Archive | April 3rd, 2012

Sign # 45623 that IsraHell will not Attack Iran


Via Haaretz:

An Israeli strike against Iran would have “disastrous” consequences, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Saturday, adding the world remains silent on Israel’s reported nuclear armament while threatening Iran over its peaceful program.

The comments, made to reporters while making the journey back from an official visit to Iran, came after on Wednesday the Turkish PM said that “no one has the right to impose anything on anyone with regards to nuclear energy, provided that it is for peaceful purposes.”

The always-impending Israeli/American “attack” on Iran both isn’t happening and is already happening, and that is its eternal utility.

Since it’s not happening, statesmen like Erdogan can keep welding together their hegemony with nationalist anti-imperialist sentiment by appearing to defy imperial policy on Iran. In Iran proper, a country scared for its survival is one in which it citizens are less likely to engage in labor mobilization or agitate for more democracy. In America, Obama can appear to be fending off the Israel lobby even while putting in place sanctions intended to cut Iran off from the world. And in Europe, the leadership of the EU states, unwilling to provide anything for their citizenry economically, can put in place sanctions slowly while meanwhile placating their populations with the fact that there’s no war yet.

But then there is the fact that the war has already started: the US has set up a system of sanctions against countries which buy Iranian oil, and has used this system to get 10 European Union countries, as well as Japan, to cut their oil purchases from Iran. For that reason, they will not be sanctioned. Other countries have 3 months before sanctions set in. China, India, Turkey, South Africa, and South Korea are among the major purchasers of Iranian oil. Erdogan’s posturing may be an attempt to secure the domestic political space to reduce Turkish oil imports from Iran, while South African oil imports from Iran shot up in February while China categorically rejects US pressure or influence on its oil sourcing.

When someone discusses whether or not Obama or Netanyahu will attack Iran, two things always should be kept in mind: there is next to no chance that an Israeli leader will do anything without an implied American green light, and America is already attacking Iran, and the currently unmeetable challenge is to get it to stop doing so.

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Zionists are Israeli brand managers, no more


Posted: 02 Apr 2012


Perceptive comments by Bernard Avishai on American Jews (or Jews anywhere, really) who can’t/won’t tolerate criticism of Israel:

American Jews who proclaimed their friendship to Israel most noisily could not readily imagine what it might be like to live there. So the ways democratic norms fostered tolerance for religious dissent, or contributed to resolving tensions between Arabs and Jews nonviolently—a peace process without end, after all—did not seem a priority.  What did matter was managing Israel’s brand. The goal was securing Israel’s moral prestige and being associated with it. Israelis did not have friends, “Israel” had fans.

Just how does billions of dollars disappear through Kabul airport?


Posted: 02 Apr 2012


The lying liar behind Iraq war says he lied


Posted: 02 Apr 2012


No kidding:

A man whose lies helped to make the case for invading Iraq – starting a nine-year war costing more than 100,000 lives and hundreds of billions of pounds – will come clean in his first British television interview tomorrow.

“Curveball”, the Iraqi defector who fabricated claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, smiles as he confirms how he made the whole thing up. It was a confidence trick that changed the course of history, with Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi’s lies used to justify the Iraq war.

He tries to defend his actions: “My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime’s oppression.”

The chemical engineer claimed to have overseen the building of a mobile biological laboratory when he sought political asylum in Germany in 1999. His lies were presented as “facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence” by Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, when making the case for war at the UN Security Council in February 2003.

But Mr Janabi, speaking in a two-part series, Modern Spies, starting tomorrow on BBC2, says none of it was true. When it is put to him “we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie”, he simply replies: “Yes.”

US officials “sexed up” Mr Janabi’s drawings of mobile biological weapons labs to make them more presentable, admits Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, General Powell’s former chief of staff. “I brought the White House team in to do the graphics,” he says, adding how “intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy”.

As for his former boss: “I don’t see any way on this earth that Secretary Powell doesn’t feel almost a rage about Curveball and the way he was used in regards to that intelligence.”

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TUT Podcast April 2, 2012

by crescentandcross

For weeks now the American people have been inundated with a steady deit of commentary revoling around the Trayvon Martin killing and all the ‘race’ issues associated with it. Yet, a Muslim woman, mother of 5, was beaten to death in her California home and NOTHING is said about it.

We are joined once again by the one and only Mark Dankof to discuss this as well as his accompanying article and interview on Press TV dealing with this topic.


Download Here



Dorothy Online Newsletter



Hey all!!! Wonderful news—“less than”—not even 300! “less than 300 Israeli casualties in an attack on Iran!  Isn’t that wonderful, along with “hundreds of people wounded and severe damage to property and infrastructure.”  Now isn’t that reason enough for Israel to attack Iran????  Maybe if those who furnish these stats were sure to be among them, they would not be so gleeful about “less than 300” !




1 Haaretz

Monday, April 2, 2012


IDF officials: Missile attack on Israel would produce less than 300 casualties

Senior defense official presents Israeli cabinet with assessment of number of people dead should Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas launch missiles at Israel; number is far lower than the one mentioned previously by Defense Minister Barak.


By Barak Ravid

Tags: IDF Iran Iran nuclear Hezbollah Hamas Syria

Israel Defense Forces officials told cabinet ministers on Monday that should Israel undergo a coordinated missile attack, there would be less than 300 Israeli casualties.


The number was mentioned by IDF officials during a discussion in Israel’s security-diplomatic cabinet, Channel 10 reported on Monday, and is far lower than the number mentioned previously by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who reportedly said that a maximum of 500 Israelis would die in such an attack.


During the meeting, a senior official in the Israel Air Force told the cabinet ministers that in the event of a coordinated missile attack on Israel’s home front, missiles and rockets would be fired at Israel by the Syrian army, Hezbollah in Lebanon, terror organizations in Gaza, and most probably by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as well.


According to one of the cabinet ministers, the IAF believes that for three weeks, thousands of missiles and rockets would land in Israel, and the number of people dead would reach 300, as well as hundreds of people wounded and severe damage to property and infrastructure. The officer who presented the data before the ministers noted that the scenario is an assessment based on the situation in 2012, but could change in the future.


Despite that the subject of the discussion was not the possibility of war with Iran, such a coordinated terror attack on Israel is expected mostly in the event of an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The defense establishment is split regarding the dimensions of an Iranian attack.


Another argument surrounds the question whether Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas would join Iran and launch missiles toward Israel. According to some of the assessments in the intelligence community, the Iranian response would include aid from Hezbollah, Syria, and Hamas, but other assessments suggest that these actors would be deterred by the Israeli retaliation against them and would not rush to aid Iran.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak believe that the Iranian response to an attack on its nuclear facilities would not necessarily bring about a coordinated attack on Israel. They both emphasize that in any case, the scenario in which Iran would have a nuclear bomb would be much more dangerous.



2 Monday, April 2 2012

Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine


|Dimi Reider


Hate speech: Stocking up fuel for murderous violence

Ami Kaufman has done the important work of translating a Channel 10 report on the vicious racism afflicting Israeli teens. The report was produced in the wake of the hideous comments made by some teens on the incineration of five Palestinian children in a bus crash in Jerusalem the other month. The first thing that comes to mind watching the video – in which some of the original teenage commentators are interviewed – is that they are no different from teens in any other area of sustained, protracted ethno-nationalist conflict. The other is that such discourse is nothing new in Israel, and is far from confined to teenagers.


The following paragraphs are excerpts from an email to a friend, written on my first solitary night shift on The Jerusalem Post, news desk, in January 2008. I had just finished reading Shake Hands with the Devil, an account of the build-up and the actual genocide in Rwanda that sent chills down my spine – particularly when it described the atmosphere in the days preceding the butchery itself. From a distance of four years I can observe I knew little at the time of how slow-brewing ethnic conflicts are, and how Israel’s  relatively strong institutions and heavy-handed military divert some of the pressure that can actually build up to murderous, neighbour-onto-neighbour, grassroots-based ethnic cleansing. Neither could I  foresee the many powerful counter-currents underway  – the renaissance of political and journalistic activism that so far culminated with the social justice protests being chief among them, even if, as we see, it is still far from enough to act as real counterbalance. It’s also worth noting the comments about the Palestinian kids in the bus crash were met with a strong backlash from other Israeli teenagers shocked by their own peers’ bloodthirstiness. And yet, the harmony between what was being said in Rwanda, what was being said that night I spent on my own between flickering monitors and murmuring radio sets, and what is being said in the video Ami posted is unmistakable.


It’s late at night. The newsroom’s  television sets are open on the two commercial channels, Channel Two and Channel Ten. Both are re-running cringeworthy local teenage soaps; on both of them, all the characters are in IDF uniform. The radio is also open on the two main channels, Israel Radio and Army Radio. Both are transferring late-night agony aunt or uncle programs, slightly easier on the heart than the midday open-mike ones, where the real genocidal maniacs crop up to share your traffic jam.

But even now, at 2 A.M., a woman calls. She is in a relationship with a married man, she loves him but knows he won’t leave his family for her. She takes care to state the fact the man lives in East Jerusalem. The anchor’s first reaction consists of a single, carefully weighted word. An Arab, he says, and stops to think. You’re sleeping with a married Arab, he repeats. Yes, the woman sighs, and the anchor opens the floor to other listeners. The couple’s affair and the man’s marital status go out the window. Callers prefer instead to discuss “Arabs”; not even “Arab men” or “Arab women,” simply “Arabs.” The P word – Palestinians – goes unmentioned. One caller, a veteran of the 1948 war, relieves himself of a rant on the massacre of the fifty-six captive Palmach fighters in kibbutz Kfar Etzion. He talks for fifteen minutes straight, unhindered by the host. The word “Arabs” comes at almost regular intervals, like a refrain to chant. At length, he sums up: “In the Palmach I was not taught to hate the Arabs, I was taught to respect them. But ever since the death of the Thirty Five, I hate Arabs with all my heart and soul. If I was in power, If I got to rule, I would expel every one of them.” The anchor protests meekly, but then allows the man to rant for ten minutes more.


…On daytime radio, you hear people calling for genocide. Not the odd loons, nor even Negev civilians driven mad with fear by Palestinian missiles in Sderot. Average citizens of all backgrounds call in from towns and cities across, spouting racism that would make a BNP member leave the room. When the Qassam barrages get particularly harsh, even reasonably critical, respected journalists surrender to the tide of fear. Just the other day, one pundit, Yaron London wrote an op-ed in Israel’s Yediot Aharonot, calling to pull down a neighbourhood in Gaza in response for every shooting, or else to “starve them out”.This country is almost ripe for ethnic cleansing, much more so than it seems from Tel Aviv. It’s frighteningly close.

And as the night shifts draws on, web comments come rolling in to be filtered. Kill them. Transfer. Now. All Arabs. All Muslims. All “Palis”. Cockroaches, monsters, beasts, animals, scum. Kill everyone. Use nukes. Use gas. Use napalm. Slip sterilizing drugs into the Gaza water supply. Don’t trust anyone. The UN is anti-Semitic. The Europeans are anti-Semitic. Left-wing Jews are even worse. It seems like if I go to sleep and tune in two days later, I’ll hear the Hutu radio of Rwanada, giving directions to families still hiding out, and some self-proclaimed “liberal journalist” asking into the mike in a smoky voice: “The graves are only half-full. Who will help fill them?”


I don’t think anyone in Israel, certainly not anyone in power, is planning murderous ethnic cleansing; even if non-murderous ethnic cleansing – “population swaps” – has long since been on the agenda, partly normalised into the public discourse by the pro-partition Left’s braying support for the eviction of settlements. But if push comes to shove, if a population-swap goes awry, if the evacuees try to resist violently or turn on each other and someone somewhere panics and decides to take less “sentimental” measures, the silent build up toward active support or complacency for fully-fledged atrocities is already at work. The dry wood has been piling up for years now, and there’s no telling if we’ll be spared the spark.



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Since when did Australia protect its future through mining interests?


Posted: 01 Apr 2012


My following book review appeared in last weekend’s Melbourne’s Sunday Age and Sydney’s Sun Herald:

The news late last year that Australia’s richest man, Andrew ”Twiggy” Forrest, had not paid any corporate tax for seven years was unsurprising.

Fortescue Metals’s tax manager, Marcus Hughes, conceded to a parliamentary committee in December: ”We have not cut a corporate tax cheque to date.”

Author Matthew Benns would have a few words to say about that. He begins this striking, investigative book, Dirty Money: The True Cost of Australia’s Mineral Boom, with a sordid tale about copper company Anvil Mining’s alleged complicity in a massacre in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2004. Examples of Australian company criminality are shown from the Philippines to Papua New Guinea.

Tragically, these are not atypical stories. Many Australian firms scour the globe looking for cheap resources and exploitation. It is often not illegal but it is largely a reality hidden from the population. We want cheap petrol and minerals; we rarely want to know from where they come.

Benns documents a litany of dirty deals, grubby environmental catastrophes and health scares. The only conclusion from this essential book is that Australia has a bipartisan belief in giving the resource industry whatever it wants and screwing the long-term expense. Our political leaders preach about a budget surplus but give little thought to building our Future Fund from the revenue.

It is a point equally well made by fellow writer Paul Cleary in his recent book Too Much Luck. At the Sydney book launch, Cleary told the audience that Australia preaches to a country such as Papua New Guinea – a land truly cursed by a resource boom that benefits few locals – that they should establish a sovereign fund for future generations and yet we neglect our own Future Fund.

Benns would share this argument. ”We are dancing on the deck of the Titanic,” Benns writes. ”The rest of the economy is being run down in favour of minerals. But mining companies only employ 3 per cent of the Australian population.”

Such points are rarely heard within the mainstream political and media elites, too keen to promote ”growth” and ”development”. The three-year election cycle has turned us into lemmings approaching the cliff.

Dirty Money 
Matthew Benns 
William Heinemann, $34.95

Big Brother isn’t in the future, it’s here today


Posted: 01 Apr 2012


Via the New York Times:

Law enforcement tracking of cellphones, once the province mainly of federal agents, has become a powerful and widely used surveillance tool for local police officials, with hundreds of departments, large and small, often using it aggressively with little or no court oversight, documents show.

The practice has become big business for cellphone companies, too, with a handful of carriers marketing a catalog of “surveillance fees” to police departments to determine a suspect’s location, trace phone calls and texts or provide other services. Some departments log dozens of traces a month for both emergencies and routine investigations.

With cellphones ubiquitous, the police call phone tracing a valuable weapon in emergencies like child abductions and suicide calls and investigations in drug cases and murders. One police training manual describes cellphones as “the virtual biographer of our daily activities,” providing a hunting ground for learning contacts and travels.

But civil liberties advocates say the wider use of cell tracking raises legal and constitutional questions, particularly when the police act without judicial orders. While many departments require warrants to use phone tracking in nonemergencies, others claim broad discretion to get the records on their own, according to 5,500 pages of internal records obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union from 205 police departments nationwide.

The internal documents, which were provided to The New York Times, open a window into a cloak-and-dagger practice that police officials are wary about discussing publicly. While cell tracking by local police departments has received some limited public attention in the last few years, the A.C.L.U. documents show that the practice is in much wider use — with far looser safeguards — than officials have previously acknowledged.

Tear Gas in the Morning; non-violent resistance in Palestine

Posted: 01 Apr 2012

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WAFA—Palestine news and info agency

March 29, 2012


Jews Control 85% of Historical Palestine, says Statistics Bureau


RAMALLAH, March 29, 2012 (WAFA) – Jews constitute around 52% of the total population living in historical Palestine and utilize more than 85% of the total area of the land, press release issued by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said Thursday.

Arabs make the remaining 48% but are allowed to utilize only 15% of the land, it added.

The report came on the occasion of Land Day, which falls on March 30 and marks the 36th anniversary for the killing of six Palestinians living inside Israel during a demonstration against Israeli confiscation of 21,000 dunums of land in the Galilee, the Triangle, and the Naqab.

The PCBS said while the Jordan Valley makes up 29% of the West Bank, Israel controls approximately 90% of it. Fewer than 65,000 Palestinians remain there today compared to 9,500 settlers.

The Annexation Wall has a total length of about 757 kilometers, of which 92% are inside the West Bank. According to this route, 733 km2 of Palestinian land were isolated between the Wall and the Green Line in 2010. This comprises approximately 13.0% of the West Bank, of which about 348 km2 were agricultural, said the release.


It added that While Palestinians represent 30% of the population of Jerusalem, they pay 40% of the value of the taxes collected by the municipality. Yet, the Jerusalem municipality only spends 8% on providing services to Palestinians.


There were 474 Israeli settlements, outposts and military bases in the West Bank by the end of 2011. Settlers established 11 new outposts in 2010.


Data indicate that the number of settlers in the West Bank totaled 518,974 at the end of 2010; 262,493 settlers live in Jerusalem governorate and constitute 50.6% of all West Bank settlers. Of these land, 110 km2were confiscated for Israeli settlements and military bases, 250 km2were forest and open areas, and 25 km2 Palestinian built-up land. The Wall isolated 53 localities and affected over three hundred thousand people, particularly communities in Jerusalem where 27 localities affected are home to a quarter of a million people.


Moreover, the Wall besieges 165 localities with a population of more than half a million inhabitant, and Qalqilya city is one of the witnesses on that, said PCBS.


The Israeli occupation authorities demolish Palestinian homes and create obstacles and constraints to the issuance of building permits for Palestinians. According to the Al-Maqdisi Institute, between 2000 and 2011, 1,059 buildings were demolished in East Jerusalem (the areas annexed by Israel in 1967). This has resulted in the displacement of 4,865 people, including 2,537 children.


Data from Israeli human rights organizations indicate that about 25 thousand homes have been demolished in the occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967.


The data indicate an increase in demolitions where residents have to demolish their own homes, 289 residents were forced to demolish their own homes since 2000, on the other hand the year 2010 had the highest rate of self-demolition with 70 demolitions compared to 49 in 2009. In 2011, 20 self-demolitions took place. In many cases, residents do not inform the media and human rights organizations of the demolition.


About 196,178 live in areas of Jerusalem annexed by Israel in 1967. In demographic terms, the proportion of settlers to the Palestinian population in the West Bank was about 20 settlers per 100 Palestinians compared with 68 settlers per 100 Palestinians in Jerusalem governorate.


In March 2012, there were 4033 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including 178 administrative prisoners and 8 female prisoners. Of these, 49 prisoners have spent more than 20 years in captivity and 15 prisoners have spent more than 27 years in captivity.




2 Al Jazeera Saturday, March 31, 2012




Palestinians forge new strategies of resistance


Ben White

Freelance journalist Ben White is author of Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide.


A new generation of Palestinian activists is breaking down old divisions imposed by Israel.


Social media has enabled more Palestinian unity, despite the occupation’s policy of geographical separation [GALLO/GETTY]

A one-state solution in Palestine/Israel is a subject being increasingly discussed and debated. One way in which the conversation has emerged is through an analysis of the current situation as a de facto one state, a regime which privileges Jews above Palestinians (the latter being granted or denied different rights according to geography and legal status).


This challenges the orthodoxy that makes a clean distinction between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In doing so, it not only provides a framework for interpreting various policies, but also counters the fragmentation of Palestinians over the decades into “Israeli Arabs”, “West Bank” or “Gaza” Palestinians, Jerusalemites  – and of course, refugees.


But apart from this discursive “reintegration”, as the apartheid regime has been consolidated irrespective of the “Green Line”, a new generation of Palestinian activists is breaking down old divisions imposed by Israel and forging new connections and strategies of resistance.


Lana Khaskia is an activist from Haifa. Last October, she worked alongside other comrades to organise a hunger strike in support of Palestinian prisoners. The action went under the name “Hungry for Freedom”, a slogan Lana says covers “many demands that can be summarised in one demand: ending Zionist colonialism in all of historic Palestine”.


That broad definition of “freedom” was matched by “one of the most important achievements” of the action, namely, “making links with many Palestinian groups both inside and outside Palestine”. Lana recalls how they got a phone call from activists in Gaza that “became a sort of demonstration, with each side shouting slogans to the other – about ending the siege on Gaza and for a return to Haifa”.


Inside Story – Israel: A ‘democratic’ violator of rights?

More recently, the hunger strike of Khader Adnan sparked a similar burst of coordinated activity among Palestinians. Blogger Jalal Abukhater described to me how “West Bank-based Palestinians would have their main demonstration at Ofer Prison. Gaza Palestinians would gather in Al-Jundi Square in Gaza City and 48 Palestinians would demonstrate in front of Ziv Hospital in Safad, where Khader Adnan was held”.


That sort of coordination, Jalal notes, has been “made easier through the use of social media” and enabled Palestinians to be “united in their action despite occupation’s policy of geographical separation”. Online communication technology, famously (and excessively) credited for its role as an activists’ tool in the Arab uprisings, is having an impact in Palestine, breaching walls and checkpoints that divide and separate.


Abir Kopty is another Palestinian blogger and activist who is taking advantage of the way in which social media can facilitate coordinated actions. “Communicating online”, Abir says, “is enabling our voices to be heard directly without agents who claim to represent us. And when we have this space to represent ourselves, we become very creative in our ways of taking action.”


These remarks point to how the changes go deeper than Facebook and Twitter – there is a shift in the mindset amongst a new generation that is, in Abir’s words, “less tied to the traditional modes of thinking and acting based on the fragmentation and division of the Palestinian people”.


This increased organisation and coordination between Palestinian youth has defied not just physical walls but also, in the words of Budour Hassan, a fourth-year law student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, “a psychological wall constructed by the apartheid system and fortified by prejudices and stereotypes”. Prior to her participation in protests in West Bank villages, Budour relates, she had “barely been in touch with any West Bank Palestinians”.


For now, these flourishing connections are still restricted to youth activists. But Ameer Makhoul, writing from his Israeli jail cell, highlighted how a campaign like the one for Khader Adnan “illustrated how the components of popular struggle can be brought together”. After all, as Janan Abdu, an activist and researcher (and Ameer’s wife), put it to me, “the connection and co-operation between Palestinians are natural, as one people that was separated by the Nakba and military regime”.

As the peace process stalls and stagnates, it is easy to look at events in Palestine/Israel and see only unimpeded Israeli colonisation, coupled with a lack of legitimate, empowering leadership to marshal Palestinian efforts at resistance. This gloomy picture is accurate – but it misses out the signs of hope that are emerging at a grassroots level.


Ben White is a freelance writer, specialising in Palestine and Israel.


Follow him on Twitter @benabyad


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.



3 Today in Palestine

March 30, 2012

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Sullivan forces American attention on the settlements

Mar 31, 2012

Annie Robbins

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Israeli settlers al-Shuhada street, Hebron  (Photo:Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty)
images 2 2
Andrew Sullivan

I’m ecstatic about this new post by Andrew Sullivan.  He’s got a firm grip on the main artery of of Israel’s relentless expansion and he’s not backing down, he’s doubling down, driving it home and not letting go. He clenches their argument by  the throat, shakes it til the bones starts to rattle, and then strangles unmercifully. In this must-read 25-plus paragraph piece, he takes it all the way.

Let’s pick up where we left off a few days ago  Sullivan unmasks Goldberg:

I repeat: What would be a very good way to remove those settlements?

And now in his favorable review of Peter Beinart’s book, the Crisis of Zionism, titled Why Continue To Build The Settlements? Sullivan continues to place the settlements center stage, where they belong.  In his previous interrogation of Goldberg he didn’t use Netanyahu’s Goldberg’s own analysis to make his points, this time he does several times over:

The answer is that the settlements are there because the current Israeli government has no intention of ever dividing the land between Arabs and Jews in a way that would give the Palestinians anything like their own state; and have every intention of holding Judea and Samaria for ever. Netanyahu is, as Beinart rightly calls him, a Monist. He is the son of his father, Ben Zion, as Jeffrey Goldberg has also insisted on. But what Peter does is spell out one side of the Netanyahu vision that Goldberg elides.

Vladimir Jabotinsky was a huge influence on Netanyahu’s father and Netanyahu himself. He’s a complicated figure, as Beinart readily concedes. For Jabotinsky, what it all came down to in the end was “the single ideal: a Jewish minority on both sides of the Jordan as a first step towards the establishment of the State, That is what we call ‘monism’.” My italics. The Revisionist Zionists (whence eventually Likud) envisaged a Jewish state that would not only include the West Bank but the East Bank as well, i.e. Jordan.

Ben Zion Netanyahu followed Jabotinsky’s vision, and his willingness, even eagerness, to use violence to achieve it: “We should conquer any disputed territory in the land of Israel. Conquer and hold it, even if it brings us years of war … You don’t return land.” Ben Zion Netanyahu even favored the “transfer” of Arabs living in Palestine to other Arab countries.In 2009, Netanyahu Sr, put his position this way to Maariv:

“The Jews and the Arabs are like two goats faing each other on a narrow bridge. One must jump into the river.” “What does the Arab’s jump mean?” asked the interviewer, trying to decipher the metaphor. Netanyahu explained: “That they won’t be able to face the war with us, which will include withholding food from Arab cities, preventing education, terminating electrical power and more. They won’t be able to exist and they will run away from here.”

Suddenly, the situation in Gaza and much of the West Bank makes more sense, doesn’t it? It’s a conscious relentless assault on the lives of Palestinians to immiserate them to such an extent that they flee. And if you do not think that Bibi Netanyahu’s father isn’t easily the biggest influence on his life and worldview, read Jeffrey Goldberg. Money quote:

By all means do read the money quote. Sullivan’s taking on the rotten core of Zionism using Netanyahu’s dad to drive home the argument:

“withholding food…. preventing education, terminating electrical power ….They won’t be able to exist“.

Sounding very very ugly indeed.

So yes, it’s a review of Beinart’s book. But more importantly it’s an evisceration of Israel’s expansion policies, a further unmasking of Zionism, via Goldberg. The very same Goldberg who’s assured us that he will be getting back to us very shortly on two fronts:

a) Netanyahu’s perspective on Israel striking Iran (off the table for now, as of this week) and

b) Having accused Sully of being a “scapegoater of Jews” and claiming he would disengage from the spat, Goldberg changed his mind (cornered) and promised readers he would provide them with: “the specific examples” of Sully’s intransigence.

Goldberg is traveling, he hasn’t written a stitch since then, nothing I’ve run across anyway. And since the war’s off til next year, filling us in on Bibi’s perspective of why an Iran strike would be successful is a moot point.

Sullivan is not on holiday though, we’re very certain of that. He’s got Goldberg boxed in.

The best part of all this is the placement of settlements on the front burner during an election cycle. Americans need to understand the ugliness of Israel’s expansion policy, they need to fully grok how the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is happening every single day.

Fire and flowers at Erez

Mar 31, 2012

Johnny Barber

flower at Erez crossing
Photo of youth at Erez crossing by Johnny Barber

I have returned from Beit Hanoun [in northern Gaza]. A terrible day. I spent the early afternoon at a demonstration attended by several thousand people. The Hamas authorities refused to allow the people to march to the border and clashes broke out with the police. The police beat several people with clubs.

When we finally found a way to get around the Hamas cordon, we found shebab (kids from roughly the age of 12 to 25) at Erez Crossing. They were throwing stones at the Israeli side of the crossing. Tires were on fire and several kids were pulling the concertina wire away from the crossing. Every so often, the Israeli soldiers in the watchtower would shoot..

[Official reports say one Palestinian youth was killed.] So far 2 killed, 20+ shot, several in critical condition. I put down my camera to try and help with casualties, but as each kid got shot a huge chaotic crowd formed around them as they were rushed to motorcycles which ferried them to the Palestinian side of the crossing and waiting ambulances.

The rock throwing continues, the casualties will go up. Thinking about oppression & resistance. Thinking about peace…

‘Judaizing’ Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem, with backing from Americans

Mar 31, 2012

Jeff Halper

Natche family home under threat of eviction by settlers, Beit Hanina. (Photo: Michael Salisbury)

Driving Palestinians out of their homes in “east” Jerusalem is, as you can imagine, a dirty business. But its not terribly difficult. The Palestinians are a vulnerable population, poor (70% subsist on less than $2 a day), completely unprotected by the law or Israeli courts, and targeted by determined Jewish settlers with all the money and political backing in the world – much of its coming, of course, from the US, mainly from orthodox Jews and Christian Zionists.

Police entering Natche home. (Photo: Felizitas Hoffmann)

Over the past few days settlers led by Arieh King have been harassing Palestinian residents of Beit Hanina where, according to King, settlers will “very soon” take over four houses, plus an additional two houses in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where violent nighttime evictions aided by the Israeli police have become commonplace. The immediate target of window-breaking, curses, violent encounters and now a police search of the home “for weapons” is the Natche family of Beit Hanina (see pictures).

King is the front-man for Irving Moskowitz, a wealthy owner of bingo casinos in Hawaiian Gardens, a poor Latino community near Los Angeles, who is bankrolling some 17 settlements around East Jerusalem to “buffer” the Old City and “Judaize” East Jerusalem (see the StopMoskowitz website.) A friend and benefactor of Netanyahu, Moskovitch was behind the opening of the tunnels under the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem in 1996 that resulted in the deaths of 80 Palestinian protesters.

The Moskowitz/King strategy is to establish settlements in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods, often in houses acquired by dubious and violent means. Among the settlements established or on the way are the City of David (Silwan), just below the al-Aqsa mosque; Ma’ale Zeitim and Ma’ale David in the Ras-el-Amud quarter on the southern side of the Mount of Olives; Beit Hoshen on the Mount of Olives, where several Palestinian families were violently evicted from their homes and which flies an enormous Israeli flag; Beit Orot, on the northern part of the Mount of Olives, where last year Mike Huckabee laid the foundations for an expanded settlement; the Shepherds Hotel and Sheikh Jarrah, now renamed Shimon Hatzadik; a plot in the village of Anata to the east of the Hebrew university; and now the homes in Beit Hanina.

While King, Moskowitz and other organized settler groups frame their taking of Palestinian homes as “reclaiming” Jewish properties from before 1948, Palestinians are legally prevented from even approaching the courts to reclaim their lost properties in “west” Jerusalem– the homes, businesses and lands that once comprised 40% of the now all-Jewish part of the city. King works through a company called The Israel Land Fund that, according to its website, “is dedicated to enable all Jews (Israeli and non-Israeli citizens) to own a part of Israel. It strives to ensure that Jewish land is once again reclaimed and in Jewish hands. House by house, lot by lot, the Israel Land Fund is ensuring the land of Israel stays in the hands of the Jewish people forever.”

Just how sleazy the settlement racket is can be gleaned from The Israel Land Fund’s website. It employs, we learn, three full-time employees who “are well versed in Arabic, and all served as officers in the Israel Defense Force.” It adds menacingly and tellingly: “These skills are frequently called into play in their dealings with Arab sellers and with the local population in areas that the Fund is active.” The Fund’s employees are proficient in English, we are told, “since the Fund’s main proponents are from the English speaking public.”

The “process” of acquiring an Arab property, described on the website, also offers insights into King’s methods. First, “the buyers [i.e. Jews] will be shown properties or land they may be interested in purchasing, without directly identifying the property. This is to prevent the possibility of over-exposure of the property [read: the neighbors, or even the people living in the home who think they own it, might find out] which may result in the cancellation or withdrawal of the property by the seller [not necessarily the owners nor the people who believe the home belongs to them] or cause damage to the deal.” Only when “the buyers” are sufficiently committed will The Fund then conduct negotiations on their behalf. “It is only at this stage, once the ILF is convinced of the seriousness and authenticity of the buyers, that the ILF will reveal the seller and enable the buyer to visit the property.”

The “settlement business” cannot function, of course, without extensive official support. Settler groups and their lawyers are able to keep even weak or non-existent cases in court for years with the help of their deep pockets and compliant judges. Palestinians, even those with strong cases, simply cannot afford the expenses of litigation. If a Palestinian or his children run afoul with the law, especially in cases of alleged stone-throwing, the settlers, through their lawyers and sympathetic police, can extricate the person – for a price, often his home. The municipality is enlisted either to threaten families who are targeted for various building violations with fines or to issue demolition orders against their homes, and building permits elsewhere are used as inducement to get Palestinians to leave targeted areas, such as Silwan.

Deals are also struck. Rumors are that the Natche home in Beit Hanina will be offered to a poor Palestinian family in the Old City whose home is small and cramped but is strategically located for purposes of judaization. Poor and vulnerable families are enticed to sell for exorbitant sums (hence we don’t want to “over-expose” a potential property), or houses are “bought” from an absentee relative in some far-off country and the family evicted in the middle of the night without even knowing their home was sold. (Good lawyers can solve any legal complications.)

natcheh mom
Um Suleiman after the police raid. (Photo: Felizitas Hoffmann)

So from the Natche family to the judaization of Jerusalem, compliments of a California bingo parlor-cum-casino operated on the backs of low-income Latinos and English-speaking Jewish “buyers”


Head of Bill Kristol’s lobby group calls on Israeli army to use Palestinian protesters as ‘target practice’

Mar 31, 2012

Philip Weiss

Bill Kristol is the chairman of the Emergency Committee for Israel, Noah Pollak is the top staffer at the shop. From Pollak’s twitter feed (and thanks to ThinkProgress for spotting it):

Global March to Jerusalem needs a more accurate name, like Global March to Become Target Practice for the IDF.

Pollak has earlier called for “disproportionate force” against Palestinians and for shooting released Palestinian prisoners.

Rachel Abrams is on the board of ECI and has called upon Israel to throw Palestinian children into the sea to be eaten by sharks.

The Palestine National Orchestra: a view from the violin section

Mar 31, 2012

Tom Suarez

Palestine National Orchestra, 2010. (Photo: Los Angeles Times)

The Palestine National Orchestra, Palestine’s flagship symphonic ensemble, is the brainchild of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, Palestine’s preeminent institution for both Western and Arabic music. When the Conservatory’s Michele Cantoni asked me to join the PNO for their March 2012 series, I eagerly accepted. What follow are my own personal reflections.
The Belgian-British composer Tim Pottier manages the orchestra, its repertoire, musicians, programming, and tirelessly navigates the Orwellian realities of Israeli occupation. Generous individuals, organizations, businesses, and even local restaurants make the concert series financially possible and demonstrate a deep community involvement.

Typical of major symphony orchestras, the PNO is international in its composition. In addition to its core of Palestinian musicians and extranationals who, ever-subject to Israel’s tri-monthly permit renewal, have made Palestine their home, the PNO taps musicians from elsewhere in the Middle East, from Europe, and the Americas. Many teach at the Said Conservatory (branches in Ramallah, East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nablus), or the highly regarded Al Kamandjati in Ramallah, founded by the Palestinian violist Ramzi Aburedwan. English is the one language understood by all PNO members, and so serves as the lingua franca during rehearsals. At meals and over coffee, Arabic and European languages intermingle.

We performed concerts in both Amman (Jordan) and Ramallah (Occupied Palestine), all under the direction of Matthew Coorey (Khoury), an Australian conductor of Lebanese descent who is based in the UK. In keeping with welcome trends toward more correct performance practice, the second violins were opposite the first violins, where the ‘celli are more commonly seen. Communication between the two violin sections is more difficult with this arrangement, but it is effective: their separate lines become clearer and the ‘celli are angled to project forward.
Coorey landed his opening downbeat to the Coriolan Overture of Beethoven without a moment’s pause, giving the work’s arresting opening a special urgency. Beethoven allows little relief from the violence, conflict, and ultimate suicide of the Roman general who lived in the 5th century BC, and Coorey made full use of the ending’s prolonged dissonance between the bassoon and ‘celli that keeps the painful tension all the way to three closing pizzicati.


The PNO’s first clarinetist, the brilliant young Syrian clarinet Kinan Azmeh, performed one of his own compositions dating from 2007. Written in the unusual meter of 21/16, the intriguing“November 22” juxtaposes the semi-improvisational solo clarinet against a steady rhythmic figure from the bass and sustained lines from the upper strings. Azmeh explains that it depicts “homesickness while away from home,” in which the rhythmic figure is “how the slow and steady rhythm of life keeps moving regardless of one’s emotions,” while the clarinet intones familiarity, childhood, homesickness. The piece begins quietly with a gradual buildup to great commotion, and then ebbs, very gradually, to quite literally nothing, heightening the audience’s already rapt attention.


Alexander Suleiman performed the Schumann cello concerto with both virtuosity and intelligence, and his playing of the concerto’s slow movement was among the most beautifully crafted I have heard. Suleiman’s musical experience is broad, championing new music as well as early music performance practice. He is professor of cello at the University of Southern California, and was recently appointed artistic director of the Art Conquers Borders Academy in Bremen.
Coorey’s energetic approach to Mozart’s “Haffner” Symphony captured the excitement, humanity, and humor of the work, and his fast tempi were particularly demanding of the strings, for whom Mozart is always acrobatics on eggshells. The new urtext parts the PNO wisely used caught my curiosity, as they differed in small detail from the older editions I was familiar with.

The final work was Stravinsky’s colorful and hilarious Pulcinella Suite, from the commedia dell’arte ballet about three couples’ jealousies and flirtations. A string quintet formed by Nabih Bulos and Basel Theodory (violin), Aidan Pendleton (viola), Alexander Suleiman (‘cello), and Priscila Vela Vico (bass) intermingles with wind solos by principal flute Ahmed Qatamesh, oboe Andrea Shaheen, bassoon Maher Farkouh, horn Yousef Assi, trumpet Rani Elias, and trombone Riccardo Benetti, deftly showcasing Stravinsky’s transparently scored adaptation of music traditionally, if tenuously, ascribed to Pergolesi.

Two encores— the “Fire Dance” from Manual de Falla’s El Amor Brujo, and the Palestinian nationalist song Mawtini, proved insufficient, one audience satisfied only after we repeated the last movement of the Mozart symphony.

The PNO faces the logistical and funding challenges common to all orchestras. But in addition it confronts something far more impenetrable: an ever-present military occupation and crippling apartheid laws. Sold to the West as self-defense, Israel’s hold on daily Palestinian life seeks to destroy what its tanks and F-16s can’t. Thus the PNO is an act of defiant normalcy, a refusal to be defined by the 64 years of neo-colonial oppression that is the reality of everyday existence in Palestine.
This refusal of victimhood is powerful—indeed so powerful that it lay beyond the comprehension of the BBC and the popular Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The venerable BBC couldn’t even get past the orchestra’s name, with its implicit statement of sovereign identity. In its report about the ensemble’s debut, the BBC erroneously called it the “Palestinian” National Orchestra.[1]

Both it and Haaretz seized upon the PNO’s 2011 programming of Gyorgy Ligeti’s Concert Romanesc to re-explain the PNO in harmony with the Israeli narrative. According to Haaretz,[2] the Palestinian musicians purposefully chose Ligeti, a Hungarian Jewish Holocaust survivor, as their way of “conceding the tragic refugee history of [Israeli] society” and to say “we are brothers” in tragedy. Yet again, the Holocaust is exploited to empower more terror, and the “left-wing” Haaretz cries tears of commiseration with the very people its nation is brutalizing, as though “the conflict” were the doing of some Other Force to which Israel, too, is victim. Implicitly, Haaretz has the PNO agreeing that the apartheid Israeli state was the answer to Europe’s displaced Jews, and that the fascism it imposes upon Palestinians is the inevitable result of this. Thus the Concert Romanesc served to have Israeli mythology vindicated by its victims.

The truth—that the Ligeti had been an independent Palestinian artistic decision made by Tim Pottier, without any thought to Israel—lay outside the Israeli narrative. Yet in a final twist to sooth its liberal audience, Haaretz jubilantly concluded that the music “managed to get through the checkpoints and the walls as though they never existed.” Forgetting, for the present purpose, the question of why Israel has checkpoints and walls on other people’s land in the first place, let’s take a brief look at how Palestinian musicians do, and don’t, get through the three ghettos into which it has dissected Palestine—Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
To start, one must first acknowledge that one and a half million Palestinians are automatically erased from our story, as they are severed from the world by the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip. Israel even blocks music from Gaza for its “security”.[3] String broke? Bad reed? Need music? You’ll have to get someone to smuggle them through the tunnels from Egypt. Rare exceptions that Israel may cite are meaningless: one cannot commit musicians, venue, travel, and audience on the remote chance that Israel will not sabotage the project.

This writer’s personal experience will suffice to illustrate. I was among a group of people invited to a professional event in Gaza City sponsored by the World Health Organization and the European Union. Applications to Israel were made well in advance by these international agencies, all to Israel’s specifications. But shortly before the event, despite a year of planning and prior approval, and despite Israel’s claim not to be occupying Gaza, it blocked our entry without explanation. When I refused to leave the gate to the Erez crossing, IDF soldiers physically removed me.
Musicians in the West Bank can travel across their own border to Jordan, though the crossing is unpredictable, expensive, and sometimes much worse. Within the West Bank, Palestinians are impeded by Israel’s ever-increasing settlements, and walls that splice villages and families in two. Normal endeavors that musicians elsewhere take for granted—getting to a routine rehearsal in a neighboring town—can be risky and humiliating, and is always unpredictable.

East Jerusalem has different problems. Unlike the West Bank, in which Israel maintains a military occupation, or Gaza, which remains sealed like a massive internment camp, Israel claims to have actually annexed East Jerusalem. The annexation is illegal (not even the ever-compliant U.S. recognizes it), and thus Israel’s ethnically predicated laws have no legal jurisdiction there. But they are, by military force, the laws that control.

“Residency” is the coveted status in East Jerusalem for non-Jews. A Palestinian whose family has lived there for centuries lives in fear of ethnicity-based expulsion on arcane technicalities manufactured for the purpose. Simply leaving East Jerusalem—concert tour, study—can be used as an abdication of residence. Other families become “illegal” when Israel expands the border of Jerusalem to include parts of the West Bank.

The arcane apartheid laws that de facto (not legally) rule occupied East Jerusalem change with neither notice nor transparency. This past January, the Jerusalem Children’s Orchestra, another initiative of the Said Conservatory, was to perform at the National Theatre in East Jerusalem. But suddenly and without notice, Israel lowered the age at which Palestinian children need special permits to enter East Jerusalem, which until then had been fifteen. In this case, Israel’s sabotage of Palestinian achievement succeeded—the new regulations could not be met in time, and so many of the young musicians would be prevented from performing. The concert was cancelled.

Israel was only partially successful when the Palestine Youth Orchestra prepared to perform in the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Nablus. The French authorities, holding more clout than Palestinians, helped the orchestra apply for the permits Israel mandates. Permission was granted and arrangements were made. Israel then arbitrarily changed the permissible dates, but the Said Conservatory, not to be stopped, rescheduled concerts, rehearsals, travel, and housing. But then Israel changed the permits’ dates a second time. When even that failed to sabotage the project, Israel refused either to approve or deny permission for an oud player whose participation was crucial. This new obstacle was thwarted only when the resourceful Tim Pottier masterminded a media coup that would have caused the Israeli authorities more embarrassment than the issue was worth to them. In the end, the double rescheduling put the event into Ramadan, and fifteen children were stopped from participating until the last few days.

At this point, it is worth reminding the reader that nothing here involves Israeli permission to enter Israel; it is Israeli “permission” for Palestinians to enter Palestine.

The Oslo Accords simultaneously allowed the Palestinian Authority a facade of sovereignty, placards on office doors boasting the Palestinian Ministry of This-&-That, while actually tightening Israel’s yoke around their land. One dressing of make-believe sovereignty was the issuance of Palestinian passports, but passports of a nation that doesn’t exist have little meaning. Nor are Palestinian refugees outside Palestine eligible; they hold travel documents that are valid for a short period of time and afford limited privileges. Travel is especially difficult for them, and merely changing planes on an unbroken flight can require special visas and expense.

The PNO operated with the Said Conservatory’s accumulated savvy about Israel bureaucracy, and all the permits Israel requires for the orchestra’s Palestinians had been meticulously secured for our March 15th concert in the West Bank. Israel, however, made two of the permits valid only for April 5th. For three weeks, Tim tried to get the Israeli authorities to correct the dates, but was met with the traditional stonewalling, and two days before the Ramallah concert he had to fly in an oboist from Spain and get a bassoonist from Jordan.

One must remember that Palestinians are refugees only because Israel has for six and a half decades defied United Nations’ demands that it allow those it had ethnically cleansed to return to their homes, broken the explicit promises upon which it was admitted to the UN, violated the UN Partition agreement which facilitated the creation of the state itself, and indeed violated the 1917 Balfour Declaration which Israel cites as a precedent.

But instead of Israel being held accountable, we set out for the West Bank leaving our two colleagues, oboist Haneen Hamadeh and bassoonist Iyad Hafez, behind. Haneen, whose roots are in Nablus (West Bank), lives in Amman. Iyad, the son of Palestinian refugee from Acre, lives Apolid (stateless) in Italy, and had flown to Amman to join us. They had played all the rehearsals for the concerts.

Tom Suarez at the Erez crossing, 2008. (Photo: ActiveStills)

The roughly 40 km from Amman, through the Jordan Valley, over the Allenby Bridge, and west to Ramallah took the six hours we expected, most of it at the Israeli-controlled border facility. The Israeli “processing” is an arduous and often demeaning affair, especially for Palestinians, and one must work around its limited weekend hours. Israel collects a punitive exit tax at the Palestine-Jordan crossing which it does not impose on the Tel Aviv airport (which Palestinians are forbidden from using).

Bringing instruments and equipment through Israeli control of Palestine’s border is also problematic and expensive. Musical instruments are detained, refused entry, and sometimes damaged by the Israeli authorities. In our case, we were assisted by the French government: they provided a government vehicle that enjoys diplomatic immunity from search. With it, the PNO transported its timpani and basses between Jordan and the West Bank.

After the first couple of security checks, I and two Palestinians were pulled aside for special screening, then released to the interminable wait at the holding facility with the rest of the orchestra. As time passed with our entrance to Palestine uncertain, musicians began unpacking their instruments and doodling. Soon we risked the first movement of the Haffner symphony from memory, and then turned to the Schumann ‘cello concerto with one part per section propped up on chairs. (Someone videoed part of this, and it can be found on Youtube.) Israeli officials approached and reacted with differing body language, some baffled, others annoyed or bemused, or even visible touched.

Israeli control of the movement of Palestinian and foreign musicians, and the havoc wreaked by its military occupation, make reliable planning impossible. If this presents the PNO with daunting challenges and significantly higher expenses for a limited concert series close to home, it makes a more ambitious and international schedule for a Palestinian ensemble all but impossible.

Viewed thus, calls one hears for the boycott of Israeli cultural institutions are nothing more than calls for simply fair play, for a host country to insist that no guest block another guest.

And it is this that we, citizens of nations that empower the so-called “conflict” in Israel-Palestine, must face. The war against Palestinian culture is not the unfortunate side-effect of bureaucracy intended, if perhaps over-zealously, to “defend Israel”. That war is, rather, the explicit purpose of that bureaucracy. The occupation is much more than colonies and tanks, more than its blocking the return of displaced persons, more than its campaigns of expropriation and ethnic cleansing. It is even more than Israel’s core MO: that, like the Orwell novel written in the year of its founding, it must forever manufacture an ever-present external threat in order to justify its actions.

The occupation is, most insidiously, the occupation of a people—the systematic destruction or theft of their history, culture, arts, and self-worth. And as with past regimes predicated on racial supremacy, it has maintained a theatre of integrity through a system of laws that is internally consistent.[4] There are checks and balances, precedent, courts, systems for redress, and all the other trappings of legal procedure, enabling the state to claim that theirs is a system based on justice and democracy.

But the PNO is vivid proof that Israel’s efforts to define Palestinians will fail. My time with the PNO was musically and intellectually exhilarating, one of camaraderie and solidarity of purpose. The musicians are sophisticated, with wide interests and diverse experiences, all determined to work together to produce a Palestinian orchestra that would be at home on any concert stage the world over.

Thanks to Tim Pottier for help clarifying details of bureaucracy and legal status.

1. “Palestinian orchestra to hold debut concert in Ramallah,” BBC, 31 Dec 2010.
2. Ben, Noam Zeev, “In Israel, Palestinian orchestra produces sounds of independence,”Haaretz. 14 Jan. 2011.
3. There is no transparency to the laws of Israel’s siege, but on musical instruments see, e.g., Hass, Amira, “Israel bans books, music and clothes from entering Gaza,” Haaretz. 17 May 2009.
4. For a good analysis of this, see Baker, Abeer and Matar, Anat (eds), Threat: Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israel. Pluto Press. 2011.

Jews utilize 85% of historical Palestine (and counting)

Mar 31, 2012


and other news from today in Palestine:

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement

Israel defense ministry plan earmarks 10 percent of West Bank for settlement expansion / Akiva Eldar
Haaretz 30 Mar — For years Israel’s Civil Administration has been covertly locating and mapping available land in the West Bank and naming the parcels after existing Jewish settlements, presumably with an eye toward expanding these communities. The Civil Administration, part of the Defense Ministry, released its maps only in response to a request from anti-settlement activist Dror Etkes under the Freedom of Information Law … A total of 569 parcels of land were marked out, encompassing around 620,000 dunams ‏(around 155,000 acres‏) − about 10 percent of the total area of the West Bank. Since the late 1990s, 23 of the unauthorized outposts were built on land included in the map. The Civil Administration is endeavoring to legalize some of these outposts, including Shvut Rahel, Rehelim and Hayovel. Etkes believes this indicates the settlers who built the outposts had access to the administration’s research on available land − more proof of the government’s deep involvement in the systematic violation of the law in order to expand settlements, he says. The maps name numerous communities that do not exist. These include Shlomzion, on land belonging to the Palestinian town of Aqraba, east of Nablus; Lev Hashomron, on the land of Kafr Haja, between Nablus and Qalqilyah; Mevo Adumim, on the lands of al-Azariya and Abu Dis; and Mitzpeh Zanoah and Mitzpeh Lahav, in south Mount Hebron … More than 90 percent of this land is east of the separation barrier, beyond the main settlement blocs.
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Jews control 85% of historic Palestine, says Statistics Bureau
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 29 Mar – Jews constitute around 52% of the total population living in historical Palestine and utilize more than 85% of the total area of the land, press release issued by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said Thursday. Arabs make [up] the remaining 48% but are allowed to utilize only 15% of the land, it added … The PCBS said while the Jordan Valley makes up 29% of the West Bank, Israel controls approximately 90% of it. Fewer than 65,000 Palestinians remain there today compared to 9,500 settlers … It added that While Palestinians represent 30% of the population of Jerusalem, they pay 40% of the value of the taxes collected by the municipality. Yet, the Jerusalem municipality only spends 8% on providing services to Palestinians … Data from Israeli human rights organizations indicate that about 25 thousand homes have been demolished in the occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967.
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Israel has approved 1800 illegal settlement units since the beginning of the year
MEMO 30 Mar — It has been disclosed that the Israeli occupation authorities have seized hundreds of acres of agricultural land in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem for the benefit of illegal settlement and Judaisation projects. A report prepared by the Palestine Liberation Organisation to coincide with Land Day also claims that Israel has given approval for 1,800 new housing units on illegal settlements since the beginning of 2012. It seems, says the PLO, that the pace and scope of the Israeli occupation is being stepped up, with more Palestinian land being stolen by force. This year alone, Israel has seized more than 3.5 million square metres of Palestinian land to expand its illegal settlements and construct the “apartheid” wall.
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Settlers expand illegal outpost in Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 29 Mar – Israeli settlers Thursday added four mobile homes to an illegal settlement outpost east of Yanoun, a village southeast of Nablus, according to a local activist. Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of settlements file in the Palestinian Authority in the northern part of the West Bank, told WAFA that Israeli settlers also detained four Palestinian shepherds near the village. Settlers intensified their presence around settlements across Nablus governorate after the Palestinian municipality of Nablus announced it will plow the land around settlements on the eve of Land Day.
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A little power to some Palestinian people, for now / Jillian Kestler-D’Amours
SHE’B EL-BUTTUM, WEST BANK, Mar 30, 2012 (IPS) – A handful of makeshift homes built from small boulders and plastic tarps and secured with thick ropes sit in the isolated community of She’b El- Buttum in the South Hebron Hills. A few metres away, several rows of solar panels and two wind turbines are affixed to the rocky hilltop, providing electricity to the village’s 150 residents … The Israeli Civil Administration – the Israeli military body that controls Area C of the occupied West Bank – has issued stop-work orders on solar panel and wind turbine systems in six separate communities in South Mount Hebron, including She’b El-Buttum. Area C is the part of the West Bank under Israeli control, while Area A is under Palestinian control and Area B under joint control. These orders in Area C are seen as the first step to demolishing the renewable energy systems entirely. The systems were installed by Israeli group Community Electricity and Technology Middle East (COMET-ME), and funded in large part by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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Israel reverses decision denying entry to British-Palestinian humanitarian doctor
Haaretz 30 Mar — The Interior Ministry on Wednesday reversed a previous decision to deny entry into the country to a British-Palestinian ophthalmologist, following an inquiry by Haaretz. Ali Dabbagh, a 57-year-old Palestinian ophthalmologist who holds British citizenship, was denied entry into the country on Monday by the Interior Ministry. Dabbagh, who holds a senior position in a hospital in Kuwait, arrived at the Allenby Bridge border crossing accompanied by his wife Sana. Dabbagh was invited to run a training course at Jerusalem’s Augusta Victoria Hospital on treatment of eye diseases and the prevention of blindness in diabetics.
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Land Day

Medics: Palestinian killed in Gaza rally
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Israeli fire killed one young Palestinian man and injured over 30 others in clashes at two sites in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian medical official said Friday evening.  Adham Abu Salmiya identified the victim as Mahmoud Zaqout, 20. He was shot and killed near the Erez crossing, the official said. Thirty-one others in the Erez area were injured and taken to Kamal Adwan Hospital. In Khan Younis, six people were hospitalized. Three people were critically injured, Abu Salmiya added.  Medics said the Israeli army used live fire to prevent protesters from approaching frontier barriers in the small coastal territory. Israeli officials said soldiers fired warning shots to deter the protesters. Hamas forces had set up checkpoints to prevent protesters reaching the border area, but many of the activists bypassed them, an activist who attended protests in Beit Hanoun said. Ebaa Rezeq says she witnessed at least six of the injuries which came after Israeli forces fired on a crowd that arrived at the border area.
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In Pictures — Israeli police and Palestinians clash during Land Day protests
Guardian 30 Mar — Land Day demonstrations mark the killing of six Arabs by Israeli forces in 1976 during protests against plans to confiscate land in the Galilee region
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Video: Palestine Land Day … Qalandia 30.03.2012 By
Demonstration at Qalandia checkpoint today for Palestinian Land Day. The Israeli army is ruthless against the peaceful demonstrators as usual. Seeing familiar faces, thank you all for being there and carrying on the fight for justice
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Land Day protesters plant trees near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Demonstrators near Bethlehem marked Land Day on Friday by planting olive trees on land slated for confiscation by Israel. Protesters gathered in Beit Jala waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans against land theft. The demonstration was organized by local civil society organizations.
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Video: Issawiya Land Day
AIC 29 Mar — Residents of Issawiya and A-Tur — two East Jerusalem neighborhoods — planted olive trees on Thursday, March 29th, to mark the annual Land Day in Palestine. The action was organized in protest of the Jerusalem municipality’s recent decision to zone Issawiya and A-Tur lands for the purposes of building an Israeli national park. Residents say this will take away the only land available to build new Palestinian homes and accommodate the natural growth of their neighborhoods. For more information, visit
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From Gaza to Sakhnin we are all united with Bil‘in
ISM Gaza posted 29 Mar by Nathan Stuckey — Today [27 Mar], in Beit Hanoun, Land Day came early.  The weekly Tuesday demonstration against the occupation and the no go zone was in honor of Land Day and the six martyrs who gave their lives defending their land thirty six years ago … We gathered on the road in front of the Beit Hanoun Agricultural College in preparation for the march into the no go zone.  There were about 50 of us, the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative, the International Solidarity Movement, other foreign activists, and Gazan activists from all over Gaza.  Palestinian flags flew high, music played over the megaphone, and we unfurled banners in memory of the martyrs of 1976.  Young men carried olive trees, hoes, shovels and water.  We would plant the trees in the no go zone today.
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Land Day live report
[video, photos; events starting at 9:17 and updated through the day] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — 17:31: Demonstrations have continued all day in the Gaza Strip, where activists are reporting casualties after Israeli forces opened fire near the border. Gaza medical official Adham Abu Salmiya reports over two dozen people injured — three of them seriously — after separate clashes near Beit Hanoun and Khan Younis. Protester Ebaa Rezeq says she witnessed at least six of the injuries which came after Israeli forces fired on a crowd that had bypassed Hamas police checkpoints to arrive at the border area. Rezeq says Israeli forces used live fire after they managed to remove a part of a metal fence near the wall. Israel says it fired warning shots at protesters near the border, but Rezeq disagrees. “People are falling here like flies,” she says. “Blood everywhere”.
16:24: Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset have joined thousands protesting in northern Israel’s Deir Hanna vilalge, Israeli media reporting….
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Photos: Damascus Gate demonstrators attacked by Israeli forces
MEMO 30 Mar – EXCLUSIVE PICTURES Thousands of Palestinians gathered earlier today at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate to take part in a rally to commemorate Palestinian Land Day. Protesters were attacked by thousands of armed Israeli forces, some of whom were on horseback. Tear gas was fired into the unarmed crowds while dozens of were arrested and taken away. The main entrance of the of the Old City was also closed off by military checkpoint to prevent people from getting to the Al-Aqsa mosque.
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Protester seriously injured in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — A Palestinian protester was seriously injured in Bethlehem on Friday after being hit in the face by a tear-gas canister, a Ma‘an correspondent said. Ali Arafa, 20, was taken to hospital in Hebron. He was injured when Israeli forces fired tear-gas canisters and stun grenades at Palestinians who threw stones at a checkpoint in a rally marking Land Day.
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Seven injured in clashes with Israeli troops in Bethlehem
IMEMC 30 Mar — Hundreds of Palestinian civilians marched towards Jerusalem marking the 36th anniversary of land day. The marchers were first stopped by the Palestinian security forces however they managed to reach the gate of the wall separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem. As protesters reach the gate, youth threw rocks and firebombs at the wall and the nearby military tower. Israeli troops responded by firing tear gas and sound bombs which resulted in wounding three Palestinians as they were hit with shrapnels of the sound bombs.  Their wounds were described as moderate.  Dozens others were treated for the effect of tear gas inhalation. A source from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society told IMEMC that one resident was hit with a tear gas canister in his back causing burns and bruises. The wounded was identified as Yousef Sharqawi from Bethlehem….
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Tens of thousands participate in Jerusalem march in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 30 Mar — Tens of thousands of Palestinians marched on Friday towards the Beit Hanoun crossing in the northern Gaza Strip from different parts of the Strip. Different Palestinian factions participated in the march. The popular action committee of Hamas said that dozens of buses carried protesters from different parts of the Gaza Strip amidst huge participation in demonstrations which also mark Land Day. The Prime Minister of the Gaza government, Ismail Haneyya, participated in the march accompanied by the Egyptian parliamentary delegation which is visiting Gaza.
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Red Crescent medics treat 339 protesters in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — The Palestinian Red Crescent treated 339 protesters on Friday at protests around the West Bank to mark Land Day, a spokesman said. Muhammad Ayyad told Ma‘an that five people were seriously injured and 55 hospitalized … Three people in Bethlehem were critically injured, one of whom was hit in the face by a tear gas canister. A protester in Jerusalem was hit in the jaw by a rubber[-coated steel] bullet and in Kafr Qaddum, near Qalqiliya, a protester was hit in the pelvis by a tear gas grenade, Ayyad said. The largest rally took place in Qalandiya, a checkpoint near Ramallah, where 249 were treated for injuries and 20 hospitalized. Ayyad said Israeli forces injured nine medics and damaged three ambulances at the protest…
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1 This is an important statement by Hithabrut-Tarabut.  I have seen it in Hebrew, but not yet in Arabic.
There is no doubt that international solidarity has for the time being failed the Syrian people.  The impotent “anti-imperialists” have done absolutely nothing to advance the cause of peoples’ liberation.

In the absence of international solidarity, the imperialists, the Zionists, and the Gulf kings and emirs are intervening to the best of their ability, in Syria, against the revolutionary interests of the peoples of Syria, Iran, and Palestine.
We must be very clear that we support the Syrian people’s revolution against Bashar Assad, and that we support a Middle East without nukes, without kings, and without dictators.

We must never lose sight of the fact that, in this situation, the “main enemy” is “in our own country”.


Henry Lowi


Supporting the Syrian People Fighting for Their Freedom—A Response to Widespread Objections


We, the Tarabut-Hithabrut movement, support unequivocally the Syrian people in their struggle for their liberty and their rights.


There are those who say that the situation in Syrian and the wider regional reality is complex, and they are right. However, we want to directly address the various objections raised against taking a position in favor of the democratic uprising of the Syrian people:


       There are those who say that the Syrian regime is anti-imperialist and comprises the last barrier to Western domination in our region.


The Baath Party in Syria is a corrupt regime of a small group of super-wealthy and powerful people who control enormous amounts of capital, which was stolen directly out of the pockets of the Syrian people. This ruling junta is not motivated by anti-imperialist ideals and can serve neither as a model for these ideas or as a defender of socialism. Although this regime is in a confrontation with Israel and the United States, a series of event such as the Gulf War show that the regime’s positions on international affairs are not consistent or principled but opportunistic. In addition, the Cold War is long over and the regime has since become friendly to Putin’s Russia, which is, as should be emphasized, a capitalist, authoritarian government with its own imperialist ambitions in addition to being a regime supported by the new empire, China, which is equally devoid of scruples or constraints.


       Protesters against the regime are peons in an imperialist plot


The uprising in Syria started in Dar’a when a group of parents who protested when the security forces jailed and tortured their children, who dared to write “the People Demand to Depose Bashar” on their school building’s wall. Insults and humiliations directed toward the children’s parents and local leaders triggered the mass protests. The protests that spread throughout the country were inspired by the successful democratic uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. We cannot forget this.


There are also foreign forces that are trying to take advantage of the situation and ride the wave of Syrian protesters, but this does not turn the protesters themselves into peons or agents of imperialism. The source of the protest is in the Syrian situation itself. Syria has no official statistics and no trustworthy data, but Syrians are well aware that even before the protests the unemployment rate was incredibly high and since then it has only worsened. Many people could only make a livelihood by joining the oppression and investigation apparatus of the regime or by supplementing their income by collaborating with them. Most of the population can only survive their day-to-day lives through bribery, where they must receive and take bribes in order to live and get a hold of basic good and services. Syrian voices demanding fundamental change have grown steadily louder and the masses started to shake free from the fear. The Syrian people are the source of the present protest and any consideration of this issue must begin with them, their rights, their suffering and their legitimate demands.


       The Syrian regime defends the Palestinian resistance


The Syrian regime has a special security force whose purpose is to monitor and oppress the political activism of the Palestinian refugees who live there. The regime does not allow any political organizing that does not conform to the regime. Regime dissidents are disappeared and murdered. Syria has 19 different security forces who have one goal: to eliminate any threat to the Syrian regime. From a historical point of view, the Asad family’s support of Palestinian organizations always came with preconditions. The Syrian Army massacred Palestinians several times during its wars in Lebanon (Tel AlZaatar, Tripoli) and of course, the regime acted again and again to divide the Palestinian national movement (their support for Abu Musa in Lebanon and their encouragement of the war between Hamas and Fatah are only two of the most obvious cases) and by doing this they blocked the Palestinian national movement’s ability to make decisions independently.


       The social protest is primarily a struggle between ethnic groups. The regime defends ethnic minorities and especially the Alawi group, which might suffer from a Sunni takeover.


There are inter-ethnic tensions in Syria, which sometimes result in hate crimes and revenge attacks. But the current regime is not an Alawi regime. The security force known as “AlShabiha” (literally “ghosts,” thugs that drive Mercedes cars that the regime pays for) is a security force established by the Baath party whose goal is to suppress resistance and political activity among the Alawis. Because Asad finds it complicated to use the standing army and the official security forces against his own community, he established an additional security force which is above the law. Many Alawi opposition leaders have been murdered by the regime and its agents, and many Alawis are in the opposition’s ranks today. “AlShabiha” have been trying to exacerbate inter-ethnic tensions in recent months, and this is also the purpose of the recent attacks in Christian neighborhoods, whose perpetrators are not known. This has no connection to the protests against the regime, in which members of all ethnic groups took part.


       A large part of the Syrian people supports the regime, as many as oppose it if not more.


In a dictatorial regime, there isn’t much meaning to citizens protesting in favor of the regime. Decades of dictatorial rule break social structure down and prevent the emergence of local leadership. Every citizen who shows signs of leadership is in danger of being eliminated by the government. Other citizens know this and live in fear. The same TV networks that broadcast the “support protests” also broadcast citizens kissing Bashar AlAsad’s photograph and declaring that “There is No God but Bashar” while soldiers are stepping on their backs and pointing a gun to their head. If we examine our own history, we will remember that, before the First Palestinian Intifada, Israeli TV would film Palestinian merchants and passers by in the West Bank answer “yes” to a question by an Israeli journalist about whether they are happy, and a determined “no” when they were asked if there were any political problems. To see these expressions of support as something authentic is to be blind to the deep fear and oppression in Syrian society in light of these forced expressions of support by frightened citizens.


It s important to emphasize how paralyzed the political system is, even though it is dependent on the regime: until now, after a whole year of protests, there was not a single published statement of support for the regime by any local branch of the Baath party or the artificial parties affiliated with it under the “National Progressive Front.”


       Opposition to the Asad regime is armed and therefore not popular and not legitimate


Among the protesters there are those that use weapons. However, the strongest and clearest voice that emerges from the protests in Syria from their very beginnings is one that speaks of nonviolent revolution and resistance. There are testimonies of armed groups of rebels that also commit war crimes and murder citizens—we condemn these crimes to the same degree that we condemn the regime’s crimes. Behind these crimes there may be different interests, but their background is a decades-long oppression that has prevented the establishment of a democratic political culture.


Concerning the question of the legitimacy of the armed resistance movement: let us not forget that Syria, like the countries that support it, arms and supports other armed organizations in other countries. Those who oppose the Syrian resistance because it is armed and support other armed resistance movements unconditionally are operating under a double standard.


It is not our purpose in this article to pass moral or ideological judgment as to whether the use of violence in order to rebel against an even more violent regime is justified or not, but history has proven to us numerous times that the weapons of the resistance have eventually been turned onto citizens, whether after the victory or on the way to it.


       What about international intervention?


Today, after months of widespread protest and economic crisis, the current regime is being held alive today only through the generous assistance of other states such as China, Russia and Iran. This is also a form of international intervention in the matters of the Syrian people.


We oppose international military intervention. Every place where such intervention took place, the consequences have been dire. The powers that intervene militarily do not do this out of their dedication to the good of the world’s freedom-seeking people, but rather out of economic and strategic interest. There are numerous examples in both space and time: Iraq and Libya. Nothing good comes to the world’s people from imperial military intervention, and there has never been a “Robin Hood” armed with combat jets that will faithfully prevent massacres without massacring and plundering himself. This has been true especially for the US and NATO, but not only them. Obviously, Turkish intervention would also not be for the Syrian people but rather for the suppression of the Kurds and the interests of the Turkish establishment. Different competing local organizations can invite foreign imperialist intervention—that’s the way that it’s always been. Every foreign military intervention is always under the cover of a local organization that invites them.


The question is not who is more cruel in bombing civilians—the Western powers or the local dictators. From a humanitarian point of view, all bombings are equal. But from the point of view of the long-term consequences of military intervention, the consequences of the initiation by local and foreign powers of pseudo-legitimate military activity in the region are totally different. It is a terrible blow to a people fighting for their freedom. Since at least the 19th century, Western powers have been invading different countries to save the poor indigenous peoples from themselves. The argument about the cruel locals who slaughter each other is not new. This is how it was done in Africa, in Asia and even Israel tried it. We cannot fall into the trap of foreign military intervention in the name of the humanitarian ideals of an enlightened elite.


       What will happen when the regime falls? A worse regime will rise in its place.


It is not for us to decide in the place of the Syrian people. The masses have flooded the streets and they are demanding the end of the current regime. There is no way of knowing what happens the day after the regime’s fall. It is very likely that there will be additional, painful struggles.


We too are concerned by a potential rise of an Islamic, intolerant regime or a puppet regime ruled by the US, or perhaps a regime that will continue the current state of affairs under a different cover. There is a big chance that this is exactly what will happen. However, it is the Syrian people’s prerogative to create the alternative and to judge its merit.


Many revolutions erupted to promote certain ideas, but after the revolution, a regime totally opposed to the revolution’s ideas arose. For example, the Algerian revolution ended with the establishment of an oppressive and dictatorial regime, and the revolution in Iran, which promoted freedom for Iranians, ended up being an oppressive and murderous regime. The final result does not undermine the justice of the struggle against colonial France in Algeria or the Shah’s rule in Iran.


In Syria, more than 10,000 citizens have already been murdered by the regime. This fact on its own is enough to call for this regime’s immediate end. Even if certain aspects of the current regime are better than some possible alternatives, that doesn’t mean that this regime has any legitimacy to continue to exist.


Of course, we prefer that a civilian, democratic, non-ethnic regime will be formed in Syria, one that respects the lives of its citizens and their social rights—a regime that expresses the will of the people, an independent regime free of external influence of the US, China, Russia, Turkey, Iran or others, which would express the Syrian people’s goal to free the Golan Heights from Israeli occupation and which will be friendly to the peoples of the region. But as we have said, this is the Syrian people’s decision, and only they have the authority to decide which regime and what government to have.


We are sure that a people that has bravely opposed a murderous regime will never again accept oppression and dictatorship from any new regime that arises. The Syrian people have begun a path to freedom from which there is no going back, and they will continue to struggle until they achieve their demands.


2 Gershom Gorenberg  reviews ‘The Law in These Parts’

March 30, 2012


The Law in These Parts asks tough questions about the role of the courts in Israeli settlement policy.


This time, it seems, justice has won: The West Bank settlement outpost of Migron must be demolished. So ruled the Israeli Supreme Court this week.


Migron is the best known of the outposts, small settlements set up across the West Bank since the ’90s with the help of Israeli government agencies—but without the government approval required under Israeli law since official approval would drawn too much publicity. The outpost stands entirely on privately owned Palestinian property. The landowners, with the help of Israel’s Peace Now movement, went to court in 2006. In this week’s decision, the court rejected a government proposal to put off evacuating the settlers for three years until new homes could be built for them elsewhere. The ruling blasts the proposal as “egregiously unreasonable” in light of the “grievous and ongoing harm to the rule of law.”


Prima facie, the court upheld the rights of Palestinians over the government’s fear of enforcing the law against settlers. The Israeli judiciary reined in the executive; the system worked.


Or did it? Certainly court approval of the government’s proposal would have been much worse. Yet perhaps the ruling should be seen as part of a wider picture in which the Israeli courts have permitted greater injustices in the occupied territories. Perhaps an occasional Supreme Court ruling against government actions legitimizes the occupation before the Israeli public by making it seem subject to judicial oversight. Perhaps the word “justice” is hollow in the context of “occupation.” Those are questions that one can’t help asking after seeing the superbly disturbing new Israeli documentary, The Law In These Parts {link:}, an indictment of the legal system Israel created in the West Bank.


Actually, the film is not just an indictment. It is very deliberately framed as the case for the prosecution against the military justice system, and against Supreme Court review of that system, in the land under Israeli military rule. The Law In These Parts opens with men assembling a desk in a film studio. Former members of the Israeli military’s legal corps—including Meir Shamgar, who went on to become chief justice of the Israeli Supreme Court—sit at the desk and answer questions from the unseen narrator-interviewer, Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, who is also the director. The wall behind them is a screen that shows documentary footage.


Alexandrowicz begins by raising the question of whether a documentary objectively portrays reality—a question that he explicitly links throughout the film with the question of whether courts objectively determine truth. The ageing ex-judges, it becomes clear, are now defendants.


The narrator comments in a dry voice that he has not presented all the evidence. If this makes you uncomfortable, you should be all the more uncomfortable that Palestinians in occupied territory can be imprisoned under administrative orders if military authorities believe they endanger public order—and that the judges who review the orders see only the secret evidence presented by Israel’s security services. Lawyers for the detainees remain in the dark, on the grounds that revealing the evidence in court would endanger the sources—usually informers. The evidence presented to the judges, like the film we are watching, does not tell the whole story. This is a brilliantly unsettling gambit by the director—and a reminder that the viewer should leave the movie with questions, not verdicts.


It was Shamgar who set the policy that residents of occupied territory could challenge government actions before Israel’s Supreme Court. As the narrator notes, this went beyond the requirements of international law. Judicial review of military measures taken outside the country’s borders may be unique to Israel. A 1979 decision seemed to demonstrate how enlightened the policy was: The Supreme Court overturned a decision by Menachem Begin’s government to requisition private Palestinian property for a new settlement. The whole settlement enterprise appeared stymied for lack of land.


Alexander Ramati, a former military lawyer, describes the next chapter: In a meeting called by Ariel Sharon, then in charge of settlement policy, Ramati proposed exploiting an Ottoman-era law to declare that uncultivated rural land belonged to the state, and then using it for settlement. That led to another suit filed by Palestinian farmers, arguing that an occupying power could not establish settlements on public property in occupied territory. Justice Shamgar wrote the decision rejecting that suit.


On camera, Shamgar does not recall that decision. He does declare that the “Supreme Court is … totally impartial” in ruling on policy in the territory, a claim that appears absurd to the viewer sitting in judgment: However well intentioned Israeli justices may be, they represent the occupying power. Alexandrowicz’s off-camera voice reads Shamgar the challenge raised by an Israeli legal scholar in 2002: In almost all cases, the Supreme Court has sanctioned the military’s actions. Without the threat of judicial review, the army and government would have acted with less restraint—but it’s possible that the occupation would have lost legitimacy more quickly and political pressure to end it would have grown. In the courtroom atmosphere of the film, Shamgar’s dismissal of the challenge only makes it more convincing. Yet the scholar himself had no definite answer. Without concern for defending their actions in court, military authorities might have committed much worse violations of rights.


If the interviewees are the defendants, we find that we can’t judge them equally. Some see themselves as having simply done their jobs, others make the case for the system even as historical evidence shown on the screen behind them undercuts their testimony. An ex-judge named Jonathan Livny describes the task he had to perform with a furious, unforgiving honesty.


“You know, sometimes I look at the court rulings and I ask myself, when you write a judgment, the purpose is not only to punish but also to correct. But of course you can’t correct a population that sees you as an occupier and views its own actions as morally justified. All the philosophy of criminal punishment turns into, ‘You did this to me, I’ll get you back, I’m going to put you away,'” Livny says.


Near the end of The Law In These Parts, Livny makes his own indictment sharper. “When you’re a military judge, you don’t just represent justice … As a military judge you represent the authorities of occupation against people who see you as the enemy. You’re conducting a trial against your enemy… It’s an unnatural situation,” he says. “As long as it’s only temporary, fine. But when it goes on 40 years? How can the system function? How can it be just?”


So the charges are really being brought against the ongoing occupation. But the occupation is only a condition. It is the offense, not the perpetrator. In Hebrew, the narrator’s voice speaks in first person: We did this. This is being done for us. By “us,” he means Israeli society, which is actually sitting in the dock, and sitting as well at the judge’s bench, and in Alexandrowicz’s voice is conducting the prosecution.


When Livny is asked whether he’d accept the job if he had it to do over, he says firmly, “Yes.” We don’t hear his explanation. I imagine he’d say that if he hadn’t served as judge, someone less concerned with justice might have, and that he would therefore have borne responsibility for greater injustice. The system is unjust but pays tribute to justice; it is internally inconsistent. Opting out may make one feel pure, but may not result in doing good.


The Israeli human rights lawyers who represent residents of occupied territory before the Supreme Court face a variation on this dilemma: What if they are legitimizing the system? And yet, how can you not seize an opportunity for change?

Let’s return to the Migron ruling. If implemented, it will give people their land back. Perhaps it also creates an illusion that West Bank settlement is restrained by law and fits standards of justice. And yet, the opposite is at least as likely: The long, heavily reported court case and the government’s unending efforts to avoid doing the right thing may have made more Israelis ask, “If this goes on 45 years, how can it be just?” The Law in These Parts does not provide an answer to this dilemma, but does a very good job of raising the question.


3 Today in Palestine

April 01, 2012


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‘Friends’ in Need: Syrian rebels ‘to receive salaries’ from Gulf states


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