“Unfortunately, there is no Palestinian civil society”). But Massad’s talk gave a fresh and engaging perspective to many of the facts, figures and themes of the conflict.

After he finished, the crowd, scattered thinly across SIPA’s large auditorium, showed Massad their appreciation with clamorous applause. As for Massad’s usual critics– they were there in the crowd, but none asked questions, perhaps because they did not want to open themselves up to charges of being anti-semantic.

[Editor’s note: Another friend of this site, Rick Congress, was also on hand last night, and filed a sharp report on the talk here.]

Passage of divestment by Berkeley students is ‘inevitable’

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:59 PM PDT

Haaretz publishes Berkeley student Matthew Taylor on the late divestment effort at the school:

[I]f history is any guide, Berkeley’s divestment measure could have a positive impact. In the 1980s, Berkeley’s student government was one of the first at any U.S. institution of higher learning to vote to recommend divestment from South Africa’s apartheid regime. The UC system’s board of regents initially resisted the divestment call, but student protests eventually led the regents to divest funds from companies with ties to South Africa. Eventually other campuses and local municipalities took similar actions.

The United States government, formerly one of the chief enablers of apartheid, followed the lead of the students, passing the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986….

“In South Africa, we could not have achieved our freedom and just peace without the help of people around the world, who through the use of nonviolent means, such as boycotts and divestments, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime. Students played a leading role in that struggle,” Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote in a letter to Berkeley’s student government endorsing the current divestment bill…

..If more American college campuses and local agencies pass divestment measures, eventually members of U.S. Congress may come to see that they must listen to their pro-justice, pro-peace constituents and not only to AIPAC. If that happens, a U.S. anti-occupation act could become a possibility.

If the U.S. government were to seriously pressure Israel – for example, by conditioning $3 billion in annual aid on an end to the occupation and implementation of an equitable peace agreement – perhaps that would provide the incentive necessary to end the occupation.

Although the Berkeley student president subsequently vetoed the divestment bill, and AIPAC’s lobbying of student senators successfully prevented an override vote by the narrowest of margins, the proposal’s eventual passage seems inevitable. That will turn the spotlight onto the university regents, who will face protests if they don’t follow the divestment recommendation.

We who promoted and rallied for this bill are a remarkably diverse coalition of Jews, Christians and Muslims; Israelis and Palestinians; and Americans of all backgrounds. Prominent Jewish supporters included Ofra Ben Artzi, sister-in-law of Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Hedy Epstein, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor.

We Jews who support the divestment bill are fed up with Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights. We are unwilling to wait for political pressure to get Israel out of the territories to spring from the head of Zeus. And we believe that this move is in the best interests of the Israeli and Palestinian people.


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Via Maximo Blumenthal:

Schumer and another major New York-area Jewish Democrat, Rep. Anthony Weiner, have scrambled to appease the extreme pro-settler elements railing against Obama. On the radio show of Nachum Segal, a right-wing Orthodox Jew popular among the demonstrators, Schumer called Obama’s demands to stop the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem “counter-productive” and boasted about warning White House aides that he would “publicly blast” them if the President did not relent.

But Schumer’s pandering appeared to be futile. At the rally, demonstrators waved placards reading, “Where’s Schumer?” and complained to me that the senator’s criticism of Obama was too little, too late.

Meanwhile, according to the New York Jewish Week, Weiner had begged organizers for a chance to speak at the rally but was rebuffed out of fear that he might put “some sort of Democratic ’spin’ on the president’s policies.” Beth Galinsky, a rally organizer, claimed Weiner was waiting in a nearby car during the rally, hoping that his desperate pleas would provide him an opportunity to address the crowd.

The guy at around 3 minutes is not a cynic. He literally believes that this is a life-or-death issue. He is mad and he needs treatment. Schumer, on the other hand, has a different sort of lunacy, and needs de-nazification.

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Israel’s Big and Small Apartheids

by Michael Leon

Irsaeli Apartheid

Israel’s Big and Small Apartheids

By Jonathan Cook

Israel’s apologists are very exercised about the idea that Israel has been singled out for special scrutiny and criticism. I wish to argue, however, that in most discussions of Israel it actually gets off extremely lightly: that many features of the Israeli polity would be considered exceptional or extraordinary in any other democratic state.

That is not surprising because, as I will argue, Israel is neither a liberal democracy nor even a “Jewish and democratic state”, as its supporters claim. It is an apartheid state, not only in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza, but also inside Israel proper. Today, in the occupied territories, the apartheid nature of Israeli rule is irrefutable — if little mentioned by Western politicians or the media. But inside Israel itself, it is largely veiled and hidden. My purpose today is to try to remove the veil a little.

I say “a little”, because I would need far more than the time allotted to me to do justice to this topic. There are, for example, some 30 laws that explicitly discriminate between Jews and non-Jews — another way of referring to the fifth of the Israeli population who are Palestinian and supposedly enjoy full citizenship. There are also many other Israeli laws and administrative practices that lead to an outcome of ethnic-based segregation even if they do not make such discrimination explicit.

So instead of trying to rush through all these aspects of Israeli apartheid, let me concentrate instead on a few revealing features, issues I have reported on recently.

First, let us examine the nature of Israeli citizenship.

A few weeks ago I met Uzi Ornan, an 86-year-old professor from the Technion university in Haifa, who has one of the few ID cards in Israel stating a nationality of “Hebrew”. For most other Israelis, their cards and personal records state their nationality as “Jewish” or “Arab”.

For immigrants whose Jewishness is accepted by the state but questioned by the rabbinical authorities, some 130 other classifications of nationality have been approved, mostly relating to a person’s religion or country of origin. The only nationality you will not find on the list is “Israeli”.

That is precisely why Prof Ornan and two dozen others are fighting through the courts: they want to be registered as “Israelis”. It is a hugely important fight — and for that reason alone they are certain to lose. Why?

Far more is at stake than an ethnic or national label. Israel excludes a nationality of “Israeli” to ensure that, in fulfilment of its self-definition as a “Jewish state”, it is able to assign superior rights of citizenship to the collective “nation” of Jews around the globe than to the body of actual citizens in its territory, which includes many Palestinians.

In practice it does this by creating two main classes of citizenship: a Jewish citizenship for “Jewish nationals” and an Arab citizenship for “Arab nationals”. Both nationalities were effectively invented by Israel and have no meaning outside Israel.

This differentiation in citizenship is recognised in Israeli law: the Law of Return, for Jews, makes immigration all but automatic for any Jew around the world who wishes it; and the Citizenship Law, for non-Jews, determines on any entirely separate basis the rights of the country’s Palestinian minority to citizenship.

Even more importantly, the latter law abolishes the rights of the Palestinian citizens’ relatives, who were expelled by force in 1948, to return to their homes and land. There are, in other words, two legal systems of citizenship in Israel, differentiating between the rights of citizens based on whether they are Jews or Palestinians.

That, in itself, meets the definition of apartheid, as set out by the United Nations in 1973: “Any legislative measures or other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups.”

The clause includes the following rights: “the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression.”

Such separation of citizenship is absolutely essential to the maintenance of Israel as a Jewish state. Were all citizens to be defined uniformly as Israelis, were there to be only one law regarding citizenship, then very dramatic consequences would follow.

The most significant would be that the Law of Return would either cease to apply to Jews or apply equally to Palestinian citizens, allowing them to bring their exiled relatives to Israel – the much-feared Right of Return. In either a longer or shorter period, Israel’s Jewish majority would be eroded and Israel would become a binational state, probably with a Palestinian majority.

There would be many other predictable consequences of equal citizenship. Would the Jewish settlers, for example, be able to maintain their privileged status in the West Bank if Palestinians in Jenin or Hebron had relatives inside Israel with the same rights as Jews?

Would the Israeli army continue to be able to function as an occupation army in a properly democratic state? And would the courts in a state of equal citizens be able to continue turning a blind eye to the brutalities of the occupation? In all these cases, it seems extremely unlikely that the status quo could be maintained.

In other words, the whole edifice of Israel’s apartheid rule inside Israel supports and upholds its apartheid rule in the occupied territories. They stand or fall together.

Next, let us look at the matter of land control.

Last month I met an exceptional Israeli Jewish couple, the Zakais. They are exceptional chiefly because they have developed a deep friendship with a Palestinian couple inside Israel. Although I have reported on Israel and Palestine for many years, I cannot recall ever before meeting an Israeli Jew who had a Palestinian friend in quite the way the Zakais do.

True, there are many Israeli Jews who claim an “Arab” or “Palestinian” friend in the sense that they joke with the guy whose hummus shop they frequent or who fixes their car.

There are also Israeli Jews — and they are an extremely important group — who stand with Palestinians in political battles such as those here in Bilin or in Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem. At these places, Israelis and Palestinians have, against the odds, managed to forge genuine friendships that are vital if Israel’s apartheid rule is to be defeated.

But the Zakais’ relationship with their Bedouin friends, the Tarabins, is not that kind of friendship. It is not based on, or shaped by, a political struggle, one that is itself framed by Israel’s occupation; it is not a self-conscious friendship; and it has no larger goal than the relationship itself. It is a friendship — or at least it appeared that way to me — of genuine equals. A friendship of complete intimacy. When I visited the Zakais, I realised what an incredibly unusual sight that is in Israel.

The reason for the very separate cultural and emotional worlds of Jewish and Palestinian citizens in Israel is not difficult to fathom: they live in entirely separate physical worlds. They live apart in segregated communities, separated not through choice but by legally enforceable rules and procedures.

Even in the so-called handful of mixed cities, Jews and Palestinians usually live apart, in distinct and clearly defined neighbourhoods. And so it was not entirely surprising that the very issue that brought me to the Zakais was the question of whether a Palestinian citizen is entitled to live in a Jewish community.

The Zakais want to rent to their friends, the Tarabins, their home in the agricultural village of Nevatim in the Negev — currently an exclusively Jewish community. The Tarabins face a serious housing problem in their own neighbouring Bedouin community.

But what the Zakais have discovered is that there are overwhelming social and legal obstacles to Palestinians moving out the ghettoes in which they are supposed to live. Not only is Nevatim’s elected leadership deeply opposed to the Bedouin family entering their community, but so also are the Israeli courts.

Nevatim is not exceptional. There are more than 700 similar rural communities — mostly kibbutzim and moshavim — that bar non-Jews from living there. They control most of the inhabitable territory of Israel, land that once belonged to Palestinians: either refugees from the 1948 war; or Palestinian citizens who have had their lands confiscated under special laws.

Today, after these confiscations, at least 93 per cent of Israel is nationalised — that is, it is held in trust not for Israel’s citizens but for world Jewry. (Here, once again, we should note one of those important consequences of the differentiated citizenship we have just considered.)

Access to most of this nationalised land is controlled by vetting committees, overseen by quasi-governmental but entirely unaccountable Zionist organisations like the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund. Their role is to ensure that such communities remain off-limits to Palestinian citizens, precisely as the Zakais and Tarabins have discovered in the case of Nevatim.

The officials there have insisted that the Palestinian family has no right even to rent, let alone buy, property in a “Jewish community”. That position has been effectively upheld by Israel’s highest court, which has agreed that the family must submit to a vetting committee whose very purpose is to exclude them.

Again, the 1973 UN Convention on the “crime of apartheid” is instructive: it includes measures “designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups … [and] the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof.”

If Jewish and Palestinian citizens have been kept apart so effectively — and a separate education system and severe limits on interconfessional marriage reinforce this emotional and physical segregation — how did the Zakais and Tarabins become such close friends?

Their case is an interesting example of serendipity, as I discovered when I met them. Weisman Zakai is the child of Iraqi Jewish parents who immigrated to the Jewish state in its early years. When he and Ahmed Tarabin met as boys in the 1960s, hanging out in the markets of the poor neighbouring city of Beersheva, far from the centre of the country, they found that what they had in common trumped the formal divisions that were supposed to keep them apart and fearful. Both speak fluent Arabic, both were raised in an Arab culture, both are excluded from Jewish Ashkenazi society, and both share a passion for cars.

In their case, Israel’s apartheid system failed in its job of keeping them physically and emotionally apart. It failed to make them afraid of, and hostile to, each other. But as the Zakais have learnt to their cost, in refusing to live according to the rules of Israel’s apartheid system, the system has rejected them. The Zakais are denied the chance to rent to their friends, and now live as pariahs in the community of Nevatim.

Finally, let us consider the concept of “security” inside Israel.

As I have said, the apartheid nature of relations between Jewish and Palestinian citizens is veiled in the legal, social and political spheres. It does not mirror the “petty apartheid” that was a feature of the South African brand: the separate toilets, park benches and buses.

But in one instance it is explicit in this petty way — and this is when Jews and Palestinians enter and leave the country through the border crossings and through Ben Gurion international airport. Here the façade is removed and the different status of citizenship enjoyed by Jews and Palestinians is fully on show.

That lesson was learnt by two middle-aged Palestinian brothers I interviewed this month. Residents of a village near Nazareth, they had been life-long supporters of the Labor party and proudly showed me a fading picture of them hosting a lunch for Yitzhak Rabin in the early 1990s. But at our meeting they were angry and bitter, vowing they would never vote for a Zionist party again.

Their rude awakening had come three years ago when they travelled to the US on a business trip with a group of Jewish insurance agents. On the flight back, they arrived at New York’s JFK airport to see their Jewish colleagues pass through El Al’s security checks in minutes. They, meanwhile, spent two hours being interrogated and having their bags minutely inspected.

When they were finally let through, they were assigned a female guard whose job was to keep them under constant surveillance — in front of hundreds of fellow passengers — till they boarded the plane. When one brother went to the bathroom without first seeking permission, the guard berated him in public and her boss threatened to prevent him from boarding the plane unless he apologised. This month the court finally awarded the brothers $8,000 compensation for what it called their “abusive and unnecessary” treatment.

Two things about this case should be noted. The first is that the El Al security team admitted in court that neither brother was deemed a security risk of any sort. The only grounds for the special treatment they received was their national and ethnic belonging. It was transparently a case of racal profiling.

The second thing to note is that their experience is nothing out of the ordinary for Palestinian citizens travelling to and from Israel. Similar, and far worse, incidents occur every day during such security procedures. What was exceptional in this case was that the brothers pursued a time-consuming and costly legal action against El Al.

They did so, I suspect, because they felt so badly betrayed. They had made the mistake of believing the hasbara (propaganda) from Israeli politicians of all stripes who declare that Palestinian citizens can enjoy equal status with Jewish citizens if they are loyal to the state. They assumed that by being Zionists they could become first-class citizens. In accepting this conclusion, they had misunderstood the apartheid reality inherent in a Jewish state.

The most educated, respectable and wealthy Palestinian citizen will always fare worse at the airport security check than the most disreputable Jewish citizen, or the one who espouses extremist opinions or even the Jewish citizen with a criminal record.

Israel’s apartheid system is there to maintain Jewish privilege in a Jewish state. And at the point where that privilege is felt most viscerally by ordinary Jews to be vulnerable, in the life and death experience of flying thousands of feet above the ground, Palestinian citizens must be shown their status as outsider, as the enemy, whoever they are and whatever they have, or have not, done.

Apartheid rule, as I have argued, applies to Palestinians in both Israel and the occupied territories. But is not apartheid in the territories much worse than it is inside Israel? Should we not concern ourselves more with the big apartheid in the West Bank and Gaza than this weaker apartheid? Such an argument demonstrates a dangerous misconception about the indivisible nature of Israel’s apartheid towards Palestinians and about its goals.

Certainly, it is true that apartheid in the territories is much more aggressive than it is inside Israel. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the apartheid under occupation is much less closely supervised by the Israeli civilian courts than it is in Israel. You can, to put it bluntly, get away with much more here.

The second, and more significant, reason, however, is that the Israeli system of apartheid in the occupied territories is forced to be more aggressive and cruel — and that is because the battle is not yet won here. The fight of the occupying power to steal your resources — your land, water and labour — is in progress but the outcome is still to be decided. Israel is facing the considerable pressures of time and a fading international legitimacy as it works to take your possessions from you. Every day you resist makes that task a little harder.

In Israel, by contrast, apartheid rule is entrenched — it achieved its victory decades ago. Palestinian citizens have third or fourth class citizenship; they have had almost all of their land taken from them; they are allowed to live only in their ghettoes; their education system is controlled by the security services; they can work in few jobs other than those Jews do not want; they have the vote but cannot participate in government or effect any political change; and so on.

Doubtless, a related fate is envisioned for you too. The veiled apartheid facing Palestinians inside Israel is the blueprint for a veiled — and more legitimate — kind of apartheid being planned for Palestinians in the occupied territories, at least those who are allowed to remain in their Bantustans. And for this very reason, exposing and defeating the apartheid inside Israel is vital to the success of resisting the apartheid that has taken root here.

That is why we must fight Israeli apartheid wherever it is found — in Jaffa or Jerusalem, in Nazareth or Nablus, in Beersheva or Bilin. It is the only struggle that can bring justice to the Palestinians.

This is the text of a talk delivered to the fifth Bilin international conference for Palestinian popular resistance, held in the West Bank village of Bilin on April 21.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. 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). His website is

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Keeping Colombo on its bloody toes

Posted: 28 Apr 2010 04:56 PM PDT

We will not forget:

More than a year after Sri Lanka launched its final offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels, pressure continues to mount for an international tribunal into alleged war crimes. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon plans to appoint a panel of experts to look into a tribunal, something the Sri Lankan government says is unwarranted and uncalled for.

Now Australian lawyers are joining forces with the International Commission of Jurists to take witness statements and prepare evidence for any war crimes tribunal.

The rules of the real propaganda game

Posted: 28 Apr 2010 07:06 AM PDT

“(A)nyone who is deeply moved by one set of tragedies while ignoring, and even justifying, those on the other side, in reality is not genuinely touched by either. It’s just an arm of their propaganda.”

Mark Steel, ‘What’s Going On?’, Simon & Schuster, 2008, p.25

Can somebody please tell Israel that she can’t occupy and be a democracy?

Posted: 28 Apr 2010 06:53 AM PDT

How long must we play this charade?

The announcement of upcoming “proximity talks” between Israel and the Palestinians raises a number of questions – what exactly will they talk about? What else can be renewed in the peace process, where everything seems to have been tried while peace remains elusive? What trick does George Mitchell, the mediator of the hour, have up his sleeve that was kept from his frustrated predecessors?

Israel wants to extract itself from the morass of control over the Palestinians, who accuse it of apartheid and force it to choose between its Jewish identity and its democracy. But Israel also wants to keep most of the West Bank, the settlements and security control, and to enjoy exclusive rights over Jerusalem.

Health crisis in the Gaza Strip

Posted: 28 Apr 2010 12:10 AM PDT

The Israeli experiment, otherwise known as Gaza:

The Gaza Strip’s ministry of health has warned that fuel shortage is pushing the energy-stripped enclave to the verge of a humanitarian and health crisis.

The warning comes days after the Israeli blockade of the Hamas-run coastal sliver led to the closure of the energy-stripped territory’s sole power plant on April 9, forcing a total blackout.

The shut-down prompted Gaza’s hospitals and clinics to turn to their back-up generators, which need 22,000 liters of diesel a day and, thus, the medical centers are running dangerously low on fuel.

“Because of the power shortage from the main source of electricity in Gaza, we rely on generators now. The problem with these generators is that they consume a large amount of fuel during the power outage,” Health Ministry’s Director General Medhat Abbas told Press TV.

Abbas said they were running out of all the fuel supplies in the hospitals of Gaza, which would mean death for premature infants, cardiac patients on life support and those in intensive care.

“The effect of power outage in hospitals is devastating,” he warned, noting the urgent need for fuel to maintain the hospitals’ emergency services, medicines refrigerators, labs and blood banks.

The health ministry on Monday issued a statement and called on the international community to offer immediate and urgent aid to Gaza.

It also urged pressure on Israel into allowing fuel into the strip and to lift its crippling siege of Gaza, which has been in place since 2007.

MIA uses her Tamil heritage to make a point

Posted: 27 Apr 2010 10:31 PM PDT

A very strong new video by Tamil MIA, Born Free, shocks the senses. And rightly so:

If singer/rapper M.I.A.’s purpose was to get people talking about her new single “Born Free,” she succeeded.

The Sri Lankan-born artist debuted the graphic video on Monday. Immediately, fans took to social media to debate its scenes of military force, violence and brutality.

“M.I.A. is a provocateur and someone who tries to rile people up in a variety of ways,” said Saul Austerlitz, author of “Money for Nothing: A History of the Music Video from the Beatles to the White Stripes.”

“I think one of the main routes that she takes to that end is the political, and this video has a lot of political resonances, things like Guantanamo, the Iraqi insurgency and the Taliban all sort of jumbled together and rebranded.”

The almost nine-minute video for the song from her upcoming album includes nudity as well as scenes of brutality. Directed by filmmaker Romain Gavras, the video revolves around the rounding up of red-headed young men by a group of military commandos.

At one point, a boy is shot point-blank in the head and another young man is blown to pieces. YouTube reportedly yanked the video in light of its content.

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

This is the real face of Israel: intolerant and insular

Posted: 27 Apr 2010 09:57 PM PDT

A democracy in name only and a growing tendency towards fascism. Zionism grows uglier by the day:

More than half of Jewish Israelis think human rights organizations that expose immoral behavior by Israel should not be allowed to operate freely, and think there is too much freedom of expression here, a recent survey found.

The survey, commissioned by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University, will be presented Wednesday at a conference on the limits of freedom of expression.

The pollsters surveyed 500 Jewish Israelis who can be considered a representative sample of the adult Jewish population.

They found that 57.6 percent of the respondents agreed that human rights organizations that expose immoral conduct by Israel should not be allowed to operate freely.

Slightly more than half agreed that “there is too much freedom of expression” in Israel.

The poll also found that most of the respondents favor punishing Israeli citizens who support sanctioning or boycotting the country, and support punishing journalists who report news that reflects badly on the actions of the defense establishment.

Another 82 percent of respondents said they back stiff penalties for people who leak illegally obtained information exposing immoral conduct by the defense establishment.

“Israelis have a distorted perception of democracy,” said Daniel Bar-Tal, a professor at the university’s school of education, and one of the conference’s organizers. “The public recognizes the importance of democratic values, but when they need to be applied, it turns out most people are almost anti-democratic.”

Another conference participant, Ben-Gurion University’s David Newman, called the polling results “very worrying,” adding that there has been an assault on freedom of expression in recent years.

“We say Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, but in Europe they are beginning to think of us otherwise,” he said.

Virtually all the respondents, 98 percent, said freedom of expression was important, but the picture changed when the questions got into the details.

Regarding human rights groups’ rights to operate freely, responses varied based upon the respondents’ reported political views. Of those who said they were right-wing, 76 percent said human rights groups should not have the right to freely publicize immoral conduct on Israel’s part.

The political differences were not as apparent in response to some other questions.

The poll showed 65 percent of all of those questioned think the Israeli media should be barred from publishing news that defense officials think could endanger state security, even if the news was reported abroad.

Another 43 percent said the media should not report information confirmed by Palestinian sources that could reflect poorly on the Israeli army. Fifty-eight percent of respondents opposed harsh criticism of the country, an increase of 10 percentage points from 2003.

“Faith in democratic values was not measured abstractly, but rather was put to the test regarding specific cases. Then, it turns out the Israeli public is not tolerant or pluralistic,” Bar-Tal said. “The education system teaches students about government authorities and election procedures, but there is no in-depth discussion about democratic values and [how to] instill them. The whole subject of values is perceived as something left-wing.”

Only married men can open web cafes in Iran

Posted: 27 Apr 2010 09:51 PM PDT

The American Islamic Congress reveals details of the utterly absurd situation in Iran. It would be almost funny except we’re talking about people lives and freedom:

Surveillance cameras? Check. Transparent glass? Check. Segregated seating? Check. If you want to open an Internet cafe in Mashhad – the hometown of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei – you had better keep up with the new regulations. The CRIME Report’s Iran correspondents point to the bizarre new requirements governing Mashhadi Net cafes:

  • The manager must be at least 30 years old – and married.
  • Surveillance cameras must be installed throughout the store.
  • The store must be at street-level.
  • The store must not be near any female educational facilities.
  • The exterior of the store must be made from the un-tinted, completely transparent (literally, “aquarium-like”) glass.
  • Installing any blinds or posters that hinder visibility of interior from outside is illegal.
  • People from the opposite sex are banned from sitting next to one another (even if they are “mahram,” i.e., close relatives).
  • Giving the cafe a foreign name is illegal. Owners are advised to consult with the local authorities for choosing a suitable name.
  • Owners must thoroughly record the ID of every customer.
  • These records should be kept at least for 6 months. Video recording should be kept for at least two months.

Our correspondents note: “The requirements for opening a Net cafe are not much different in other Iranian cities. Their main function is to act as constraints to the undesirable growth of the new technology in the country. Laying the grounds for arbitrary crackdowns on the existing IT businesses is another goal they intend to pursue. So you see, these requirements are not as stupid as they seem.”


Posted: 27 Apr 2010 08:12 PM PDT

A useful guide to assisting governments in censoring content on the internet:

Bolivia has more climate answers than the US of A

Posted: 27 Apr 2010 08:06 PM PDT

Naomi Klein on an event that received virtually no Western media coverage (except Democracy Now!):

Cochabamba, Bolivia

It was 11 am and Evo Morales had turned a football stadium into a giant classroom, marshaling an array of props: paper plates, plastic cups, disposable raincoats, handcrafted gourds, wooden plates and multicolored ponchos. All came into play to make his main point: to fight climate change, “we need to recover the values of the indigenous people.”

Yet wealthy countries have little interest in learning these lessons and are instead pushing through a plan that at its best would raise average global temperatures 2 degrees Celsius. “That would mean the melting of the Andean and Himalayan glaciers,” Morales told the thousands gathered in the stadium, part of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. What he didn’t have to say is that the Bolivian people, no matter how sustainably they choose to live, have no power to save their glaciers.

Bolivia’s climate summit has had moments of joy, levity and absurdity. Yet underneath it all, you can feel the emotion that provoked this gathering: rage against helplessness.

It’s little wonder. Bolivia is in the midst of a dramatic political transformation, one that has nationalized key industries and elevated the voices of indigenous peoples as never before. But when it comes to Bolivia’s most pressing, existential crisis–the fact that its glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, threatening the water supply in two major cities–Bolivians are powerless to do anything to change their fate on their own.

That’s because the actions causing the melting are taking place not in Bolivia but on the highways and in the industrial zones of heavily industrialized countries. In Copenhagen, leaders of endangered nations like Bolivia and Tuvalu argued passionately for the kind of deep emissions cuts that could avert catastrophe. They were politely told that the political will in the North just wasn’t there.

More than that, the United States made clear that it didn’t need small countries like Bolivia to be part of a climate solution. It would negotiate a deal with other heavy emitters behind closed doors, and the rest of the world would be informed of the results and invited to sign on, which is precisely what happened with the Copenhagen Accord. When Bolivia and Ecuador refused to rubber-stamp the accord, the US government cut their climate aid by $3 million and $2.5 million, respectively. “It’s not a free-rider process,” explained US climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing. (Anyone wondering why activists from the global South reject the idea of “climate aid” and are instead demanding repayment of “climate debts” has their answer here.) Pershing’s message was chilling: if you are poor, you don’t have the right to prioritize your own survival.

When are we going to read about Israel’s backing of Zionist terrorism?

Posted: 27 Apr 2010 07:53 PM PDT

The issue of “incitement” is often a convenient distraction in the Middle East. Israel accuses the Palestinians of brain-washing their children to hate Jews and Israelis. Of course, and far less discussed, is the mainstream Zionist hatred of Palestinians and their civil and human rights. Palestinians are expected to accept Israel as a Jewish state and have no issue with Zionist signs and names across the country.

Bitterlemons hosts an interesting discussion.


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Californian Jews on speaking out and saying what they want on PalestinePosted: 29 Apr 2010 06:59 AM PDT

Let’s celebrate the fact that growing numbers of Jews in the US are not staying silent anymore:

An ad hoc group of prominent San Francisco Bay Area Jews is publishing an “Open Letter to All Jewish Communities” in the national Jewish newspaper, The Forward, warning of an upsurge in efforts to silence debate about the Israel-Palestine conflict inside the American Jewish community.

The Open Letter advocates instead for “unfettered freedom of speech, open-minded public education, respectful discussion, and willingness to engage in that time-honored Jewish tradition of fruitful debate and meaningful dialogue.”

The Open Letter warns that new San Francisco Jewish Community Federation Guidelines “on potentially controversial Israel-related programming” will affect “the range of American Jewish voices on issues concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

According to the Open Letter, the Guidelines “limit debate, threaten dissent, and establish, for the first time, a litmus test for loyalty to Israel as a condition of funding.”

Forward Ad: Prominent Bay Area Jews Warn About SF Jewish Federation Guidelines 4/10

Abu Ghraib was only the beginningPosted: 29 Apr 2010 06:51 AM PDT

This is what the Western allies have given the Iraqi people; a land destroyed by war that still tortures citizens on a daily basis.

NPR reports on a Human Rights Watch investigation that details shocking tales of abuse at a secret Iraqi prison:

We at the Israel lobby are here to help 24/7Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:46 AM PDT

Two revealing examples of the Zionist lobby at work, obscuring, ignoring and denying reality.

Here’s Al-Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros:

I recently jumped at the chance to take an all expenses paid helicopter ride over Israel and part of the West Bank.

The trip was courtesy of The Israel Project (TIP) which describes itself as a non-profit, non-partisan group working to impact world opinion for the sake of Israel’s security.

The helicopter ride is meant as an “educational tour” for journalists and was inspired by George Bush, the former US president, who took a similar ride and reportedly said it opened his eyes to just how vulnerable Israel is.

The tour operates twice a month and has taken up over 1,400 journalists.

We (AJE cameraman Brad McLennan and I) met our guide and fellow journalists early in the morning, were bussed to an airport near Tel Aviv, treated to breakfast, and (after a security check that happened only to involve Brad and I and not the other two Israeli journalists) were taken up on a civilian helicopter for 45 minutes.

In mid air, an information pack was given to each of us – a neat little 80-page handbook explaining why we were really here.

To boil it down – Israel, the argument goes, is small and under threat from every side so the borders they have imposed are out of necessity not choice.

Hence the name of the tour nicely laminated on the front of the pack – “Defencible Borders: Strategic Options for Israel’s Security”.

Don’t look down

Throughout the flight, our tour guide used a variety of maps, statistics, pie charts, drawings and graphs to explain the reason for the separation wall (deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice).

We have all heard the reasoning that it prevents terrorist attacks but what our guide was trying to explain was that it has swallowed up Palestinian land only in areas which would have exposed Israel and posed a security threat.

The wall has in fact taken 12 per cent of Palestinian land and drastically changed the landscape of Jerusalem creating a de facto border where Israel would like to see one and not where international law deems one should be.

If we were looking down we would have witnessed this reality, but instead most in the helicopter were busy looking at the diagrams.

What is amazing is that in our 45-minute ride we managed to avoid flying over any of the 120 illegal Jewish settlements that have been built on Palestinian land in the West Bank.

Not a word was said by our guide about these settlements – neither does it get a mention in our info pack.

Below is a taster of what we did see – the town of Modi’in which sits next to the settlement of Modi’in Illit (which I couldn’t film because of the route we took).

The other argument made by our guide was that the separation wall (which he points out will be six per cent concrete and 94 per cent electronic wire fence when finished) was not a permanent international border but rather a defensive one.

Plans, he said, are being made for electronic key cards so that Palestinian farmers left outside the wall can access their lands  now on the “Israeli” side.

When I asked our guide why Israel is making long-term plans for a border he just finished telling us was only temporary, he answered “because one day it will be permanent”.

It’s a simple strategy and one Israel uses unapologetically – creating facts on the ground they call temporary (because in theory they are still negotiating over these facts) while carrying out actions that would make a final settlement based on anything other than what they have already created almost impossible.

The middle of the tour involved landing in the southern Israeli town of Sderot. Here the guide explained how it was in fact Hamas that has imposed the siege in Gaza, a point I challenged him on …

The Israel Project do not hide their aim – shaping media coverage of the conflict.  This is after all is a battle for land where the court of public opinion matters.

To preserve Israel’s interests (to secure a Jewish state with borders of its choosing) an effort must be made to explain and justify to the world the process by which that state is being created.

But the changes happening come at the expense of Palestinian statehood, and that is clear to see for all those who choose to look down.

And two neo-conservatives prove that some Jews want to be only known as bombing advocates:

A former Bush administration official said he hopes the United States will address the Iranian president’s threat to “wipe Israel off the map.”

“Israelis are living under the threat of annihilation every day,” Elliot Abrams, the Bush administration’s National Security Council senior director for Near East and North African Affairs, said April 25 at the Baltimore Zionist District’s “U.S.-Israel Relations In A New Era” symposium, the Baltimore Jewish Times reported. “If the world does not act, I believe Israel will act, and I hope the U.S. will.”

“We keep saying it’s unacceptable for Iran to have a bomb, but we don’t mean it. We mean it’s terrible, we don’t want it. But when Israel says it’s unacceptable, they mean it.”

Steve Rosen, director of the Middle East Forum’s Washington Project and a former top staffer at the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, agreed with Abrams’ assessment

“The majority of Americans support force on Iran, yet there’s a taboo against saying we must force them now,” Rosen said at the seminar. “The U.S. would be more efficient than Israel at suppressing Iran. We have to have the ability to stare directly into the light bulb.”

Gil Scott-Heron will no longer be visiting Tel AvivPosted: 29 Apr 2010 01:57 AM PDT

A cultural icon takes a stand for Palestine and refuses to normalise relations with the Jewish state:

The May 25 Tel Aviv performance of American political soul/jazz pioneer Gil Scott-Heron is in doubt, only days after it was announced. Appearing in London this week at the Royal Festival Hall, Scott-Heron said from the stage that he wouldn’t be going to Israel because “we don’t like wars,” the Guardian reported on Wednesday. According to reports, his concert had been repeatedly disrupted by hecklers calling on him to cancel the Israel show.

Scott-Heron, best-known for the composition “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” was a leading voice in calling for the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, joining United Artist Against Apartheid in the 1980s. Pro-Palestinian groups had appealed to the singer to cancel his show at the Barby club because it would be seen as giving legitimacy to Israel and its treatment of Palestinians. A Facebook page urging the performer to cancel the Tel Aviv show was started and had gathered over 1,000 members.

No official announcement has been made.

Helping asylum seekers may soon be completely illlegal down underPosted: 29 Apr 2010 01:51 AM PDT

Once again, like in decades past, Australia is becoming a country many of us simply don’t want to recognise:

A modern-day Oskar Schindler would be jailed for up 10 years under the Rudd government’s proposed crackdown on people smuggling, lawyers say.

In largely unscrutinised changes, backed by the opposition, the government is introducing new criminal charges for supporting people smugglers, even unwittingly.

”It’s mind-blowing legislation. I’ve never seen anything like it,” the University of Sydney professor of public law, Mary Crock, said.

”These laws capture innocent people who may be operating under perfectly good humanitarian reasons.”

Currently, the law defines people smugglers as those who are acting for profit when bringing five or more people to Australia. Proposed laws make criminals of anyone sending money to asylum seekers overseas, who later use it to pay a people smuggler.

They also capture Australians who organise for asylum seekers to escape danger for no financial gain, jeopardising some of the work of charitable organisations.

The president of the Refugee Advice and Casework Service, Ben Saul, said the changes had evaded the attention of refugee communities they would affect. ”Unfortunately, most of the focus was on recent changes to asylum policy,” he said. ”This one’s snuck under the radar.”

Non-government organisations have increased criticism the government’s freeze on processing asylum claims from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan and the reopening of Curtin detention centre.

The anti-people smuggling and other measures bill also criminalises ship captains who rescue people on the high seas and bring them to Australia and pilots who unknowingly fly foreigners into Australia on false documents.

The Tampa captain, Arne Rinnan, who rescued more than 400 asylum seekers from a sinking boat, would have been jailed if the laws had existed in 2001, Professor Saul said.

”You could capture anyone, from a mariner at sea who saves people whose lives are at risk on the high seas – like captain Arne Rinnan who was the captain of the Tampa – through to people who saved Jews from extermination in the Second World War, like Oskar Schindler who didn’t do it for a profit,” he said.

The changes planned for Australia go beyond comparable laws in the US, Canada, Britain and New Zealand, he said.

The government proposed the changes in February.

Taking our moral lead from Palestinian BDS backersPosted: 29 Apr 2010 01:19 AM PDT

Anybody who says the vast bulk of Palestinian civil society don’t back boycotts are being deliberately dishonest. It’s a visible, legitimate and non-violent way to resist Israeli occupation:

In anticipation of Nakba commemoration day next month, Palestinian student and youth groups across the West Bank and Gaza signed a memorandum enacting a massive boycott of Israeli products and programs.

The document calls for a halt to any activities that could normalize relations between Palestine and Israel.

“Economic, political, cultural and institutional normalization legitimize Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people by giving the appearance of normalcy to the relationship between oppressor and oppressed. This relationship is hardly one between equals as Israel continues to violate our inalienable rights, steal our land, and prevent refugees from our right of return in contravention of international law and numerous UN resolutions,” a statement from the student groups said.

The memorandum went on to describe a series of measures the students intended to apply on or before 15 May, when Palestinians commemorate the 1948 expulsion of hundreds of thousands from their homes that lead to the declaration of an Israeli state.

More than list the elements of the boycott, the students asserted “our right to resist Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people through all forms of resistance and in accordance to international law, including forms of civil resistance such as demonstrations, sits-ins and, boycotts of Israel.”

The students declared adherence to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BDS) and said they would reject “any Israeli-Palestinian meetings that do not recognize our inalienable rights, and explicitly aim to resist Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid.”

The student statement said the participating groups would “refuse to take part in whitewashing Israel’s public image,” and that “meetings that are not committed to such principles give a false picture of equality between the two parties by ignoring and legitimizing Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people.”

The petition was endorsed by the following university councils:

Birzeit University’s student council
An-Najah University’s student council and the majority of student blocks on campus
Hebron University’s student council
Bethlehem University’s student council
Arab American University in Jenin’ student council
Al-Quds University’s student council
Palestine Technical College’s student council -Aroub
Al-Quds Open University’s student council-Tulkarem
Al-Quds Open University’s student council-Qalqiliya
Palestine Technical College’s student council – Khadouri
The Palestinian Student Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
Progressive Student Union Bloc-Gaza
Fateh Youth Organization- Gaza
Progressive Student Labor Front-Gaza
Islamic Bloc-Gaza
Islamic League of Palestinian Student s- Gaza
Student Unity Bloc-Gaza
Union of Youth Activity Centers in Palestinian Refugee Camps
Palestinian Youth Network-all branches
General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) -Chile
General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) -Colombia
General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) -France
General Union for Palestinian Youth
Palestinian Federation -Chile
Palestinian Federation- Argentine
US Palestinian Communities Network (USPCN)
Palestinian Community of Catalonia

And the following youth groups:

Center for Argentinean – Palestinian Friendship- Rosario/Argentina
Arab Youth for Palestine Valdivia/ Chile
Arab Youth for Valparaiso – Via Del Mar/Chile
Arab Youth of Concepcion – Concepcion /Chile
The youth group of the Evan Lutheran Church – Beit Sahour
Sheppard’s Scouts Troup – Beit Sahour
The Papal Scout Troop – Beit Jala
Student Council of the Evangelical Lutheran School – Beit Sahour
Student Council of the Evangelical Lutheran School – Ramallah
Student Council of the Friends Boys School – Ramallah
Student Council of the Arab Evangelical Episcopal School – Ramallah
Student Council of St. Joseph’s School – Ramallah
Jafra Palestinian Youth Center-Al-Yarmouk Refugee Camp
Joint Advocacy Initiative – The East Jerusalem YMCA and YWCA of Palestine

Why can’t students in the West Bank visit Gaza?Posted: 29 Apr 2010 01:14 AM PDT

Not all of the Israeli Left is dead and buried. Now and then they breath a little:

Ten Israel Prize laureates and more than 50 academics and intellectuals wrote to the Israeli Defense Minister today asking him to cancel the sweeping ban Israel has imposed, since 2000, on Palestinian students from Gaza studying in the West Bank.

Among the signatories are 2010 Israel Prize winners Prof. Avishai Margalit and Prof. Yehoshua Kolodny, past winners David Tartakover and Yehuda Jad Ne’eman, and intellectuals Joshua Sobol and Nir Baram.

“A sweeping ban on the passage of any resident of Gaza wishing to study in the West Bank is a disproportional ban that must be canceled,” they write. “Instead of the ban, we ask that the young people be allowed to attend their places of study subject to individual security checks of their applications.
At the very least, we ask the Defense Minister to establish a mechanism for individual evaluations in cases which could result in positive human consequences.”

The academics and intellectuals who signed the letter added that “academic and professional training is critical to the well-being and growth of Palestinian society and the individual development of each one of its young men and women who wishes to better himself or herself,” and that “Israel has a clear interest in allowing our Palestinian neighbors to build a prosperous and peaceful civil society.”

Since 2000 Israel has imposed a sweeping ban on Palestinians from the Gaza Strip wishing to attend Palestinian universities in the West Bank. Despite an Israeli High Court ruling in 2007 that determined that students from Gaza wishing to study in the West Bank should be allowed to do so “in cases that would have positive human consequences,” to the best of Gisha’s knowledge, Israel has not let a single student from Gaza pass through Israel in order to reach his or her studies in the West Bank since the ruling.
In the late 1990s, about 1,000 students from Gaza studied in the West Bank, many in critical disciplines that are not available in the Gaza Strip, such as occupational therapy, dentistry, physical therapy and others.

Gisha has recently appealed again to the Israeli authorities on behalf of three students from Gaza accepted for studies at Bethlehem University in the West Bank. The three, Jawdat Michael, Dana Al Tarazi and Owda Aljelda were supposed to start school in the summer of 2009, but despite requests by Gisha and Bethlehem University, Israel refused to let them leave Gaza. They are now seeking to attend the 2010 summer session at the university.

The sweeping ban on the passage of students from Gaza to the West Bank is only one part of an overall Israeli policy whose purpose is to separate the two parts of Palestinian territory. A new order recently went into effect, which threatens every Palestinian in the West Bank, whose registered address is in Gaza, with removal to the Strip, even if they have lived in the West Bank for years or even all their lives.
For many years, and even prior to the issuing of the order, Israel has been implementing this removal policy. For example, in October 2009, Berlanty Azzam, a 22-year-old student who had been in the West Bank since 2005 and was only two months away from completing her BA in Business Administration from Bethlehem University was removed to Gaza. Meanwhile, since 2000, Israel, which controls the Palestinian population registry, has refused to allow changes of address from Gaza to the West Bank.

The best way to treat Goldman is not politelyPosted: 29 Apr 2010 01:05 AM PDT

Because Goldman Sachs needs more than a good tongue lashing:

Because refugees have no voice we must speak up for themPosted: 29 Apr 2010 12:58 AM PDT

Examples of American Jewry loathing all ArabsPosted: 28 Apr 2010 08:19 PM PDT

A constant theme of this website is the shocking effect of Zionism on so many Diaspora Jews; the hatred towards Arabs and the racism against Palestinians. Max Blumenthal captures just the latest example:

On April 25, over 1000 New York-area Jewish extremists gathered in midtown Manhattan to rally against the Barack Obama administration’s call for a freeze on construction in occupied East Jerusalem and to demand unlimited rights to colonize the West Bank.

With Obama and top White House officials engaged in a charm offensive to repair their relationship with mainstream American Jewish organizations, speakers at the rally lashed out at the Jewish groups and Democratic politicians, warning that cozying up to Obama would endanger Israel and imperil their cherished settlement enterprise.

Charles Schumer and another major New York-area Jewish Democrat, Rep. Anthony Weiner, have scrambled to appease the extreme pro-settler elements railing against Obama. On the radio show of Nachum Segal, a right-wing Orthodox Jew popular among the demonstrators, Schumer called Obama’s demands to stop the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem “counter-productive” and boasted about warning White House aides that he would “publicly blast” them if the President did not relent.

But Schumer’s pandering appeared to be futile. At the rally, demonstrators waved placards reading, “Where’s Schumer?” and complained to me that the senator’s criticism of Obama was too little, too late.

Meanwhile, according to the New York Jewish Week, Weiner had begged organizers for a chance to speak at the rally but was rebuffed out of fear that he might put “some sort of Democratic ’spin’ on the president’s policies.” Beth Galinsky, a rally organizer, claimed Weiner was waiting in a nearby car during the rally, hoping that his desperate pleas would provide him an opportunity to address the crowd.

While the Democratic congressman was shut out, the Republican Jewish Coalition was afforded a prominent role at the demonstration beside far-right groups like the Zionist Organization of America, Z Street, Americans for a Safe Israel, Christians United for Israel, and Manhigut Yehudit, an anti-democratic group that calls for theocratic rule over Israel.

Supporters of Manhigut leader and Likud politician Moshe Feiglin distributed fliers promoting Feiglin’s upcoming campaign for prime minister of Israel. An open advocate of ethnic cleansing who has proposed depriving the Palestinians of drinking water, Feiglin recently called Vice President Biden “a diseased leper.”

While the pro-settler elements rallied in Manhattan, their counterparts from the radical Kahanist movement in the Hebron-based settlement of Tel Rumeida rampaged through Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem, inciting violent confrontations while announcing their intention to rid the area of its historical Arab presence.

Dov Hikind, a Democratic New York Assemblymember who represents Orthodox Jewish areas in Brooklyn, is a longtime supporter of Baruch Marzel, the settler leader who orchestrated the provocations in East Jerusalem. “These are people who love us and help us, they are real lovers of Israel,” Marzel once said of Hikind and his allies. Hikind’s role as a keynote speaker at the New York rally was one of many hints that the events in Manhattan and Jerusalem were closely coordinated.

The Manhattan rally took on a distinctively Tea Party-flavor. Besides issuing maximalist calls for the expulsion of the Palestinians, demonstrators assailed Obama as a secret Muslim with no legitimate right to serve as President of the United States. When I was identified by a particularly ornery rally participant as “the self-hating asshole Max Blumenthal,” I decided it was time to make my exit.

However, as I walked down 44th Street towards the subway, an elderly man grabbed me and attempted to snatch my camera (I had seen the gun-toting Marzel use similar tactics on anti-settlement activists documenting his exploits in the West Bank).

“You’re not a Jew! Give me the film!” the man exclaimed. A mob of demonstrators suddenly formed and began advancing towards me. Luckily, two NYPD officers were nearby. They pried the man off me and gave me enough time to escape. I paced for two blocks until I reached Grand Central Station then disappeared into the crowd.


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by Bob Higgins

* By Bob Higgins *

The oil spill that began when one of oil giant “BP’s”  offshore oil rigs exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico last week was initially reported as leaking at the rate of 1000 barrels per day. Last night the Coast Guard upped the estimated leak rate to 5000 barrels per day.

Reuters photo

I assume that they are talking about the typical 42 gallon “barrel” the standard measurement for the toxic fluid now gushing from a pipe drilled in a hole in the sea floor. If so, that’s 210,000 gallons of toxic, flammable, carcinogenic, fish, fowl and coral killing sludge every day.

When asked how long it might take to drill a relief well to cut the flow and shut this monster down a BP “spokesperson” responded, “It’ll take a while,” a unit of measurement which is difficult to use as a multiplier. If a “barrel” of oil is in fact 42 gallons and “awhile” is what BP “estimates ” as 90 days then we will have an environmental disaster nearly three times the scale of the Exxon Valdez nightmare around the time we start grilling steaks for “Independence Day.”

Those who have taken more than a cursory look at government, big business and the media in the last decade will recognize that these “estimates” are probably on the low side and the problem is likely being understated. After all, just a day or so after the rig exploded, killing 11 workers, the company said that it was “unlikely” that the behemoth would sink; I have long been “unlikely” to place much trust in corporate estimation.

Along with many thousands of others I cringed last month when Obama caved in to oil interests and politicians corrupted by oil revenue and moved to expand offshore drilling along the Eastern seaboard. This would be, I was certain, an invitation to environmental disaster and a step in precisely the wrong direction for a sane energy policy.

Everyone knows the reasons for Obama’s capitulation, government and business don’t necessarily have to be transparent to be … “transparent.” The reasons all involve a commodity that has become as toxic to our civil affairs as oil is to our environment. Money, great gobs of it, flows to an industry often shown to have little regard for the planet, or for the people who must live on it.

This contaminated cash flows in lesser, but significant wads to the campaign chests of every more or less significant elected and appointed whore from the top, all the way down to our familiarly venal local officials. You’ve seen them, smiling, back slapping, cheese in their teeth and larceny in their hearts; they’re found everywhere campaign funds are traded for favor.

Who will pay for the cleanup? Exxon has been appealing and fighting against the damage awards in the “Valdez” case for over twenty years so I expect that the cost to the taxpayer of this recent debacle will be substantial.

Meanwhile, as hundreds of thousand of gallons of poisonous goop or “light sweet crude” issue from a pipe a mile beneath the surface of a body of water which provides much of the living space, the food, recreation and livelihood for millions, BP and the Coast Guard announced this morning that they are considering burning off large patches of the mess before it reaches … the beaches.

I know that must sound like an impressively high tech solution dreamed up by the wizards, technocrats and geniuses of Big Oil well in advance while planning for “any and all contingencies.” How far downwind should one be to avoid breathing this death fog?

I live in far away Ohio and that balmy breeze will be in my backyard in a few days.

If we adopt a wider point of view, if we pan out and up, above the 1100 workers, above the scores of ships and work boats we see them all laboring under a nearby star. Their labor seems futile when seen with the Sun freely and unhesitatingly pouring its energy on the waters of the Gulf, heating it, driving the winds and waves, impelling great currents, turning the engine of the earth, pushing countless millions of tons of water ceaselessly around the globe.

Every second of every hour every terra-watt of that energy and that of the rise and fall of the moon-swept tides shower our futility with more energy than we can possibly conceive of ways to waste.

The cynic in me is darkly mirthful but the “better angels of my nature” are saddened by yet another display of this grand and grim folly that is human commerce.

Why do we engage in this insanely futile, criminally risky, life destroying and planet fouling enterprise when we can feel the breezes blowing,  the warmth of the Sun, watch the tides rise and fall, and hear the waves roll endlessly ashore.

Oh, yeah, that other toxic commodity is affecting our senses.

Bob Higgins

Related Links:

Counting the cost

Jeopardizing environmental safety?

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and today they killed a boy named Ahmad Salem Deeb

Ahmad Salem Deeb on the way to x-ray Credit: Max Ajl

I wonder what words I can use to describe watching the murder of Ahmad Salem Deeb. To describe the way he and other young Palestinian men rushed forward well ahead of organizers, press, and internationals, without the gossamer protective shield we’re able to offer to the youth whom the Israeli army is clearly willing to cripple; the way those youth marched into the buffer zone when they knew the Israeli army had shot three people in Meghazi on Saturday.

To describe the swirling billows of black smoke from the gasoline fire that the shebab lit, sad rather than scary because the smoke will not confuse an Israeli army sniper quite willing to mis-fire (or who knows) and kill a young man demonstrating on his own land. Or to describe the sharp crack of what I was sure was a warning shot, as are the norm at the beginnings of these demonstrations—it is the denouements that are marked by Allahu Akbar as teenagers run to prevent their friends from bleeding out.

How to describe the group of youth sprinting, holding their friend, this one shot by what I thought was a warning shot but wasn’t a warning shot. Or to describe how even from far away, or from behind a wall of people, I saw his leg pulsing blood in a horrible rhythm that meant, femoral artery. Or to describe my evanescent relief that the Red Crescent ambulance was so close, just meters behind the low ridge abutting the open field near the Nahal Oz crossing.

Can I describe urging Eva, telling her it was time to go back towards the ridge, and then seeing a trail of huge arterial crimson bursts of blood on rocks, patches of sand, clumps of grass, in the regular pattern that denotes hemorrhage?

Or the chaos at Al-Shifa Hospital where we watched trauma surgeons wheel Ahmed on a gurney from an operating theater to a different unit of the hospital with bags of blood and platelets flowing into his body, the boy semi-conscious from shock and pain. Can I properly describe an operating room with a shockingly huge splat of blood on the floor, bottles of fluid and bandages scattered, looking like a mini-tornado had hit that small space where doctors desperately tried to save Ahmed?

The red-rims and glisten of the eyes of what must have been Ahmed’s brother as he stunningly throttled back his sobs as he listened to a doctor tell him that Ahmed’s femoral artery had been severed, that his genitalia had been damaged, that a hollow-tip bullet had ruptured in the middle of his thigh, shredding it?

Or perhaps the doctor who told us that the bullet had crushed Ahmed’s femur and that he had died at 4:30 PM, four-and-a-half hours after getting shot, from shock and blood loss?

Or to describe the attending physician asking me, what were American perceptions of Palestine, and I had to tell him the truth, that so many support Israeli actions, when those actions were as far from abstract as possible that day, that “support” meant killing 20 year old boys, “support” meant martyring those boys at non-violent demonstrations on their own land, “support” means firing dum-dum bullets into boys’ thighs to maim and castrate them if they are lucky, “support” meant shrugging at the deaths of an Ahmad Salem Deeb, and accepting justifications that should be obscenities:

He was planting explosives.
He was near someone slinging rocks. He was in the buffer zone.
We just don’t care.

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Israelis kill another unarmed demonstrator, 21

[…] This is a photo of the blood of Ahmed Deeb, a 21-year-old unarmed protester who marched on the confiscatory “buffer zone” in Gaza. According to Suha Afyouni, Deeb has now died from the wound to his femoral artery. The Washington Post is also reporting a killing. Max Ajl has the story here. […]

Gaza Death Zone: Israelis and Egyptians Are Killing Palestinian Youth Who Challenge the Siege of Gaza « Dr Nasir Khan

[…] the middle of his thigh, shredding it.  The doctor at al Shifa hospital in Gaza City said Ahmed died of shock and blood […]




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Demonstrators Stop the Wall, Teenager Pepper-sprayed and Arrested.

Demonstrators Stop the Wall, Teenager Pepper-sprayed and Arrested.

from the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee

Demonstrators managed to disrupt the construction of the Wall in al-Walaje for the second time in a week . A 15 year old demonstrator was beaten, pepper-sprayed and arrested.

Palestinian, Israeli and international demonstrators managed to stop the construction of the Wall in the village of al-Walaje, south of Jerusalem, for the second time this week. If completed, the path of the Wall in the area will surround the village completely, isolating it from all its lands, the cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem and essentially the rest of the world.

Demonstrators managed to block the bulldozers in the early morning, and even climb and take over one of the machines. A Border Police force at the scene arrested on of the demonstrators – 15 year old Nabil Hajajla – who was beaten and pepper-sprayed. Following Hajajla’s arrest, Border Police officers managed to drag the demonstrators away from the bulldozers and construction was resumed.

Al-Walaje is an agrarian village of about 2,000 people, located south of Jerusalem and West of Bethlehem. Following the 1967 Occupation of the West Bank and the redrawing of the Jerusalem municipal boundaries, roughly half the village was annexed by Israel and included in the Jerusalem municipal area. The village’s residents, however did not receive Israeli residency or citizenship, and are considered illegal in their own homes.

Once completed, the path of the Wall is designed to encircle the village’s built-up area entirely, separating the residents from both Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and almost all their lands – roughly 5,000 dunams. Previously, Israeli authorities have already confiscated approximately half of the village’s lands for the building of the Har Gilo and Gilo settlements, and closed off areas to the south and west of it. The town’s inhabitants have also experienced the cutting down of fruit orchards and house demolition due to the absence of building permits in Area C.

According to a military confiscation order handed to the villagers, the path of the Wall will stretch over 4890 meters between Beit Jala and alWallaja, affecting 35 families, whose homes may be slated for demolition.

Beit Jala is a predominantly Christian town located 10 km south of Jerusalem, on the western side of the Hebron road, opposite Bethlehem. Once completed, the Wall will Isolate 3,200 Dunams of the town’s lands, including almost 3,000 Dunams of olive groves and the only recreational forest in the area, the Cremisan monastery and the Cremisan Cellars winery.

Here’s video of the first action:

and the second:

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