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).

Continue reading “The housing apartheid in Palestine”

The best hasbara: Israeli government to step up front groups in social media sites

Yesterday, Israel’s ‘Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister’ Yuli Edelstein spoke at some length about his country’s ‘PR problem’, including possible plans to create a 24-hr news channel. But further down the article, Edelstein talked about the ways in which Israel’s propaganda effort is being increasingly delegated to volunteers:

“We’ve been working on creating an infrastructure of our friends and allies around the world, in the Jewish and Christian communities, which is not fully ready yet. It’s based on volunteers and professionals [who will coordinate the transmission of accurate information],” the minister said.

Edelstein conceded that the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Ministry suffered from restrictive budget problems. Nevertheless, he was seeking to implement ambitious initiatives based on volunteers.

“This is the 21st century, and that means things that are not officially called hasbara are the best hasbara. The moment things come from the government, the state, or ministries, they are perceived as being less reliable and as propaganda,” Edelstein said.

”There are many things only volunteers can do. Writing on Facebook, Twitter blogs, and sending e-mails to friends is second to none. The best things people can do are not about money, but about doing things in the right way.”

Edelstein cited an operations center housed in his ministry and staffed by volunteers, as well as a ministry secretary, both aimed at maintaining continuous contact with Diaspora communities.

Continue reading “The best hasbara: Israeli government to step up front groups in social media sites”

Israel’s colonization of East Jerusalem – some context

The first political planning decision in the ‘reunified’ city concerned plans not for construction but for the geopolitical determination of borders…the determining consideration, ‘a maximum of vacant space with a minimum of Arabs,’ laid down as the basic tenet in the delineation of the borders, made possible the planning and implementation of the prinicipal political objective: the creation of physical and demographic faits accomplis.

[It became] clear that the planners must set their sights on the vacant areas on the outskirts of the city and surrounding it. These areas would have to be expropriated from their Arab owners. The legal instrument at the disposal of the Israelis for this purpose was the Land Ordinance (Expropriation for Public Purposes) of 1943, which grants the treasury minister the authority to expropriate private land when there is a ‘public need’ for such action – with the definition of ‘public need’ left to the minister himself…

But no one was deceived by the designation of these ‘ethnically colorblind’ needs; the expropriated areas were being taken from Arabs and handed over to Jews. This was an extraordinary interpretation of the word public: The only legitimate public was Jewish, and therefore only jews were entitled to benefit from the expropriation.

From Meron Benvenisti, City of Stone: The Hidden History of Jerusalem, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996, pp.154-55.

Continue reading “Israel’s colonization of East Jerusalem – some context”

Israel’s Gaza Genocide

Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, president of the UN General Assembly, has made a name for himself speaking the truth in regard to Israel and in defence of the Palestinian people.  Now calling Israel’s actions in Gaza genocide.

Brockmann told the UN in New York: “The number of victims in Gaza is increasing by the day… The situation is untenable. It’s genocide.”

Judging by the UN definition of genocide, provided by Juan Cole, it is hard to disagree.

Contemporary international legal thinking on genocide does consider destroying the lifeways of a people to be in this category. Here is the UN definition:

‘ In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part . . . ‘

That what the Israeli government is doing is intended to destroy in part the Palestinians as an independent people seems to me incontestable.

Continue reading “Israel’s Gaza Genocide”