ISRAELI BANALITY: Settler drives into Palestinian boys (VIDEO)

 

The leader of an Israeli settler organisation has hit two Palestinian boys with his car after they hurled stones at his vehicle in the Arab neighbourhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem.

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, David Be’eri was in his car with his son as the Palestinian children hurled stones at them on Friday. He hit the children while trying to get away.

The two masked boys, Imran Mansur, 11, and Iyad Gheit, 10, were standing in the road among a group throwing stones when a car drove round the corner and ploughed into them, witnesses at the scene said.

Mansur was thrown into the air and bounced off the car’s windscreen before crashing to the ground. The car stopped briefly before driving off.

He suffered a broken leg, while the other boy was taken to hospital to have glass removed from his arm.

The incident occurred after Friday prayers, raising tensions in the area that has seen regular clashes between hardline Jewish settlers and local residents.

Be’eri is a well-known right-wing activist and is the director of Elad, a settler organisation that runs the City of David in East Jerusalem.

He was taken in for questioning by police and released on bail. Israeli police officers say the investigation against him will continue.

Cultural boycott of Israel (fight the israeli ethnical cleansing)

The issue of Israeli settlements has captured attention far beyond the arena of international politics. Several celebrities have now thrown their weight behind what is being termed a “cultural boycott” against further building on Palestinian land. But with Israel’s construction freeze due to expire at the end of the month, there are doubts that these efforts will make any impact. Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports.

ISRAHELL 2DAY: Settlers blamed for mosque blaze

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Israeli settlers are reported to have set fire to a mosque in a Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank, damaging prayer rugs and a large number of copies of the Quran, as well as spraying anti-Arab graffiti on the walls.According to witnesses, five Jewish settlers broke into a mosque in Beit Fajjar in the early hours of Monday and set it alight before the morning prayers, Ahmad Thawabteh, the town's mayor, told Al Jazeera.

The Israeli military told Al Jazeera that primary investigations showed Hebrew graffiti and burnt carpets at the mosque, located south of Bethlehem.

Avital Leibovitch, a spokeswoman for Israel's military, said Israeli authorities will bring the guilty parties to justice.

"The Israeli police ... have opened a very widespread investigation; the other security forces in Israel will be a part of [it], as well as Palestinian information that has some contribution to this investigation,” she told Al Jazeera.

“We see this incident in a very severe manner. We will do the utmost to find these lawbreakers and bring them to court.”

Emotions running high

Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh, reporting from the mosque, said emotions are quite high in the town.

“It was a little before three in the morning when residents saw smoke coming out of the mosque, that they rushed in to put out the fire,” she said.

“We heard residents [break] into chants about revenge. Much of the talk here is [calling this a] religious type of attack rather than a politically motivated one.”

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from Jerusalem, said: “Certainly this is something that is ratcheting up tensions at a time when the Israeli cabinet are meeting to decide on extending the settlement freeze.

“A mosque was burned in the West Bank earlier this year by settlers who say it was on their land – land that they claim and occupy.

“There is certainly a pattern here. There will be a settler demonstration north of the West Bank today which is also linked to a mosque that the settlers want destroyed.”

Illegal settlements

Vandals occasionally spray-paint the words “price tag” on buildings and cars, suggesting that the attacks are the “price” for any attempt by the Israeli government to curb the growth of illegal settlements.

Human-rights groups say the Israeli government does not take the attacks seriously enough.

A report by Amnesty International, the London-based rights group, found that “impunity remains the norm” for settlers accused of vandalism and physical attacks on Palestinians.

The incident in Beit Fajjar comes as Israeli and Palestinian officials prepare to resume indirect negotiations.

Palestinian leaders are pushing for a complete freeze in new Israeli construction in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, approved last year a temporary halt in West Bank settlement growth – but it does not apply to East Jerusalem.

Many communities in the West Bank have ignored the order and continued new construction.

Source:
Al Jazeera

VIDEO: Israel vs Israhell

Documentary about Israeli peace activists. For more information – join on Facebook > http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=134111073300491

Gaza: it’s Hamas’s move now

Hamas must seize the initiative if there is ever to be an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine

So it has happened again. Nearly 18 months after the Israelis bombed Gaza to a wasteland, with barely a load of building materials allowed in since then, Turkey has taken the brunt of an operation of humanitarian assistance gone wrong.

The UN must establish the facts impartially and independently and, if laws have been broken, those responsible must be held to account. Political demonstrations posing as relief flotillas go wrong too easily and Israel understandably has to prevent weapons being smuggled into Gaza. But was this really the best way to bring the ships to shore for examination? A commando attack on civilian ships looks callous and disproportionate. No one should have been hurt, whatever the emotions behind all this.

Why is Gaza under siege in the first place? Under international law, the Israelis are responsible as the occupying force for the proper administration of the territory; and half the point of Israel is not to be above the law. Yet they are creating a traumatised territory of 1.5m neighbours, many of whose children seem to want to grow up to be suicide bombers. They are also pouring fertiliser on al-Qaida’s ground.

The director of UNRWA operations in Gaza, John Ging, gave a speech in London this week entitled “Illegal, inhuman and insane: a medieval siege on Gaza in 2010″. This objective humanitarian practitioner should be listened to. How has Israel, the only democracy in its region and a symbol of the need for racially inspired violence to end, come to risk any claim to international legitimacy in its handling of this situation?

Hamas are the enemy of Israel, but they do not have to be. They preach violent resistance too readily, yet over the past 17 months they have been trying to control the militant groups intent on threatening Israel with rockets – imperfectly perhaps, but not a single Israeli citizen has been killed (alas, one immigrant worker was) by a rocket since the Gaza bombing stopped in January 2009. They are also the implacable opponents of al-Qaida. They won a fair election in 2006 and claim to respect democracy. Let’s test them on that. At present, Hamas security people are being sniped at by the Israeli Defence Forces when they try to arrest other militant groups. This is genuinely getting insane.

The unwisdom of reliance on angry military responses is all the clearer when the mood in Palestine, in both the West Bank and Gaza, is steadily moving towards a negotiated end to the occupation. I am convinced from my own direct experience that Hamas is prepared to establish and respect a long-term ceasefire so that the talking can start without the threat of violence, and that they would enter in good faith, if that were reciprocated, into negotiations to establish two states in the disputed territories, Israel and Palestine, with their own rights and responsibilities under international law. The distortion of their position, a little of it the fault of their own PR, does no side any good.

If a comprehensive negotiation is too much to expect for now, what about a first step? I believe an arrangement to end the blockade is within reach if only Israel, Egypt and Gaza would test the possibilities of dialogue. Hamas have indicated that they could cease all attacks on Israeli soil, close the tunnels, release Gilead Shalit and stop the import of arms into Gaza if the blockade was ended, an agreed number of Palestinian prisoners were released and Gaza began to be rebuilt.

The Palestinians of course have work to do on their own internal reconciliation, while the relationship between Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza remains so bad. But the UN, the US, Russia, the EU and the Arab world must make a much more serious attempt to test the possibilities, putting ordinary Israelis and Palestinians first, not their own political comfort.

We are coming close to losing the chance of a two-state solution. US policy, based on a West-Bank-only approach, is locked in a cul-de-sac if Gaza is left out of the equation, because majority Palestinian support will be lacking. Israel is confident in the knowledge that it cannot be militarily defeated.

But that ignores the huge danger of losing the political, diplomatic, legal and moral high ground. This matters in today’s world, as the US and the UK discovered in Iraq, because government authority and public opinion interact closely, and legitimacy breeds support.

Israel’s relationship with Turkey was the key to a broader understanding with the Islamic community and others beyond the west. That now lies in tatters. If Israel is left as the permanent occupier, or controlling a one-state structure with part of its population downgraded or imprisoned, it will truly be a disaster for its people and what they stand for.

I hope that Hamas will not sit back and enjoy Israel’s discomfiture. They have so far, for a political organisation, attracted much too narrow a range of international support. If they wish to be widely accepted as a negotiating partner, they must unequivocally accept the only fully justified condition set by the international Quartet – the cessation of violence – underline that their objective is a two-state settlement, and win international friends for the ending of the occupation. In whoever’s hands, bombs, bullets, rockets and iron bars will achieve nothing. But a push for justice will.

• This article was originally written for the Times but not published

Ref: Guardian

Strenger than Fiction / In order to change its image, Israel must change its policy

Saying Israel is progressive and creative doesn’t work when its politicians focus on victimhood and aggression.

One of the Foreign Ministry’s most important projects over the last years has been to research how Israel can rebrand and reposition itself in the world. The project has involved first class researchers in Israel and abroad, and I have been very impressed by the quality of the data and the analysis.

The first conclusion of the ‘Branding Israel’ project has been that Israel needs to focus on the young global elites, because these are today’s opinion shapers, and tomorrow’s political leaders. These elites, as research by economist Richard Florida has shown, and my own research confirms, possess liberal and progressive world views. They are repelled by bigotry, violence and intolerance, and they utterly reject political and military repression.

So far, the Israeli narrative has been governed by themes like victimhood and the struggle for survival. Accordingly, Israel’s image has been built primarily around the army and has always centered on the conflict with the Arab world – as a result, Israel is perceived as aggressive, withdrawn, without joie de vivre, and therefore negative.

The most important positive result of the ‘Branding Israel’ project has been that during the last decades, a powerful new sub-brand of Israel has evolved: it is called Tel Aviv, it is associated with Israel’s culture, technology and joie de vivre: it is perceived as liberal in outlook, full of vitality, creativity and oriented toward the future. Hence, the study concludes, Israel must rebrand itself as creative, vital and progressive; an image that has positive resonance with the young global elites.

However, there is one major obstacle in the path to rebranding Israel. Our politicians don’t seem to understand how the mechanism of rebranding works. They confuse the old concept of ‘hasbara’, which literally means ‘explanation’ with branding. Explaining and arguing has no impact whatsoever on how people experience a person or a brand. Our relationship to brands is like our relationship to human beings: it is primarily emotional.

If somebody explains to you that she is a nice person, but does so sternly and harshly, it is the tone of voice rather than the content of the message that determines the listener’s emotional reaction. Moreover: if you explain that you are nice, and are then seen behaving violently, it is the behavior rather than the words that will determine the emotional reaction. We all know this: if an airline explains to you that it is friendly, but you are treated dismally by its employees, you will tell your friends that the airline is horrible, not that it is friendly. Ultimately perception of a brand hinges on actual behavior and organizational culture, not propaganda.

Our politicians keep maintaining the image of Israel as obsessed with power and survival and reinforce Israel’s image as a negative world-presence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman use every opportunity to compare the Iranian threat to the Holocaust and Netanyahu keeps expressing his concern for the Jewish people. Interior Minister Eli Yishai keeps repeating that Israel will continue to build in Jerusalem forever. In addition BBC broadcasts pictures of settlers hitting Palestinians and uprooting their olive trees. Lieberman may think that rebranding Israel will divert attention from the conflict, but this will not work.

Israel’s politicians and many of its well-meaning defenders say things like ‘but BBC and CNN are tendentious: why don’t they broadcast pictures of Israel’s medical breakthroughs and of its rescue team in Haiti?’ The answer is that in a free world you cannot dictate to the media what to broadcast. Because Israel’s actions in the territories are seen as its true nature, Israel’s sending its rescue team to Haiti is interpreted by many in the world, unfortunately and unjustly, as nothing but a propaganda effort.

Here we come to the deeper problem: in the same way an airline is, in the end, judged by its service, not by its advertising slogans, Israel is judged by its actions and not by hasbara. If Netanyahu wants Israel to be seen as progressive, liberal and creative, he cannot continue to build in Jerusalem, or say in his speeches that he will continue to do so forever. This is seen by the world as reactionary, repressive and brutal, not because the world is biased, but because Israel’s policy of dispossession in Jerusalem and in the settlements is indeed reactionary and repressive and cannot be justified by any security interest.

Israel will have to decide: it cannot rebrand itself as a liberal, creative and progressive country without being one. Our business sector, our artists and academics are mostly progressive, liberal and creative. But their impact on how Israel is perceived will remain negligible as long as Israel’s politicians and emissaries keep harping on victimhood and survival and as long as its policies are repressive.

This being said, for me the most important point is not how the world perceives us, but how Israel really is. We should care about being liberal, progressive and creative because these are values in themselves. Once the young global elites of the world will see that this is what we are, because we will have changed Israel’s policies, Branding Israel will take care of itself.

REf: Haaretz

Foreign Ministry, PR firm rebrand Israel as land of achievements (No one knows fascism better than Israelis.)

Israel to re-brand itself in the world

Special Place in Hell / Rebranding Israel as a State Headed for Fascism

ANALYSIS: Boycotting the boycotters (Israeli exceptionalism and banality)

While the international boycott against apartheid South Africa is credited with leading to the regime’s downfall, here it is considered irrelevant and unworthy of comparison.

By Gideon Levy

Most people here are appalled at the notion that anybody beyond Israel’s borders would think to boycott their country, products or universities. Boycotts, after all, are viewed in Israel as illegitimate. Anyone who calls for such a step is perceived as an anti-Semite and Israel-hater who is undermining the state’s very right to exist. In Israel itself, those who call for a boycott are branded as traitors and heretics. The notion that a boycott, limited as it may be, is likely to convince Israel to change its ways – and for its own benefit – is not tolerated here.

Even an obvious, logical step – like the Palestinian Authority’s boycott of products made in the settlements – is viewed by hypocritical Israeli eyes as provocative. Moreover, while the international boycott against apartheid South Africa is credited with leading to the regime’s downfall, here it is considered irrelevant and unworthy of comparison.

It would be possible to identify with these intolerant reactions were it not for the fact that Israel itself is one of the world’s prolific boycotters. Not only does it boycott, it preaches to others, at times even forces others, to follow in tow. Israel has imposed a cultural, academic, political, economic and military boycott on the territories. At the same time, almost no one here utters a dissenting word questioning the legitimacy of these boycotts. Yet the thought of boycotting the boycotter? Now that’s inconceivable.

The most brutal, naked boycott is, of course, the siege on Gaza and the boycott of Hamas. At Israel’s behest, nearly all Western countries signed onto the boycott with inexplicable alacrity. This is not just a siege that has left Gaza in a state of shortage for three years. Nor is it just a complete (and foolish ) boycott of Hamas, save for the discussions over abducted soldier Gilad Shalit. It’s a series of cultural, academic, humanitarian and economic boycotts. Israel threatens nearly every diplomat who seeks to enter Gaza to see firsthand the unbearable sights.

In addition, Israel bars entry to anyone who wishes to lend humanitarian aid. We should note that the boycott isn’t just against Hamas, but against all Gaza, everyone who lives there. The convoy of ships that will soon sail from Europe to try to break the siege will carry thousands of tons of construction material, prefab houses and medicine. Israel has announced that it plans to stop the vessels. A boycott is a boycott.

Doctors, professors, artists, jurists, intellectuals, economists, engineers – none of them are permitted to enter Gaza. This is a complete boycott that bears the tag “Made in Israel.” Those who speak about immoral and ineffective boycotts do so without batting an eye when it comes to Gaza.

Israel is also urging the world to boycott Iran. But it’s not just Gaza and Iran that are at issue here, because entry into Israel and the West Bank is being affected by the recent frenzy of boycotts. Anyone who is suspected of supporting the Palestinians or expressing concern for their lot is boycotted and expelled. This group includes a clown who came to organize a conference; a peace activist who was due to appear at a symposium; and scientists, artists and intellectuals who arouse suspicions that they back the Palestinian cause. This is a cultural and academic boycott on all counts, the type of boycott that we reject when it is used against us.

Yet the anti-boycott country’s list of boycotted parties does not end there. Even a Jewish-American organization like J Street, which defines itself as pro-Israel, has felt the long arm of the Israeli boycott. It is permissible to boycott J Street because it champions peace, but we can’t tolerate a boycott of products made in settlements that were built on usurped land. Denying a visiting professor entry into Gaza for an appearance at a university does not qualify as a boycott, but cutting off ties with Israeli institutions that provide fast-track degree programs for army officers and interrogators in the Shin Bet security service – people who are often viewed around the world as complicit in war crimes – is viewed as verboten.

Yes, an Israeli who lives in Israel will have a hard time preaching to others about the virtues of a boycott when that person does not boycott his or her own country or university. But it is his right to believe that a boycott could compel his government to end the occupation. As long as the Israelis don’t pay any price, there won’t be a change.

This is a legitimate, moral position. It is no less legitimate or moral than those who claim that a boycott is an immoral, ineffective tool while exercising that same option against others. So you oppose a boycott against Israel? Then let’s first do away with all the boycotts we have imposed ourselves.

REF: haaretz

Israel’s Operation Imam – Islamic Posts Filled by Secret Police

ob interviews for the position of imam at mosques in Israel are conducted not by senior clerics but by the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police, a labour tribunal has revealed.

Sheikh Ahmed Abu Ajwa, 36, is fighting the Shin Bet’s refusal to approve his appointment as an imam in a case that has lifted the lid on Israel’s secret surveillance of the country’s Islamic leaders.

At a hearing last month, a senior government official admitted that 60 undercover inspectors were employed effectively as spies to collect information on Muslim clerics, reporting on political opinions they expressed in sermons and relaying gossip about their private lives.

Sheikh Abu Ajwa took his case to the tribunal after the Shin Bet rejected him three years ago as the imam of a mosque in Jaffa, next to Tel Aviv, despite his being the sole candidate. He was told after a security clearance interview that his views were “extremist” and too critical of Israel, even though an imam is not officially defined as a security-related position.

“During one interview with the Shin Bet, they told me they had been collecting information on me since I was 15,” Sheikh Abu Ajwa said.

“I am the first imam ever to challenge the Shin Bet’s role in our appointments. It’s important to win a precedent-setting ruling from the courts to stop this kind of interference.”

Michael Sfard, a human rights lawyer representing Sheikh Abu Ajwa, said that, as far as it could be determined, no similar vetting of rabbis took place before their hiring.

“This sort of surveillance relating to a non-security position like an imam comes straight out of the era of the Stasi police in East Germany or the McCarthy period in the United States,” he said.

The traditional independence of the local Islamic authorities was removed at Israel’s creation in 1948, when the government confiscated almost all waqf property — endowments of land and property used for the benefit of the Palestinian Muslim community — removing the main source of income for clerics, the Islamic courts and charitable services.

According to experts, as much as a fifth of Palestine’s cultivated land was waqf property before 1948. Israel passed most of it to Zionist organisations like the Jewish National Fund or sold it to developers.

Responsibility for hundreds of mosques, cemeteries and other holy sites, meanwhile, was handed either to the religious affairs ministry or to Islamic boards of trustees appointed by the government.

Today, most imams and all Islamic judges must submit to a security clearance interview before being awarded a state salary.

Israel’s Arab minority, one fifth of the population, have long charged that many of its Muslim leaders are little more than government placemen, whose Islamic learning takes second place to their co-operation with the authorities.

Sabri Jiryis, a historian of Israel’s early years, has noted that the boards of trustees repeatedly rubber-stamped government decisions to sell off Islamic property to developers. Most notoriously Jaffa’s board approved in 1971 selling an Islamic cemetery in Tel Aviv on which the Hilton hotel was built.

Sheikh Abu Ajwa said: “In Jaffa, the government appointed many clerics because they had proved their loyalty, though not to other Muslims. They sold off our property — but you can’t sell what belongs to Allah.”

Jaffa, which was once the commercial capital of Palestine, today has a population of nearly 50,000 residents, of which two thirds are Jewish and the rest Muslim.

The sheikh has been preaching at the seafront Jabalya mosque, one of six in the town, since he was 19, making him reportedly the youngest person to serve as an imam in Israel’s history. He qualified as an imam at an Islamic college in the Israeli Arab city of Umm al Fahm in 1998.

The local community universally backed him as the new imam when his predecessor retired three years ago, but he cannot be officially recognised, and is ineligible for a salary, without the interior ministry’s approval.

As part of his application, he was interviewed by a Shin Bet officer named “Dror” who, he said, waved at him a folder of confidential information collected by undercover inspectors. “We will decide who is the next imam,” Dror told him, according to Sheikh Abu Ajwa. The sheikh was asked mainly about his political opinions and demonstrations he had attended.

The Shin Bet’s assessment, revealed to the tribunal, was that Sheikh Abu Ajwa’s appointment “may jeopardise security and peace in Jaffa”. In addition, the agency told the Haaretz newspaper that the sheikh “has had a long involvement in hostile activity, which manifested itself in incitement against the state and its Jewish citizens”.

Sheikh Abu Ajwa said this was a reference to his position as the leader in Jaffa of the popular northern wing of the Islamic Movement. Its leader, Sheikh Raed Salah, has raised the hackles of Jewish officials both by running a campaign warning of Israel’s intentions to take over the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem and by promoting a boycott of parliamentary elections.

The head of the Shin Bet, Yuval Diskin, warned in 2007 that his agency’s role was to prevent any activities, including democratic ones, that worked against the interests of a Jewish state.

Yaakov Salameh, the head of the religious minorities department at the interior ministry, told the tribunal last month that his inspectors collected information on Muslim religious leaders, including rumours about their private lives, such as whether they had had an affair or beat their children. The information was then handed to the Shin Bet, which assessed whether they were suitable to be appointed.

Mr Sfard said it was an “extraordinary” admission, given that under Israeli law the criminal records of candidates for religious appointments could only be considered if the applicant agreed to the information being handed over.

David Baker, a spokesman for the prime minister’s office, which is responsible for the Shin Bet, refused to comment on whether the appointment of rabbis followed the same procedures as those for imams.

Sheikh Abu Ajwa observed that many rabbis, particularly those in the settlements, said “very extreme things but no one spies on them. In fact, they have full government support.”

He admitted he was outspoken in his sermons, but said he had never broken any laws and never advocated violence. “I talk about our Palestinian identity and criticise the policies of the state in its treatment of us as a minority,” he said. “These are very sensitive things that they want to prevent us from talking about.”

During one Shin Bet interview, he said, he had been told: “We know everything about you, we are always watching you.”

The goal of such interviews was often to recruit Muslim clerics to become informers themselves, he added.

REf: Counterpunch

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jkcook.net.

VIDEO: This Time We Went Too Far (Gaza masscre)

Finkelstein: Israel’s Gaza Disgrace Q & A

Finkelstein announces study findings on Gaza massacre


Norman Finkelstein: A History of Violence – Part 1

American Radical the trials of Norman Finkelstein

Why Israel wont let News Reporters into Gaza


The Nakba and the Two-State Solution

On the surface and viewed from the perspective of dominating powers, their designated minions, and entrenched cohorts, it may appear that the Nakba is diminishing.  Several facts corroborate that view:  the passage of time, the very dispossession and dislocation of millions, the tendency of official Palestinian “leadership” to accept whatever scraps they are given, the seemingly insurmountable military superiority of Israel and its main backer, the United States, to name a few.

Discursively also, talk of the Nakba has been curtailed, especially among official Palestinian Authority officials and Arab governments.  It has been increasingly replaced by details and technicalities that avoid dealing with the crux of the Palestinian predicament.

Details and technicalities are evident in “negotiations” and “discussions” over the Two State Solution, settlements (stop, don’t stop, temporary freezes, natural growth,…), Jerusalem, municipal control of various services, collection and distribution of taxes, policing and security forces, road blocks, fences, airspace, percentages, companies, and so many other minutia.  They serve to obscure the original and much larger issue at stake, namely, liberating Palestine.

By focusing exclusively on the Two State Solution and its accompanying and derivative details, it becomes possible (for some) to lose sight of the origin of the ongoing Palestinian predicament:  namely, the Nakba.

The details are a method of exercising power over Palestinians. (1)  They are evident, not only in the obvious control mechanisms that I just listed, but are also apparent in the very “negotiations” that took and take place between Israel / US and the Palestinians.  From Madrid, to Oslo, to Taba, to Camp David, to the Road Map, to the current indirect Proximity Talks – one side has maps and details and conditions and rules, while the other side pleads, accepts, capitulates, and frequently, adopts the very language used by his oppressor.

An illustration of the above is Mahmoud ‘Abbas’ frequent references to “peace and security,” “growth,” and “stopping the settlements,” forgetting that the real issues are right of return, liberating the land, and an end to racist and usurping ideologies and governments.  Another example is ‘Abbas’ recent reference to the land of historical Palestine as the land of the tanakh.  In other words, he acceded to Netanyahu’s racist demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as “Jewish homeland” by buying into the Zionist myth that Jews were the original inhabitants of the land.

Yet another instance of Palestinian leadership adopting the language and reasoning of their oppressor was evident in the speech delivered by ‘Abbas at the opening of the third round of Fateh’s Revolutionary (not) Council.  ‘Abbas insisted on the Two-State Solution.  He even warned that “the idea of the so-called One State Solution has started leaking (tatasarrab) among people, because hope on the [real] ground is diminishing bit by bit…  The question to the Israeli side is: do you want two states on the 1967 borders?  We are ready.  But if you don’t want, then you are responsible for what happens after that.” (Al-Jazeera (Arabic), 4/24/2010, “Abbas clings to the Two State Solution and Hamas Rejects.”)  He continued his advice to Israel by saying that “the choice of peace needs brave Israeli leadership.”

Few were surprised by his obvious concern for the Israel’s well-being, least of all Israel and the United States.  It is equally probable that there are countless Palestinians, Arabs, and believers in a just solution who are not surprised that he seems to have forgotten that liberating Palestine also needs brave leadership.

Instead, ‘Abbas addressed his rivals in Gaza, calling on them to accept the Egyptian proposal for Palestinian reconciliation and praising Hamas’ efforts at stopping the launching or rockets directed at Israel.  He also urged Palestinians to abide by “peaceful popular resistance,” assuming that it is possible for anything peaceful to co-exist with a stage of siege, daily attacks, continued usurpation, racism, and so forth.

In truth, this is a new term with an old meaning: a submission that is rationalized by “realism.”

Facts exist but cannot speak.  There is a whole system and class of people, “experts,” “leaders,” institutions and organizations that mediate what they will mean.  They will assign words to the meanings / facts.  And somewhere else, in the dominated part of the world, a different people who are oppressed and/or excluded from this system of control, stand perplexed and outraged that a diametrically opposite word was assigned and repeated, hijacking their facts, their meanings, their reality.

The facts are a product of social, historical, oppositional, economic, and political circumstance.  Those who live them know the right word for the real meaning.  But others assigned as “leaders” over them, dutifully transpose and impose the altered terminology.  The new word becomes the new normal, the “realistic,” the quick deal that we can consume immediately, forever destroying the original source.

This is precisely what the Two State Solution and its details entail.

And yet, all these things aside, the Nakba continues unabated, growing in significance and in numbers.  Most conspicuous is the demographic growth in the number of Palestinians who are descendants of the Nakba, whether they are refugees, settled, or unsettled.  To those we must add more numerical growth due to the continued displacement and dispossession of Palestinians in present-day Israel as a direct result of Israeli military orders, exclusionary laws, banishment, forced exile, dispossession, house demolitions, and so forth.

Conceptually also, the Nakba strengthens.  This is evident in emergent groups, discourses of counterhegemony, resistance movements, and the growing International Boycott Divestment and Solidarity (IBDS) movement.  There is a palpable change in the international perception of Israel that emerged during and after its assault on Gaza. (2)  This has forced Israel to launch a diplomatic propaganda campaign, “Brand Israel,” to repair the damage to its image.

The fact that the hundreds of thousands of refugees in Gaza were direct products of the Nakba of Israeli establishment over their ancestral homes is significant.  The fact that Israel was unable to accomplish any of its political goals in Gaza, despite the wanton destruction, also has important repercussions.  Thus, the Nakba, directly or indirectly, continues to be a catalyst for a continuing re-evaluation of Israel’s position as a dominating power.  Militarily, the last several wars that Israel has launched against Lebanon and Gaza have made obvious its weaknesses.  Furthermore, it is amply demonstrable in the world today that military superiority is no solution to determined and organized resistance and insurgency.

Thus, there is hope in recognizing the persistence of the Nakba.  It stands as an event in human history that exists beyond the reach of dominating systems – even though the latter may have caused it.  This makes change possible and limits the power of a hegemonic or dominating system.  The Nakba is a historical reality that refuses to go away, providing the fuel for emergent movements and resistance.

Nevertheless, dominant powers continue their efforts to marginalize the Nakba as a central unresolved crisis.

Just in time for the commemoration of the Nakba, U.S. mediator George Mitchell is meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials (after Palestinian officials sought and got approval from Arab officials), in order to start the process that will lead to so-called indirect proximity talks that were announced by U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.  The Washington Post reported that Mitchell is trying to break the stalemate “in recent months,” (3) perhaps forgetting that, from the perspective of most Palestinians, there has not been progress, in fact there has been retrogression, on the “solution” to the conflict since Madrid and Oslo happened almost two decades ago.

According to the article, “For the Palestinians, the two paramount issues are territorial borders — precisely how much of the West Bank Israel will surrender and the future of Jerusalem.”  Yet again there is confirmation that externally designated Palestinian “leaders” are making a complete mockery of the Nakba, not even referencing that the crux of the problem is the dispossession of millions of people and the usurpation and colonization of Palestinian land.

When one listens to the words of a Mahmoud ‘Abbas or a Salim Fayyad, it becomes obvious that it makes no difference who among the “leaders” of the Palestinian Authority (PA) talks.  The content is the same, for they are simply delivery mechanisms and not the creators of the message.  (The same applies to most other Arab leaders.)  Having reached the inevitable terminus of the Peace Process and the Road Map and their interminable negotiations, they are now clutching the straw of the Indirect Proximity Talks.  ‘Abbas, desperate to sustain a role for himself, was busy throwing the hot potato to equally ineffectual Arab leaders.  The latter, if they do anything at all, they pass on the hot potato to the United Nations or some future conference of the Arab League.  In other words, they try to freeze the hot potato to death.

Such “leaders” do not acknowledge that there is no justification for the assumption that a Two State solution is a teleological goal.  It has failings that must be examined in light of new forms of reasoning, new events, and new practices. (4)  For while, the “vision” of the Two State is “legitimate” in “the international consensus,” legitimacy is in the eye of the beholder.  “Whose consensus?” is a legitimate question.  What about the point of view of the people who most affected by this consensus?

One need only to look at borders, roads, contiguity, sovereignty dimensions, economic sufficiency, and so forth to realize that the Two State Solution is hardly “realistic.”  While the Palestinian Authority is entrenched in political quietism, self-censorship, and obeisance, they nonetheless must confront the effects of that path.

This particular “pragmatic” approach, being a product of its dominating system, cannot envision and does not admit that it cannot have power over everything.

The weakness of this “realistic” approach is that it cannot anticipate or deal with change.  It cannot account for peoples’  abilities to imagine an alternative future society.  It cannot admit that some can perceive and analyze the nature of power and oppression in their present societies, thereby making it possible to counteract the details and to resist internalization of dominating ideologies. (5)
Dominating systems do not and cannot combat resistance or insurgency or rebellion effectively every time.

The PA and the dominating system of which it is a functionary must ultimately face the truth that concepts and facets of what is considered “authoritative” and “traditional” is frequently ambiguous and contestable.  Authority is valuable only insofar as it offers choices for society.  Choices that must be viable for its future welfare.  Otherwise, other “traditions” and “authorities” will emerge.  This is precisely the fate that is facing the Two State solution.

Putting aside any moral and ethical arguments against the Two State solution, all the facts on the ground are obliterating a potential second state.  Even within this putative proto-state, Israel is obliterating this possibility.  A recent example was reported by Amira Hass on 4/22/2010 in Ha’aretz.  Israel began implementing a new military order, No.1650, regarding the Prevention of Infiltration (Amendment No. 2).  It defines “a Palestinian with a Gaza Strip address as a punishable infiltrator if he is found in the West Bank.”  This is the latest in a series of steps to sever Gaza from Palestinian society.  It is also part and parcel of Zionist laws enacted at Israel’s founding, such as the Law of Return and the Law of Present Absentees, and so forth, whose aims are to control space and to fragment and dispossess Palestinian society.

The economy of the proto-state under the Palestinian Authority’s Two-State path is also illustrative of the non-realism and non-viability of the purported goal.  It may serve as an indicator of what is entailed in the future if this “vision” of a Two State is pursued any longer.

The latest economic figures released by the Arab League Economic Report on the Palestinian Occupied Territories in 2009 clearly show the deterioration.  Here are a few examples.  Between 1999-2008, Palestinian real inflation-adjusted GNP fell off a cliff by 35% to $1,108.  A significant factor in that is the multitude of Israeli restrictions, land confiscations (the West Bank lost 15% of its agricultural capacity due to the apartheid wall), destruction of trees and farmland, and so forth that have led to a sharp decline in olive oil production. Real per capita income fell by almost 21% to $1,284.  The services sector grew to a record 76.8% of GDP with all that this entails in terms of declining productive capacity of the overall economy.  This is also reflected in the fact that the trade deficit grew by 14%  to $3.032 billion.  Unemployment is now officially recorded at 16% in the West Bank and 49% in Gaza.

Also contributing to the dependency (and ensuring political obedience), external revenue, including remittances and global financial aid grew sharply to reach $2bn, much of it spent internally on PA commitments to civil servants and security personnel.

A UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People, held in Vienna by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on 3/24/2010, corroborated and added to the statistics provided by the Arab League report. (6)  Mahmoud El-Jafari, Dean and Professor of Economics at Al-Quds University noted that there are twin budget and trade deficits.  The ratio of imports to exports stands at 60%.  He added that absolute poverty rates stood at 57.3 %, according to 2007 figures (i.e. pre-Gaza assault – whose damage is estimated at 25% of GDP).  In Gaza, 76.9 % are under the national poverty line.

The comments made by Mahmoud Elkhafif, Coordinator of Assistance to the Palestinian People Unit at the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), revealed that post-Oslo, there has been an “integration” of the Palestinian and Israeli economies.  These have been hugely advantageous to Israel at the expense of the Palestinians.  Israel takes advantage of Palestinian land, water and labor as it simultaneously isolates Palestinians from their historical economic partners in the Arab countries. Moreover, the Paris Protocol framework for economic relations has produced a semi-customs union in which the PA could not have its own currency, monetary, or trade policy.  Israel determines value added tax, collects it and, depending on how cooperative the PA is perceived, pays it to the PA.  But even in good times, he said, the payment was just 60% of the figure owed.

Elkhafif concluded with the disturbing indicator of the extent of exploitation: that in the 1980s, Israeli income had been 7.5 times that of Palestinians and was now about 17 times higher.

Any reasonable assessment of this situation would see the proof in the pudding, so to speak.  Why ‘Abbas and his cohorts cling to the Two State solution can only be attributed to factors that do not and will not benefit Palestinian society or national aspirations.

The other side of the coin is Israel.

The last several wars that Israel has launched against Lebanon and the Palestinians have revealed a serious decline in its capacity to accomplish its military and political goals. Despite the wanton destruction wreaked by its vastly more superior military, the image / myth of its invincibility has been irrevocably shattered.

This topic has been dealt with extensively elsewhere, so I will not dwell on it here.  Instead, I would like to offer a few examples to consider in re-assessing Israel as well as the “realistic” position of why Arabs and Palestinians must capitulate to its demands.

It is well-known that Israel needs the assistance of the United States, to shield it from approbation in international venues such as the UN, and to help it financially, militarily, economically, in research and development, and so forth.
Israel is also failing in the key category of providing guaranteed results to empire.  Prominent among those failures is its inability to impose peace on its terms, nor to wage war from which it is confident to emerge as victor.  This is not to dismiss its indisputable military superiority, but it does indicate that it is no longer enough or even capable of achieving its political goals.

It is therefore time to re-assess the “realistic” approach.  For many years now, the dominant view of Israel in much of the Arab world has reflected an internalization of the myth of Israeli superiority, not morally or ethically, but militarily and economically. Conveniently, it was parroted and propagated by successive different Arab governments in order to rationalize and justify the shirking of their historic responsibility to help Palestinians in achieving self-determination and independence based on the liberation of all usurped land.

But ultimately, the historically insurmountable reality that is the Nakba stands.  It is distressing that the Palestinians as a people, need to remind their so-called leaders as well as most other Arab leaders, of their lived reality which has struggled for decades to ensure that their fundamental and inalienable rights are not forgotten or whittled away by the pseudo pragmatic reality of a Two State solution.  Once again, for those who may have forgotten, these are:  the right to their land and a national home, the right of return, the right to determine their own destiny, and the right to compensation for dispossession and the horrors and crimes of occupation.

Dina Jadallah is an Arab-American writer and artist.  She studied political science at Georgetown and the University of Chicago.  She is the author of numerous articles dealing with political developments in the Arab world.  Her work was published at Arab Studies Quarterly, Palestine Chronicle, Counterpunch, Ramallah Online, and Global Research, among others.  She can be reached at d.jadallah@gmail.com.

Ref: Counterpunch

Notes.

(1)  These details may remind some readers of Michel Foucault’s theory of power.  His theory of (pouvoir et savior) analyzes how systems of control work by confinement from the inside.  Their functioning depends first on the continuity of the institutions that confine and second, on the proliferation of justifying technical ideologies for the institutions.  These technical ideologies may be discourses, such as is evident in talk and conduct related to the roadmap, the peace process, security, development through privatization, and so forth.  But that power needs detail in order to work.  For example, in the case of the confinement of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, these would consist of the proliferation of road blocks, military orders, fences, curfews, long lists of what will be allowed to pass through the siege on Gaza, and so forth.  Foucault has no role for classes, economics, insurgency and rebellion in societies, however.  And this is the reason for the circularity and the trap – there is no escape within his conception of this type of power.

(2)  This is apparent in various international polls.  See for instance this large European Union poll: http://www.eutimes.net/.

(3)  See http://www.washingtonpost.com/.

(4)  Several have written about this topic.  Notable among them is Ali Abunimah’s One Country:  A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (2006).

(5)  My statements are based on Chomsky’s insightful critique of Foucault.  It offers a way out of the trap of a dominating system.  He argued that a sociopolitical battle can be waged with two objectives:  1) persons and groups can imagine an alternative future society that is based on a more just conception of human nature; and 2) that persons and groups have the ability to perceive and analyze the nature of power and oppression in their present societies.  Both of these together may lead to resistance and counterhegemony, thus providing a way to escape the trap.

(6)  See http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/.

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