One of the stories we often hear is that Israel is ‘the only democracy in the Middle East.’ Israel is in fact an apartheid democracy, in which only Jews have full democratic rights. The area controlled by Israel includes almost equal numbers of Arabs and Jews, which means that almost half of the people under some form or other of Israeli rule have less than full democratic rights. The Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza can only vote for non-sovereign governments, and if they vote wrong, are starved. The ‘Arab Israelis’ (who make up 20% of the Israeli population excluding the West Bank and Gaza) face many restrictions, on which Adalah and Jonathan Cook provide good information. Today, Arab Israeli political parties have been banned from running in the nearby Israeli parliamentary elections. Here’s the story from Ha’aretz:
The Central Elections Committee on Monday banned Arab political parties from running in next month’s parliamentary elections, drawing accusations of racism by an Arab lawmaker who said he would challenge the decision in the country’s Supreme Court.
The ruling, made by the body that oversees the elections, reflected the heightened tensions between Israel’s Jewish majority and Arab minority caused by Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Arabs have held a series of demonstrations against the offensive.
Continue reading “Israel bans Arab parties from running in upcoming elections”
The Canadian Postal Workers call for a boycott of Israel. Their excellent letter points to the root causes of the slaughter in Gaza – ethnic cleansing and occupation. It’s encouraging to see this attention to context. Context is essential, as it cuts through all the magical fog of ‘balance’ and ‘peace process.’ It shows that this is an assault against a people, not a dispute between equals.
On behalf of the 56,000 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, I am writing to demand that the Canadian government condemn the military assault on the people of Gaza that the state of Israel commenced on December 26th, 2008.
Canada must also call for a cessation of the ongoing Israeli siege of Gaza, which has resulted in the collective punishment of the entire Gaza population.
Canada must also address the root cause of the violence: Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
Continue reading “Canadian Postal Workers Call for Boycott”
Sam Bahour on Israel’s other options:
I watch in shock, like the rest of the world, at the appalling death and destruction being wrought on Gaza by Israel; and still it does not stop. Meanwhile, we see a seemingly never-ending army of well-prepared Israeli war propagandists, some Israeli government officials, and many other people self-enlisted for the purpose, explaining to the world the justifications for pulverizing the Gaza Strip, with its 1.5 million inhabitants. Curious about how Israel, or any society for that matter, could justify a crime of such magnitude against humanity, I turned to my Jewish Israeli friends today to hear their take on things. One after another, the theme was the same. The vast majority of Jewish Israelis has apparently bought into the state-sponsored line that Israel was under attack and had no other option available to stop Hamas’ rockets. More frightening is the revelation that many Israelis–including one person who self-identifies as a former “peace activist”–are speaking of accepting the killing of 100,000 or more Palestinians, if need be.
I have a problem with this logic.
I am a Palestinian American based in Al-Bireh, the sister city of Ramallah in the West Bank. I can see how an observer from abroad could be blind to the facts, given the blitz of Gaza war propaganda orchestrated by the Israeli military. But I know better. Like all other Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, I am not an observer from abroad. We live every day under the bitter burden of Israeli military occupation and we know that this question, presented as rhetorical–did we really have an option? –has a rational answer. Allow me, from my vantage point as an economic development professional, to touch on some of the other options that could have been chosen. Moreover, many of them will be forced on Israel anyway, sooner or later, whether after the next “war,” or in the coming days under the ceasefire agreement and the Egyptian-sponsored implementation mechanism being discussed as I write this. Meaning: all this death and destruction could have been easily avoided. Continue reading “No Other Option?”
+972-2-5839749 This number is on the pamphlets dropped on Gaza from Israeli planes, along with a request for people to call to report Hamas activity. So call the number and ‘report’ to the Zionists whatever you like. You can use Skype cheaply. You can try English. The one I spoke to could only speak Arabic (and Hebrew) however. We actually had a pretty good conversation.
Some thoughts in favour of plain speech concerning Zionism.
The numbers of the dead don’t mean much any more. It was round about the five hundred mark when I realised the impact of death on my mind was lightening. There are pictures on the internet – burning half bodies, a head and torso screaming, corpses spilt in a marketplace like unruly apples, all the tens and tens of babies and children turned to outraged dust – but how many pictures can you keep in your heart? How much anguish can you feel? Enough anguish to mourn 500 human beings? And of what quality can your anguish be? Can it be as intense as the anguish a bystander to the murder would feel? As intense as that of a friend of a victim, or of a father? What about the fathers who have seen all their children burn?
I remember the days when I was outraged if ten were killed in one go. Ah, happy days! Ten in one go would be good. But of course, this is what the enemy wants: the enemy wants us to value Arab life as little as it does. It wants us to stay in our numbness, to descend deeper in. It wants us to forget.
Continue reading “Against ‘Peace’ and ‘Moderation’”
“Wherever I go, I hear the same tired Middle East comparisons”, Fisk writes.
He notably cites Finton O’Toole: ‘”When does the mandate of victimhood expire? At what point does the Nazi genocide of Europe’s Jews cease to excuse the state of Israel from the demands of international law and of common humanity?”‘
It all depends where you live. That was the geography of Israel’s propaganda, designed to demonstrate that we softies – we little baby-coddling liberals living in our secure Western homes – don’t realise the horror of 12 (now 20) Israeli deaths in 10 years and thousands of rockets and the unimaginable trauma and stress of living near Gaza. Forget the 600 Palestinian dead; travelling on both sides of the Atlantic these past couple of weeks has been an instructive – not to say weirdly repetitive – experience.
Here’s how it goes. I was in Toronto when I opened the right-wing National Post and found Lorne Gunter trying to explain to readers what it felt like to come under Palestinian rocket attack. “Suppose you lived in the Toronto suburb of Don Mills,” writes Gunter, “and people from the suburb of Scarborough – about 10 kilometres away – were firing as many as 100 rockets a day into your yard, your kid’s school, the strip mall down the street and your dentist’s office…”
Getting the message? It just so happens, of course, that the people of Scarborough are underprivileged, often new immigrants – many from Afghanistan – while the people of Don Mills are largely middle class with a fair number of Muslims. Nothing like digging a knife into Canada’s multicultural society to show how Israel is all too justified in smashing back at the Palestinians. Continue reading “Qassam-whine-fatigue”