The housing apartheid in Palestine

Amnesty International has called on the Israeli authorities to end house demolitions which leave thousands of Palestinians living in daily fear of eviction from their homes…

According to the UN, in 2009 more than 600 Palestinians – over half of them children – lost their homes after they were demolished on order from the Israeli authorities.

“Palestinians living under Israeli occupation face such tight restrictions on what they can build and where that their right to adequate housing is being violated,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The Israeli authorities are putting Palestinians in an impossible situation. Whatever choice they make, they face homelessness.

“The majority of people are denied building permits by Israel, even after lengthy and expensive bureaucratic and legal processes, so they have little choice but to go ahead without official permission. But as they do so, they know that these buildings may soon be flattened by Israeli bulldozers.”

Demolitions are generally carried out with no warning of the date, giving no opportunity for Palestinians to salvage their possessions or find elsewhere to shelter. The UN has estimated that some 4,800 demolition orders are pending.

Under Israeli law, evicted families are not entitled to alternative housing or compensation, meaning many would face homelessness and destitution were it not for relatives, friends and charities.

While homes are often targeted, Israeli authorities have also issued demolition orders against Palestinian schools, clinics, roads, water cisterns, electricity pylons, sheds and animal shelters.

You can view and download the report here (PDF).

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Sebastião Salgado: The Photographer as Activist

This is from a few years back. The great Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado in conversation with Ken Light and Fred Ritchin at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Also, don’t miss the ringing prose of Eduardo Galeano’s ‘Salgado, 17 Times‘, an essay inspired by Salgado’s work.

Nuclear Iran – Is There An Option?

Not for the US but plenty for Iran, says Mosaic Intelligence Report. It says sanctions are futile and the United States only harms its own interests.

linktv — 17 June 2010 — (Mosaic Intelligence Report: June 17, 2010) The US imposes more sanctions on Iran. Iranian President Ahmedinejad remains defiant. Are sanctions enough to stop Iran’s nuclear program? And who will pay the price?

Vamos Argentina!

Automotores Orletti, former auto repair shop/torture center

by Kurt Fernández

BUENOS AIRES — While some nations are known to take advantage of global distraction by the World Cup in order to perpetrate human rights violations, Argentina is pressing ahead in its efforts to prosecute crimes against humanity committed during the Guerra Sucia.

In the first of eight major human rights trials currently getting underway, a three-judge panel in Buenos Aires took up a case on June 3 in which six former military and intelligence officials from the 1976-83 dictatorship are charged with the illegal kidnap, torture, and murder of suspected political opponents from Uruguay, Chile, and Cuba.

The victims were among the 30,000 or so opponents of the Argentine regime who were disappeared during the Dirty War.

The case is “Automotores Orletti,” named for the Buenos Aires auto repair shop the dictatorship used as a ghastly clandestine “detention center.” One of many such facilities across the country, its kidnap victims were tortured with repair shop machinery and tools.

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A Zionist State of Mind, A Dreamscape Of Ghosts: One Jew’s Hard Awakening

by Phil Rockstroh

Although my mother fled Nazi Germany, as a child, on a Kindertransport, with a few family valuables sewn into her clothing, and I was brought up on the myths and hagiography of the Zionist state, I, over time, came to recognize the folly of the whole colonialist enterprise — the folly of ethnic exclusion and expulsion, the inherent tragedy of nationalism based on the delusion of religious birthright. With much sorrow, I came to the sad realization that the dream of the State of Israel was based on European chauvinism and exceptionalism. This reckoning has been a difficult one for me to bear — the hardest awakening of my adult life.

My father was born on a Reservation in the American mid-west. His people, like the Palestinians, resisted invaders of European ancestry and were crushed. At present, both peoples remain exiled and caged in their native land.

The Jewish side of myself understands the historical traumas that gave rise to the yearning for a tribal Homeland.  Atavistically, I suffer the Jewish state’s collective night terrors and reel in its daylight rationalizations for its brutalities. But the Native American in me knows the rage of those crushed by the heartless force of an invading people.

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Occupation 101 by Jimmy Carter

Also, check out the recent article by the brilliant Amira Hass, Lexicon of most misleading terms in Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for a much-needed factual and historical corrective to the amnesia that too often afflicts mainstream journalists covering the issue. Incidentally, she has this to say about the discourse of “(non-)violent resistance”, raised by Robin Yassin-Kassab in an essay published earlier on P U L S E:

When we define the struggle against foreign rule as “non-violent” or “violent,” it’s as if we asked the occupied to prove their resistance is kosher (or not ). And to whom? The very foreign ruler who considers boycotting settlement products to be unkosher. The adjectives “non-violent” or “violent” presume that the occupation is a natural state of affairs, whose violence is permitted, a civilized norm meant to tame its subjects. “A non-violent struggle” therefore diverts attention from the fact that forced rule is based on the use of violence. Every soldier at a roadblock, every camera on the separation fence, every military edict, a supermarket in a settlement and an Israeli diaper factory on Palestinian land – they are all part of the nonstop violence.

Continue reading “Occupation 101 by Jimmy Carter”

In the Face of Overwhelming Odds

art by Ghassan Kanafani

This is in large part an amalgam of other pieces I’ve written on the topic. It’s a response to a debate unfolding at the indispensable Mondoweiss.

In his contribution to the debate on the rights and wrongs of violent resistance to oppression, David Bromwich tells us that non-violent action is supposed to be “visible and exemplary.” In the case of Palestine, this chimes with the dominant Western narrative that the Palestinians would have achieved liberation long ago if only they had avoided mindless acts of terrorism. Much of the mainstream media goes a step further to suggest that the Palestinians are hindered by their culture and religion – which are inherently violent, hysterical and anti-Semitic – from winning their rights. If only they would grow up a little. If only they’d set a good example.

Leading liberal clown Bono has also asked where the Palestinian Gandhis are. The problem here, though, is not the absence of Gandhis but their lack of visibility – the visibility which Bromwich says is so important. For the first two decades after the original ethnic cleansing of 1947 and 48, almost all Palestinian resistance was non-violent. From 1967 until 1987 Palestinians resisted by organising tax strikes, peaceful demonstrations, petitions, sit-down protests on confiscated lands and in houses condemned to demolition. The First Intifada was almost entirely non-violent on the Palestinian side; the new tactic of throwing stones at tanks (which some liberals consider violent) was almost entirely symbolic. In every case, the Palestinians were met with fanatical violence. Midnight arrest, beatings, and torture were the lot of most. Many were shot. Nobel Peace Laureate Yitzhak Rabin ordered occupation troops to break the bones of the boys with stones. And despite all this sacrifice, Israeli Jews were not moved to recognise the injustice of occupation and dispossession, at least not enough to end it.

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A Voyage of Life and Death

Al Jazeera reconstructs the events surrounding the Israeli assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

AlJazeeraEnglish — 14 June 2010 — In the early hours of Monday, May 31, the Israeli navy intercepted a flotilla of boats carrying thousands of tonnes of aid to Gaza. Nine passengers on the Mavi Marmara – the flotilla’s largest boat – were killed. This much we know. In the aftermath of the event, accounts from both sides have diverged wildly. Israel claims that it acted in self-defence against a group of “violent extremists” linked to al-Qaeda and Hamas, intent on breaching the military blockade of Gaza. The activists say they were frightened for their lives after being shot at from helicopters in the dark of night, their raised white flag ignored. They say Israel’s attack on their ship in international waters was unexpected and disproportionate. Examining claim and counter claim, A Vourney of Life and Death includes an exclusive interview with the captain of the Mavi Marmara, those on board the ships and previously unseen footage.

RT on the BDS Movement

RussiaToday — 14 June 2010 — Israel has launched its own investigation into the deadly raid on an aid ship flotilla bound for Gaza that occured two weeks ago. The probe has been set up after the Jewish state rejected an international inquiry proposed by the UN.

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