The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 12.3.2010

In Nebi Salah The soldiers were eager and waiting, within the village when the march had reached its outskirts. Under the cover of the clashes between the army and the village youth, some villagers managed to reach their natural spring, only to find settlers swimming in it. Soldiers who eventually got to the group politely ordered the settlers to leave, while attacking the demonstrators with tear-gas in order to push them back to the village. The two groups had regrouped back in the village, where Border Police officers shot at demonstrators from behind the stone terraces that crosshatch the fields between the village and the settlement. It took the army until seven in the evening to retreat:

The injured 14 year old boy, Ehab Barghouthi, has awaken from his coma, caused by a rubber coated bullet to his head, fired by an Israeli army Soldier.

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Day Trip to the Ghetto of Hebron

Thursday was an international day of action to re-open Shuhada street in Hebron city, and mark the Cave of the Patriarch Massacre. A group of friends, from the Tel Aviv area, spontaneously decided we should go, so the five of us hopped in a car, hoping to join our friends from Jerusalem, who filled up a bus. We’ve all heard about Hebron, but nothing can prepare you for it, and nothing I can write, here, can truly depict what it means to be there.

Hebron City of the Patriarchs

Hebron Partition Schemes

In order to understand the technicalities of what is known as the Occupied Territories, you have to know about their inner control and administration divisions, set at the Oslo Accords. The occupied territories are divided into areas A, B and C. Area C is officially under Israeli control and administration. It covers the majority of settlements and cuts through and around areas A and B (creating 227 A/B islands) and keeps miraculously growing. That said, it doesn’t stop the Israeli army (and deportation unite) to come into oficially-Palestinian-controlled area A and abducting Palestinians and Internationals. Area B is the epitome of long-term occupation; A land where Palestinian Authority has “civil control” and the Israeli army has “security control”.

Hebron is in area B, but it gets even messier; In 1979, 40 settlers from the adjacent Kiryat Arba settlement (home to the ethnic cleansing advocate, Meir Kehana) took over a building known as Beit Hadassah, in the center of the city. Ever since then the population of Jews in Hebron reached the not-so-astonishing number of around 500, about 0.03% of the population. In 1994, after American born, Kiryat Arba settler , Kach party member, Baruch Goldstein, massacred between 29-52 (depends who you ask) people in the Mosque of the Cave of Patriarchs, Shuhada street, a main market street in Hebron was closed off to Palestinians. In 1997, then and now Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, redivided this area B city into areas H1 (=area A), which inhabited around 120,000 Palestinians and H2 (= area C), which inhabited around 40,000 Palestinians, half of which have fled after the redivision, for rather obvious reasons.

What does it mean to live in a city so technically divided?

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5 Years for the Bil’in Struggle – The Myth of Toppling the Fence

Well over a 1500 people gathered at Bil’in last Friday for a very ceremonial demonstration. Many politicians were present, most notably Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, and Remy Pagany, the mayor of Geneva. Drummers from both the Palestinian Scouts and the Israeli Anarchists came together, joined by the Israeli Clown Army group. All in all, very festive. The festivities were over after the marchers reached the fence and a truly spontaneous, collective act of elation and rage ensued:

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The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 5.2.2010

Israeli army hits hard against children and saplings in Nebi Salah:

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A visit from Oz

Along with a Youtube video [see below], the following short report appeared on the Ha’aretz website today:

Israel’s new immigration police has joined security forces in cracking down on foreign activists residing in the Palestinian West Bank, Haaretz has learned.

The Oz Unit participated last week in the attempted arrest of a number of activists in the West Bank town of Bil’in, and also in the raid that nabbed leading Palestinian militants Mohammed Hatib that same night. Two weeks ago, the unit took part in the arrest of a Czech activist in Ramallah…

An Israel Defense Forces officer can be seen ordering the activists to obey the unit’s instructions, explaining that immigration officials have every right to make such requests. The same officer then urges the immigration official to search for some default or problem in the detainee’s documents,

The IDF soldiers can later been seen forcefully detaining a few of the activists. When asked why the arrest was being carried out, the soldier said that the immigration official would explain everything.

So for some background on the ‘Oz’ unit, here are some links:

Established by a 2008 cabinet decision, the task force, which goes by the Hebrew name “Oz” (courage), is the enforcement body of the Population Authority that comes under the aegis of the Interior Ministry, and replaced the immigration police. The unit has 200 inspectors, who have policing powers only with regard to foreigners.

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The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 29.1.2010

The Day’s Demonstrations

The Bil’in weekly demonstration brutally suppressed by soldier’s infiltration into the village, for the the third week in a row. Youth and children fight back to save their land:

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Mohammed Khatib, Coordinator of West Bank Popular Committee Arrested

From the Popular Struggle website:

Mohammed Khatib during a speaking his speaking tour in Canada last year. Pictures Credit: Tadamon!
Mohammed Khatib during a speaking his speaking tour in Canada last year. Pictures Credit: Tadamon!

In the highest profile arrest of the recent wave of repression against West Bank popular struggle, Israeli soldiers arrested Mohammed Khatib today before dawn. Khatib is a member of Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlement in the West Bank village of Bil’in and the coordinator of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee.

At a quarter to two AM tonight, Mohammed Khatib, his wife Lamia and their four young children were woken up by Israeli soldiers storming their home, which was surrounded by a large military force. Once inside the house, the soldiers arrested Khatib, conducted a quick search and left the house.

Roughly half an hour after leaving the house, five military jeeps surrounded the house again, and six soldiers forced their way into the house again, where Khatib’s children sat in terror, and conducted another, very thorough search of the premises, without showing a search warrant. During the search, Khatib’s phone and many documents were seized, including papers from Bil’in’s legal procedures in the Israel High Court.

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Inviting David Brooks to My Class

The Zionists are prisoners of a bad dream: they must first free themselves, break free from the prison in which they can only play the part of tormentors, if they and especially their Palestinian victims are to live normal lives.

M. Shahid Alam

On January 12, the New York Times carried an article by David Brooks on Jews and Israel. It so caught my eye, I decided to bring its conservative author to my class on the economic history of the Middle East. I sent my students the link to this article, asked them to read it carefully, and come to the next class prepared to discuss and dissect its contents.

My students recalled various parts of the NYT article but no one could explain its substance. They recalled David Brooks’ focus on the singular intellectual achievements of American Jews, the enviable record of Israeli Jews as innovators and entrepreneurs, the mobility of Israel’s innovators, etc. One student even spoke of what was not in the article or in the history of Jews – centuries of Jewish struggle to create a Jewish state in Palestine.

But they offered no comments about Brooks’ motivation. Why had he decided to brag about Jewish achievements, a temptation normally eschewed by urbane Jews. In my previous class, while discussing Edward Said’s critique of Orientalism, I had discussed how knowledge is suborned by power, how it is perverted by tribalism, and how Western writers had crafted their writings about the Middle East to serve the interests of colonial powers. Not surprisingly, this critique had not yet sunk in.

I coaxed my students, asking them directly to explore if David Brooks had an axe (or more than one) to grind. Was there an elephant in the room they had missed? What was the subtext of the op-ed?

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Treasury’s Cohen Cracks Down!….well, not on everyone.

Where are Lev Leviev and Irving Moskowitz in the big scheme of things?
Where are Lev Leviev and Irving Moskowitz in the big scheme of things?

The Treasury Department’s assistant secretary David Cohen addressed the American Bankers Association on Monday. Cohen implored the assembled executives to understand that money laundering sometimes involves “good money being put to bad use,” a standard the G7 Financial Action Task Force adopted way back in 1989. Cohen outlined Treasury’s efforts to “detect, deter and deny” money launderers access to the financial system by naming and shaming “facilitators” from the Gulf petroleum producers to Mexico. He also warned that there would be “reputational and legal consequences” for banks that didn’t pull at the yoke of expanded Treasury powers assumed under Executive order 13224 (PDF).

Audience members were visibly uneasy during camera pans. There was little interest in questioning the Treasury’s new employee. Perhaps with good reason. James G. Carr, the chief federal judge in northern Ohio, recently ruled that Treasury was acting unconstitutionally when it froze a US charity under suspicion of terrorist ties. US courts are only beginning to weigh in on the vast new powers assumed by Treasury. Until now there has been little visibility into its overseas activities. Treasury maintains that the Bank Secrecy Act, a money laundering law, empowers it to deny FOIA requests.

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Israel Social TV Presents: Olives Under Occupation

Operating since 2006, Social TV was established out of deep concern from the ability of Israeli Media to perform its duty as democracy’s “watch dog”.  In the last two decades three major corporations have gained control over most of Israel’s television channels, newspapers, radio channels and popular news sites. As a result Israel’s media has become quite homogenous and pluralism of opinion declined… Today Social TV is the only independent on-line TV channel in Israel.

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