Archive | February 11th, 2020

Shot by Nazi army for planting trees

Shot by Israel for planting trees

I know the cost of protesting against Israel and fear more Palestinians will die as a result of Trump’s plan.

by: Majed Abusalama

Majed is rushed away by friends after being shot in the leg by an Israeli soldier [Yaser Murtaja/Al Jazeera]
Majed is rushed away by friends after being shot in the leg by an Israeli soldier [Yaser Murtaja/Al Jazeera]

MORE ON GAZA

Trump’s “deal of the century” for Israel and Palestine is an absolute farce that has left me imagining a third Intifada, more curfews, military assaults and detentions. I can feel the sadness of my grandparents, who were uprooted from their home during the Nakba in 1948, and the disappointment of my parents who grew up as part of the revolutionary generation in Jabalia refugee camp during Israel’s occupation of the remaining 22 percent of our lands.

Palestinians will – and must – resist and fight back and there will be more loss of life and more of what we witnessed every Friday at Gaza’s Great March of Return protests.

I know only too well the response to even peaceful protest. The Israeli occupation’s brutal repression of any kind of resistance is a reality I grew up with.

Six years ago, on January 17, 2014, I went to plant olive trees as part of a peaceful protest against the imprisonment of two million people in the ghetto that is Gaza. Instead, I had a bullet planted in my leg.

This happened at the eastern “buffer zone” where some of the Great March of Return protests took place. The buffer zone is a no-go zone that extends along the northern and eastern portion of Israel’s heavily fortified fence with Gaza, its creation meant the loss of about 30 percent of Gaza’s most fertile agricultural land.

During the second Intifada (2000-2005), scores of citrus and olive trees had been bulldozed and uprooted from the landscape of Gaza to make way for this buffer zone, in the process targetting farmers who simply wanted to cultivate their land.

For Palestinians in Gaza, the vulnerability and precariousness of life are starkly apparent on a daily basis. Living in constant fear has left the inhabitants scarred by multi-generational layers of trauma. Losing our natural resources because of the conflict has led only to more hardship as we can no longer farm our land.

This is why I and the protest group I co-founded in 2013, the Intifada Youth Coalition, decided to stage a symbolic but peaceful protest by the fence surrounding the buffer zone – by planting new olive trees.

The Intifada Youth Coalition is made up of young people from various refugee camps, grassroots groups and parties. We would get together to hold demonstrations at the buffer zone every other Friday and sailed alongside others to protest against the naval blockades on our coastline as a Palestinian-led flotilla.

The day I was shot

After a long week of preparing to plant the trees, the day arrived.

I had sent out a notification about our protest, outlining our peaceful intentions, to embassies, consulates, press and human rights organisations in the Palestinian territories, Brussels, Geneva and New York, hoping that they would relay our vision and message to the world. We also hoped the publicity would encourage restraint by soldiers guarding the no-go zone. We were, after all, exercising our right to protest under international and human rights law; we just wanted to plant some trees.

It was a sunny Friday and the sky was blue, albeit filled with drones. My mother, Halima, woke me up and called me to breakfast with my family. She prayed that this breakfast would not be my last. My father, Ismail, who was a freedom fighter in his youth, was unusually silent. He has always been good at suppressing his feelings but I could tell he was scared for me. They could not stop me from going, however, so they opted to show trust and support for the statement my friends and I wanted to make. After all, my parents themselves spent their youth protesting in Gaza. Both led non-violent demonstrations in the Jabalia and other refugee camps, where I grew up, during the first Intifada (1987-1991).

When I reached the fence that morning, I could see, in the distance, on the other side where my grandparents once lived and cultivated the land in peace, an Israeli soldier standing on a high point. Just as I finished planting an olive tree, we were surrounded by tear gas and the soldier shot directly at me. I could barely breathe or see and I stayed down to try to keep out of range of the bullets landing close by. A bullet grazed my hand. There were a few seconds of silence when I tried to run, and that was when another seared through my leg.

My friends heard my screams and the sound of the bullet and started calling: “Majed, Majed. People, Majed is shot, Majed is shot!” I wonder now if the soldier heard those cries and how he felt if he did.

I examined my leg and could see the bullet had passed straight through, creating a hole big enough for me to put my finger in it and see the finger from the other side. I could only crawl slowly. I ripped my jeans and tried to tie the material above the entrance wound to stop the blood until my friends could reach me and carry me quickly through the cloud of tear gas and rain of bullets.

My friends struggled to lift me, so more arrived to help until we reached a safe distance. I knew there was a risk that I might not be able to walk again, but the thought that weighed heaviest on my mind in those moments was how my mother would react. I hoped that my parents were not watching the local news and that they would not find out what had happened to me until after I knew the extent of my injury.

But, of course, the news reached them almost immediately.

Yaser Murtaja, a photojournalist and a good friend who was tragically killed by Israeli security forces during protests a year later, was with us. He was carrying his camera, his only weapon, and managed to document every second. He took the photo that accompanies this article.

My friends managed to take me in a tuk-tuk to a car, which transported me to the hospital. It was a 10-minute journey but it felt so much longer. The pain was excruciating and I kept passing out.

At the hospital, I could see my father’s relief when the doctors told him I should be able to walk again in three months. I spoke to my mother, who had fainted when she heard that I had been shot, on the phone. “It means you are alive and will be home soon,” she told me.

‘What would you say to the soldier who shot you?’

The bullet wound has left me with lifelong complications. A small piece remains embedded in my badly scarred leg and causes muscle spasms. Last year, I was unable to walk for several days until doctors in Germany, where I am now based, decided to carry out two operations on my knee. I was in hospital for seven days, made easier by the care of my friends in Berlin.

These days I spend my time between Zurich and Berlin, working with refugees and organisations including the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“What would you say to the soldier who shot you?” I have asked several friends, to get them to imagine being in my shoes. This question has stayed with me and I have often felt the urge to communicate with this anonymous soldier, to show how his actions affected me.

I want to ask: “How can it be so easy to pull a trigger aiming at another human body? Is it like playing a video game? Why did you shoot me when I was clearly a civilian who posed no danger? What does it take to dehumanise me – and therefore yourself – in order to do so?”

I want to know: Does that soldier think of my parents? Has he ever wanted to know who I am and whether I lived or died? Was he shooting to kill?

The moment a bullet pierced my leg was one of the most traumatising of my life. I know I am “lucky” to have survived, given the number of protesters who have lost their lives in Gaza. But emotions still overwhelm me whenever I recall that moment.

Along with two Israeli fellow members of the BDS movement, Majed Abusalama is currently on trial in Germany on charges of trespass over the disruption of a talk by Aliza Lavie, an Israeli member of the Knesset, at Humboldt University in 2017.

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Five Criteria for Selecting the Worst Old White Man to Lead Us

The Super Bowl presidency.

by: Robert Lipsyte

Alpha male that he is, the Head Coach has absolute control over the brutes. (Photo: CJ Gunther/EPA/REX/Shuttershock)

Alpha male that he is, the Head Coach has absolute control over the brutes. (Photo: CJ Gunther/EPA/REX/Shuttershock)

Attorney General William Barr’s campaign to expand the powers of the presidency to unprecedented imperial levels has been misinterpreted as an attempt to raise Donald Trump to the level of his strongman heroes like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, and Jair Bolsonaro. Fake news! It’s really been an attempt to boost him into the same league with the strongman heroes of far too many American men: the head coaches of our major sports, especially football. As a gang of anti-democratic, anti-intellectual, authoritarian bullies dedicated to winning at any cost, they have paved the way for Donald Trump and his “base.”

If the American political class were interested in electing a decent president, perhaps even one with moral courage, personal dignity, and an inspirational vision, they would be concentrating on the character, philosophy, and background of the candidates, right? But since those in the political arena, at least brand Republican, are mostly concerned with donor dollars, expanding that base, and the charisma of their macho leader, many of them are all too ready to follow a big, loud, glad-handing figure eager to lead us deep into crises that he—and yes, it is a “he”—will claim only he can bulldoze through.

We’re talking, in other words, about the presidential version of a football head coach, as sports leads the way into… maybe not just the end zone, but The End. Examples of such men are abundantly in the news right now, since the college football season has ended and pro football has reached its orgiastic holy day, the Super Bowl, this Sunday. College and pro teams are scrambling to hire new head coaches, predominantly white men, of course, who score high (as does Donald Trump) in the five main criteria for the job.

1. The Head Coach must offer purpose and meaning to people who feel powerless by offering them membership in something bigger than themselves: the tribe of a team that will be “great again.” To wear the orange or crimson or purple, to be part of a crowd screaming for the Tigers or Raiders or Redskins (or The Donald), is to dream that tomorrow will be so much better because the new head coach, manager, skipper, top dog can deliver. The aura that he brings is invariably short-lived, but it can linger as hope, before it dwindles into immortal nostalgia.

In football, there have been plenty of incredible shrinking coaches. In politics, think John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama, all of whom still make their fans breathless with possibilities unrealized.

The prototype head coach was undoubtedly the Norwegian-born Knute Rockne, who actually delivered on many of the possibilities he promised. A showman as well as a football savant—he popularized the forward pass in the 1920s—he leveraged publicity from winning games to turn Notre Dame into a nationally recognized university with a cultish following. In the process, he became rich and famous before dying in 1931, at age 43, in a plane crash en route to Hollywood to appear as himself in a movie.

Among the myths he invented along the way was winning “one for the Gipper“—George Gipp, one of his young stars who died of pneumonia in his senior year in college. In 1940, actor Ronald Reagan played the Gipper onscreen, creating the basis for his own future head-coach presidency.

The most iconic National Football League head coach was Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers, who came to fame in the early days of the pro football boom. He’s best known for the quote, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” Lombardi was too smart to have said that and too smart to deny it once it burnished his legend. Too bad, since that sentiment is so often the defense of bad behavior in political life—from future president Lyndon Johnson stealing his first election to the Senate to President Trump betraying the Kurds, among other crimes and misdemeanors.

What Lombardi probably said was something more like: “Winning isn’t everything. Trying to win is.” That’s the kind of self-help motto that fits a classic head coach’s larger message to both his players and the fans: Follow me. Do what I say. Only I know the way.

2. The Head Coach, college variety, must sell “the program,” the preferred term for the corporate-style athletic department of this era. He does it with a shape-shifting charm that can seduce both small-town working-class families and global financial wolves. In that way, the head coach should remind us of presidential hopefuls who can work both everyday Midwestern diners and waterfront East Hampton fund-raisers for the corporate elite.

In a living room with a talented teenager, he can convincingly promise mom and dad that he will act in loco parentis, not only by keeping junior outof trouble, but by giving him enough playing time to assure him either a pro career or a Wall Street job via successful alumni. At the least, he will make a man out of him.

In a banquet hall filled with those alumni with deep pockets, all the booster whales, he can convincingly promise winning seasons that will include them personally. As an irresistible perk in return for donations to the program (and perhaps a few no-show off-season jobs for athletes), there’s always the chance for donors to mingle in the locker room and to breakfast with the coach, to engage in team scuttlebutt and manly jock talk, not to mention all those photo ops. It’s like lunch at Mar-a-Lago with the president and some cabinet members. (Think: assistant coaches.)

That kind of salesmanship is critical because the salaries of head coaches are obscenely high and have to be justified. In most states, the head football coaches at public universities are also the highest-paid public employees. At the top of the heap right now is Clemson University’s hard-driving, God-promoting coach Dabo Swinney who has promised, for a mere $93 million over the next decade, to keep the Tigers great.

Indeed, his team did win the national championship the year before, but recently lost this year’s title game to Louisiana State University‘s Ed Orgeron whose salary is only 30th on the college coach list (at a paltry $4 million annually). President Trump earns one-tenth of that as president, a salary that he gives away. Little wonder that he needs to bolster his income with emoluments galore and constantly pump up his presidential powers. How else will he keep up with the jock elite?

3. The Head Coach is dedicated to winning by any means necessary. Cutting corners, bad behavior, even cheating is proof that he has true fire in his belly.

While his wealth, power, prestige, and the frequency of recruiting scandals have made the college football head coach a frequent target of media indignation, the leaders of other top sports are probably as culpable when it comes to cheating. As a group, they make a good case for the dark side of all our games as breeding grounds for Trumpism.

And that phenomenon, in turn, seems to have lowered our outrage about everything else in our American lives, including sports. Think of it as a kind of boomerang effect. Cheating has been normalized and, most of the time, we just shrug. Take, for example, the current Houston Astro sign-stealing scandal that helped win that team a World Series in 2017. Despite a few coach departures, compared to other scandals in major league baseball’s Hall of Shame, including the 1919 Black Sox attempt to fix an earlier world series, spitball use, and steroids, it’s made remarkably small waves.

Thanks to Donald Trump’s record of dishonor, it’s been hard to crank up anger over cheating to win at mere games. No wonder the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick, despite the many accusations of wrongdoing lodged against him, is considered the greatest pro coach of all time based on his record six Super Bowl victories (in nine appearances) and a lifetime 304-137 record.

In short, every year it seems all the more as if the end zone justifies the means.

4. Alpha male that he is, the Head Coach has absolute control over the brutes. After all, in the locker-room and on the sidelines of the game, he’s the commander-in-chief, the beast-master of the raw young power he sends into battle.

For so many American men, there seems to be something thrilling in the head coach’s utter, unquestioned authority over the bodies and fates of the young players on his team. The fantasy of such dominance—for most, available only in video games—affects not only the fans, but the coaches themselves. They tend to believe in the righteousness of their power over those strong young men pledged to help them win, no matter what kind of bad actors they may prove to be in their lives out of uniform. (Similarly, by the way, our head coach of a president puts his faith in his control over his administration team, his legal team in those impeachment hearings, and those roaring fans at his rallies.)

Coaches, in fact, tend to love the dark wildness of bad boys, especially if they think that they alone have command over their pit-bull jocks. They love their bad boys so much that they’ll turn a blind eye when they act up and bail them out when they get in trouble for anything from being a bully in the hallway to assault with a deadly weapon or rape.

Among the most famous and successful of such beast-master coaches was Tom Osborne who headed the University of Nebraska’s football team for 25 years, overseeing stars like the psychopathic Lawrence Phillips who should have been in jail rather than lionized as a college hero.

Twenty-five years ago, at an awards banquet at which he was honored, I asked Osborne how he could justify any of this. He answered coldly and cynically, “Would you rather they were on my team or loose in your neighborhood?”

Later, as a three-term congressman, he received a lifetime rating of 83 from the American Conservative Union. Coming to feel that politics offered him so much less, however, he returned to Nebraska’s football team, his eternal place of power and glory.

Osborne’s example, hardly unique, offers insight into President Trump’s intervention in the case of disgraced Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, an out-of-control killer in Afghanistan where fellow Seals accused him of murdering civilians, among other crimes.

As Trump’s version of Lawrence Phillips, Chief Petty Officer Gallagher gave the president that head-coach patina of macho supremacy. He could handle the tough guys! Trump even invited him to Mar-a-Lago.

5. The Head Coach who can check off those first four criteria will be qualified to check off this one, too: ascension to the top ranks of million-dollar-plus power leaders. He will then be perceived as a Strong Man, sport’s version of the top dogs of global politics.

So how does the president match up with, say, three of the most famous and revered head coaches of his own lifetime?

There was Bear Bryant of the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide, known for his harsh discipline and almost religious passion for “his” school. “If you want to walk the heavenly streets of gold, you gotta know the password, ‘Roll, Tide, Roll.'”

There was Woody Hayes of Ohio State who attacked an opposing player during a game and was fired the next day. A military history professor as well as a coach, he’s been quoted as saying that the soldiers involved in the My Lai massacre, a 1968 American slaughter of more than 500 Vietnamese civilians, killed men who deserved to die “and I wouldn’t be so sure those women were innocent. The children are obviously innocent — if they are less than five.”

Finally, there was Joe Paterno of Penn State, a much beloved philanthropist and father figure known as JoePa, whose legend was tarnished by the proven pederasty of one of his assistant coaches. Paterno had known enough, early enough, to stop the man and prevent further abuse. He was fired soon after his 409th victory, a record, and died several months later. His statue on campus was carted away.

And the current crop of top coaches has yet to prove itself any better. This is important because head coaches clearly serve as father figures, cult leaders, models of masculinity—perhaps particularly to the disaffected millions who see in Trump the strong man who can guide them, speak for them, protect them from everything that seems to be going wrong in their lives.

For those of us who don’t quite view him that way, perhaps the only saving grace of the head-coach connection at this moment of the 54th Super Bowl is how easily college and pro teams are willing to dump their coaches when they don’t fulfill expectations.

Alas, it doesn’t seem to work that way with presidential head coaches. So far.

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‘Absolutely Horrific’: Trump Preparing to Roll Back Restrictions on US Military Use of Landmines

“Trump’s policy rollback is a step toward the past, like many of his other decisions, and sends exactly the wrong message to those working to rid the world of the scourge of landmines.”

by: Jake Johnson,

Landmine survivor Mohammed Gulzar hold sa placard during a peace march in New Delhi on February 15, 2010. (Photo: Manpreet Romana/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is reportedly preparing to roll back established constraints on the U.S. military’s ability to use landmines overseas despite the weapons’ long history of killing and maiming civilians around the world.

CNN, citing multiple anonymous Defense Department officials, reported Thursday that the Trump administration is expected to loosen landmine restrictions in the coming days by rescinding a 2014 order by former President Barack Obama that limited U.S. landmine use to the Korean Peninsula.

“Trump’s landmine move would be in line with all of his other moves to undercut arms control and disarmament in a world much in need of them.”
—Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams

“President Obama’s policy brought the U.S. policy closely in line with the obligations of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty,” Jody Williams, an anti-war activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work to ban landmines, told Common Dreams in an email. “Mr. Trump’s policy rollback is a step toward the past, like many of his other decisions, and sends exactly the wrong message to those working to rid the world of the scourge of landmines.”

More than 160 nations have ratified the Mine Ban Treaty, also known as the Ottawa Treaty, which prohibits the stockpiling, production, and use of landmines. The United States is one of just 32 U.N. member states that have not ratified the treaty.

“The beauty of the treaty is that it has established a new norm and even countries outside the treaty felt the stigma related to landmines and changed policies, even if they didn’t join the treaty,” said Williams. “Mr. Trump’s landmine move would be in line with all of his other moves to undercut arms control and disarmament in a world much in need of them. The landmine ban movement will do what it has always done with governments that still remain outside the Mine Ban Treaty—push back and continue the push to universalize the treaty—including the U.S.”

The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, a non-governmental research initiative, estimated in a November 2019 report that 130,000 people were killed by landmines between 1999 and 2018. The majority of the deaths were civilians.

According to CNN, the Trump administration’s new policy will place the authority to use landmines in the hands of “commanders of the U.S. military’s combatant commands, usually a four-star general or admiral, such as the commanders of U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Central Command which oversee operations on the African continent and the Middle East respectively.”

“So horrific that after decades of international efforts to rid the world of landmines, Trump is about to ‘make landmines great again’ by loosening restrictions on their use.”
—Medea Benjamin, CodePink

“The new policy… is expected to permit the operational use of landmines only if they have a 30-day self-destruction or self-deactivation feature,” CNN reported. “The new policy would also allow for the development, production, and procurement of landmines only if they have these features.”

The decision to rescind the Obama administration’s 2014 policy was recommended following a Pentagon review launched in 2017 by then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

“So horrific that after decades of international efforts to rid the world of landmines, Trump is about to ‘make landmines great again’ by loosening restrictions on their use,” Medea Benjamin, co-founder of anti-war group CodePink, told Common Dreams.

Advocacy group Public Citizen echoed that reaction on Twitter.

“Is this what Make America Great Again means? Who in their right mind can justify this?” the group asked. “Landmines have a long history of killing and wounding civilians and are banned by more than 160 countries. Absolutely horrific.”

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‘Nobody Can Build Like I Can Build. Nobody’: Watch Winds Knock Down Trump Border Wall

“What a perfect visual metaphor for a presidency fuelled by hot air.”

by: Eoin Higgins,

A construction crew works on a fallen section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall as seen from Mexicali, Baja California state, Mexico, on January 29, 2020.

A construction crew works on a fallen section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall as seen from Mexicali, Baja California state, Mexico, on January 29, 2020. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Mother Nature: 1. 

President Donald Trump: 0.

That’s the scorecard from the southern border after gusts of wind of up to 37 miles per hour took down a section of the president’s much-vaunted border wall in Calexio, California. 

The steel wall sections that toppled under the winds, which fell in the Beaufort Scale as “moderate gale” force gusts, were held in place by concrete anchors that had not fully set, according to reporting from the Guardian.

Watch the winds blow the wall over:

News of the collapse drew mockery from opponents of the president’s immigration policy. 

“Point and laugh everyone, just point and laugh,” immigration activist Juan Escalante said on Twitter.

Billionaire Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer quoted Trump’s own words in a tweet linking to a news story about the wall’s collapse.

The news even drew amused reaction from across the Atlantic.

“What a perfect visual metaphor for a presidency fuelled by hot air,” said Scottish National Party politician John Nicolson.

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Call It an ‘Apartheid Plan’—Trump’s New Neo-Colonial Proposal Cements Palestinian Subjugation

There is no commitment to a Palestinian state.

by: Mitchell Plitnick

 Two Israeli Soldiers guard a checkpoint in Hebron dividing zones H1 from H2 with Palestinian children standing at the other side of the fence. (Photo: June 2016, via Shutterstock)

Two Israeli Soldiers guard a checkpoint in Hebron dividing zones H1 from H2 with Palestinian children standing at the other side of the fence. (Photo: June 2016, via Shutterstock)

On Tuesday, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beaming beside him, President Donald Trump finally unveiled his “Deal of the Century” for Israel and the Palestinians.

This was more than an attempt to draw attention away from Trump’s impeachment and Netanyahu’s indictment, which was announced earlier the same day. While the announcement of the deal was intended to serve that purpose, its impact is going to be much greater.

This plan is constructed to ensure Palestinian rejection, and therefore many of its stipulations will never be implemented. But the plan’s real goals are to establish a new diplomatic frame of reference to replace the obsolete Oslo Accords; to establish Israeli annexation of settlements as an Israeli prerogative; and to maintain the U.S.’s role as sole arbiter of the conflict, even if it diminishes its own role in the region. It is very likely to succeed at these goals, and the happy acceptance of the “Deal of the Century” not only by Netanyahu but also by his primary political opponent, former Chief of the General Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces Benny Gantz, is going to make it very difficult politically for any future U.S. president to completely reverse what Trump has accomplished.

Dropping the pretense of balance

Trump’s plan features many points that are not entirely unfamiliar but reflect heightened indifference to Palestinian concerns. For example, the plan addresses the idea of a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem by providing that Jerusalem will remain the undivided capital of Israel, while the capital of Palestine “should be in the section of East Jerusalem located in all areas east and north of the existing security barrier, including Kafr Aqab, the eastern part of Shuafat and Abu Dis, and could be named Al Quds or another name as determined by the State of Palestine.”

The Palestinian “state” would be demilitarized, and at the mercy of a country that occupied it brutally for over half a century.

The idea of a Palestinian capital in Abu Dis and other small towns on the outskirts of Jerusalem has been in the air for decades. Palestinians roundly rejected this notion, and they reiterated that rejection when this aspect of the plan leaked in 2018. Israel, of course, finds this more than workable. These villages, part of Greater Jerusalem, do not carry the significance of the city itself.

In a more subtle move, the Trump plan contains a hidden gift to the radical Israeli right. Although it states that the status quo in Jerusalem—whereby Jews may visit the Temple Mount during specific times, but may not pray there — is to be maintained, it also declares that people of all faiths be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, something which is a fierce desire of certain radical Jews (although many Jewish religious authorities say it is forbidden under Jewish law for Jews to even enter the Temple Mount), but has been forbidden since Israel captured the area in 1967.

Another ambition of parts of the Israeli right has been the transfer of the Arab-Israeli towns of the so-called Triangle to Palestinian rule, thus reducing the number of Palestinian citizens of Israel. This goal is accentuated now that the largely Palestinian Joint List coalition has grown more important in Israeli politics. Trump’s plan would transfer the Triangle towns to Palestinian rule in a future Palestinian state. The transfer would be “subject to agreement of the parties,”—i.e. the Israeli and nascent Palestinian governments—but, apparently, not the agreement of the Israeli citizens who live there. Plans like this one have been proposed in the past, chiefly by the notoriously anti-Palestinian former minister, Avigdor Liberman, and have been sharply rejected by Palestinians in and outside of Israel.

Every final status issue is decided in the Trump plan in Israel’s favor. Palestinian refugees, much like prior U.S. ideas, would not be allowed back to Israel. They would receive compensation from some amorphous global fund unlikely to yield very much, and would be pressed to remain in camps for years while their fates are sorted out between the host countries (who largely don’t want them there), a new Palestinian state (which, according to this plan, couldn’t possibly accommodate the vast majority of them) and other Muslim countries which the U.S. would try to pressure into accepting this scheme.

The main feature of the Trump plan is that it gives its blessing to permanent Israeli control of the Jordan Valley and of all the settlements in the West Bank. Indeed, a feature that Trump repeatedly harped on is that his plan would not force a single “Jew or Arab” from their current homes. There is no mention of citizenship for Palestinians of the Jordan Valley, so presumably their status would remain unchanged, particularly in light of the fact that the plan does envision that “existing agricultural enterprises owned or controlled by Palestinians shall continue without interruption or discrimination.”

image1.jpeg

The absorption of the settlements will turn the small amount of territory left to the Palestinians into a scattered assemblage of islands adrift in a sea of Israeli territory, barely connected by a thin network of bridges and tunnels. The Palestinian “state” would be demilitarized, and at the mercy of a country that occupied it brutally for over half a century. Israel would have complete security control over all the territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while Palestinians would be equipped only enough to police their crumbs of territory.Photo:White House

No Promise of a State

During his speech, Trump referred to this plan as a two-state solution. But there is no commitment to a Palestinian state. Instead, the plan lays out a series of conditions the Palestinians must meet. Moreover, Israel and the United States would decide whether these conditions have been met. That alone would have been enough for the Palestinians to reject the plan. The insult of having the state which has dispossessed the Palestinian people and held millions of Palestinians without rights for more than five decades deciding if they “deserve” a state is an obvious non-starter.

But the conditions are clearly constructed to fail. For example, the demands include establishing a Palestinian constitution (a standard Israel itself would not be able to meet, as it has none) or some similar mechanism to guarantee rights for citizens of Palestine. This is supposed to happen in the four-year period that is set aside for negotiations, during which Israel would freeze all settlement expansion, according to the deal. That is an untenable time frame, given the ongoing occupation and the fracturing of Palestinian politics.

The Trump plan also demands that Palestinians establish democratic structures including an independent judiciary as well as “transparent, independent, and credit-worthy financial institutions capable of engaging in international market transactions in the same manner as financial institutions of western democracies” that meet International Monetary Fund standards. Again, this would be impossible under occupation, where the Palestinian economy depends on international aid, which is inconsistent with building a self-sustaining and stable economy.

The plan demands that Palestinians halt “incitement” in textbooks, an accusation which has been shown to be grossly inflated by independent research. A report in September by a group affiliated with the Israeli settlement movement unsurprisingly came to a different conclusion, keeping the controversy alive.

The Trump plan further demands that Palestinians cease “compensat[ing] or incentiviz[ing] criminal or violent activity.” This refers to a fund that compensates Palestinian families who lose members to Israeli violence or arrests, some of whom have committed potentially or actually lethal acts, but many of whom have not.

Finally, there is an open-ended demand that Palestinians comply with “all the other terms and conditions” of the plan.

Palestinian rejection of these conditions is a certainty, but Israeli acceptance with broad public support will mean the Trump plan is likely to be a diplomatic reality for years to come.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Middle East, USA, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Call It an ‘Apartheid Plan’—Trump’s New Neo-Colonial Proposal Cements Palestinian Subjugation

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