- Student protests force Israeli hasbara retreat
- Dershowitz and Jeffrey Goldberg are against apartheid
- The news from Bil’in yesterday
- Jewish charity blacklists and the Israel question
- Dog wags tail (against the Israel lobby theory)
- Finkelstein is movin on up to velvet rope in meatpacking district
- Postponing Jerusalem will put the nail in the coffin of the 2SS
- My Holocaust education
- The 2 brothers from Al-Walaja can only enter Jerusalem when they are arrested
- Yes! WaPo says Israel’s gobbling of Jerusalem goes well beyond Biden insult
|Student protests force Israeli hasbara retreat
Posted: 08 May 2010 08:47 AM PDT
The Israeli Foreign Ministry is considering stopping speaking events around the world in the face of protests that seem to follow them where ever they go. From a recent article in Maariv, “Foreign Ministry officials are considering stopping the lectures by senior figures around the world, particularly in Britain. The reason: The outspoken verbal attacks by students and pro-Palestinian activists, which render them ineffective.” The article continues:
The article specifically mentions a speech last week at the University of Manchester, here’s a video of the protest:
|Dershowitz and Jeffrey Goldberg are against apartheid
Posted: 08 May 2010 07:27 AM PDT
Desperate times calls for desperate measures. Alan Dershowitz is now calling Richard Goldstone a “hanging judge,” based on his actions during apartheid South Africa, and Jeffrey Goldberg has picked up the mantra. “…he is a man without a moral compass.”
And I thought Palestinians were always accused of living in the past!
Unfortunate that these people can’t deal with the ongoing outrage that is Gaza, and the ways that this open-air prison is animating the world’s conscience. Weird, too, that Goldberg, who has a past of his own, as an Israeli soldier working in Ketziot prison, wants to open the door on people’s back pages. “…he is a man without a moral compass.” Though yes it’s nice to hear Dershowitz condemning apartheid in ringing terms:
|The news from Bil’in yesterday
Posted: 08 May 2010 07:20 AM PDT
This picture features Ashraf Abu Rahme, who was arrested in Bil’in yesterday. Abu Rahme’s brother Bassem was killed in Bil’in a year ago. Date of photo unknown.
Report on yesterday’s Bil’in demonstration, by Hamde:
Today’s demonstrators, consisting of Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals, proceeded from the Bil’in mosque towards the Wall. Halfway along the route, the procession picked up additional demonstrators in the form of several men dressed entirely in black, carrying a coffin with a man inside. The grim scene symbolized the Palestinians’ loss of land during the Nakba and their inability to return to these lands. Most importantly, the coffin symbolized the fact that Palestinian refugees are not allowed to bury their deceased loved ones on their native soil.
The army fired tear gas and many aluminum canisters into the crowd not long after they gathered at the Wall. The army aggressively entered through the Wall’s gate and chased protestors up the route, as other soldiers fired tear gas canisters into the retreating crowd. Several were grabbed and arrested: Haitham al-Khatib, cameraman from Bil’in; Stormy, an American activist; Ashraf Abu Rahme from Bil’in; Abdul Fattah Burnat from Bil’in; and two Israeli demonstrators, Roy and Uri.
One Palestinian man was injured with a gas canister to his chest, and dozens suffered from tear gas inhalation. The procession finally retreated after these arrests and after being forced back up the hill into the village
|Jewish charity blacklists and the Israel question
Posted: 08 May 2010 06:21 AM PDT
What do Jewish Voice for Peace, Madre, Amnesty International, New Israel Fund, American Friends Service Committee, Media Matters and Institute for Policy Studies all have in common?
There has been a growing backlash since the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation first announced the most restrictive funding guidelines in the country. The guidelines essentially ban recipients from giving voice to anyone who doesn’t toe the line (which the Federation ultimately determines) on Israel. No wonder the Bay Area Jewish intellectual class is in an uproar. As UC Hebrew and Comparative Literature professor Chana Kronfeld says, “All the major Israeli writers would probably be banned.”
The Open Letter to Jewish Communities in the Forward signed by Bay Area Jewish academics, rabbis and other leaders, as well as coverage in Tablet, the Chronicle of Philanthropy and the New York Times reveals the extent to which concern about ideological policing is now a concern not just for the left but for the Jewish center.
However, what is not generally known is that the Fed’s Jewish Community Endowment Fund has also quietly pulled a number of nonprofit organizations from their acceptable charities list in an apparent attempt to ensure ideological purity.
What are those groups? Using a bit of technical sleuthing (and a tip-off from a donor), we’ve been able to pinpoint thus far 6 nonprofits that have been pulled from the list: Jewish Voice for Peace, American Friends Service Committee, the Institute for Policy Studies, Madre, Global Exchange, and the National Lawyers Guild. There is no reason to think there aren’t more – we will publicize those names as they become available. This means supporters of these groups who keep funds in the Endowment Fund can no longer designate them as recipients.
Even more interesting, one can still designate money to the Hebron Fund, FLAME, and extremist settler militia funder, the Central Fund of Israel.
The implications of this new battle that mirrors the war on human rights groups in Israel haven’t been lost on Boston activists who, within weeks of the announcement of the SF guidelines, launched their own Boston Combined Jewish Philanthropies witch hunt. (See embedded PDF file/link below-all articles from Boston’s Jewish paper, the Jewish Advocate.)
Even The David Project founder Charles Jacobs weighs in on these so-called enemies of Israel: The American Friends Service Committee • Democracy Now! • The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) • The Tides Foundation • Media Matters • The New Israel Fund • Brit Tzedek v’Shalom • Physicians for Social Responsibility • The Workmen’s Circle • Amnesty International
Meanwhile NGO Monitor’s Prof. Gerald Steinberg, a man who never met a human rights organization he didn’t hate, is speaking this week at the Annual Conference of the Association for Israel Studies, at the University of Toronto on “Delegitimizing Israel: Can Jewish Philanthropy Change the Tide?”
|Dog wags tail (against the Israel lobby theory)
Posted: 08 May 2010 06:00 AM PDT
Mondoweiss recently posted an email exchange with Ambassador Charles Freeman in which he insists that the argument I made in a recent article published by The Electronic Intifada failed in its attempt to demonstrate that the “Israel Lobby” is not the primary driver of US policy toward the Middle East.
In that article, I show that the Lobby thesis of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer is inadequate to explain US policy in the region by relying on two lines of argumentation: a) US policy in the Middle East fits with its imperial policies elsewhere in the world, in regions free of the proclaimed distortions of the lobby, and b) Israel has served the strategic interests of the US very well, and has been a crucial part of making its Middle East policy a profitable, strategic success.
In addressing a), Freeman curiously asserts that “Washington has never had to exercise a veto or pay a similar political price to protect any of [it's other allies] from condemnation or sanctions by the international community,” despite the facts I presented showing the exact opposite. I showed how the US systematically shields its allies from international condemnation, citing the examples of Saddam Hussein’s genocide against the Kurds and the brutal Indonesian invasion and thirty-year occupation of East Timor, both of which the US worked vehemently in international forums to shield from condemnation.
It is true that a review of US vetoes in the UN reveals that Israel is the leading beneficiary of their use. But it hardly stops there. Another frequent beneficiary of such shielding was the South African apartheid regime, on whose behalf the US vetoed numerous resolutions condemning the government for attacks and violence, or criticizing its Apartheid nature. One could also look at US efforts to block the UN from criticizing Iraqi use of chemical and conventional weapons against Iranian population centers after his invasion in 1980, or the protection of Turkey’s slaughter of the Kurds as examples of diplomatic shielding of crimes of allied states, and the list does not stop there.
As with other proponents of the Lobby thesis, Freeman points to the tremendous level of support provided by the US to Israel as evidence of the Lobby’s nefarious influence. As I addressed in my article, and briefly explore below, the exceptional level of support Israel receives is a rational response to the particular strategic importance of the Middle East, and the reliability of Israel in advancing US interests. One of the most important sources of US global power is its control of energy resources; a loss of this control would result in significant damage to US hegemony.
Thus what happens in the Middle East has global implications for the US empire. The overwhelming firepower provided to Israel, which is aggressively used against any who challenge the established order, has played a central role in maintaining US control of the region, providing security for US-backed oil dictatorships as well as keeping a check on them.
Though the interests of the two states are not identical, when they do diverge Israel is forced into line and US interests prevail. This was evident in the severe military sanctions applied to Israel by the Bush administration in 2004/5, as well as successful pressure from the Clinton administration to call off an arms deal with the Chinese in 2000, just to pick two.
Just recently, despite Obama’s unwillingness to move beyond mere words in his condemnations of Israel, Haaretz reports that “the fear of the diplomatic crisis with the United States caused the [Israeli Jerusalem Planning] system to act ‘hysterically,’ and even plans with no potential to cause national harm were postponed.” The chairman of the planning committee stopped “even signing off on orders that have already been approved,” and “upcoming meetings have been cancelled.” “When they ask about the reason for the freeze on committee activity,” architects and contractors are “told it is because of U.S. President Barack Obama.” All this, without even the hint of sanctions.
As I mentioned, if one wants to claim that the influence of the Lobby causes the US to uniquely act against its interests in the Middle East, this uniqueness must be demonstrated. Unless this is done, the Lobby thesis cannot be seriously considered. This need is particularly acute once one considers the immensely greater power of such interests as the defense establishment and state-linked multinational corporations, whose contributions to political campaigns, not to mention institutionalized power within the executive branch, dwarfs that of the Lobby. The vast political influence of these groups could shut the Israel lobby down easily if they so chose, but they permit it to exist and often even amplify its voice. Do they fail to understand their interests, or are they, too, part of the Israel lobby?
The most explosive and eye-catching of Freeman’s claims is his statement that “Israel is useless for the purposes of strategic logistics or power projection.” To support this assertion, he writes that “none of Israel’s neighbors will facilitate overflight for military aircraft transiting Israeli territory, let alone taking off from there.” Yet he does not engage (or mention) the evidence I presented, which explored in detail the vital role Israel has played in maintaining American hegemony in the region, terrorizing the Middle East into compliance with the imperial will through its overwhelming military strength (including nuclear weapons).
Israel’s overwhelming military dominance ensures devastating punishment for those who refuse to accept that “what we say goes,” in the words of George H. W. Bush. For instance, Israel did not ask permission to overfly Lebanon before its savage attacks in 1978, 1982, 1996, or 2006, nor for its numerous attacks against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Nor do such logistical concerns have any effect on the threat Israel poses to Iran, a confrontation which has the US imperial desire to control energy resources at its heart, as I explained in EI.
Freeman’s claim that Israel is “worse than irrelevant” for controlling Middle Eastern energy supplies rings somewhat hollow when we take a careful look at the facts. Apart from crushing opposition movements and threats to the established order (as in its confrontation of Arab Nationalism and Iran), Israel is and has been a constant threat to US foes in the region, and is both a source of security for and a check on America’s large, oil-producing clients. It thus serves an important role in projecting US power throughout the heart of the Middle East, the most strategically vital region on Earth. Having a reliable client that is the dominant military hegemon, and the only nuclear power in the region, overseeing the “greatest material prize in history” is, I would say, very relevant.
The example Freeman briefly points to in support of his claim that the US relationship with Israel has “frequently jeopardized [US control of oil] supplies, not contributed to securing them” is the 1973 oil shock. Indeed, it was more intense than the 1967 oil embargo, because it was accompanied by production cuts (since oil is a fungible commodity, an embargo is meaningless without cuts in production as well). In truth, the Saudi monarchy collaborated with the US on the embargo to the fullest extent possible, even secretly continuing to ensure supplies of oil to the US Navy in the Mediterranean and its forces in Vietnam.
There can be no doubt that one reason for such compliance on the part of the Saud – the most important US ally in the world – was the overwhelming power of the Israeli military. Not only does such military power pose an implicit threat to the Saudi regime, but it is also an essential provider of security for the regime against potential rivals – both internalluy and externally – who may seek to take greater advantage of widespread public anger.
Had the Saudis not used the “oil weapon” against the US in ’67 and ’73 (widely seen even at the time as Israel’s patron), widespread anger would have put the continued rule of the monarchy at risk. As in 1967, faced with little alternative, the Saudis enacted an embargo while doing their best to manage and minimize its effects in constant coordination with US officials. Subsequently, the oil wealth that was accumulated from the increased oil prices was used like an executive branch discretionary fund, which financed imperial activities all over the world.
The pressure that the population of Saudi Arabia was able to put on the regime in the case of the oil embargoes also helps explain another of Israel’s values as an ally — its reliability. Unlike in the Arab states, there is no chance of a coup or revolution there that would produce a government that would resist US objectives, as happened in Iran in 1979. The US can safely transfer the most advanced weaponry to Israel, without fear of it falling into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists or independent nationalists.
Freeman’s assertions that “the US has no bases or troop presence in Israel,” and that “Israeli bases are not for US use” can be dismissed as irrelevant, since the main purpose of maintaining Israel as a client is precisely to avoid the need to use US forces directly. Instead, planes provided by the US “gratis,” as Freeman says, are flown by Israeli pilots, dropping US bombs and enforcing regional order and “stability” — in other words, US control. Thus, contrary to the view of Freeman and other proponents of the Lobby thesis, the armaments, material support, and economic benefits supplied Israel by the United States guarantee it this regional primacy, and are a central part of its regional strategy.
Unfortunately, not all the criticism published has been as civilized or honest as that offered by Charles Freeman. The intellectually vacant rant that Idrees Ahmad posted both here and on Pulse is one example which caught my eye. In his piece, he refuses to engage the arguments I advance, but says I “purloined” the work of others, “misused sources,” and “constructed a slipshod argument.” Since he offers no challenge to my argument, the third of these charges can be dismissed immediately. If I have indeed constructed a “slipshod argument,” it is up to Mr. Ahmad to demonstrate it. Instead, in the true fashion of great heroes of rhetorical debate like Allan Dershowitz, he proceeds instead to smear me, making one baseless accusation after the next and grossly distorting what I wrote.
Since I don’t want to dignify such a cheap smear by elevating it to the same level as Mr. Freeman’s respectful critique, I will keep my response to Mr. Ahmad brief. His accusation that I misused sources is based on the charges that a) Ahmad claims both Zbigniew Brzezinski and George Kennan oppose the Iraq war and b) in the same Brzezinski article I used a quote from (“Hegemonic Quicksand,” The National Interest, Winter 2003/4), Brzezinski expresses that US and Israeli interests are not always congruent.
Obviously, the reason I cite Kennan’s term “veto power” and Brzezinski’s phrase “critical leverage” is to show that there is a consensus among strategic planners, including the most liberal, that the control of Middle Eastern energy resources is strategically beneficial. Whether or not those particular individuals support military action in Iraq as a strategy for securing long-term US strategic control of oil, or wish to use other, more indirect means is not in any way relevant. The important point is that there is broad acknowledgment that control of oil gives the US huge strategic leverage, a point not contradicted at all by Brzezinski’s article nor by anything Kennan ever wrote.
Ahmad’s second point is even more absurd, since a central component of my argument is that we can measure the effects of the Lobby by the outcome of instances when the interests of the US and Israel diverge. I argue that in such cases Israel (which Brzezinski refers to in the same article as “America’s favorite client”) is brought to heel by the US, thus negating the notion that the “tail wags the dog,” that is, that the Israel lobby forces the US government to be a slave to Israeli interests at the expense of its own.
As if Ahmad’s outrageous and totally unsupported smears against me weren’t enough, he also attacks The Electronic Intifada for even publishing my article, which he labels an “attack on Walt and Mearsheimer.” Anyone who has read my article, I would hope, would find it to be a respectful critique, not an “attack.” The whole purpose of intellectual engagement should be to discuss and debate competing hypotheses, and promote the healthy discussion and debate that are surely a healthy part of any democracy. It is this that makes Ahmad’s insistence that EI should not even present the sensible and well-researched argument I am making, and that I should be silenced, particularly shocking and dangerous. It is my hope that if Ahmed cannot refrain from smearing me, that he at least will refrain from doing so to the dedicated editors of the Electronic Intifada, who work tirelessly in the fight for Palestinian rights and provide an invaluable service to us all.
Stephen Maher is an MA candidate at American University School of International Service who has lived in the West Bank, and is currently writing his masters’ thesis, “The New Nakba: Oslo and the End of Palestine,” on the Israel-Palestine conflict. His work has appeared in Extra!, The Electronic Intifada, ZNet and other publications. His blog is rationalmanifesto.blogspot.com.
|Finkelstein is movin on up to velvet rope in meatpacking district
Posted: 07 May 2010 08:04 PM PDT
It was really strange. The Griffin is one of those insider no-name black-painted facade clubs that has a bouncer outside and your name has to be on a list to get in. But instead of limos dropping off black-clad beautiful young people, the line at the velvet rope outside the club was full of disheveled movement types with back packs. The area was in the newly-cool meatpacking district on Ganservoort and 9th Ave.
There were a lot of young people, and many Palestinians. I’d say about 200 people were jammed in this very ornate rococo space with divans and stuffed chairs, an enormous elaborate chandelier. A trendy location for a book promotion tour.
Norman Finkelstein has been traveling around the country giving talks. The one he gave I’ve heard before, but it is very good and very effective. He has this deliberate, cadenced, delivery that hammers the points home. He has been improbably accompanied by Arabic and Palestinian hip hop artists. Besides Norman the program featured, Lowkey, a UK resident of Iraqi descent, whose performance segued seamlessly from a brief summary of the political urgencies facing the movement — exposing the key role of the UK and US as Israel’s enablers, and supporting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement – into a hand clapping, finger snapping, rhythmic rap song. Then a young Palestinian woman who led the audience in call and response raps about Palestine.
The bar did a good business despite the outrageous prices (martini, $16, wine $14, beer $9 –outrageous for activists anyway). The crowd was happy, Norman’s books were on sale, and the whole evening was odd but enjoyable.
Finkelstein’s book tour has already been to a number of cities, including a gathering of 800 people in Chicago. From New York he goes to Raleigh, NC, UC Davis, UCSD (San Diego), Irvine, CA, and Tucson, Arizona among many others. Oh and Berkeley this coming week.
|Postponing Jerusalem will put the nail in the coffin of the 2SS
Posted: 07 May 2010 07:46 PM PDT
As the United States, Israel and the Palestinian Authority prepared for so-called proximity talks, David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Obama, told reporters from the Jewish press last Tuesday that “Jerusalem as an issue can’t be the first issue for negotiations. It probably will be the last.”
The comments from Axelrod came after Obama had lunch with Elie Wiesel following Wiesel’s full-page ad in newspapers criticizing the U.S. for pressuring Israel on the issue of Jerusalem. After the lunch, Wiesel told Haaretz that he has a “feeling” that Obama “respects my advice to wait with Jerusalem until the end of the process, and understands my position.”
The insistence on Jerusalem as such a sensitive issue that needs to be tip-toed around until the end of negotiations is a failed approach, which the Clinton administration bought into at Camp David. It will only allow Israel to continue with its strategy of building illegal settlements in “Greater Jerusalem,” cutting East Jerusalem off from the West Bank.
This strategy will definitively put the nail in the coffin of the two-state solution. The international consensus on East Jerusalem is clear: it is occupied Palestinian territory, the future capital city of a Palestinian state, and any settlements built there are illegal and need to be dismantled.
It’s nonsense to pretend that waiting to discuss Jerusalem will do any good. It will do harm, especially if Israel goes through with a planned 50,000 additional housing units in East Jerusalem. Israel is eager to get negotiations off the ground because it serves as a convenient cover for creating facts on the ground while they talk and talk with the Palestinians. That’s what occurred during Oslo, eventually leading to its demise.
The question mark is how the Obama administration will react when new settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are announced in the midst of negotiations, which is guaranteed to happen.
The Obama people are not showing themselves to be good students of history. William Quandt, a former National Security Council member who worked on the Middle East, wrote about the folly of leaving Jerusalem for last at Camp David in his book Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict since 1967: “But it still is striking that that the participants at Camp David did not discuss in detail the possible solutions for Jerusalem until the last days of the summit” (page 371). The talks collapsed, in part, because “the Jerusalem issue had proved to be the stumbling block” (page 375).
Gideon Levy, writing in Haaretz, outlines why this strategy is foolhardy and harmful to the Palestinians:
|My Holocaust education
Posted: 07 May 2010 02:51 PM PDT
I’m writing my Senior Research Paper (at Cal State Northridge) on the Palestinian Right of Return, and my professor suggested I examine the precedents of compensation and repatriation set by the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust.
I started investigating the Claims Conference stuff, and I decided to delve deeper into the actual stories. The more I read the more I was horrified.
Horrified that humanity could watch this and do nothing. Horrified by the parallels between Nazi treatment of Jews and Israeli treatment of Palestinians.
And furious at the exploitation of these innocent victims to justify dehumanizing and oppressing other people.
Before this, about all the Holocaust education I’d ever gotten was watching Schindler’s List in my 8th grade History class. I put together a list of statements about the Jewish condition then that resonated to the Palestinian condition today:
To say that Israelis are “doing the same thing to Palestinians which was done to them” by the Nazis isn’t true. You can’t compare 2/3 of European Jews to the number of Palestinian deaths.
But it’s not about body count comparisons. It’s about dehumanization. The dehumanization is what is truly disturbing, the utter dehumanization both Nazi Germany and Israel have taken part in. Their victims are simply less than human, and they deserve to die in the street.
|The 2 brothers from Al-Walaja can only enter Jerusalem when they are arrested
Posted: 07 May 2010 02:16 PM PDT
Yesterday we picked up a report on the arrest of Mazin Qumsiyeh, geneticist and human-rights activist, in a small village south of Jerusalem where he was protesting Israel’s gobbling of more Palestinian land for Jewish settlements. Here is Qumisyeh’s report on his day:
Our ten-hour ordeal with the occupation forces started at 8:30 AM as we gathered in the small village of Al-Walaja. A tiny store with an elderly woman who insisted on making me coffee and not charging me. Idyllic setting except for the heavy bulldozers now carving the hills to separate the remaining people from their lands via an apartheid wall that is planned to completely ring the village.
This village that already lost much of its lands is in the unfortunate position of being near the Green line, sitting on rich agricultural lands, and the Israelis want the land but do not want the people that come with the land. Israeli military has already demolished homes in the village (most were rebuilt) and fined others for building without permits (which are not issued in this village). The heroic villagers inspired so many, including Internationals and Israelis, to join them in their popular resistance…
Today’s event started as we came through the woods and sat in front of the bulldozer.
As the soldiers gathered their forces around us, you could feel the soldiers preparing themselves for attack. We remained calm and peaceful. They dragged us one by one forcefully from the bulldozed lands. They picked the four of us for arrest for no obvious reason. George from Canada, me from Beit Sahour, and two brothers from Al-Walaja (Dia’ and Nafez). They were particularly brutal with the two brothers using pepper spray repeatedly, hits with clubs (twice), and once with the rifle butt especially on Dia’. Dia’ could not see for a long time.
They took us down the hill with full military escort and demanded our ID cards on the way (I and Nafez had them, Dia’ and George did not carry them). At the bottom of the hill sits a checkpoint for cars (mostly settlers) crossing into Jerusalem (from the illegal settlements of Har Gilo, Gilo, and Gush Etzion complex of settlements). There we were told to sit and wait as two private security guards were brought to supplement the four soldiers guarding us. Half an hour, an hour, two hours passed by. We spend time talking to soldiers explaining why they are wrong to punish people trying to defend their lands. I finally asked to go to the bathroom. They refused. I insisted and finally they escorted me to an outhouse (portable type). Other followed.
Time passed. Officers came and said for us to sign a paper claiming all it said was that in our detention we were not beaten or mistreated. We refuse to sign. Finally, they receive the green light to arrest us officially so we are driven through Jerusalem and on to the investigation offices near Qubbit Raheel (Rachel’s tomb). Along the way, Dia’a and Nafez comment that this is unusual for them to enter Jerusalem (forbidden to them since the Oslo accords)…. Al-Walaja sits even partially on land annexed to Jerusalem, yet its residents are given Green ID cards like me, meaning West Bank Palestinians not allowed into Jerusalem.
We arrive at our destination and are locked up in a metal container. Two more hours pass by… [S]oldiers come in and we talk to… three Arab soldiers including Marzouq and Madi (I nicknamed them M&M of the Israeli occupation army), three Ashkenazis, one Sephardic women who never smiled and seemed out of place, and one Ethiopian. Some are cold and distant, others argumentative but not knowing much, and yet others slightly more open and listen to what we had to tell them.
I was proud of the Al-Walaja brothers using calm logic to explain: what would you do if someone came and uprooted trees that your grandparents planted for you? How would you react if your source of life and livelihood is taken? But most of the nearly 40 soldiers and police officers we encountered along the way only uttered few words of orders and refused to engage with us. To them it seemed like a routine job. As they hauled us from one place to another, they would be chatting or texting on their mobile phones or joking with each other about things (I really have to take Hebrew classes).
The “investigator” finally arrives. We are finally allowed to make the call to a lawyer. The lawyer advises and we follow his advice. Each individually is taken to see the investigator. We are asked to sign other papers and again we refuse (in Hebrew). They force us to put our thumb on a separate form that merely has our names, ID numbers etc on it. Handcuffs are added and mobile phones are taken from us. As each one is returned to the container, we brief each other.
We wait. The handcuffs are hurting. I notice it says on mine ‘Hiatt-Made in England’. I think to myself this whole mess was made in England (Balfour declaration and all that). An hour later, we are told they will take us to court and that each of us is to call a relative or friend to bring NIS 2500 (about $750) to the court in Jerusalem to use as bail. The phones are returned to us to make the calls. We are then ordered to get on the van to go (we presume to court). But then they change their minds. We don’t know what is going on. We are told not to use the mobile phones but we do when we are alone. My family manages to gather the money and as my wife is on the way nearly an hour later, the lawyer sends a message that we need to wait as they are negotiating with the judge.
Yet another hour. We are then ordered on the van. They take us to Talpiot police station where they fingerprint and photograph us. Dragged like criminals with handcuffs in this now rich neighborhood. Old Jewish woman stares at me on the way out and I wish I am allowed to speak to her to tell her our stories. On the way in the back of the van, I tell the fellow inmates that this was an Arab neighborhood before the ethnic cleansing of 1948. Many Arab houses still stand taken over and converted into everything from residential villas to bars. We go back to the container holding pen. The handcuffs still hurting.
It was now nearly 5:30 and we were starving (no food and many of us have left home without breakfast and held since about 9 AM). We had asked for food on occasions. Finally they bring us some bread, each a slice of cheese and small packets of jam (I guess because we have been in handcuffs for four hours at least and that is formal arrest). We devour it quickly and wonder whether this is a sign of us staying longer or that we would be released soon.
Another half an hour and we are dragged (this time together) in front of a new investigator who asked us to sign a release form that says that we are told to stay away from the wall (yes it says the wall on official Israeli documents) for 15 days and if we don’t we will be have to pay each NIS5000 (about $1200). A friend from Al-Walaja was kind enough to come and cosign to ensure that we will follow the stated orders.
George’s situation was not clear. They insisted on seeing his passport. A friend finally brought it after George was threatened with immediate deportation if he did not get the passport. The lawyer… tried to persuade them to let him go. They asked me to translate for him… that he must reappear at the same place Sunday, and we thought they were releasing him with us. But alas, it was not to be. I hope he will not be deported anyway (their words are always not to be trusted).
The three of us were released but the soldiers did not give us our ID cards. In our jubilation at being released, we also had forgotten to ask about them (they had them for the 10 hour ordeal). So I came back with my wife and she was allowed into the checkpoint and an hour later, I had the ID cards. We had visitors from Jenin staying overnight with us and I was supposed to work with my technologist at the University today. But here I am way past midnight still writing this note and uploading a video. Tomorrow (Friday) there will be a demonstration in [the West Bank village of] Al-Masara and the lettuce festival in Artas and other work to do. Life goes on in the land of Apartheid. La luta continua. Stay tuned.
PS Here is a video from last week in the same village of Al-Walaja of me explaining to soldiers a bit of the reality.
|Yes! WaPo says Israel’s gobbling of Jerusalem goes well beyond Biden insult
Posted: 07 May 2010 01:27 PM PDT
Surprise, surprise. Excellent reporting by Janine Zacharia in the Washington Post describing the colonization of East Jerusalem and explaining what an obstacle this new Jewish geography presents to the possibility of a “viable Palestinian state.”
Zacharia gets to the point, ethnic domination, cloaked in the usual “demographic” b.s. Imagine if people talked about the Arizona law as being a “demographics” law.