I’m very satisfied that the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement conducts itself with the utmost ethical consistency and respect to international law (if it didn’t, I wouldn’t advocate it). It’s true that it’s following the South African model, but at the same time it’s setting an example of its own. As a young activist, it’s a pleasure learning from its outspoken leaders. In my involvement in the movement, every step presents us with an ethical challenge. Avoiding the pitfall of a sweeping, uncommunicative action, the Global BDS movement, led by the Palestinian people, is employing guidelines of a “smart boycott”, differentiating institutions from individuals and Zionists from Jews. It’s never simple and dedicated research and much debate goes into every initiative. As a student of the boycott tactic, it’s just as important for me to learn what not to do, and examples are ample.
George Mitchell is in Israel/Palestine as the White House’s special envoy, in a visit described as “a final push to revive Middle East peace talks”. The focus remains on Israel’s so –called settlement ‘freeze’, with Mitchell reported as saying that there was still work to be done on the “Israeli-American dispute over construction in the West Bank”. Ahead of his meeting with Mitchell today, Netanyahu has confirmed that there will not be a “complete halt to building” in the settlements, telling a Knesset committee that “a reduction on building in Judea and Samaria will only be for a limited period”.
The ‘freeze’ is the latest warmed-up gimmick to be offered by the international community’s peace process’, though even by the standards of previous efforts such as the ‘Road Map’ and ‘Annapolis’, the settlement freeze is transparently lacking in seriousness. The Israeli government’s definition of a ‘freeze’ excludes: settlement activity in occupied East Jerusalem; 2,500 housing units already under construction; and, hundreds of new units just recently announced.
That the ‘freeze’ will last in the region of six to nine months is rather academic, given that it will make no difference to this year’s total settlement housing consolidation compared to previous years. As Ha’aretz pointed out, “instead of construction permits being given gradually throughout the year, the government intends to issue hundreds of permits within a few days, before the official announcement of the “freeze” is made”.
Even the PM’s spokesperson Mark Regev has found it hard to spin what Deputy PM Eli Yishai has called merely a “strategic delay”. The new construction in West Bank colonies ahead of the ‘freeze’ Regev argued was a case of doing something now to “actually make progress possible tomorrow”. MK Nissim Ze’ev, visiting a settlement outpost, felt no need to resort to such contortions, encouraging the settlers that there is “no one in the government who doesn’t want more and more construction throughout Judea and Samaria”, but that owing to tensions with the US, there are currently “limitations”. Continue reading “Peace propaganda and the Israeli consensus”
Jonathan Cook reports about the latest phase of Israel’s ethnic cleansing campaign:
Israel’s housing minister called for strict segregation between the country’s Jewish and Arab populations last week as he unveiled plans to move large numbers of fundamentalist religious Jews to Israel’s north to prevent what he described as an “Arab takeover” of the region.
Ariel Atias said he considered it a “national mission” to bring ultra-Orthodox Jews — or Haredim, distinctive for their formal black and white clothing — into Arab areas, and announced that he would also create the north’s first exclusively Haredi town.
The new settlement drive, according to Atias, is intended to revive previous failed efforts by the state to “Judaize,” or create a Jewish majority in, the country’s heavily Arab north.
Jeremy Harding writes of the crossing into Palestine that I wrote about here. Then Rachel Holmes describes her impressions of the Palfest week, and is reminded of South Africa in the 70s. Jeremy first:
After the defeat of the Arabs in June 1967, many Palestinians who’d been driven east over the Jordan River by the fighting tried desperately to return to their homes by slipping back across. The bridges, including the Allenby Bridge, had been damaged, but the patched-up remains were serviceable. The Allenby Bridge crossing was closely guarded, however, and used by the soldiers on Israel’s newest frontier to put people out, rather than allow them in. Palestinian refugees trying to get home from Jordan, as well as groups of fedayeen, preferred to ford the shallow river at dead of night, although 50 IDF ambush parties were stationed along the west bank, instructed to fire on shadows in the water. By September, more than a hundred people had been shot dead trying to return and a thousand had been deported back to Jordan.
On the Jordanian side of the river journalists were counting up to 80,000 refugees in tents, with more being driven in from the west bank as Israeli soldiers fired over their heads to hurry them along. To avoid what was clearly an international scandal in the making, the Israeli government decided to stage a televised return of several thousand Palestinians. There was disagreement among the ministries about how to select the fortunate few. A Foreign Ministry official argued that the key point was demographic: children and women of childbearing age should be kept to a minimum; but in the prevailing view, the older refugees of 1948 were far more undesirable.
As Palestinians mark Nakba Day to recognise the catastrophe of 1948, yet more evidence emerged of the racist nature of Israeli foreign minister Avignor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party. In a clearly provocative act they now want to ban the some 1.5 million Arabs within Israel from celebrating this day and would threaten anyone doing so with jail terms. This is nothing new for Lieberman and his mob who have openly called for Arab Israelis to swear allegiance oaths to the state and even “voluntarily forfeit” their citizenship in exchange for land. Such policies are clearly aimed at “transfering” the remaining Arabs that reside within Israel’s borders and finishing the job that the Zionist project started. To announce proposals on such a day should be roundly condemned for the grotesque insensitivity that they represent.
In another article in Haaretz , Palestinian participation in this day is trivialised and reduced with a cheap dig at the division between the two main political factions in the Palestinian territories: Hamas and Fatah. “Only 2000 turn out….for March held by Hamas” reads the headline, while the top line refers to the “dispersal” of Palestinians during the so-called “War of Independence”. However, not mentioned (which is noted in the Lieberman article), is that many ceremonies were in fact held a day early because May 15 falls on Friday, the Muslim day of rest. Why let this get in the way of having a dig at Hamas while downplaying the anguish that 61 years of injustice has already caused eh? The description of “dispersal” is also particularly euphemistic, as if the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians merely faded-away or quietly scattered from their villages, rather than the terrorization and intimidation that they were subjected to by Irgun and Haganah thugs.
H/t to Mohammed Omer for posting this on Facebook.
The following YouTube from France is a powerful depiction contrasting life in Palestine and for Jews during the European Holocaust. When will ordinary Americans and American politicians understand these similarities? Who knows. But we will do whatever it takes to change American views toward Palestine and the Mideast… one step at a time.
Continuing his series of excellent reports from the OPT, here is Mel Frykberg’s latest article, this time exposing the daily plight of Palestinian villagers facing the brutality visited upon them by Israeli settlers.
“I couldn’t run. My pregnancy was too far advanced and there was nowhere to hide,” said Amna Salman Rabaye, 31, as she recalled the terrifying incident several months ago.
Rabaye from the Palestinian Bedouin village of At Tuwani in the southern West Bank was grazing her sheep when she was assaulted by a security guard from the adjacent illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’on.
“We saw a group of masked Israeli settlers armed with sticks and chains heading towards us. The younger shepherds ran and managed to escape, leaving me with the flock of sheep,” Rabaye told IPS.
“It was physically impossible for me to run and I also didn’t want the settlers to kill or steal my sheep. The security guard pushed me over but I was not injured,” recalled Rabaye who was then seven months pregnant.
Israel’s targeting of civilian resistance to the separation wall, writes Ben White, proves the two-state solution is now just a meaningless slogan.
It is quite likely that you have not heard of the most important developments this week in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the West Bank, while it has been “occupation as normal”, there have been some events that together should be overshadowing Gaza, Gilad Shalit and Avigdor Lieberman.
This is a response to Ali Abunimah’s excellent little book “One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian impasse.”
“I do not hate (Israelis) for being Jewish or Israeli but because of what they have done to us. Because of the acts of occupation. It is difficult to forget what was done to us. But if the reason for the hate will not exist, everything is possible. But if the reason remains, it is impossible to love. First we must convince in general and in principle that we have been wronged, then we can talk about 67 or 48. You still do not recognize that we have rights. The first condition for change is recognition of the injustice we suffered.”
– Said Sayyam, martyred in Gaza January 2009, to Ha’aretz, November 1995.
All Palestine is controlled by Zionism. The Palestinians (not counting the millions in exile) are half the population of Israel-Palestine, but they are victims of varying degrees of apartheid. The Jewish state has already lost its Jewish majority, and is more hated by the Arab peoples than at any time in its brief, violent history. Let’s take it as given that continuation of the present situation is untenable for everyone concerned. We need a solution.
While Israel is crushing resistance in Gaza the British are funding the Palestinian collaboration Authority of Fatah to crush any resistance to Israeli domination and control in the West Bank. For more on the funding of Fatah by the west, to topple the democratically elected government of Hamas, see Vanity Fairs The Gaza Bombshell.
The horrific torture of hundreds of people by Palestinian security forces in the West Bank is being funded by British taxpayers.