Archive | July 24th, 2018

Nazi National Bill and the Jewish Solidarity Spin

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Israel’s National Bill and the Jewish Solidarity Spin
back to the jewish state .jpg

By Gilad Atzmon

Last Thursday the Israeli Knesset adopted Israel’s National Bill. The law specifies that self-determination is “exclusive” to the Jewish people. It endorses the establishment of Jews-only settlements as a part of Israel’s national interests.  The National Bill demotes Arabic from an official national language to “special” status. Israel’s national symbols include the Israeli flag, the menorah, Jewish holidays, the Hatikva national anthem, the Hebrew calendar and Israel’s Independence Day.

The new National Bill legislates what has been an active policy of segregation and discrimination by Israeli authorities since Israel’s inception. As many critics of the bill noted, the bill reveals that in the Jewish State Jews and goyim are not equal citizens.

It is crucial to point out that the bill doesn’t define Israel as ‘the Judaic State.” It repeatedly refers to Israel as the state of the ‘Jewish People.’ In Hebrew, the law is named the ‘Nation Bill.’ The law refers to the ‘Jewish State’ and the ‘Jewish folk.’ It provides an invaluable glimpse into the true meaning of Jewishness particularly as perceived by Israeli Jews.

In 2011, I published The Wandering Who? The basic premise of the book was definitional. I argued that if Israel defines itself as the Jewish State, in order to understand that term, we have to ask: who are the Jews? What is Judaism? What is Jewishness? And then we could proceed to try to figure out how these terms relate to each other. How do they affect the world in which we live, Israeli politics, Jewish pressure groups and so on.

As I expected, not a single Israeli or Zionist opposed the principles of my study. Israelis and Zionists do accept that Israel is the Jewish State. They are intimately familiar with the discourse of Jewishness (יהודיות) and the meaning of the term. However, despite the fact that my study was praised and endorsed by some of the most respected academics and humanists, Jewish Palestinian solidarity activists were desperate to silence me and erase my work. Just a few weeks after the book came out, Palestinian blogger Ali Abunimah managed to gather another 20 Palestinians to call for my ‘disavowal.’ Clearly Abunimah didn’t want or approve of my attempt to focus on the core ideology and culture that drives Israeli supremacy, discrimination and brutality inflicted on his own people. A few years later, Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist Tony Greenstein was foolish enough to reveal that it was he who had actually “engineered” Ali Abunimah’s call for my ‘disavowal.’

To learn about the Abunimah/Atzmon dispute watch this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hrJcMO88EI

Jewishness, as I argue in The Wandering Who?, is a wide ranging array of ideas that celebrate different variations on choseness – a radical sense of tribal exceptionalism. Zionism, for instance, made its followers feel special – because unlike their Diaspora brethren, the Zionist promised to transform the Jews into ‘people like all other people.’ In so doing, the Zionists vowed to become ordinary people, yet ‘chosen’ in comparison with the Diaspora Jews.  Zionism failed completely. It quickly evolved into a Jewish supremacist criminal entity. Jewish anti Zionist institutions were invented to form a satellite opposition to Zionism. The Jewish anti Zionists are there to show that ‘not all Jews are Zionists.’ By their lights, the anti -Zionists are the real chosen people. They are so chosen that ordinary goyim aren’t racially qualified and so can’t really join their league. If this observation upsets you, try to count the non-Jews on the board of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).

Jewish anti Zionism is, as practiced, a political discipline that is there to police the Palestinian solidarity discourse by thwarting any focus on the basic tenets that drive Zionism, Israeli policy and the Jewish lobby around the world. Jewish anti Zionism acts to eliminate any reference to the ‘J-word.’

In 2012, the Jewish pro-Palestinian site Mondoweiss changed its comment policy to bar any discussion of Jewish culture in the context of Israeli politics.  “From here on out, the Mondoweiss comment section will no longer serve as a forum to pillory Jewish culture and religion as the driving factors in Israeli and US policy” editors Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz openly declared.

JVP, probably the largest pro-Palestinian Jewish activist network, has dedicated much of its time and energy to silencing those who dare to look at Israel’s actions in terms of Jewishness, Jewish culture and Jewish politics. In its performance of the Talmudic Herem practice, JVP has excommunicated ‘transgressors,’ including some of the greatest spokespersons for  Palestine such as  Alison Weir and Greta Berlin.

And now there is a dilemma. In 2018 the Jewishness of the Jewish State is no longer a product of “Gilad Atzmon’s imagination.”  It is a cardinal Israeli law approved by the Knesset. Will Ali Abunimah and the Jewish Solidarity network come to their senses? Will they be brave enough to admit leading their followers astray for decades? Will they have the courage to self-reflect and address the fundamentals that fuel the oppression of the Palestinian people?

I somehow doubt it. I do not believe that the institutional Jewish solidarity is an authentic movement. More likely, it is there to make sure that the boundaries of solidarity with the oppressed (Palestinians) are shaped by the sensitivities of the oppressor (Antisemitsm, Holocaust etc.).

 

To learn more about Jewishness and Jewish ID Politics visit Gilad’s on-line bookshop

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French and Indian Jews have no connection to Palestine

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Image result for Indian Jews CARTOON

 

 

By Mahmoud El-Yousseph

Over the last several years, 1,700 members of the Jewish community in India, who trace their heritage to the so-called one of Israel’s lost tribes, were moved to Israel. More Indian Jews were to follow later after Israel reversed its policy of giving them VISAs, which will let the remaining 7,200 “Bnei Menashe” immigrate. This is by no means a pilgrim to Jerusalem or to have a look around then return back home.

This week, another 300 Jews from France arrived at Ben Gurion airport on July 24, 2018 to settle in Palestine. Under international law, Israeli settlements are considered illegal and an obstacle to peace because it is built on stolen or confiscated Palestinian lands.
Meanwhile, Israel continues under flimsy excuses to deny the right to millions of Palestinian refugees living in camps in neighboring Arab countries from returning back to their homes and property as demanded by so many UN Resolution to do so.
The resettlement of those Jews is done at the expense of the Palestinian refugees and is being facilitated by “Shavei Israel,” a nonprofit organization that seeks to connect “lost” and “hidden” Jews to Israel. So if that is what Shavei Israel calls “Aliya”, then by definition Aliya means recruiting Jews worldwide to support and maintain the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Those “hidden” Jews are supposedly lost for more than 2,700 years. I can assure you that those Indian and French Jews have as much connection to the ancient Hebrews and to the land of Palestine as I do to Batman.

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Mexico Leads In Violence Against Girls, 7,000 Minors Missing

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  • Reports disclose that approximately 3 minors are killed daily.

    Reports disclose that approximately 3 minors are killed daily. | Photo: Reuters FILE

Approximately three minors are killed daily. Mujica explained that many disappearances are related to organized crime or linked to family conflicts.

More violence is being experienced by children in the Mexican states Guanajuato, Tamaulipas, Quintana Roo and Tlaxcala, than in other regions, executive secretary of the National System for the Integral Protection of Children and Adolescents (Sipinna), Ricardo Bucio Mujica, said.

RELATED: Mexico: ‘Three Children Murdered Every Day,’ Says Rights Group

Christian Skoog, a representative of the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF) in Mexico, noted that the violence experienced by children and adolescents is widespread in homes, schools and on the street.

Mexico is at the top spot, among the countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), regarding cases of violence and sexual abuse of girls, the executive secretary shared.

Statistics also show that some 7,000 children, who have been reported missing, are yet to be found. Mujica further explained that many of the disappearances are related to organized crime or linked to unresolved family conflicts.

The Sipinna official said as soon as President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador assumes office the organization will seek dialogue with the leader’s team.

Reports disclose that approximately 3 minors are killed daily. “There are at least three homicides of children and babies every day, and although it has improved because in 2010 we had four daily homicides, that does not mean that it can be accepted as normal,” Mujica said earlier.

More than 13 million children between 12 and 17 years old are characterized, by public policies, as troubled but there are no initiatives in place to address the demographic.

However, Sipinna, Unicef and the National Security Commission (CNS) participated in the inauguration of works of the National Network of Adolescents which is designed to facilitate 47 young people submitting proposals to help address the violence against them.

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Nicaragua Defeats The Not-So-Soft Coup

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  • July 19 will be a categorical vindication of President Daniel Ortega
    July 19 will be a categorical vindication of President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista government’s efforts for peace in Nicaragua. | Photo: Reuters
July 19 will be a massive celebration of the coup’s defeat and a categorical vindication of President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista government’s efforts for peace in Nicaragua.

On July 19, hundreds of thousands of people from across Nicaragua will converge on the capital Managua to celebrate the 39th anniversary of their historic 1979 defeat of the Somoza dictatorship. The event takes place as the authorities continue to liberate communities blockaded by roadblocks operated by armed opposition activists whose not-so-soft coup attempt against the Sandinista government, begun on April 18, has failed. Ever since April 21, when President Daniel Ortega called for a process of National Dialogue to peacefully resolve opposition demands, Nicaragua’s political opposition and their allies have worked to sabotage talks for a negotiated solution. They have regularly staged extremely violent provocations falsely seeking to portray the government as being wholly responsible for the crisis and demanding President Ortega’s resignation.

RELATED:  Nicaragua: Religion, Dialogue and Non-Violence

Early in July, the opposition reneged on an agreement to dismantle the roadblocks their armed supporters have used since late April to try to destroy the country’s economy and intimidate the general population. On July 9, the government declared it would no longer permit the opposition to abuse the population’s basic rights to peace and security, stating: “Faced with the daily suffering imposed on Nicaragua’s families, who since April 18 have suffered violence from terrorists who have murdered, tortured and kidnapped hundreds of citizens, the same terrorists that have burned and destroyed hundreds of families’ homes, public buildings, small- and medium-sized businesses, such that the state is bound to act in accordance with the law to guarantee the right of its citizens to live in peace, with security and respect for the human rights enshrined in our political constitution, in the charters of international organizations and in human rights conventions.”

Opposition Violence

Subsequently, Nicaragua’s national police have worked with local communities around the country to clear the opposition roadblocks. In Jinotepe, they set free hundreds of trucks and their drivers held hostage by opposition gangs for over a month. In many places, it has been possible to negotiate agreements to remove the roadblocks peacefully. Elsewhere, the process has involved violence and casualties provoked by very well-armed activists and associated paid criminals resisting the authorities’ efforts to restore freedom of movement. On July 13 in Managua, two opposition activists were killed during the clearance of blockades in and around the National Autonomous University.

Elsewhere, on July 12, opposition activists from roadblocks operated by Francisca Ramirez and Medardo Mairena’s anti-Canal movement infiltrated an opposition peace march in the town of Morrito, on the eastern shore of Lake Nicaragua, on the highway to the Rio San Juan. They attacked a police post and the local municipal office, murdering four police officers and a primary school teacher, wounding four municipal workers and kidnapping nine police officers. Subsequently, that evening the police officers were set free, six of them with injuries.

Tortured & Murdered

In Masaya, opposition activists tortured, murdered and burned police officer Gabriel Vado Ruiz and would have done the same to another police officer, Rodrigo Barrios Flores, had he not escaped from his captors after enduring two days of torture and abuse. Although the extreme violence of the armed opposition activists has been responsible directly and indirectly for almost all the loss of life and injuries during the crisis, international news media and human rights organizations continue to falsely blame the government for virtually all the deaths and people injured. Amnesty International and fellow coup apologists such as Bianca Jagger and SOS Nicaragua, along with their allies in corporate media such as the Guardian, Telegraph, Washington Post, New York Times, Al Jazeera, CNN,  BBC, all cover up very serious human rights violations by the opposition activists during the failed attempted coup against Nicaragua’s legitimate government.

However, abundant audiovisual and photographic material exists providing irrefutable evidence of systematic human rights violations practiced by Nicaragua’s political opposition. From the the start, on April 18, the armed opposition offensive has manipulated legitimate peaceful protest so as to give cover to a very deliberate campaign of violence and deceit, promoting a climate of fear and casting blame on the government so as to create a psychosis of hatred, polarizing Nicaraguan society. The campaign’s objective is to make impossible a negotiated solution to the crisis provoked by the political opposition. Over the weekend of July 13-15, events in Nicaragua showed how refined the techniques of psychological warfare have become.

Misrepresenting & Exaggerating

The political opposition have used social media to misrepresent and exaggerate events, create incidents that never happened and obliterate their own criminal terrorist attacks. For example, the crisis in Nicaragua began with a fake ‘student massacre’ that never took place. Now Nicaragua’s opposition have faked attacks on a church in Managua, exaggerated casualties during the clearance of opposition thugs from the national university and covered up their own deliberate murders of police in Morrito and Masaya, as well as their gratuitous attacks on peaceful Sandinista demonstrators. In the national university, the opposition gangs also set fire to a classroom module and destroyed a preschool facility on the university campus.

Right from the start of the crisis, the opposition have expertly staged phony scenes of students taking cover from gunfire and used those images to justify their own savage attacks, like those in which they burned down pro-government Nuevo Radio Ya and CARUNA, the rural cooperatives’ savings and loan institution. Photographs show opposition journalists and photographers filming opposition activists pretending to be attacked, but despite the obvious fakery, those false stories get published uncritically in international corporate and alternative media. Nicaragua provides a textbook case study bearing out the work of analysts such as Cuba’s Randy Falcon, who has emphasized how new technologies exponentially multiply the digital reproduction of longstanding conventional propaganda motifs.

Propaganda Ploys

In Nicaragua, the government has in several cases negotiated agreements to clear armed opposition roadblocks, only to find that the opposition refuse to honor the agreements. The extremist political opposition are desperate to keep up their violence so as to sabotage efforts at National Dialogue and project the false image of a repressive government without popular support. Large demonstrations across the country supporting the government’s efforts for peace show exactly the reverse is true. Majority national opinion in Nicaragua is well aware of the opposition’s propaganda ploys and false claims.

Within Nicaragua, the opposition hardly bother to conceal their invention and artifice because their false political theater is staged almost entirely to impress overseas opinion. Their sinister cynical theater aims to set the scene for the Organization of American States to change its previously moderate position on Nicaragua and give the U.S. government an institutional pretext on which to intensify sanctions against Nicaragua’s government and its people. Even so, despite probable opposition attempts to sabotage it, July 19 will be a massive celebration of the coup’s defeat and a categorical vindication of President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista government’s efforts for peace in Nicaragua.

 

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In Nicaragua the Month of July Is Sandinista

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  • July 19th is the 39th anniversary of the Triumph of the Sandinista Revolution.
    July 19th is the 39th anniversary of the Triumph of the Sandinista Revolution. | Photo: Reuters FILE
Up until April, Nicaragua was the most peaceful country in Central America.

“We were in the opposition for 17 years and we never even thought about burning the houses of the liberals,” Daniel Ortega, Constitutional President of Nicaragua, said in a speech during the Masaya “Repliegue” (the retreat to Masaya city).

RELATED: Nicaragua Defeats The Not-So-Soft Coup

In the book “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official Gene Sharp set up a manual that in its fifth phase indicates the breaking of institutionality and the development of a beachhead from where a country could be infiltrated with “multinational” forces to support an insurrection against the dictatorship.

In fact, the creation of this phase in Nicaragua has been preceded by “tranques” (barricades or blockades of roads) where quotas are charged, and Sandinistas, police officers and ministries staff are kidnapped.

Many of those kidnapped are tortured and assassinated by these “self-convened pacific opposition” groups. The attacks against public bodies and assaults on police units are led by criminals, by former Sandinistas and former “contras” (counterrevolutionary forces).

Many of the conservative press and media outlets won’t stop presenting the Nicaraguan situation as the struggle against a dictatorship, despite the fact that Daniel Ortega has constitutionally won the elections, after having spent 17 years in the opposition’s side.

From outlets like Deutsche Welle, going through the BBC and CNN, we get the versions that make us see a peaceful people, waving national flags, supported by an impartial Catholic Church that seeks dialogue, fighting against a dangerous and violent left-wing dictatorship.

The number of killed police officers and civilians has been increasing, and if there are police officers killed by firearms it means that on the other side there are armed civilians.

The crisis seemed unstoppable, but Sharp’s fifth phase never arrived.

Up until April, Nicaragua was the most peaceful country in Central America. The country had an 8 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants rate, while Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador’s rate goes as far as outnumbering 50 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

The Nicaraguan police force is considered as one of the most efficient ones in Latin America and was developed as a community force, with great insertion in the neighborhoods and communities. It has controlled drug trafficking and the Maras (the very violent Central American gangs whose origin is linked to the U.S.) had never managed to enter the country. The Nicaraguan National Police inherited the best Sandinista ideals and was founded by Tomas Borge (FSLN revolutionary commander) as “the sentinels of the people’s joy.”

As I have written in previous articles, this police force is exemplary and there is a lot to learn about community work and about participation in citizen security from it. At the same time, it is a police force that defends the institutionality and the Constitution. The dark destabilization plan now in place, pretends that the police force doesn’t respond to armed aggression.

RELATED: Nicaragua: Legitimacy And Human Rights

Since April, Nicaragua has been included in the plan for the destruction of the new democratic governments in Latin America. A plan that is conceived and orchestrated by the Think Tanks serving the large transnational corporations.

I am making reference to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) that was founded during the Reagan administration, the Usaid, the CIA, of course, and many other intelligence agencies, that work at the development of a conservative way of thinking. The ominous role of the OAS (Organization of American States) and the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights), convicted and confessed accomplices of this master plan at the ‘American’ level, has to also be taken into account.

The national oligarchies, and in this case the Catholic Church, represented by its most conservative sectors, play the local triggering role. The errors committed by the FSLN, such as the Social Security issue and other decisions that did not favor the democratic construction project that the Sandinista government is proclaiming, must also be added to the equation. This last factor must be amended as required by the strategic perspective: the destruction of these governments’ frameworks, the case of Nicaragua, which has reached armed violence extremes.

This violence is driven by social actors unable to develop democratic options in which they have been defeated in recent years as is the case of former Sandinistas grouped in the MRS (Sandinista Renovation Movement).

The serenity demonstrated by Ortega and his government has consolidated a massive response summoned by the FSLN that is channeling the return of the stability. The government has always attended the dialogue table, even when it meant listening to absurd proposals such as early elections that had to take place or even worse, Ortega’s resignation.

The march of “El Repliegue” to Masaya, the demonstrations in Managua and those in other cities, are the way to prove the Government and FSLN party’s capacity to summon people. Certainly, this situation has polarized the country, and the proposals to restore the lost peace will have to be handled with great care. Those who thought that there would be a triumphant counterrevolutionary government board, are only left with a dangerous frustration.

From the part of this right-wing, there is no real desire to return to the institutional channels, although the defeat might make them think. The personal ambitions and resentments of former Sandinistas are not the best factor for Peace. The government must deepen measures to consolidate an organized popular democracy, both in the exercise of citizen participation and in the construction of an effective popular power, as well as in speeding up the redistribution of resources and the improvement of living conditions for the still disadvantaged sectors. Moving forward in these two areas, simultaneously, is the only way to guarantee the continuity of the institutions and the governability in the country.

RELATED: Nicaragua Reiterates Call For Peace As US Ramps Up Pressure

The teachings of South America have shown us the fragility of our triumphs. These are more vulnerable when the popular power is not consolidated and when the alliances with the productive capitalist sectors are not properly managed, which must be only alliances without making those sectors part of the government.

Brazil and Ecuador are the most recent examples of the right-wing’s ability to dismantle and appropriate everything that we have advanced, either by destroying it or by converting it into resources for their own benefit. The high cost in lives in Nicaragua and Venezuela, during the attempt “to return to the dark neoliberal night,” should lead us to a deep self-critical reflection about the role of political parties, about the transformations towards a culture of solidarity and about the need to consolidate the effective and participatory mechanisms of popular power.

In the political projects that intrinsically carry the proposal of an alliance of different class sectors, we must learn to handle its inherent contradictions implied. It is an extremely complex task and in that difficulty, the “Cantos de Sirena” (mermaid’s call or siren songs, a seductive or deceptive call) of corruption, enrichment and using the state as booty, are always present.

Today in Nicaragua, and particularly in Managua, the month of July is Sandinista. It is “rojinegro” (red and black, an allusion to the FSLN flag). People from the “caviar left-wing” and those from the right-wing thought they would be able to celebrate the defeat of the FSLN Government but they were defeated in every single battlefield. In the political one, in the streets and in the military field where they entered by killing people.

The army did not go out to the streets and it is only with the National Police and organized Sandinistas that this triumph was achieved. We can not claim victory or let our guard down, yet. We need to consolidate and deepen the popular democratic exercise, street by street, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, community by community.

Serenity and self-criticism, as demonstrated by the Sandinista government and by the Comandante Ortega, are needed.

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Terror struck in Canada again

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Image result for Terror IN CANADA CARTOON
By Mahmoud El-Yousseph
Terror struck in Canada again. This time is in Toronto, the most ethnically diverse city in the world, with 51.6% of the population classified as visible minorities (as of the 2016 census). I never thought that a city as diverse as Toronto that embraces every newcomer with open arms and a warm heart could be nurturing such a hatred deep down.
Yesterday, Sunday, July 22, 2018, two people are dead and 14 others injured after a man fired a handgun into a busy Toronto street filled with restaurants and cafes before dying after an exchange of gunfire with police. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders has named Faisal Hussain, 28, of Toronto as the alleged shooter.

On January 29, 2017, a white university student named Alexandre Bissonnette carried out a massacre at Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center during evening prayer, killing six worshipers and injuring eight more. Prime Minister Justin Thrudeu called the shooting a “terrorist attack on Muslims.”

On April 23, 2018, a 25-year-old Alek Minassian mowed down a crowd of innocent people in Toronto, Canada, killing 10 and injuring 16 more.

I have to confess that when I heard the news yesterday about the attack in Toronto, I hoped and prayed the culprit is not Muslim or has a Middle Eastern connection. There is no doubt in my mind that Muslim haters in the US and Canada were crossing their fingers that the terrorists who committed this crime is named Mohammad or Abdul. Some people now blame Canada’s immigration policy and religious diversity for Toronto’s attack, but the very same people remained lip-tied when the victims of previous terrorist attacks were Muslims or if the perpetrators happened to be non-Muslims.

That begs the question, why do people blame Islam and Muslims when an individual Muslim commits a crime?. However, when others commit a crime, be they Christians, Jews, vegetarians, or devil worshipers, their religion is never mentioned.
Killing innocent people you never met is pure evil! Regrettably, that is exactly what the 28-year-old Toronto man did yesterday, leaving 2 dead and 14 injured behind. Muslims are commanded by the Qur’an to do good and avoid evil. As a Muslim, my heart goes out to the victims and survivors and their families.

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Entering a “1984” World, Trump-Style

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Entering a “1984” World, Trump-Style: Implementing the Sino-Russian Blueprint for a Tripolar World Order

The pundits and politicians generally take it for granted that President Trump lacks a coherent foreign policy. They believe that he acts solely out of spite, caprice, and political opportunism — lashing out at US allies like Germany’s Angela Merkel and England’s Theresa May only to embrace authoritarian rulers like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. His instinctive rancor and impulsiveness seemed on full display during his recent trip to Europe, where he lambasted Merkel, undercut May, and then, in an extraordinary meeting with Putin, dismissed any concerns over Russian meddling in the 2016 American presidential election (before half-walking his own comments back).

“Nobody knows when Trump is doing international diplomacy and when he is doing election campaigning in Montana,” commented Danish defense minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen following the summit. “It is difficult to decode what policy the American president is promoting. There is a complete unpredictability in this.”

While that reaction may be typical, it’s a mistake to assume that Trump lacks a coherent foreign-policy blueprint. In fact, an examination of his campaign speeches and his actions since entering the Oval Office — including his appearance with Putin — reflect his adherence to a core strategic concept: the urge to establish a tripolar world order, one that was, curiously enough, first envisioned by Russian and Chinese leaders in 1997 and one that they have relentlessly pursued ever since.

Such a tripolar order — in which Russia, China, and the US would each assume responsibility for maintaining stability within their own respective spheres of influence while cooperating to resolve disputes wherever those spheres overlap — breaks radically with the end-of-the-Cold-War paradigm. During those heady years, the United States was the dominant world power and lorded it over most of the rest of the planet with the aid of its loyal NATO allies.

For Russian and Chinese leaders, such a “unipolar” system was considered anathema. After all, it granted the United States a hegemonic role in world affairs while denying them what they considered their rightful place as America’s equals. Not surprisingly, destroying such a system and replacing it with a tripolar one has been their strategic objective since the late 1990s — and now an American president has zealously embraced that disruptive project as his own.

The Sino-Russian Master Plan

The joint Russian-Chinese project to undermine the unipolar world system was first set in motion when then-Chinese President Jiang Zemin conferred with then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin during a state visit to Moscow in April 1997. Restoring close relations with Russia while building a common front against US global dominance was reportedly the purpose of Jiang’s trip.

“Some are pushing toward a world with one center,” said Yeltsin at the time. “We want the world to be multipolar, to have several focal points. These will form the basis for a new world order.”

This outlook was inscribed in a “Joint Declaration on a Multipolar World and the Establishment of a New International Order,” signed by the two leaders on April 23, 1997. Although phrased in grandiose language (as its title suggests), the declaration remains worth reading as it contains most of the core principles on which Donald Trump’s foreign policy now rests.

At its heart lay a condemnation of global hegemony — the drive by any single nation to dominate world affairs — along with a call for the establishment of a “multipolar” international order. It went on to espouse other key precepts that would now be considered Trumpian, including unqualified respect for state sovereignty, non-interference in the domestic affairs of other states (code for no discussion of their human rights abuses), and the pursuit of mutual economic advantage.

Yeltsin would resign as president in December 1999, while Jiang would complete his term in March 2003. Their successors, Vladimir Putin and Hu Jintao, would, however, continue to build on that 1997 foundational document, issuing their own blueprint for a tripolar world in 2005.

Following a Kremlin meeting that July, the two would sign an updated “Joint Statement of the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation Regarding the International Order of the 21st Century.” It was even more emphatic in its commitment to a world in which the United States would be obliged to negotiate on equal terms with Moscow and Beijing, stating:

“The international community should thoroughly renounce the mentality of confrontation and alignment, should not pursue the right to monopolize or dominate world affairs, and should not divide countries into a leading camp and a subordinate camp… World affairs should be decided through dialogue and consultation on a multilateral and collective basis.”

The principal aim of such a strategy was, and continues to be, to demolish a US-dominated world order — especially one in which that dominance was ensured by American reliance on its European allies and NATO. The ability to mobilize not only its own power but also Europe’s gave Washington a particularly outsized role in international affairs. If such ties could be crippled or destroyed, its clout would obviously be diminished and soit might someday become just another regional heavyweight.

In those years, Putin was particularly vocal in calling for the dissolution of NATO and its replacement by a European-wide security system that would, of course, include his country. The divisions in Europe “will continue until there is a single security area in Europe,” he told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in 2001. Just as the Warsaw Pact had been disbanded as the Cold War ended, he argued, so Western Europe’s Cold War-era alliance, NATO, should be replaced with a broader security structure.

Donald Trump Climbs on Board

There is no way to know whether Donald Trump was ever aware — no matter how indirectly — of such Sino-Russian goals or planning, but there can be no question that, in his own fashion and for his own reasons, he has absorbed their fundamental principles. As his recent assaults on NATO and his embrace of the Russian president suggest, he is visibly seeking to create the very tripolar world once envisioned by Boris Yeltsin and Jiang Zemin and zealously promoted by Vladimir Putin ever since he assumed office.

The proof that Trump sought such an international system can be found in his 2016 campaign speeches and interviews. While he repeatedly denounced China for its unfair trade practices and complained about Russia’s nuclear-weapons buildup, he never described those countries as mortal enemies. They were rivals or competitors with whose leaders he could communicate and, when advantageous, cooperate. On the other hand, he denounced NATO as a drain on America’s prosperity and its ability to maneuver successfully in the world. Indeed, he saw that alliance as eminently dispensable if its members were unwilling to support his idea of how to promote America’s best interests in a highly competitive world.

“I am proposing a new foreign policy focused on advancing America’s core national interests, promoting regional stability, and producing an easing of tensions in the world,” he declared in a September 2016 speech in Philadelphia. From that speech and other campaign statements, you can get a pretty good idea of his mindset.

First, make the United States — already the world’s most powerful nation — even stronger, especially militarily. Second, protect America’s borders. (“Immigration security,” he explained, “is a vital part of our national security.”) Third, in contrast to the version of globalism previously espoused by the American version of a liberal international order, this country was to pursue only its own interests, narrowly defined. Playing the role of global enforcer for allies, he argued, had impoverished the United States and must be ended. “At some point,” as he put it to New York Times reporters Maggie Haberman and David Sanger in March 2016, “we cannot be the policeman of the world.”

As for NATO, he couldn’t have been clearer: it had become irrelevant and its preservation should no longer be an American priority. “Obsolete” was the word he used with Haberman and Sanger. “When NATO was formed many decades ago… there was a different threat, [the Soviet Union,]… which was much bigger… [and] certainly much more powerful than even today’s Russia.” The real threat, he continued, is terrorism, and NATO had no useful role in combating that peril. “I think, probably a new institution maybe would be better for that than using NATO, which was not meant for that.”

All of this, of course, fit to a T what Vladimir Putin has long been calling for, not to speak of the grand scheme articulated by Yeltsin and Jiang in 1997. Indeed, during the second presidential debate, Trump went even further,saying, “I think it would be great if we got along with Russia because we could fight ISIS together.”

Though the focus at the moment is purely on President Trump and Russia, let’s not forget China. While frequently lambasting the Chinese in the economic realm, he has nonetheless sought Beijing’s help in addressing the North Korean nuclear threat and other common perils. He speaks often by telephone with President Xi Jinping and insists that they enjoy an amicable relationship. Indeed, to the utter astonishment of many of his Republican allies, he even allowed the Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE to regain access to essential American technology and computer chips after paying a $1 billion fine, though the firm had been widely accused of violating US sanctions on trade with Iran and North Korea. Such a move was, he claimed, “reflective” of his wish to negotiate a successful trade deal with China “and my personal relationship with President Xi.”

Trump’s World Reflects That Sino-Russian Plan

Although there’s no evidence that Donald Trump ever even knew about the Sino-Russian blueprint for establishing a tripolar global order, everything he’s done as president has had the affect of facilitating that world-altering project. This was stunningly evident at the recent Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki, where he repeatedly spoke of his desire to cooperate with Moscow in solving global problems.

“The disagreements between our two countries are well known and President Putin and I discussed them at length today,” he said at the press conference that followed their private conversation. “But if we’re going to solve many of the problems facing our world, then we’re going to have to find ways to cooperate in pursuit of shared interests.” He then went on to propose that officials of the national security councils of the two countries get together to discuss such matters — an extraordinary proposal given the historical mistrust between Washington and Moscow.

And despite the furor his warm embrace of Putin triggered in Washington, Trump doubled down on his strategic concept by inviting the Russian leader to the White House for another round of one-on-one talks this fall. According to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, National Security Advisor John Bolton is already in preparatory talks with the Kremlin for such a meeting.

The big question in all this, of course, is: Why? Why would an American president seek to demolish a global order in which the United States was the dominant player and enjoyed the support of so many loyal and wealthy allies? Why would he want to replace it with one in which it would be but one of three regional heavyweights?

Undoubtedly, historians will debate this question for decades. The obvious answer, offered by so many pundits, is that he doesn’t actually know what he’s doing, that it’s all thoughtless and impulsive. But there’s another possible answer: that he intuits in the Sino-Russian template a model that the United States could emulate to its benefit.

In the Trumpian mindset, this country had become weak and overextended because of its uncritical adherence to the governing precepts of the liberal international order, which called for the US to assume the task of policing the world while granting its allies economic and trade advantages in return for their loyalty. Such an assessment, whether accurate or not, certainly jibes well with the narrative of victimization that so transfixed his core constituency in rustbelt areas of Middle America. It also suggests that an inherited burden could now be discarded, allowing for the emergence of a less-encumbered, stronger America — much as a stronger Russia has emerged in this century from the wreckage of the Soviet Union and a stronger China from the wreckage of Maoism. This reinvigorated country would still, of course, have to compete with those other two powers, but from a far stronger position, being able to devote all its resources to economic growth and self-protection without the obligation of defending half of the rest of the world.

Listen to Trump’s speeches, read through his interviews, and you’ll find just this proposition lurking behind virtually everything he has to say on foreign policy and national security. “You know… there is going to be a point at which we just can’t do this anymore,” hetoldHaberman and Sanger in 2016, speaking of America’s commitments to allies. “You know, when we did those deals, we were a rich country… We were a rich country with a very strong military and tremendous capability in so many ways. We’re not anymore.”

The only acceptable response, he made clear, was to jettison such overseas commitments and focus instead on “restoring” the country’s self-defense capabilities through a massive buildup of its combat forces. (The fact that the United States already possesses far more capable weaponry than any of its rivals andoutspendsthem by a significant margin when it comes to the acquisition of additional munitions doesn’t seem to have any impact on Trump’s calculations.)

This outlook would be embedded in his administration’s National Security Strategy, released last December. The greatest threat to American security, it claimed, wasn’t ISIS or al-Qaeda, but Russian and Chinese efforts to bolster their military power and extend their geopolitical reach. But given the administration’s new approach to global affairs, it suggested, there was no reason to believe that the country was headed for an inevitable superpower conflagration. (“Competition does not always mean hostility, nor does it inevitably lead to conflict. An America that successfully competes is the best way to prevent conflict.”)

However ironic it might seem, this is, of course, the gist of the Sino-Russian tripolar model as embraced and embellished by Donald Trump. It envisions a world of constant military and economic contention among three regional power centers, generating crises of various sorts, but not outright war. It assumes that the leaders of those three centers will cooperate on matters affecting them all, such as terrorism, and negotiate as necessary to prevent minor skirmishes from erupting into major battles.

Will this system prove more stable and durable than the crumbling unipolar world order it’s replacing? Who knows? If Russia, China, and the United States were of approximately equal strength, it might indeed theoretically prevent one party from launching a full-scale conflict with another, lest the aggrieved country join the third power, overwhelming the aggressor.

Eerily enough, this reflects the future world as envisioned in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984— a world in which three great-power clusters, Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia, contend for global dominance, periodically forming new two-against-one alliances. However, as the United States currently possesses significantly greater military power than Russia and China combined, that equation doesn’t really apply and so, despite the mammoth nuclear arsenals of all three countries, the possibility of a US-initiated war cannot be ruled out. In a system of ever-competing super-states, the risk of crisis and confrontation will always be present, along with the potential for nuclear escalation.

One thing we can be reasonably sure of, however, regarding such a system is that smaller, weaker states, and minority peoples everywhere will be given even shorter shrift than at present when caught in any competitive jousting for influence among the three main competitors (and their proxies). This is the crucial lesson to be drawn from the grim fighting still ongoing in Syria and eastern Ukraine: you are only worth something as long as you do the bidding of your superpower patron. When your utility is exhausted — or you’re unfortunate enough to be trapped in a zone of contention — your life is worth nothing. No lasting peace is attainable in such an environment and so, just as in Orwell’s1984, war — or preparing for war — will be a perpetual condition of life.

——————————-

READING LIST
HUMAN RIGHTS
Israel Illegally Enshrines Apartheid in Its “Basic Law”
ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH
Trump Put Corporate Profits Over Babies’ Health. Are We Surprised?
PRISONS & POLICING
Anti-Prostitution Ordinance Promotes Racial Profiling in Chicago
ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH
Big Pharma Cozies Up to Trump as He Moves to Lower Drug Prices
POLITICS & ELECTIONS
Sanders Says “Big Money Interests” and Corporate Democrats “Should Be Scared”
POLITICS & ELECTIONS
Like Richard Nixon, Donald Trump Has Created an Enemies List

 

 

 

 

Posted in USAComments Off on Entering a “1984” World, Trump-Style

Nazi regime Illegally Enshrines Apartheid in Its “Basic Law”

NOVANEWS

Israel Illegally Enshrines Apartheid in Its “Basic Law”

On July 19, 2018, the Israeli Knesset enacted a law that illegally enshrines a system of apartheid. The legislation, which has the force of a constitutional amendment, strips away any pretense that Israel is a democracy. Moreover, it violates customary and treaty-based international law.

The “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People” says, “The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which it fulfills its natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination.” It continues, “The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

Absent is any guarantee of self-determination for the 1.8 million Arabs who comprise 20 percent of Israel’s population. But, “we refuse to be second-class citizens,” said Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List, the Palestinian parties in the Knesset. Odeh added that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s regime is “digging a deep pit of fear, racism and authoritarianism to divide us from each other. But they can never erase us from the homeland we share.”

Members of the Knesset — Israel’s parliament — had tried for seven years to enact such a law. Although Barack Obama, like US presidents before him, supported Israel’s apartheid policies, Donald Trump took that support to a new level by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017.

In spite of the well-established status of East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, the Basic Law states, “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”

Adding insult to injury, the new law proclaims Hebrew the official language of Israel, with Arabic granted “a special status.”

Only Jews are welcome to emigrate to Israel under this law. And it purports to legalize the illegal Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land, stating, “The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.”

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, declared that the new law “entrenches the privileges enjoyed by Jewish citizens, while simultaneously anchoring discrimination against Palestinian citizens and legitimizing exclusion, racism, and systemic inequality.”

In a statement analyzing the law, Adalah refuted Israel’s claim of being a democracy: “No country in the world today is defined as a democratic state where the constitutional identity is determined by ethnic affiliation that overrides the principle of equal citizenship.”

Although Israel has long practiced discrimination against Palestinians, the Basic Law will pose obstacles to litigation in support of human rights. “It will make it much harder for us to challenge any cases of discrimination against Palestinians, because this racist notion of Judaization will become a constitutional norm,” Adalah attorney Suhad Bishara said. “Before this law, there have been opportunities to challenge these practices based on constitutional norms. This space to challenge will disappear, because Jewish superiority is now constitutional.”

The Basic Law Violates Customary and Treaty-Based International Law

Israel’s Basic Law violates several treaties as well as customary international law.

Moreover, the prohibition against apartheid is so serious that — like slavery, torture, genocide and wars of aggression — it is considered a jus cogens prohibition. Jus cogens is a peremptory norm, the highest form of customary international law. Countries cannot pass legislation that violates a jus cogens prohibition. The Basic Law enshrines a system of apartheid in Israel and is thus prohibited by jus cogens.

The new law violates the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid; the United Nations Charter; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Fourth Geneva Convention; and the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court.

Only Jews in Israel have the right to self-determination under the new law. That runs afoul of the UN Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which Israel has ratified. They guarantee all peoples the right to self-determination.

This law does not even mention non-discrimination, equality or minority rights, and thus violates the Convention Against Racial Discrimination, a treaty Israel has ratified. That convention requires states parties to “condemn racial segregation and apartheid and undertake to prevent, prohibit and eradicate all practices of this nature in territories under their jurisdiction.” Racial discrimination is defined in the convention as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”

Furthermore, the new law’s encouragement of the building of Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands violates the Fourth Geneva Conventionand the Rome Statute. Both treaties prohibit an Occupying Power from transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. And both treaties consider such transfer to be a war crime.

The Basic Law Institutionalizes the System of Apartheid in Israel

Israel has long maintained a system of apartheid. Israel controls all ingress and egress to Gaza, limits Gazans’ access to medicine, subjects Palestinians to arbitrary arrest, expropriates their property, maintains separate areas and roads, segregated housing, different legal and educational systems for Palestinians and Jews and prevents mixed marriages. Only Jews, not Palestinians, are allowed to return to Israel-Palestine, in spite of international laws guaranteeing the Palestinians’ right of return.

“The Nation-State bill that Israel passed … cements Israel as an apartheid state — from the West Bank to Gaza to Jerusalem to Haifa,” Rabbi Alissa Wise, deputy director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said in a statement.

The Apartheid Convention defines apartheid as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”

That includes “legislative measures and 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, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms.”

Moreover, under the Rome Statute, “inhumane acts committed in the context of an institutional regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another racial group, with the intent to maintain that regime” constitute apartheid.

Both the Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute classify apartheid as a crime against humanity.

Israel has not ratified the Apartheid Convention or the Rome Statute. But apartheid is prohibited by jus cogens.

Last year, Richard Falk, former UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories and professor emeritus at Princeton University, and Virginia Tilley, professor of political science at Southern Illinois University and an authority on apartheid, co-authored a reportcommissioned and published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.

That report found “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians constitutes “the crime of Apartheid,” which the authors characterized as a “crime against humanity under customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

The report concluded by recommending participation in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), a nonviolent worldwide movement challenging the Israeli occupation.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

The BDS movement was launched in 2005 by representatives of Palestinian civil society. They called upon “international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era … [including] embargoes and sanctions against Israel.”

This call for BDS specified that “these nonviolent punitive measures” should last until Israel fully complies with international law by 1) ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the barrier wall; 2) recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3) respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their land as stipulated in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194.

“If ever there was a time for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel’s system of oppression, it is now,” said Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, in response to Israel’s Basic Law. “No Israeli law will erase our right to self-determination in our homeland or the right of our refugees to return home. No Israeli far-right government, with all the … support it receives from xenophobic and outright fascist forces in the United States and Europe will ever extinguish our aspiration for freedom, justice and equality.”

———————————————–

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Israel Illegally Enshrines Apartheid in Its “Basic Law”

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Like Richard Nixon, Donald Trump Has Created an Enemies List

 

 

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Nazi regime Illegally Enshrines Apartheid in Its “Basic Law”

Focus On: Gaza

World attention has refocused on Gaza since the Palestinians imprisoned there for more than a decade began their peaceful “Great March of Return” on March 30. Risking life and limb to protest the violations of their human rights – Israel has killed more than 40 protestors and wounded thousands more, many seriously – the Gaza Palestinians have also succeeded in going to the root cause of the conflict. They have forced the discourse to move beyond the occupation of the Palestinian territory in 1967 to the Palestinians’ dispossession and expulsion from their homeland to make way for the state of Israel in 1948.

Despite Israel’s violent response to the largely peaceful marches, the protestors are undaunted: The demonstrations will continue until May 15, the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe and the creation of Israel. Gaza Palestinians of all ages are calling for their right to return to the land from which their families fled or were forced to flee in 1948, a right enshrined in UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of that year. Of Gaza’s nearly two million inhabitants, 1.2 million are refugees. Yet Israel believes it can continue to effectively control Gaza through repression and violence, rather than address the wrongs done to the Palestinian people.

In the policy memos, policy briefs, and commentaries below, Al-Shabaka analysts review the crises and developments of the past decade to address the most important political and economic issues informing the current situation. These include the appalling circumstances that have resulted from Israel’s siege, the similarities of Gaza to apartheid South Africa, the obstacles that keep the Palestinians from accessing and benefiting from their natural gas resources, and the tepid reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas that have compounded Gaza’s human suffering.

Surviving Under Siege

Gaza is Headed for a Deeper Political and Humanitarian Crisis

By Haidar Eid and Ayah Abubasheer

Haidar Eid and Ayah Abubasheer examine the political ramifications of the GCC countries’ ostracization of Qatar on the Strip, particularly Hamas’s desperate attempts to retain its rule and authority using its rapprochement with Mohammed Dahlan. They also recount how everyday lives are being affected.  Their conclusion? Gaza’s future has perhaps never looked bleaker. Read more…

Honor the Victims: Avoid Past Mistakes in Reconstructing Gaza

By Omar Shaban

Omar Shaban describes the extent of the destruction from Israel’s assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014 and explains the extreme difficulties of reconstruction. He sets out the mistakes that were made in previous donor appeals and reconstruction efforts and argues that these can – and must – be avoided in the future. Read more…

Under Siege: Remembering Leningrad, Surviving Gaza

By Ayah Abubasheer and Esther Rappaport

Ayah Abubasheer has lived through the siege of Gaza; Esther Rappaport’s family lived under the siege of Leningrad during World War II. Ayah and Esther came to know each other through social media during Israel’s summer 2014 attack on Gaza and first thought of writing this piece during this war. In their reflections and analysis of the two sieges they ably communicate the stark reality of life under siege. Read more…

Gaza: The Enduring Siege

By Haidar Eid

Haidar Eid reflects on the extent to which the apartheid analogy applies to the situation in the Gaza Strip. He draws telling comparisons with the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and argues that the Palestinian national movement has ignored those lessons to its own detriment. Read more…

Colonizing Resources

How Israel Uses Gas to Enforce Palestinian Dependency and Promote Normalization

By Tareq Baconi

Tareq Baconi discusses how efforts to develop the Palestinian energy sector, including in Gaza, rely on practices that seek to enhance quality of life within the context of occupation. He argues that these efforts ultimately reinforce the Palestinian territories as a captive market for Israeli energy exports and lay the groundwork for regional normalization under the rubric of “economic peace,” despite the fact that lasting peace and stability will only occur if the underlying factors that maintain Palestinians as subservient to Israel’s rule are addressed. Read more…

The Gas Fields Off Gaza: A Gift or a Curse?

By Victor Kattan

Almost 20 years after the discovery of gas fields off the coast of Gaza, efforts to develop them have not borne fruit. Victor Kattan discusses the actors and amounts involved as well as reasons why the project stalled and recommends some policy options to break the deadlock. Read more…

Reconciliation and Its Shortcomings  

Abbas’s Shortsighted Gaza Policy

By Tareq Baconi

Tareq Baconi examines Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s support for and bolstering of the blockade of the Gaza Strip, arguing that it plays into Israel’s strategy of dividing and ruling Palestinians and perpetuates the already acute suffering of Gazans – a morally reprehensible position. Read more…

Pitfalls of the Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation

By Khalil Shaheen

Khalil Shaheen examines reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas and argues that while in the short term any improvement in relations could relieve the suffering of the people of Gaza, the longer-term effects of a rapprochement – if done in an incomplete way – may be more devastating than what Palestinians experience today. Read more…

How Can Palestinian Reconciliation Efforts Save the National Project?

By Wajjeh Abu Zarifa

Wajjeh Abu Zarifa argues that despite Fatah-Hamas reconciliation efforts, there has been no appreciable improvement in the lives of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in terms of access to basic services like electricity, clean water and sanitation, health care, or reconstruction. He examines the intricacies of the issues that Fatah and Hamas must resolve, as well as Israel’s own objectives, to understand why it is so hard to achieve national unity. Read more…  

Posted in Palestine Affairs, GazaComments Off on Focus On: Gaza

70 Years of Nakba: Where Can Palestinians Go from Here?

The Palestinian people have perhaps never been more in need of a forward-looking vision to shape their struggle. In facing the 70thanniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe and the creation of Israel, on May 15, they also face a myriad of circumstances and actions that threaten to derail their quest for rights. 1

These include the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the accompanying move of the US embassy there; Israeli plans to annex the West Bank; and the continued Israeli violence toward the Palestinians in Gaza who are peacefully protesting the shocking conditions in which they live and calling for their right to return to the lands from which they were expelled in 1948. At publication, Israeli snipers had killed more than 90 Palestinians in Gaza and injured thousands.

Against this background, we asked Al-Shabaka analysts to propose a vision that would resonate with the greatest number of Palestinians – whether one-staters or two, refugees, exiles, citizens of Israel, or those under occupation and siege – and to map out some ways to get from here to there.

Razi Nabulse recommends using the Nakba itself by considering it not only an anniversary, but also a destructive system and continuous manifestation of the essence of Zionism that Palestinians must dismantle. Irene Calis echoes Nabulse with her argument that Palestinians must recognize that the problem is not occupation, but Zionism, and proposes a collective and strategic recalibration of political action that is focused on Zionism, de-colonization, and emancipation.

Amal Ahmad calls on Palestinians to formulate strategies instead of fixating on solutions by concentrating on Israel’s strategic interests and understanding that Israel sees Palestinians, wherever they are, as a threat to its interests. Haidar Eid also urges a vision that includes all segments of the Palestinian population, arguing against the reduction of the Zionist project to a military occupation of one part of historic Palestine. He points to the demands of the BDS movement – freedom, justice, and equality for all Palestinians – as an example of a way forward.

Razi Nabulse: The Nakba as a Way Forward

Seventy years after the Nakba, the central question remains: Is the Nakba an anniversary or a system that continues to govern the present and shape the future? Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Nakba is its ability to be both. It is first the memory of the establishment of the Jewish state at the expense of Palestinian physical, social, and political structures. Yet the Zionist structures founded in the Nakba’s aftermath have also continued to dismantle the remaining Palestinian structures. The Nakba thus represents the anniversary of the creation of the system that has been enforcing policies of ethnic cleansing and dismantlement.

Writing about the Nakba at this stage is to write about its potential role in rebuilding the Palestinian national project, a project that has effectively collapsed. Could the Nakba constitute the foundation for such an effort? This question may not offer new knowledge on the study of the Nakba, but it has a political aspect and requires a political answer. The foundation would incorporate both parts of the Nakba: a historical review that addresses the anniversary, as well as a strategic objective to dismantle the Jewish state and its structures. Deliberating this question in Palestinian circles is in itself a qualitative leap in political thought through which Palestinians can overcome hurdles that have been undermining the Palestinian political system.

The decades since the Nakba have been characterized by fragmentation and a gradual break from clear definitions of the conflict. It is the right time politically for Palestinians to return to the Nakba as the chapter of the Palestinian-Zionist conflict that most clearly captures its essence: a colonialist movement seeking to eliminate Palestinian existence physically and symbolically.

This understanding should inform the policies needed to create a political platform that strives to thwart the Zionist goals that were only temporarily achieved in 1948 and that persist to this day. Indeed, the Zionist movement carries on with the same institutions and colonial spirit on which it was institutionalized after the Nakba, the Zionist organizations that sponsored the Nakba continue to operate in the West Bank and the Negev, and the ideological framework from which the state derives legitimacy for its existence – a democratic state for Jews – still stands.

Palestinians (must) return to the Nakba as the chapter of the Palestinian-Zionist conflict that most clearly captures its essenceCLICK TO TWEETThe view of the Nakba as a one-time event and an anniversary rather than a continuous manifestation of the essence of Zionism is therefore deficient, and the question that should be asked is not about the past, but the present and future: Will there be a new Nakba?

Israel neither seeks to annex the population in the West Bank nor impose its legal sovereignty over those densely populated areas. Nor is Israel interested in the two- or one-state solution. It has not left any stretches of land that could form a contiguous Palestinian political entity in the West Bank, and it has severed and blockaded Gaza. Rather, Israel is working toward a larger project, namely expanding its borders and expelling another large segment of the Palestinian population.

Israel is thus only concerned with and actively working toward controlling the largest area possible with the fewest number of Palestinians possible. In practice, this has prompted Israel to expel Palestinians with the aim of establishing a “democratic” entity in which Palestinians constitute a minority under Jewish hegemony. The expansion of this entity in size and influence is Israel’s constant and central obsession.

Irene Calis: Getting the Problem Right 

Palestinians are at a dire juncture: Any true forward-looking vision calls for an end to business-as-usual strategies. It is no longer possible to evade the repercussions of a “conflict resolution” approach to a situation of settler colonialism that is grounded in an erasure of the indigenous people. Without radical changes to collective thinking and action, Palestinians are moving ever closer to their indigenous North American brothers and sisters in a settler state with no post-colony future to speak of.

Status quo approaches are not only failing Palestinians but actively working against the goals of liberation. Palestinians must take back the power to imagine what is and is not possible from the political elite and institutions that are still entrenched in colonial outcomes.

This begins first and foremost with “getting the problem right.” As Steve Biko forewarned, the central issue of apartheid South Africa was not the system of apartheid itself but the worldview of white supremacy on which it was based. His political assessment anticipated what has happened post 1994: Dismantling the political framework of apartheid has not dealt with the structural privilege of whiteness, which continues to delimit the life chances of black bodies.

Biko’s warning is ever prescient for Palestinians. The unfettered investment in “the peace process” and statehood has distracted Palestinians from the illogical nature of undertaking such an enterprise in an indigenous-settler relationship. Through the Palestinian Authority (PA) and other institutional bodies, years have been invested in the fallacy that peace and statehood can be negotiated within the context of a settler colony. Palestinians can no longer overlook the basic fact that anti-colonization must precede any state-building initiatives.

Statehood is not synonymous with peace; these terms have become bankrupt because they do not address the ideology that underpins the erasure of Palestinians and the colonizing practices of the Israeli state. The problem, in other words, is not occupation, but the Zionist project. Any political outcome in which Zionism remains privileged as a benign or just ideology ensures a future that sustains the current status quo for Palestinians.

Getting the problem right – Zionism, not occupation – is essential to Palestinian strategic effortsCLICK TO TWEETZionism requires Palestinian dehumanization. Therefore, getting the problem right – Zionism, not occupation – is essential to Palestinian strategic efforts. All Palestinians across space and time are a “threat to Israeli daily life” in a national mythology in which they should not exist. This is intrinsic to the political order of Israel and is the thread that unifies the diversity of Palestinian experience.

Getting the problem right also requires an honest collective reckoning regarding the role of the PA in perpetuating the colonial status quo, and as a key obstacle to alternative outcomes. As with the ANC of South Africa today, the PA is drawing on its anti-colonial origins as the basis of its credibility. This has become a well-worn myth that must be viewed against its actual legacy in relation to Palestinian aims for emancipation. The claim that the PA is indispensable to a Palestinian future goes against the evidence of its complicity in the colonial structure, its hierarchical and elitist aims that are divorced from the demands of ordinary life, and its active role in crushing popular resistance. We prop up the legend at the expense of our political futures.

Indeed, Palestinians do not need leaders who court the perpetrator. What is needed is a political program with a social vision of human emancipation at its core. This political program will be realized through the efforts of everyday heroes rather than through the political elite, and partnered with popular initiatives across the globe. These efforts will first reclaim Palestinian emancipation instead of being buffered from this aim by a colonial model of indirect rule.

While there are no clear steps in an anti-colonial struggle, there are concrete directions Palestinians must take that encourage a new political vision. These involve a collective and strategic recalibration of political action that is focused on Zionism (not occupation), anti-colonization (not statehood), and emancipation (not a bankrupt peace).

Palestinians must pool their resources with other indigenous-settler struggles and heed the warning signs of a similar “final status.” Any alternative path requires a radical re-imagining of what is thinkable and unthinkable, beyond what has been circumscribed. No one can give us our preferred future

Amal Ahmad: Strategies, Not Solutions 

The Palestinian people will commemorate the Nakba under dire and worsening conditions. If there is one thing to be learned from the past 70 years, it is the vital importance of understanding the Israeli state’s objectives and strategies so as to better formulate and execute a successful forward-looking resistance strategy. However, it is not evident that this point is fully appreciated in the Palestinian polity.

Despite clear signs that no sovereign Palestinian state is forthcoming, important questions need to be debated more vigorously by Palestinians within and outside the occupied territories, including: What benefit does Israel derive from its “no-state solution” strategy? What are Israel’s national strategic objectives? How does an ongoing occupation fulfill, and not hinder, those national strategic objectives? Does Israel view the Palestinian “problem” separately by geographic region, or are all Palestinians part of the same threat?

The perils of neglecting to assess Israel’s strategic interests correctly, and of instead mistaking Palestinian hopes and aspirations for answers, can be seen in the spectacular failure of the Oslo “peace process.” Though the historic evidence all pointed to the lack of any Israeli interest in a sovereign Palestinian state, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)/Palestinian Authority (PA), desperate for a positive outcome and aided by the international community, invested 20 years into a grand delusion that set Palestinians back in terms of unity, leadership, and bargaining power. Poor assessments are particularly calamitous for Palestinians given their extremely adverse initial conditions and the presence of path dependency: Fragmentation and loss of bargaining power begets more of itself, resulting in a trap that is increasingly difficult to overcome.

Conversations about strategies instead of solutions are likely to bear more fruitCLICK TO TWEETTherefore, moving forward, conversations about strategies instead of solutions are likely to bear more fruit, with perhaps the most important topic the merits of fragmented versus unified strategizing. Again, the appropriate point of departure here is not Palestinians’ hopes and wishes but rather an understanding of how Israel sees its strategic interests. For example, understanding that Israel views all Palestinians (in the occupied territories, in Israel, and in the diaspora) as part of the same threat to its interests makes it even more imperative that Palestinians everywhere should, through intergroup dialogue, highlight what it is that binds them together – such as the fact that they all face facets of oppression due to Israel’s maintenance of differential rights for Jewish and non-Jewish people in the area under its control.

Palestinians must use such commonality as a platform for formulating a vision that is more likely to succeed politically than its predecessors. Such structured and strategic thinking is not a surefire way to any “victory,” given the extremely adverse external environment, but it provides some hope of getting out of the trap that Palestinians everywhere find themselves in today.

Haidar Eid: Rights for All Palestinians

Proposing a forward-looking vision for the Palestinian cause comes at a significant and dangerous time. The US – the “mediator of the peace process” – has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel, the US State Department no longer considers the West Bank an occupied territory, the refugee question is viewed solely from a humanitarian perspective, and the siege on Gaza has become a normalized matter of fact, even among Palestinians.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia’s 2017 report named Israel an apartheid state founded on the division of the Palestinian people into four segments: refugees, residents of lands occupied in 1967, residents of lands occupied in 1948, and residents of Jerusalem. A just solution to the Palestinian question must therefore address all four population segments as one Palestinian people.

A just solution to the Palestinian question must address all population segments as one Palestinian peopleCLICK TO TWEETWhile the PLO leadership has put forward a so-called Palestinian national project, it has failed to generate a democratic plan for liberation that accounts for all Palestinians. The national project is structurally self-contradictory in its call for the establishment of a state on 22% of historic Palestine while demanding the return of refugees to a state that defines itself as not the state of its citizens. The structural shortcoming also lies in the platform of the ruling elite, which fails to mention the third component of the Palestinian people: Palestinians living on the lands occupied in 1948. This failure of the Palestinian national project is essentially rooted in its reduction of the Zionist project to a military occupation of one part of historic Palestine, inhabited by only one-third of the Palestinian people.

It is time to propose alternative visions for liberation that go beyond partial and cosmetic solutions such as the two-state solution, or any solution that fails to factor in the implementation of UN Resolution 194, which guarantees the refugees’ right of return. Any solution that fails to account for the fundamental rights of all segments of the Palestinian people would recreate an Oslo Accords-like normalization process and fail to bring about a just peace.

The demands upheld by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS), the largest coalition of Palestinian civil society actors, are significant in that they address the rights of all Palestinians – of 1967 Palestinians to liberation from military occupation, of the right of refugees to return and to compensation, and of the right of 1948 Palestinians to equality and unprejudiced treatment.

That the Palestinian national movement has turned a blind eye to the nature of the settler colonialism perpetrated by the state of Israel and reduced the Palestinian struggle to a movement aimed at liberating the territories occupied in 1967 has undoubtedly contributed to the Palestinian people’s current existential problem. The BDS movement’s efforts to raise awareness, the work of refugee committees, the activities of human rights activists in 1948-occupied territories, and Gaza’s Great March of Return are strong indicators of the need to put forward an alternative platform that combines the different struggles of the Palestinian people.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on 70 Years of Nakba: Where Can Palestinians Go from Here?


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