Archive | Palestine Affairs

The Legitimacy of Family Compensation for Palestinians Killed, Injured, and Imprisoned

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The Legitimacy of Family Compensation for Palestinians Killed, Injured, and Imprisoned

By Kathryn Shihadah | If Americans Knew 

JTA reports on what would seem to be a no-brainer: a bill requiring that aid money to the PA be withheld if the PA continues its Martyrs Fund or “pay to slay” policy. Of course nothing is quite as simple as meets the eye.

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Top Senate Democrats said they were closer to signing on to a Republican-backed bill that would slash aid to the Palestinian Authority if it did not stop subsidizing Palestinians jailed for attacks on Israel. [Ed. note: Info on bill is here]

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer told attendants at the Orthodox Union’s annual Washington action day on Thursday that he would support the Taylor Force Act or legislation similar to it if the Trump administration is unable to get the Palestinian Authority to stop the payments. [Ed. note: Senator Schumer is a major advocate for Israel; see video.]

“Abbas has to stop making payments to terrorists and their families, and all elected officials should call them out,”  Schumer said.

Also edging closer to endorsing the legislation was Senator Ben Cardin, top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The United States now gives the Palestinian Authority about $500 million in annual aid. The bill, which was introduced by Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham, would only leave the portion for security assistance — about $60 million in 2013. Cruz also attended the Orthodox Union event.

“We’re going to find a way to pass the Taylor Force Act,” Senator Cardin said, suggesting that he wanted changes to the bill before he could fully endorse it. The measure was named for the American killed in a 2016 stabbing attack in Tel Aviv.

The Taylor Force Bill  “prohibits certain assistance…from being made available for the West Bank and Gaza” unless the State Department is satisfied that the PA is working to end violence against US and Israeli citizens, is publicly condemning such acts and cooperating in investigating them, and has “terminated payments for acts of terrorism.” (Here is a list of cosponsors of the bill.)

If the bill becomes law, the US may withhold 88% of aid to the Palestinian Authority until it complies.

Economics of occupation

Israel has also withheld money from the PA in the past—tax revenues that are collected by Israel but that actually belong to the Palestinians, about $125 million per month. For example, funds were held back by Israel in November 2012 as a punishment for the UN vote which brought de facto recognition of Palestine’s statehood, and again in January 2015 as a penalty for Palestine’s application to join the ICC.

The transfers are an important revenue source for the cash-strapped Palestinian government.

Palestinians already suffer economically from the hardship of a brutal fifty-year occupation. According to a study by the UN Conference on Trade and Development, agriculture and industry have suffered huge losses. One reason is the inaccessibility of “Area C,” which accounts for over 60% of West Bank land (66% of its grazing land) and is off-limits to Palestinians. The report estimates that “the occupation of Area C costs the Palestinian economy the equivalent of 35% OF GDP.”

Gaza is also barred from half of its farmland and 85% of its fishery resources. Over 2.5 million productive trees have been vandalized or uprooted since 1967; 82% of Palestinian groundwater has been confiscated by Israel, and must be bought back by Palestinians at inflated prices.

Even tourism has been “annexed”: Israel has “rebranded” popular West Bank sites as being in the “Holy Land,” obscuring their Palestinian identity. Israeli tour guides control most visitors, making it easy to take a day trip to Bethlehem, but then stay in an Israeli hotel.

Adding to its many economic advantages, Israel garners $10 million a day in aid from the United States, compared to the $500 million per year that Palestine receives now and is in danger of losing.

Israel uses its huge aid budget to finance the occupation and fight wars with Gaza—both of which are illegal according to international law and condemned by almost every country in the world. Its assaults on women and children, as well as noncombatant men, is well documented. For example, the Middle East Children’s Alliance reported that “1,518 Palestinian children were killed by Israel’s occupation forces from the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000 up to April 2013… meanwhile the number of children injured by the Israelis since the start of the Second Intifada against Israel’s occupation has now reached 6,000. That number means that one Palestinian child was killed by Israel every 3 days for almost 13 years.”

However, Israeli leaders argue that the “hate-filled climate” against Israel was created not by occupation and war, but by “fiery speeches” by Palestinian leaders and “venomous” Facebook posts.

Compensation in the event of death or injury

Payment to the family of a service member killed or injured in the line of duty is a common practice. In America, for example, families receive a one-time payment to help surviving members deal with financial hardships connected with the loss of their loved one. This “death gratuity” is currently $100K.

Israel too has a compensation program for families of IDF soldiers killed or injured in the line of duty.

Because the Palestinian Territories are forbidden from having armed forces, their resistance against the occupation is carried out by civilians. In the event of their death, injury, or imprisonment their families face the same type of struggles that any service member’s family would face, and the Palestinian Authority provides for them through the so-called “Martyrs Fund.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to withhold revenue from the PA until the fund is dismantled, as he considers these payments “an incentive for murder.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, leading sponsor of the Taylor Force bill, fails to make the connection between the US and Israeli compensation programs and the Palestinian Martyrs Fund, declaring that “the practice is inconsistent with American values, inconsistent with peace, and inconsistent with decency.”

Not a reward for violence

Nasser Tarayreh, whose son was killed after stabbing an Israeli girl, explains, “I don’t think anyone is willing to sacrifice his life for money. And for us as a family, all the money in the world won’t replace my son.” In fact, the money would be needed to provide shelter soon, as their home was scheduled for demolition—an Israeli practice in retribution against the families of attackers. Nasser will receive $350 a month from the Martyr’s Fund.

Many “martyrs” were not killers or attackers, but were themselves killed while walking to school, participating in a peaceful demonstration, or sleeping in their beds. If they died as a result of Israel’s brutality, they bear the title of martyr.

The fund also compensates families of prisoners and detainees. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network reported that “the Israeli occupation arrested 6,440 Palestinians in 2016, including 1,332 children and 164 women,” in addition to members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and journalists.

The fund had a budget of $170 million in 2016 and makes monthly payments to about 35,000 Palestinian families. Qadora Fares, who works with the system, explains, “This is a kind of social protection for the family. The children of the prisoners and martyrs and wounded have the right to go to schools, hospitals and get food.”

Fox News reported that the Washington Post strongly condemned the support of victims’ families in the Palestinian resistance. Fox quoted the WP as saying, “The PA is running a bounty system. Payments to terrorists and their families are enshrined in Palestinian law, provided for in the PA budget, and indirectly supported by foreign aid…incentivizing the murder of civilians is barbarism…”

It should be noted that this quote is not from a WP journalist, but part of an opinion piece by Israel partisan Thane Rosenbaum. Ironically, Rosenbaum authored Payback: The Case for Revenge, a book presenting the theory that “if the law won’t set things right, which it so often fails to do, then it’s ok, indeed moral, for us to do so ourselves”—a theory with which many Palestinians would, to Rosenbaum’s dismay, agree. Rosenbaum has elsewhere implied that a child whose father works for Hamas is actually a target by association, and that therefore it is morally acceptable to kill children.

Daniel Larison of the American Conservative said in his review of Payback, “Rosenbaum’s argument is extremely similar to the justifications that terrorist groups use when they target civilians in their own attacks…It is very important to reject this logic no matter where it comes from or whose cause in a conflict it is being used to advance, because this is the logic that has been used to justify countless atrocities down through the years.”

Origin of violence

In an interview for the Institute for Palestine Studies, Palestinian psychiatrist Eyad al Sarraj explained that many Palestinians who turn to violence have themselves witnessed great violence perpetrated on their families. “During the first intifada, studies showed that 55 percent of the children had witnessed their fathers being humiliated or beaten by Israeli soldiers.

“The psychological impact of this is stunning. The father, normally the authority figure, comes to be seen as somebody who is helpless, who can’t even protect himself–let alone his children. So children became more militant, more violent… The militant ones believe that if they die as suicide fighters in the struggle for justice, they are conquering defeat and death itself.” Sarraj continued, “they wouldn’t turn their bodies into bombs if they had F-16s, Apache helicopters, tanks, or a tiny fraction of the weapons Israel gets from the United States.”

Sarraj describes violence as a manifestation of a deep-seated issue: “Suicide bombings and all these forms of violence–I’m talking as a doctor here–are only the symptoms, the reaction to this chronic and systematic process of humiliating people in effort to destroy their hope and dignity. That is the illness, and unless it is resolved and treated, there will be more and more symptoms of the pathology.”

Sarraj expressed deep opposition to Palestinian violence, but distinguished between the martyrs and their families: “As a Palestinian, as an Arab, as a Muslim, and as a human being, I feel obliged to support them. I cannot leave their children in poverty–I have to do what I can to leave them some hope and dignity.”

The face of the Fund

One story that illustrates both the tragedy that qualifies Palestinians for the Martyrs Fund and the experience that produces even more martyrs, is that of Abu Jameh. At dinnertime on July 20th 2014, Israeli planes bombed an apartment building in Gaza, killing 24 members of a family—a woman, her son, four of her daughters-in-law, and 18 of her grandchildren. One member of Hamas was also present for the meal. Abu Jameh who survived but was injured, lost his pregnant wife and six of his seven children. He reflected, “there is nothing left. It is the end for us,” and added later, “I will marry again four times, and I will have 10 sons with each wife, and they will all be in the resistance.”

Emmanuel Nahshon, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman got it wrong when he stated, “Terror has become a comfortable business for families.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights0 Comments

Largest Nazi Public Transportation Company Loses Netherlands Contract

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Largest Nazi Public Transportation Company Loses Netherlands Contract Worth 190 Million Euros Following Campaign by BDS Activists
Image result for Egged Israel Transport CARTOON

Last month, Egged Bus Systems (EBS), a subsidiary of Egged Israel Transport Cooperative Society, Israel’s largest public transportation operator, lost a bid for a decade-long contract to run public transportation in the North-Holland region of the Netherlands, which includes the country’s capital, Amsterdam. This contract was valued at 19.1 million euros a year, with a total worth of 190.1 million euros.

Egged Bus Systems lost this lucrative bid after Dutch BDS activists launched a campaign charging its Israeli parent company with facilitating grave violations of Palestinian human rights and international humanitarian law.

Specifically, Egged Cooperative operates Jewish-only buses to and between almost all of Israel’s illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land in the militarily occupied West Bank, including remote outposts and East Jerusalem.

Egged buses traveling on Israeli settlement bus routes bar access to Palestinians. They use an extensive network of roads built to seamlessly connect illegal settlements on both sides of the illegal Israeli separation Wall to cities within present-day Israel.

The company thus supports and profits from a racist, segregated bus system that actively facilitates the maintenance and expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements, which are themselves considered war crimes under international law.

A spokesperson for DocP, a coalition of Dutch BDS activists for Palestinian rights, said,

We are very happy with this result, with the fact that our regional government rejected Egged’s bid to run North-Holland’s public transportation system.

People can now step into a bus in Amsterdam without helping pay for Israeli apartheid buses that discriminate against Palestinians. Without helping normalize coming and going from Tel Aviv to illegal Jewish-only settlements built on stolen Palestinian land.

There is nothing normal about the daily oppression faced by Palestinians, and I’m heartened that our Dutch BDS campaigns are growing in popular support and showing results.

Riya Hassan, Europe’s campaigns officer for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) said:

Congratulations to all the activists, organizations and collectives in the Netherlands who successfully built on their earlier BDS campaigns to exclude from their communities a powerful Israeli transportation company that profits from segregated busing, segregated roads and segregated Israeli settlements illegally built on stolen Palestinian land.

You have helped ensure that the regional council of North-Holland adheres to its own obligations under international law by not aiding and abetting Israel’s serious violations of Palestinian rights.

Egged Cooperative has also been accused of putting its Palestinian drivers in harm’s way, and not doing enough to protect them from violent Israeli extremists. In 2014, 100 Palestinian Egged bus drivers resigned fearing attacks by Israeli settlers and after Palestinian Jerusalem-line bus driver Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni was found dead and hanging in an Egged bus.

Egged Bus Systems was one of four companies bidding for the lucrative public transportation contract in the Netherlands. The winning company Connexxion, a Dutch public transportation company, will provide buses and run public transportation in North-Holland for the next 10-years, beginning in July 2018.

Connexxion is itself owned by Veolia, a French corporate giant which was complicit in the Israeli occupation until an extensive BDS campaign cost it tenders around the world estimated to be worth over $20 billion, causing it to exit the Israeli market. Veolia and Connexxion have ended their complicity with Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights, but have yet to pay reparations to the Palestinian communities they harmed, and campaigners are still demanding that they do so.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Campaigns0 Comments

ISRAHELL IS BECOMING A FASCIST STATE

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‘ISRAEL IS BECOMING A FASCIST STATE, US CAN’T SAVE THE DAY’

Opposition leader Nazi Isaac Herzog doesn’t think the American efforts to revive the peace talks will bear fruit and warns that ‘Israel’ is slowly slipping into fascism.
CAN HE keep his grip? Labor Party and Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog speaks to the Conference of Pr

CAN HE keep his grip? Labor Party and Zionist Union head Nazi Isaac Herzog speaks to the Conference of Presidents organization in Jerusalem in May 2015.. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Opposition leader and Zionist Union chairman Issac Herzog warned on Saturday that ‘Israel’ was headed toward fascism and that its fate as a democracy was at stake.

“We are going through a process of fascistization of the Israeli politics,”  Nazi Herzog warned while speaking at a cultural event in central ‘Israel’. “Whoever is wary of the country’s fate and would like to prevent the fascistization has to support the transition into one big and moderate political bloc in order to change this trend,” he said.

“We have to change the regime in order to save the Israeli democracy from the fascistization that is threatening it,” Nazi Herzog continued.

The opposition leader explained that the current government was “threatening artists, Supreme Court judges and threatening and firing journalists.” He also noted that media outlets were being shut down and that “now the academics and the professors are also being threatened and are afraid to open their mouths.”

Nazi Herzog charged that the current government headed by the Likud party was slowly clamping down on the country’s arts and culture scene and trampling over basic democratic rights such as freedom of speech. “This is how the country is deteriorating to rock bottom,” he added.

The Zionist Union leader was also pessimistic about the country’s future alongside its neighbors. Speaking about recent US efforts to revive peace negotiations with the Palestinians, Herzog said that “there is a true concern that the American effort will fail. This means that we could be dragged into a regional conflict.”

Herzog then reiterated his own alternative solution to the conflict. “I suggest as a middle stage to establish a Palestinian state according to temporary borders, plus parts of the Area C territories, which would include Gaza that would be under the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority, without addressing the core issues.”

“This,” he continued, “would take five to ten years and in the meantime we will act [to promote] economic growth, and fight incitement to terror.”

Speaking further about his vision, Nazi Herzog said that such a plan would “create a reality of a state, an horizon of hope for the younger generation of the two peoples instead of reaching a state of stagnation.”

Nazi Isaac Herzog at the JPost Annual Conference 2017

Isaac Herzog at the JPost Annual Conference 2017

Nazi Herzog concluded by saying that certain voices within the coalition were pressuring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into preserving the current state of affairs. “Bennett and Shaked are paralyzing Netanyahu and he lies. [These are] political interests that are ruining the country, and only [by] joining forces we can change that.”

Nazi Herzog was taking a stab at Nazi Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Nazi Education Minister Naftali Bennett. The latter came under fire earlier this week when he spoke favorably about a draft of an academy ethics code that would ban professors from expressing their political opinions in class.

It also suggested that that units would be established on campuses to enforce the ban, and students could complain to them about violations. The code would also forbid academic institutions from cooperating with NGOs that are politically affiliated.

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Palestine: Another Desperate Cry for Help

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Palestinian Christians 48eb2

By Stuart Littlewood | American Herald tribune 

The National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine (NCCOP) has just issued a final plea for help in the form of an open letter to the World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement. It is signed by over 30 organisations in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza and can be read in full here.

The problem is well known to everyone who’s paying attention. The letter recaps for us: “We are still suffering from 100 years of injustice and oppression that were inflicted on the Palestinian people beginning with the unlawful Balfour declaration, intensified through the Nakba [Palestinian ‘catastrophe’] and the influx of refugees, followed by the Israeli occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza and the fragmentation of our people and our land through policies of isolation and confiscation, and the building of Jewish-only settlements and the Apartheid Wall.

“A hundred years later and there is still no justice! Discrimination and inequality, military occupation and systematic oppression are the rule…. Despite all the promises, endless summits, UN resolutions, religious and lay leader’s callings – Palestinians are still yearning for their freedom and independence, and seeking justice and equality.”

The letter harks back to the Amman Call of 2007. “We are concerned that ten years later the situation is worse…. the Amman Call did not achieve its goal of a just peace and we must ask ourselves today – why?”

Concern is also expressed at Israel’s “systemic assault on Palestinian creative resistance” (by which they mean BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions), and on their partners worldwide who use BDS to persuade Israel to end the occupation.

“While we are grateful for the ‘costly solidarity’ articulated in the Amman Call and exercised by many churches around the world, we are concerned that some churches have weakened their positions in the last ten years as a result of pressure. Many still hide behind the cover of political neutrality, not wishing to offend their religious dialogue partners.”

So now they ask us to do the following:

1. Call things as they are: recognize Israel as an apartheid state in terms of international law and the UN ESCWA report which said: “Israel is guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people”. They are concerned that States and churches continue dealing with Israel as if the situation were normal, ignoring the reality of occupation, discrimination and daily deaths. Churches united to end apartheid in South Africa, the WCC playing a pivotal role, and they are expected to do the same again in Palestine

2. Unequivocally condemn the Balfour declaration as unjust, and demand the UK asks forgiveness and compensates the Palestinian people for their losses. Unfortunately Zionist stooges in high places, like Theresa May, have said they will be celebrating the centenary of the Balfour Declaration “with pride” and inviting Mr Netanyahu along for the fun.

3. Take the strongest possible stand against any theology or Christian group that justifies the occupation and favours one nation over the other based on ethnicity or a covenant.

4. Take a stand against religious extremism and any attempt to create a religious state in Palestine or the region.

5. Challenge our religious dialogue partners, and withdraw from the partnership if they won’t condemn the occupation.

6. Encourage church leaders and pilgrims to visit Bethlehem and other Palestinian cities using Palestinian travel agencies, not Israeli.

7. In response to Israel’s war on BDS, defend the Palestinians’ right to resist non-violently, and support economic measures that pressure Israel to stop the occupation.  Go further and include sport, cultural and academic measures until Israel complies with international law and UN resolutions.

8. Create lobby groups in defence of Palestinian Christians.

9. Urgently create a strategy within the WCC, like the programme “To Combat Racism”, to co-ordinate lobbying, advocacy and other activities aimed at achieving justice and peace and maintaining the presence of the Palestinian Christians.

“We fully grasp the pressure church leaders are facing here and abroad not to speak the truth, and it is because of this that we are raising this call,” says the NCCOP.

Their message ends with these ominous words: “Things are beyond urgent. We are on the verge of a catastrophic collapse. The current status-quo is unsustainable. This could be our last chance to achieve a just peace. As a Palestinian Christian community, this could be our last opportunity to save the Christian presence in this land.”

As I’m writing news has come in of a legal victory against the UK Government for trying to stifle BDS. The Government recently issued guidance to stop divestment campaigns against Israeli and international firms implicated in Israel’s violations of international law, and to protect the UK’s defence industry. Pension holders, for example, could have been forced into investing in companies complicit in human rights abuses contrary to their conscience and beliefs.

Thanks to action by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign the court held that the Government had acted improperly by seeking to use pension law to pursue its own foreign and defence policy.  Parts of the guidance are now held to be unlawful and no longer applicable local government in their pension decisions.

Other last-gasp appeals

The Amman Call mentioned earlier was issued exactly ten years ago at the WCC’s International Peace Conference “Churches together for Peace and Justice in the Middle East” held in Amman, Jordan. It contained a number of imperatives.

  • Enough is enough. No more words without deeds. It is time for action.
  • The Churches are part of the conflict, because they cannot remain silent while there is still suffering.
  • There is no military solution to the conflict, UN resolutions are the basis for peace and the Geneva conventions are applicable to the rights and responsibilities of the affected people.
  • Palestinians have the right of self-determination and the right of return.
  • Jerusalem must be an open, accessible, inclusive and shared city for the two peoples and three religions.
  • Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal, and constitute an obstacle to peace, and Israel’s “Separation Barrier” is a grave breach of international law and must be removed.

The Kairos Document of 2009 called itself a “cry of hope in the absence of all hope”. They said they had “reached a dead end” in the tragedy of the Palestinian people and the decision-makers “content themselves with managing the crisis rather than committing themselves to the serious task of finding a way to resolve it”. The faithful were asking: What is the international community doing? What are the political leaders in Palestine, in Israel and in the Arab world doing? What is the Church doing? “The problem is not just a political one. It is a policy in which human beings are destroyed, and this must be of concern to the Church.”

Kairos told the international community to stop practising “double standards” and start implementing international resolutions. “Selective application of international law threatens to leave us vulnerable to a law of the jungle. It legitimizes the claims by certain armed groups and states that the international community only understands the logic of force.” So Kairos was calling for a system of economic sanctions and boycott to be applied against Israel – not as a revenge tactic but action to reach a just and definitive peace.

It also urged churches to revisit the fundamentalist positions that support the evil policies imposed on the Palestinian people, and to stop providing theological cover for the injustices they suffer.

Local action

These heart-rending pleas are all very well but churches are hard to mobilise. Some have flirted with BDS but only after much internal wrangling. Others have allowed themselves to be put off by interference from their interfaith partners.

What can we ordinary mortals do?

Well, I pop into churches randomly and ask what links they have with the Holy Land. They usually stare at me in blank amazement and an awkward silence follows. I therefore recommend a national campaign to visit all churches throughout the land and ask that same question. Shame them.

But you never quite know when you’re up against the ‘enemy within’ – the Christian Zionist. Many readers will remember The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism by the Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches in Jerusalem in 2006.

It says among other things:

  • We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message.
  • We reject the alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organizations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States [add the UK] that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine.
  • We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that support these policies as they promote racial exclusivity and perpetual war.
  • We call upon all Churches that remain silent, to break their silence and speak for reconciliation with justice in the Holy Land.
  • We call upon all people to reject Christian Zionism and other ideologies that privilege one people at the expense of others.
  • We are committed to non-violent resistance as the most effective means to end the illegal occupation.
  • And, of course, Palestinians are one people, both Muslim and Christian. Don’t anyone forget that.

Memorise it.

Did you ever hear any of the 26 Church of England bishops sitting in the House of Lords roundly condemn the British government’s unshakable support for the rogue regime in Israel that’s causing all this misery? No, they’re scared to death of ruffling the feathers of their ‘inter-faith dialogue’ partners and being branded antisemitic. And yes, the Church does have its fearless heroes but they are few and far between and not always tolerated. The Anglican Church by and large doesn’t give a damn about their brethren in the Holy Land or the military jackboot on their necks. And, by extension, they don’t give a four-x whether, in another 10 years, there will be any Christians left in the place where Christianity was born. No, maybe they will care, but by then it will be too late.

If I had my way every clergyman and every political leader calling him/herself a Christian would have the Jerusalem Declaration tattooed on their rump.

I’d like to invite some of them to spend a week with priests in the front line in Jenin, Nablus or Hebron for a real taste of life under brutal Israeli occupation; then queue for hours at daybreak with Palestinian workers in the obscene human holding pens at the Bethlehem checkpoint as they struggle to get to work… and home again; then watch Israeli bulldozers evict Palestinian families and destroy their homes for no good reason; then join Gaza fishermen as they try to earn a living while getting shot at in their own waters by Israeli gunboats; then stay with a Gaza family in the rubble, experience living with only 2 hours’ electricity a day, with the kids going to school in shifts and studying by candlelight; then sit down with Hamas ministers to learn what it’s like running this tiny, overcrowded enclave after 10 years of cruel blockade; then visit Gaza’s hospitals to see first-hand the crisis in medical equipment and spares; then watch the groups of young, uniformed Israeli gunslingers swaggering through the Old City of Jerusalem making that beautiful place so ugly….

The opportunities to learn the nasty truth about today’s Holy Land are endless.

And when they return home…. who knows, they might just feel pricked to do something about it. At least they could ensure every parish in England twins itself with a parish in the West Bank to offer solidarity and provide moral and material support.

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Nazi Lieberman: Not a single Palestinian refugee will return to their lands in ‘Israel’

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During a speech at Zio-Nazi Herzliya conference, aimed at discussing the country’s national policies, ultraright Nazi Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman rejected the possibility of Palestinian refugees from historic Palestine, which the Nazi state was built on, being able to return to their lands within the 1967 borders, a right that is upheld by United Nations Resolution 194.

“We will not agree to the return of a single refugee to within the ‘67 borders,” Lieberman reportedly said. “There will never be another Prime Minister who makes propositions to Palestinians like Ehud Olmert did,”  he added, referring to a 2008 peace proposal introduced by the former Nazi prime minister.

The right of return for Palestinian refugees is a central demand among Palestinians and their leadership. The demand also represents a powerful symbolic connection to their lands and homes they were displaced from, as many Palestinians still possess original keys to their homes that were consumed by the Nazi state of ‘Israel’ 69 years ago.

According to Zionist media, Nazi Lieberman also said that ”an end to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not solve the problems – it will make them worse,” and noted that Nazi regime should first “reach a regional agreement with moderate Sunni states, and only then an agreement with the Palestinians.”

He also went on to question the legitimacy of Palestinian citizens of occupie Palestine 1948 being part of the Nazi parliament, the Knesset, noting that the Joint List political bloc — representing parties led by Palestinian citizens of occupied Palestine 1948 in the Knesset — refused to acquiesce to Zionist ideologies.

“The only place they don’t want to leave is Israel. Why? Because it’s good for them here,” he said, referring to Palestinian citizens of occupied Palestine 1948, making up approximately 20 percent of the population, whose families lived on the lands of historic Palestine before the creation of the Nazi state of the ‘Israel’.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), 66 percent of Palestinians who were living in British-Mandate Palestine in 1948 were expelled from historic Palestine and displaced from their homes and lands during the creation of the illegal Nazi state, referred to as the Nakba, or catastrophe, among Palestinians.

On the topic of Gaza, Nazi Lieberman reportedly said “I don’t think we need to get into it. It won’t end soon,” before calling the dire humanitarian situation in the besieged Palestinian territory an “intra-Palestinian crisis,” echoing statements made by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley who placed full blame of the dire humanitarian situation in the besieged Gaza Strip on Hamas, and absolved the Nazi regime of any responsibility for the ongoing crisis.

Nazi Lieberman also accused Zionist puppet Mahmoud Ab-A$$ of attempting to influence Hamas to go to war with ‘Israel’ by exacerbating the crisis in Gaza by cutting Palestinian Authority (PA) payments for electricity supplied to Gaza from ‘I$raHell‘.

“Abbas is going to increase cuts and soon stop the payment of salaries in Gaza and the transfer of fuel to the strip as a two-pronged strategy: Hurt Hamas and drag it to war with Israel,” he reportedly said.

Nazi Lieberman’s statements came amid an attempted renewal of the Nazi-Ab-Ass peace process by right-wing US President Donald Trump.

Most recently, on Wednesday evening, a meeting was held between Ab-A$$ and Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Zionist Jared Kushner in the central illegally occupied West Bank city of Ramallah to discuss reviving peace talks with the Nazi regime.

Executive Committee Member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Wasel Abu Yousif said in statement at the time that reviving a political process requires certain determinants based on international law: a time limit for ending the 50-year Nazi occupation of the Palestinian territory must be set to establish a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, and Palestinian refugees must be granted the right of return to the homes and villages from which they were expelled.

However, Nazi leaders have been public on their rejection of the Palestinian Authority (PA) taking over East Jerusalem, which was officially annexed by Nazi regime in 1980, and have regularly voiced their opposition to the return of Palestinian refugees or even the halting of illegal Jewish Nazi settlement expansions in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Naftali Bennett, Nazi right-wing education minister, has also introduced a bill in the Nazi parliament that would prevent any future divisions of Jerusalem, by mending Israel’s Basic Law on Jerusalem to necessitate the approval of 80 of the 120 Knesset members to make any changes to the law, instead of the regular majority vote.

“The purpose of this law is to unify Jerusalem forever,” Bennett reportedly said, adding that his legislation would make it “impossible” to divide Jerusalem.

While the PA and the international community do not recognize the legality of the occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank since 1967, many Palestinians consider that all historic Palestine has been occupied since the creation of the Nazi state of in 1948.

A growing number of activists have criticized a two-state solution to the Nazi-Palestinian conflict as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace given the existing political context, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Nazi regime and Palestinians.

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Rashid Khalidi: Palestine in the Age of Trump

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By Rashid Khalidi

Rashid Khalidi

Rashid Khalidi

With the advent in Washington of an Administration with radical new priorities regarding Israel, and a disdain for Palestinian rights, Palestine is facing a daunting reality. In recent years, ascendant political currents in America and Israel had already begun to merge. We have now reached the point where envoys from one country to the other could almost switch places: the Israeli Ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, who grew up in Florida, could just as easily be the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, while Donald Trump’s Ambassador-designate to Israel, David Friedman, who has intimate ties to the Israeli settler movement, would make a fine Ambassador in Washington for the pro-settler government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Whereas America’s solicitous concern for Israel and its disregard for the Palestinians were once cloaked behind evenhandedness, under Trump we are set to see a more complete convergence between America’s political leadership and the most chauvinistic, religious, and right-wing government in Israel’s history. It will be this Israeli government and its new American soul mates who will call the tune in Palestine for at least the next several years.

The entire Palestinian political and economic structure set up since the 1993 Oslo Accords was predicated on the idea that it would evolve into a genuine, viable, and contiguous Palestinian state. That illusion, held by many Palestinians, has by now been dispelled. This flawed structure was also based on the premise, a naïve one at best, that the United States had a national interest in moderating Israeli behavior and achieving a modicum of justice in the Middle East. That premise, too, has been demolished.

For Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority, set up by the Oslo Accords ostensibly as part of an interim arrangement for Palestinian self-rule, will continue to do more harm than good. Few people understand that the colonization of Palestinian land and the nearly fifty-year-old Israeli military occupation—among the longest in modern history—would not be sustainable today without American and Israeli sponsorship of the P.A. and its U.S.-trained security forces. The P.A.’s criminalization of any form of resistance to dispossession, discrimination, and Israel’s permanent military control have made it, in effect, a tool of collaboration with the occupation. Even bloggers and peaceful demonstrators are subject to arrest and harassment by P.A. forces. The way this institution operates against its own people provides a preview of the future that both American and Israeli officials will now foresee for Palestinians in the occupied territories: a future that is constricted, controlled, and void of sovereignty and self-determination.

It is abundantly clear that the United States, in the age of Trump, and Israel, in the age of Netanyahu, will do nothing to change this picture. In this context, the Palestinians face stark choices. They can either submit to the dictates of the U.S. and Israel or they can fundamentally and urgently redefine their national movement, their objectives, and their modes of resistance to oppression. It is time for Palestinians to abandon the failed experiment of the P.A., and to abandon forms of violence that only harden the sway of the right wing over Israeli politics. It is time to mobilize the vast energies of the Palestinian diaspora and stop thinking of Palestine as just those fragments under Israeli occupation. And it is time to begin to imagine ways in which Palestinians and Israelis will finally be able to coexist in complete equality in the small country they will ultimately have to share, once it is free of the domination of one group over the other. These will be exceedingly hard tasks for the Palestinians, coming after they have suffered decades of war, dispossession, and occupation.

Despite all this, there are signs of hope, at least in the United States. The positions of both the Democratic and Republican Party establishments notwithstanding, American public opinion is shifting rapidly away from uncritical support for Israel. Americans are becoming increasingly sympathetic to the cause of Palestinian freedom. According to a poll released by the Brookings Institution in December, sixty per cent of Democrats, and forty-six per cent of all Americans, support sanctions or stronger action against Israel over its construction of illegal Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land. A recently released Pew poll shows that, for the first time, the percentage of Democrats who are sympathetic to the Palestinians is almost equal to those who sympathize with Israel, while liberal Democrats are much more sympathetic to Palestinians (thirty-eight per cent) than they are to Israel (twenty-six per cent).

Over time, perhaps, these changes will filter up to politicians and policymakers in Washington. In the meantime, it is up to individuals of conscience, including those who are resisting the wave of racism and right-wing extremism to be expected in the Trump era, to exert pressure on their elected representatives to live up to professed ideals of freedom and equality, and to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law and denial of Palestinian national and human rights.

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Moshé Machover: Burial of the two-state ‘solution’

NOVANEWS

By Moshé Machover

Moshé Machover

Moshé Machover

On February 15 the desiccated corpse of the two-state ‘solution’ (2SS) to the conflict between the Israeli Zionist settler state and the colonized Palestinian Arab people was finally laid to rest. One it tempted to say ‘RIP’, but it is far more likely to rest in war than peace. The interment took place at a White House press conference during which the new leader of the ‘international community’ absolved his smiling protégé Benjamin (‘Bibi’) Netanyahu from even pretending to pursue the phantom of the 2SS.1This ended a long-standing official commitment of the US to the 2SS, formalized by GW Bush in his Road Map speech (June 24 2002),2 but  which informally dates back to the Bill Clinton presidency.

As I explained in previous articles,3 no major Zionist party is genuinely prepared to accept a sovereign Palestinian state ‘alongside Israel’ west of the river Jordan. But whereas Labour Zionists (now part of the Zionist Camp led by Yitzhak Herzog) were ready to play along in the endless ‘peace process’, Netanyahu and most of his Likud party, egged on by their ultra-fanatic partners, had lost patience with this pretence, and were eager to edge towards annexing the West Bank (the tiny densely populated Gaza Strip is not on the menu just yet). So in April 2004 Obama’s secretary of state John Kerry concluded that due to Israel’s obstructiveness the ‘peace process’ had gone “poof”.4

Secret summit in Aqaba

In order to understand the full significance of Trump’s declaration, which effectively allows Netanyahu a free hand in dealing with the Palestinian issue, we must note two previous landmark events. The first of these was a summit meeting summoned by the preternaturally persistent Kerry as a last-ditch attempt to resuscitate the 2SS. It was held during the last week of February 2016 in the Jordanian Red-Sea port of Aqaba and was kept secret for a year, until the story was leaked to Ha’aretz (probably by someone very close to Kerry), which published it on February 19 2017.5 The participants, apart from Kerry, were Netanyahu, Jordan’s king Abdullah II and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi. The president of the Palestinian (so-called) Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, was not invited (in order not to embarrass him with the concessions that would be forced on him), but was kept informed.

Netanyahu was presented by his three interlocutors with an offer he could not openly refuse, as it addressed all his previous pretexts for demurring. According to Ha’aretz,

Kerry … crafted a document that included principles for the renewal of talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians in the framework of a regional peace initiative with the participation of the Arab countries. The plan he formulated in early 2016 was identical to the one he presented at the end of that year – three weeks before Donald Trump entered the White House. The following are the six principles.

  • International secure and recognized borders between Israel and a sustainable and contiguous Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with agreed-on exchanges of territory.
  • Implementation of the vision of UN Resolution 181 (the Partition Plan) for two states for two peoples, one Jewish and one Arab – which recognize each other and give equal rights to their citizens.
  • A just, agreed-on, fair and realistic solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees that conforms to a solution of two states for two peoples and will not influence the basic character of Israel.
  • An agreed-on solution for Jerusalem as the capital of both countries, recognized by the international community and ensuring freedom of access to the holy sites in keeping with the status quo.
  • A response to Israel’s security needs, ensuring Israel’s ability to protect itself effectively and ensuring Palestine’s ability to give security to its citizens in a sovereign, demilitarized state.
  • The end of the conflict and of demands, which will allow a normalization of ties and increased regional security for all, in keeping with the vision of the Arab Peace Initiative.

The reference to UN General Assembly Resolution 181 is extremely significant, as it includes recognition of Israel “as a Jewish state”, a demand often raised by Netanyahu in the hope that it would be rejected by the Arab side.

Netanyahu did not, could not, reject this plan outright, but – true to form – procrastinated. Apparently he indicated that in order for Israel to accept the plan he would need to enlarge the ruling coalition to include the Zionist Camp. Accordingly he conducted talks with Herzog, telling him about the Aqaba plan and inviting him to join the government. But the latter got a clear impression that Netanyahu was not serious, and had no real intention to commit to the Aqaba plan. Nothing came out of the talks, and Netanyahu appointed the thuggish extremist Avigdor Lieberman as defence minister. Once again, Netanyahu managed to deflect a 2SS plan, this time in its final form, most favourable to Zionist ambitions.

No wonder Kerry’s parting speech on December 28 2016, in which he recapitulated his Aqaba plan, was so angry and frustrated.6

Legislation prelude to annexation

The second landmark event was the enactment by the Knesset on February 6 2017, by 60 to 52 votes, of the euphemistically named Judea and Samaria Regulation Law, better and more fittingly known as the Expropriation Law,7, empowering the Israeli government to legalize retroactively Jewish settlements in the West Bank located on land privately owned by Palestinians. What is most significant about this legalized theft is that it implicitly changes the legal status of the West Bank. Zionist robbery of Palestinian land has been going on in the West Bank since it was occupied in 1967. But so far the ‘legal’ instrument for implementing it has come in the form of edicts issued by Israeli military commanders, quoting ‘security’ or ‘military’ needs for the stolen land. This in effect treated the West Bank as occupied territory rather than sovereign Israeli territory. But – as pointed out by no other than Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin and former justice minister Dan Meridor, both Likud members – the Knesset has no power to legislate on property rights of foreigners outside Israel’s sovereign territory.8 Moreover, Israel’s attorney general Avihai Mandelblit has announced that he would be unable to defend the new law in the Supreme Court, as it is unconstitutional and is vulnerable to international legal challenge. Indeed, it is quite possible that the Supreme Court will rule accordingly. But what this legislation clearly shows is that the Israeli leadership is moving towards formal or semi-formal annexation of the West Bank.

Ominously, calls for annexation have been increasing in number and volume. At the more ‘liberal’ end of the ruling Zionist circles is president Rivlin. As noted above, he opposes the new Expropriation Law because it applies to areas outside Israel’s sovereign territory and to property of persons who are not Israeli citizens. His solution: annex the whole of the West Bank and grant its Palestinian Arab inhabitants Israeli citizenship.9 In this he is a true follower of Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of right-wing (‘revisionist’) Zionism, who called for Jewish colonization of Palestine, suppressing forcibly the anticipated opposition of the indigenous Arabs, but then granting them equal rights.10

However, Jabotinsky was writing in the inter-war period, when there was a large oppressed Jewish population in Poland and other countries of eastern Europe, and he counted on massive Jewish immigration to Palestine that would rapidly reduce the indigenous Palestinian Arabs to a minority. The situation of the Jewish diaspora today is very different indeed. East-European Jews were for the most part exterminated by the Nazis; and the present major Jewish communities in Europe and America are not oppressed but thriving. There is little prospect of new massive Jewish immigration to an expanded Israel, sufficient to ensure a Jewish majority.

So Rivlin’s scheme is unrealistic from a Zionist viewpoint, as Ha’aretz has politely pointed out.11 The Zionist regime will not allow it. The decidedly illiberal religious fanatics and racist bigots who are in Israel’s driving seat will do it their own way, now that they feel they have been dealt a Trump card, a carte blanche from the White House. They will probably proceed stepwise, beginning with areas that are already compactly colonized by Israel and have sparser Palestinian population. Palestinian population concentrations will be isolated, squeezed and warehoused, pending eventual ethnic cleansing, when an opportunity – such as a regional conflagration – presents itself. And with the present occupant of the Oval Office this may be sooner than we may think. The outcome will be one state, Zionist style.

Will the ‘international community’ allow it? Well, Zionist expansionism can rely on promising precedents: in addition to the original 1947–49 nakba, there is also the case of the Syrian Golan Heights. Israel is not Putin’s Russia, and the Golan is not Crimea: whereas the Putin gang went through the motions of conducting a referendum before annexing the peninsula, Israel took the simpler route of ethnically cleansing most of the Golan’s inhabitants in 1967, before annexing it officially in 1981. And were any sanctions imposed on Israel? No, stupid, you have just been told that Israel is not Russia. In fact, although no country has formally recognized the annexation and accepted the ethnic cleansing, the world has got used to regarding the Golan Heights as part of Israel, and the line separating it from the rest of Syria is usually referred to in the media as Israel’s border with Syria.

The only hope of preventing a new nakba is a massive mobilisation of progressive world public opinion.

 

Notes

  1. ‘Trump, Netanyahu Full Press Conference’, ABC News, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmfseeZt5fA>.
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road_map_for_peace.
  3. For example, ‘Israel’s quest for legitimacy, <http://www.israeli-occupation.org/2014-09-18/moshe-machover-israels-quest-for-legitimacy/>.
  4. Mark Landler, ‘Mideast Frustration, the Sequel’, New York Times, April  8 2014 <http://tinyurl.com/pn3vrto>.
  5. ‘Exclusive: Kerry Offered Netanyahu Regional Peace Plan in Secret 2016 Summit With al-Sissi, King Abdullah’ <http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.772531>.
  6. https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000004843773/watch-live-kerrys-speech-on-israeli-palestinian-peace.html.
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Regulation_Law&oldid=765605300.
  8. Itamar Eichner, ‘Rivlin lashes out against Regulation Law’, Ynet, February 13 2017, <http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4921846,00.html>; D Meridor, ‘5 Reasons Why Israeli Lawmakers Must Vote Against the Outpost Legalization Bill’, Ha’aretz, February 3 2017, <http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.769360>.
  9. Jonathan Lis, ‘President Rivlin: Israel Should Annex West Bank, Give Palestinians Full Citizenship’, Ha’aretz, February 14 2017, <http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.771526>.
  10. Vladimir Jabotinsky, ‘The iron wall’ (O Zheleznoi stene), published November 4 1923 in the Russian-language journal Rassvyet (Dawn); English translation <https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/ironwall.html>.
  11. Ha’aretz editorial, ‘Rivlin, Liberal or Annexationist?’, February 16 2017, <http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/editorial/1.772039>.

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The Zionist-American Hammer-Lock on Palestine

NOVANEWS

The Israeli-American Hammer-Lock on Palestine

Israel’s occupation isonly made possible by unquestioning US support—but a day of reckoning is on the way.
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As we mark the 50th anniversary of the longest military occupation in modern history, some are celebrating. It is fully appropriate that these celebrations will include a joint session of the US Congress and the Israeli Knesset, held via video link. For Israel’s rule over East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights is only made possible by the constant support it has obtained since June 1967 from successive US administrations. This is therefore not solely an Israeli occupation: Since the very beginning, it has in fact been a joint undertaking, an Israeli-American condominium, if you will. If the various forms of violence necessary to maintain alien rule over what are now nearly 5 million people have been administered entirely by Israelis, the financial, arms, and diplomatic weight behind them has been mainly American.

The degree to which American support is the sine qua non of this 50-year occupation can be seen from the difference between how the Johnson administration and its successors treated Israel’s 1967 conquests, and how President Eisenhower reacted to those of the 1956 war. In that earlier case, the US reaction was unequivocal and forceful. Only days after the Israeli-British-French attack on Egypt, Washington pushed through a UN resolution demanding that Israel withdraw unconditionally and immediately from the occupied Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula. Under powerful American pressure, Israel grudgingly did so six months later.

As an 18-year-old on June 9, 1967, I myself was witness to one indication of how much things had changed since 1956. On the fourth day of the war, I was sitting in the visitors’ gallery of the Security Council (my father worked for the UN Secretariat and I was home from college). I watched US Ambassador Arthur Goldberg stall for hours to prevent the council from forcing Israel to stop its seemingly inexorable advance toward Damascus. In spite of successive Security Council cease-fire resolutions, and thanks to such tacit US support, that advance did not stop until the following day.

Worse was yet to come. In contrast to the days that passed before it acted in 1956, the United Nations took over five months to come up with a resolution to deal with the situation created by the 1967 war. When it did so, on November 22, 1967, Security Council Resolution 242 was inspired essentially by the desiderata of Israel, with the indispensable support of the United States. Resolution 242 was far from unconditional: Indeed, it made Israel’s withdrawals from the areas its forces had just conquered conditional on the achievement of “secure” boundaries, which has proven to be an infinitely flexible term in the Israeli lexicon. This flexibility has permitted 50 years of delay where occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories are concerned. Moreover, in its English version, 242 did not call from withdrawal from all the land taken in the June war, but only from “territories occupied” during the conflict. With ample American backing, Israel has driven a coach and horses through that seemingly minor gap.

Other language in 242, such as the passage stressing the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,” can be seen as balancing those major concessions to the Israeli position. However, which parts of 242 are really important is indicated by the planned joint session of Congress and the Knesset, on top of 50 years of American complaisance about an occupation that in practice is underwritten by American money, arms, and diplomatic support. This is an occupation, incidentally, that the Israeli government denies exists, and that President Trump did not see fit to mention once by name during his recent visit to Palestine and Israel.

One additional crucial point about 242 is worth mentioning. The original conflict in Palestine was a colonial one between the indigenous Palestinian majority and the Zionist movement as the latter tried to achieve sovereignty over the country at the expense of, and ultimately in place of, that majority. The nature of this conflict had been recognized in part in the UN General Assembly’s Resolution 181 of 1947, which called for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. The former was to have been larger than the latter, although at that point Jewish land ownership was under 7 percent of the total, and Arabs constituted 65 percent of the country’s population, and in principle had the absolute right of self-determination in the entirety of what they reasonably still considered their country.

Resolution 242 represented a regression even on this low-water mark for the Palestinians. The Palestinians are not mentioned in the text of the 1967 resolution, nor are their rights to statehood and to return to their homes and possessions, which had been confirmed by previous UN resolutions, all of them supported by the United States. Instead, there is a bland reference to “a just settlement of the refugee problem.”

Haughtily ignoring the indigenous population and its rights and interests is in fact a typical colonial maneuver, one that has set the stage for an Israeli colonial-settler enterprise that has thrived for 50 years in the occupied territories. It goes without saying that this has taken place with full US support, accompanied by tepid criticism. British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour engaged in the same maneuver a century ago, never mentioning the words Palestinian or Arab in his famous November 2, 1917, declaration promising British support for a Jewish “national home” in a Palestine that then had a 94 percent Arab majority.

In similarly ignoring the Palestinians, and giving Israel what it wanted, Resolution 242 thus constituted a diplomatic revolution that was entirely favorable to the newly expanded Israeli regional superpower. Drafted by British Ambassador Lord Caradon—who reprised the British role of slighting the Palestinians—and pushed through by the United States, this resolution has become the benchmark for Arab-Israeli peace. In view of its perverse genesis, it is no surprise that this misbegotten resolution has not produced peace but instead has been the fig leaf for an unending military occupation of Syrian and Palestinian lands.

The scene I watched in the Security Council on June 9, 1967, was only one sign of a major shift in US policy championed by President Johnson and his enthusiastically pro-Israel advisers, including Clark Clifford (who had been instrumental in advising President Truman to support Israel in 1947 and 1948), Arthur Goldberg, McGeorge Bundy, Abe Fortas, and the brothers Walt and Eugene Rostow. They and others had ensured that before the June war Israel received a prior American green light for its first strike on the Arab armies, as it had failed to do in 1956 at the time of its Suez adventure together with Britain and France. Several of these advisers were influential in brokering what eventually became Resolution 242.

By 1967, Israel had already begun to get some US arms deliveries, although it won the war of that year mainly with French and British weaponry, as it had in 1956. In the wake of its crushing 1967 victory, Israel became a major Cold War ally, commencing a much closer relationship with the United States against Arab states that were aligned with the Soviet Union. In time, this alliance has become more intimate than that with any other country, with military aid soaring to over $1 billion per year after 1973, and at over $4 billion annually today (this aid is going to a relatively rich country, one with a GDP per capita of nearly $35,000). Since 1967, Israel has been cosseted by the United States, whether its actions served or harmed US interests. This intimacy has reached the point that politicians of both parties compete with one another in proclaiming that they will allow “no daylight” between the positions of the two countries.

Notwithstanding the celebrations of this unity of views between the American and Israeli establishments about support for the continued occupation and colonization process in Palestine, a day of reckoning is on the way. There are harbingers everywhere. Already the Democratic Party is torn between its blindly pro-Israel old-guard leadership and a younger and more open-minded base that can see what is actually happening in Palestine. The resolution passed on May 21 by the California Democratic Party is a sign of the times. It condemns the failure of successive administrations, in spite of mild criticisms of the occupation, to take “actual steps to change the status quo and bring about a real peace process.” It goes on to criticize Israel’s “illegal settlements in the occupied territories,” and calls for a “just peace based on full equality and security for Israeli Jews and Palestinians alike,” as well as “self-determination, civil rights and economic well-being for the Palestinian people.”

Fifty years on from the euphoria in Israel and Washington that accompanied the beginning of the occupation, the rise of a different spirit can be discerned on college campuses, among younger people—including among many young Jewish Americans—minorities, some churches, synagogues, academic associations and labor unions, and among the grassroots of the Democratic Party. There is naturally a potent and well-financed counter-offensive against this awakening, which has traction with the Trump administration and the leadership of the Democratic Party and is echoed in much of the mainstream media. It can be seen at its most frantic in the attempts to shut down debate via unconstitutional anti-BDS bills in statehouses all over the country (19 of them already enacted into law), as well as in Israel’s banning of the entry of supporters of BDS and its laws targeting Israelis supporting BDS.

But while these measures will have some impact, they cannot for long repress the revulsion that Israel’s policies have produced among so many Americans and others around the world. External support has always been a crucial factor in the struggle over Palestine. In the first decades after the Balfour Declaration, the Zionist enterprise could not have been successful without the crucial support of Great Britain. Similarly, Israel could not have maintained its occupation for 50 years without American support. The almost hysterical reaction to the growth around the world of serious critical responses to Israel’s military occupation of Arab lands and to its colonization enterprise shows that Israel’s leaders and its supporters in the United States are fully aware of these new realities. The tragedy is that it has taken almost 70 years since the 1948 war and 50 years since 1967 to get even to this point, and we are only at the beginning of the path toward full equality, self-determination, civil rights, security, and economic well-being for Israeli Jews and Palestinians alike.

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Living on Borrowed Time in a Stolen Land

NOVANEWS
By Gilad Atzmon

Communicating with Israelis may leave one bewildered. Even now when the Israeli Air Force is practicing murder in broad daylight of hundreds of civilians, elderly persons, women and children, the Israeli people manage to convince themselves that they are the real victims in this violent saga.

Those who are familiar intimately with Israeli people realise that they are completely uninformed about the roots of the conflict that dominates their lives. Rather often Israelis manage to come up with some bizarre arguments that may make a lot of sense within the Israeli discourse, yet make no sense whatsoever outside of the Jewish street. Such an argument goes as follows: ‘those Palestinians, why do they insist upon living on our land (Israel), why can’t they just settle in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon or any other Arab country?’ Another Hebraic pearl of wisdom sounds like this: ‘what is wrong with these Palestinians? We gave them water, electricity, education and all they do is try to throw us to the sea’.

Astonishingly enough, the Israelis even within the so-called ‘left’ and even the educated ‘left’ fail to understand who the Palestinians are, where they come from and what they stand for. They fail to grasp that for the Palestinians, Palestine is home. Miraculously, the Israelis manage to fail to grasp that Israel had been erected at the expense of the Palestinian people, on Palestinian land, on Palestinian villages, towns, fields and orchards. The Israelis do not realise that Palestinians in Gaza and in refugee camps in the region are actually dispossessed people from Ber Shive, Yafo, Tel Kabir, Shekh Munis, Lod, Haifa, Jerusalem and many more towns and villages. If you wonder how come the Israelis don’t know their history, the answer is pretty simple, they have never been told. The circumstances that led to the Israeli Palestinian conflict are well hidden within their culture. Traces of pre-1948 Palestinian civilisation on the land had been wiped out. Not only the Nakba, the 1948 ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians, is not part of the Israeli curriculum, it is not even mentioned or discussed in any Israeli official or academic forum.

In the very centre of almost every Israeli town one can a find a 1948 memorial statue displaying a very bizarre, almost abstract, pipe work. The plumbing feature is called Davidka and it is actually a 1948 Israeli mortar cannon. Interestingly enough, the Davidka was an extremely ineffective weapon. Its shells wouldn’t reach more than 300 meters and would cause very limited damage. Though the Davidika would cause just minimal harm, it produced a lot of noise. According to the Israeli official historical narrative, the Arabs i.e., Palestinians, simply ran away for their lives once they heard the Davidka from afar. According to the Israeli narrative, the Jews i.e., ‘new Israelis’ did a bit of fireworks and the ‘Arab cowards’ just ran off like idiots. In the Israeli official narrative there is no mention of the many orchestrated massacres conducted by the young IDF and the paramilitary units that preceded it. There is no mention also of the racist laws that stop Palestinians[1] from returning to their homes and lands.

The meaning of the above is pretty simple. Israelis are totally unfamiliar with the Palestinian cause. Hence, they can only interpret the Palestinian struggle as a murderous irrational lunacy. Within the Israeli Judeo- centric solipsistic universe, the Israeli is an innocent victim and the Palestinian is no less than a savage murderer.

This grave situation that leaves the Israeli in the dark regarding his past demolishes any possibility of future reconciliation. Since the Israeli lacks the minimal comprehension of the conflict, he cannot contemplate any possible resolution except extermination or cleansing of the ‘enemy’. All the Israeli is entitled to know are various phantasmic narratives of Jewish suffering. Palestinian pain is completely foreign to his ears. ‘Palestinian right of return’ sounds to him like an amusing idea. Even the most advanced ‘Israeli humanists’ are not ready to share the land with its indigenous inhabitants. This doesn’t leave the Palestinians with many options but to liberate themselves against all odds. Clearly, there is no partner for peace on the Israel side.

This week we all learned more about the ballistic capability of Hamas. Evidently, Hamas was rather restrained with Israel for more than a long while. It refrained from escalating the conflict to the whole of southern Israel. It occurred to me that the barrages of Qassams that have been landing sporadically on Sderot and Ashkelon were actually nothing but a message from the imprisoned Palestinians. First it was a message to the stolen land, homes fields and orchards: ‘Our beloved soil, we didn’t forget, we are still here fighting for you, sooner rather than later, we will come back, we will start again where we had stopped’. But it was also a clear message to the Israelis. ‘You out there, in Sderot, Beer Sheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Tel Aviv and Haifa, whether you realise it or not, you are actually living on our stolen land. You better start to pack because your time is running out, you have exhausted our patience. We, the Palestinian people, have nothing to lose anymore’.

Let’s face it, realistically the situation in Israel is rather grave. Two years ago it was Hezbollah rockets that pounded northern Israel. This week the Hamas proved beyond doubt that it is capable of serving the South of Israel with some cocktail of ballistic vengeance. Both in the case of the Hezbollah and the case of the Hamas, Israel was left with no military answer. It can no doubt kill civilians but it fails to stop the rocket barrage. The IDF lacks the means of protecting Israel unless covering Israel with a solid concrete roof is a viable solution. At the end of the day, they might be planning just that (link).

But this is far from the end of the story. In fact it is just the beginning. Every Middle East expert knows that Hamas can seize control of the West Bank within hours. In fact, PA and Fatah control in the West Bank is maintained by the IDF. Once Hamas takes the West Bank, the biggest Israeli population centre will be left to the mercy of Hamas. For those who fail to see, this would be the end of Jewish Israel. It may happen later today, it may happen in three months or in five years, it isn’t a matter of ‘if’ but rather a matter of ‘when’. By that time, the whole of Israel will be within firing range of Hamas and Hezbollah, Israeli society will collapse, its economy will be ruined. The price of a detached villa in Northern Tel Aviv would equal a shed in Kiryat Shmone or Sderot. By the time a single rocket hits Tel Aviv, the Zionist dream will be over.

The IDF generals know it, the Israeli leaders know it. This is why they stepped up the war against the Palestinians into extermination. The Israelis do not plan upon invading Gaza. They have lost nothing there. All they want is to finish the Nakba. They drop bombs on Palestinians in order to wipe them out. They want the Palestinians out of the region. It is obviously not going to work, Palestinians will stay. Not only they will they stay, their day of return to their land is coming closer as Israel has been exploiting its deadliest tactics.

This is exactly where Israeli escapism comes into play. Israel has passed the ‘point of no return’. Its doomed fate is deeply engraved in each bomb it drops on Palestinian civilians. There is nothing Israel can do to save itself. There is no exit strategy. It can’t negotiate its way out because neither the Israelis nor their leadership understand the elementary parameters involved in the conflict. Israel lacks the military power to conclude the battle. It may manage to kill Palestinian grassroots leaders, it has been doing it for years, yet Palestinian resistance and persistence is growing fierce rather than weakening. As an IDF intelligence general predicted already at the first Intifada. ‘In order to win, all Palestinians have to do is to survive’. They survive and they are indeed winning.

Israeli leaders understand it all. Israel has already tried everything, unilateral withdrawal, starvation and now extermination. It thought to evade the demographic danger by shrinking into an intimate cosy Jewish ghetto. Nothing worked. It is Palestinian persistence in the shape of Hamas politics that defines the future of the region.

All that is left to Israelis is to cling to their blindness and escapism to evade their devastating grave fate that has become immanent already. All along their way down, the Israelis will sing their familiar various victim anthems. Being imbued in a self-centred supremacist reality, they will be utterly involved in their own pain yet completely blind to the pain they inflict on others. Uniquely enough, the Israelis are operating as a unified collective when dropping bombs on others, yet, once being slightly hurt, they all manage to become monads of vulnerable innocence. It is this discrepancy between the self-image and the way they are seen by the rest of us which turns the Israeli into a monstrous exterminator. It is this discrepancy that stops Israelis from grasping their own history, it is that discrepancy that stops them from comprehending the repeated numerous attempts to destroy their State. It is that discrepancy that stops Israelis from understanding the meaning of the Shoah so can they prevent the next one. It is this discrepancy that stops Israelis from being part of humanity.

Once again Jews will have to wander into an unknown fate. To a certain extent, I myself have started my journey a while ago.

[1] Jews only law of return- http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/1950_1959/Law%20of%20Return%205710-1950

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An Open Letter to Wall Street Journal from a Palestinian Woman

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Amani Al-Khatahtbeh 

Bret Stephens penned a column last week in the Wall Street Journal titled, Where are the Palestinian Mothers? in which he makes the racist assertion, based on conversations he’s had with three individual women, that all Palestinian mothers raise their children to become “martyrs.”

The thing that Stephens must understand about Palestinians’ concept of “martyrdom” is that it’s a coping mechanism for the senseless loss of life they must endure. Their “martyrdom” is not an aspiration. It’s forced upon them.

My mother is a Palestinian. At the moment, she’s probably enjoying the peace of her suburban home. Unlike her counterparts in the West Bank and Gaza, she’s free from having to worry about her children being killed by occupational forces in the middle of the night, or even broad daylight. For a Palestinian mother, this is a freedom that can never be appreciated enough.

My grandmother was a Palestinian. She passed away last summer after decades of being a flag bearer of the strength of Palestinian mothers. She was a survivor of the Deir Yassin massacre in 1948, which was one of the first Palestinian villages to be ethnically cleansed by Zionist militias to create the state of Israel. She was seven years old at the time and witnessed the murder of her neighbors and relatives, including her own Palestinian grandmother and infant brother. Yet, she survived and, in her refugee exile, created a fruitful and happy life for her family that allows me to write this letter today.

Over that time, those militias came together to become the Israeli Defense Force. One of their leaders, Yitzhak Rabin, rose to become the prime minister of Israel.

In his column, Stephens claims that he has “yet to meet the Israeli mother who wants to raise her boys to become kidnappers and murderers.” Actually, every Israeli mother is legally obligated by the Israeli government to enter her sons and daughters into an institution that systematically kidnaps and murders. It’s the Israeli Defense Force.

palestinian women confrontation

Since 1948, the IDF has been creating mourning mothers for the longest occupation in modern human history, riddled with war crimes and human rights atrocities. Its illegal and immoral actions have been denounced in more United Nations resolutions than any other country in the world. The most recent were a series of four resolutions in the UNHCR denouncing Israel’s international law violations. All four of them passed 46 to 1 — with the lone dissenter being the United States.

Stephens refers to West Germany’s “moral rehabilitation” and ironically suggests it for the Palestinian people. Yet, in an iconic visit last month, Pope Francis stood before Israel’s apartheid wall and placed his hand on Palestinian graffiti that, in desperate broken English, said in spray paint: “Bethlehem looks like Warsaw ghetto.”

Extremist Israeli settlers have been engaging in some of the worst hate crimes in the conflict, notoriously known for pillaging mosques and churches, attacking and even running over Palestinians, and vandalizing Palestinian property with calls for the death of all Arabs. One of the three kidnapped Israelis was old enough to have already served in the IDF, and all three of them were on an illegal settlement on Palestinian territory. While no mother should endure the abduction or death of a child — neither Israeli nor Palestinian — the situation must be placed in the context of the conflict as a whole.

Since the disappearance of the three Israelis on June 12, 2014, at least 50 Palestinian civilians have been killed in retribution — including a 7-year-old child and a 15-year-old child — and hundreds more injured or imprisoned with no charges. But, you don’t know any of their names, despite having the three Israelis’ names memorized by heart.

Last Tuesday night, Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and burned alive by an Israeli mob. His mother — like the mothers of the eight other murdered Palestinians or the hundreds of newly detained prisoners — will never be given the media attention to express her grief. Nor does she or any of the other Palestinian mothers have the power to demand that Israel brings back their boys.

Among many Israelis, Mohammad’s death was celebrated. All facets of Israeli society, even up to the government, called for this sort of retribution, with Netanyahu demanding “revenge” and Ben-Ari calling for “death to the enemy.” While the call for justice is expected of any democratic country, what Israel is calling for is indiscriminate revenge.

Netanyahu called the killers of the three Israelis “human animals.” But, in Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinian people, his accusations and references of a faceless Palestinian enemy, and his sheer condoning and even encouragement of anti-Arab racism, he is implicating the Palestinian people as a whole.

Indeed, Israel treats Palestinians as nothing more than animals. In this case, Israel has placed its “animal” in a cage and keeps prodding it with a stick — or, more accurately, with rubber bullets, tear gas, and even white phosphorous. Then, when the animal bites back, Israel feigns selective memory and moral outrage and punishes it in ways that are unprecedented in our modern history.

Stephens makes the racist suggestion that Palestinian culture is filled with hate, but what, then, can we say of a society that views another people as collectively subhuman?

If you want to know where the Palestinian mothers are, they are living under a military occupation, among an unarmed civilian population, quietly reciting their boys’ names in their hearts as American columnists try to write them away.

Photography by Robert Croma.

A condensed variation of this column was originally published as a letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal.

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