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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
(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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Today is Holocaust Remembrance day. At 10am Israel came to a virtual standstill, sirens wailed across cities, traffic stopped as Jews here and abroad pause to reflect on the worst genocide in history.
Adolf Hitler’s evil plans started with discrimination against Jews based solely on their religion before moving them through mass deportations to concentration camps before finally seeking to exterminate them.
A total of 6 million Jewish men, women and children died in mankind’s darkest hour.
The world, and in particular Israel, rightly continues to remember these horrific events of 60years ago to ensure it never happens again. But there is increasing concern about whether the tragic lessons of the Holocaust were fully learned by Israel itself?
Tomorrow, April 13, 2010, a new Israeli military order comes into place allowing the mass deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank.
Any Palestinian or foreigner living in the West Bank without the appropriate id permit (receipt of which is controlled by Israel) can be deported within 72 hours or even jailed for up to 7 years.
Those Palestinians lucky enough to have escaped the open-air prison that is Gaza to now live in the West Bank maybe the first targeted and sent back.
The vague wording of the law has concerned Israeli human rights groups so much that 10 of them have signed a letter to Defence Minister Ehud Barak begging him to rescind it.
The left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz first broke the story and its editorial today is compelling reading, saying:
“The right of all Palestinians to choose where to live in the West Bank or Gaza marks a very low threshold for defining their human rights. Implementing this new military order is not only likely to spark a new conflagration in the territories, it is liable to give the world clear-cut proof that Israel’s aim is a mass deportation of Palestinians from the West Bank.”
Palestinian leaders say the move is devoted to racism and “paves the way for an ethnic cleansing operation.”
As Israeli’s well know, the Holocaust started with human rights violations which turned into mass deportations and ended in genocide.
Is it not time that those who support a state born of the single most traumatic event of the 20th century do everything in their power to never impose anything that resembles their own suffering on another oppressed people?
No doubt those who love Israel so much they cannot see its faults will attack this blog as being anti-Semitic.
But hopefully on a day that remembers the horrors of the past, just maybe Israel can start to rectify the wrongs of the present.
Ref: Al Jazeera
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Some weeks the news is dominated by a single word. This week’s word was “timing”.
It’s all a matter of timing. The Government of Israel has insulted the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, one of the greatest “friends” of Israel (meaning: somebody totally subservient to AIPAC) and spat in the face of President Barack Obama. So what? It’s all a matter of timing.
If the government had announced the building of 1600 new housing units in East Jerusalem a day earlier, it would have been OK. If it had announced it three days later, it would have been wonderful. But doing it exactly when Joe Biden was about to have dinner with Bibi and Sarah’le – that was really bad timing.
The matter itself is not important. Another thousand housing units in East Jerusalem, or 10 thousand, or 100 thousand – what different does it make? The only thing that matters is the timing.
As the Frenchman said: It’s worse than criminal, it’s stupid.
* * *
THE WORD “stupid” also figured prominently this week, second only to “timing”.
Stupidity is an accepted phenomenon in politics. I would almost say: to succeed in politics, one needs a measure of stupidity. Voters don’t like politicians who are too intelligent. They make them feel inferior. A foolish politician, on the other hand, appears to be “one of the folks”.
History is full of acts of folly by politicians. Many books have been written about this. To my mind, the epitome of foolishness was achieved by the events that led to World War I, with its millions of victims, which broke out because of the accumulated stupidity of (in ascending order) Austrian, Russian, German, French and British politicians.
But even stupidity in politics has its limits. I have pondered this question for decades, and who knows, one day, when I grow up, I might write a doctoral thesis about it.
My thesis goes like this: In politics (as in other fields) foolish things happen regularly. But some of them are stopped in time, before they can lead to disaster, while others are not. It this accidental, or is there a rule?
My answer is: there certainly is a rule. It works like this: when somebody sets in motion an act of folly that runs counter to the spirit of the regime, it is stopped in its tracks. While it moves from one bureaucrat to another, somebody starts to wonder. Just a moment, this cannot be right! It is referred to higher authority, and soon enough somebody decides that it is a mistake.
On the other hand, when the act of folly is in line with the spirit of the regime, there are no brakes. When it moves from one bureaucrat to the next, it looks quite natural to both. No red light. No alarm bell. And so the folly rolls on to the bitter end.
I remember how this rule came to my mind the first time. In 1965, Habib Bourguiba, the president of Tunisia, took a bold step: he made a speech in the biggest refugee camp in Jericho, then under Jordanian rule, and called upon the Arabs to recognize Israel. This caused a huge scandal all over the Arab world.
Some time later, the correspondent of an Israeli paper reported that in a press conference at the UN headquarters, Bourguiba had called for the destruction of Israel. This sounded strange to me. I made inquiries, checked the protocol and found out that the opposite was true: the reporter had mistakenly turned a no into a yes.
How did this happen? If the journalist had erred in the opposite direction and reported, for example, that Gamal Abd-el-Nasser had called for the acceptance of Israel into the Arab League, the news would have been stopped at once. Every red light would have lit up. Someone would have called out: Hey, something strange here! Check again! But in the Bourguiba case nobody noticed the mistake, for what is more natural than an Arab leader calling for the destruction of Israel? No verification needed.
That’s what happened this week in Jerusalem. Every government official knows that the nationalist Prime Minister is pushing for the Judaization of East Jerusalem, that the extreme nationalist Minister of the Interior is even more eager, and that the super-nationalist Mayor of Jerusalem practically salivates when he imagines a Jewish quarter on the Temple Mount. So why should a bureaucrat postpone the confirmation of a new Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem? Just because of the visit of some American windbag?
Therefore, the timing is not important. It’s the matter itself that’s important.
* * *
DURING HIS last days in office, President Bill Clinton published a peace plan, in which he tried to make up for eight years of failure in this region and kowtowing to successive Israeli governments. The plan was comparatively reasonable, but included a ticking bomb.
About East Jerusalem, Clinton proposed that what is Jewish should be joined to the State of Israel and what is Arab should be joined to the state of Palestine. He assumed (rightly, I believe) that Yasser Arafat was ready for such a compromise, which would have joined some new Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem to Israel. But Clinton was not wise enough to foresee the consequences of his proposal.
In practice, it was an open invitation to the Israeli government to speed up the establishment of new settlements in East Jerusalem, expecting them to become part of Israel. And indeed, since then successive Israeli governments have invested all available resources in this endeavor. Since money has no smell, every Jewish casino-owner in America and every Jewish brothel-keeper in Europe was invited to join the effort. The Biblical injunction – “Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God, for any vow; for even both these are abomination unto the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 23:18) – was suspended for this holy cause.
Now the pace is speeded up even more. Because there is no more effective means of obstructing peace than building new settlements in East Jerusalem.
* * *
THAT IS clear to anyone who has dealings with this region. No peace without an independent Palestinian state, no Palestinian state without East Jerusalem. About this there is total unanimity among all Palestinians, from Fatah to Hamas, and between all Arabs, from Morocco to Iraq, and between all Muslims, from Nigeria to Iran.
There will be no peace without the Palestinian flag waving above the Haram al-Sharif, the holy shrines of Islam which we call the Temple Mount. That is an iron-clad rule. Arabs can compromise about the refugee problem, painful as it may be, and about the borders, also with much pain, and about security matters. But they cannot compromise about East Jerusalem becoming the capital of Palestine. All national and religious passions converge here.
Anyone who wants to wreck any chance for peace – it is here that he has to act. The settlers and their supporters, who know that any peace agreement would include the elimination of (at least) most settlements, have planned in the past (and probably are planning now) to blow up the mosques on the Temple Mount, hoping that this would cause a worldwide conflagration which would reduce to ashes the chances of peace once and for all.
Less extreme people dream about the creeping ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem by administrative chicanery, demolition of houses, denying means of livelihood and just making life in general miserable for Arabs. Moderate rightists just want to cover every empty square inch in East Jerusalem with Jewish neighborhoods. The aim is always the same.
* * *
THIS REALITY is, of course, well known to Obama and his advisors. In the beginning they believed, in their innocence, that they could sweet talk Netanyahu and Co. into stopping the building activity to facilitate the start of negotiations for the two-state solution. Very soon they learned that this was impossible without exerting massive pressure – and they were not prepared to do that.
After putting up a short and pitiful struggle, Obama gave in. He agreed to the deception of a “settlement freeze” in the West Bank. Now building is going on there with great enthusiasm, and the settlers are satisfied. They have completely stopped their demonstrations.
In Jerusalem there was not even a farcical attempt – Netanyahu just told Obama that he would go on building there (“as in Tel Aviv”), and Obama bowed his head. When Israeli officials announced a grandiose plan for building in “Ramat Shlomo” this week, they did not violate any undertaking. Only the matter of “timing” remained.
* * *
FOR JOE BIDEN, it was a matter of honor. For Mahmoud Abbas, it is a matter of survival.
Under intense pressure from the Americans and their agents, the rulers of the Arab countries, Abbas was obliged to agree to negotiations with the Netanyahu government – though only “proximity talks”, a euphemism for “distance talks”.
Clearly, nothing will come out of these talks except more humiliation for the Palestinians. Quite simply: anyone building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is announcing in advance that there is no chance for an agreement. After all, no sane Israeli would invest billions in a territory he intends to turn over to the Palestinian state. A person who is eating a pizza is not negotiating about it in good faith.
Even at this late stage, Abbas and his people still hope that something good will come out of all this: the US will acknowledge that they are right and exert, at long last, real pressure on Israel to implement the two-state solution.
But Biden and Obama did not give much cause for hope. They wiped the spit off their faces and smiled politely.
As the saying goes: when you spit in the face of a weakling, he pretends that it is raining. Does this apply to the president of the most powerful country in the world?
Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.
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Gaza? Where’s that? Have you heard about it recently? It doesn’t figure on the list of important matters for consideration by the world’s presidents and prime ministers. It has vanished from the media. Most people couldn’t care less about a generation of Palestinians who are subjected to viciously inflicted privation by an imperialist nation that has lost touch with humanity.
Most countries, most human beings, with predictable exceptions, condemned Israel for indulging in frenzied savagery during its blitzkrieg on Gaza last December and January. There is no doubt that many of its actions were criminal. For example, there are well-documented instances of use of white phosphorus artillery shells against civilians. Poison gas, in other words – if a bit more hi-tech than the venomous vapors that exterminated so many millions of innocent Jewish men, women and children in Nazi concentration camps.
But Israel, propped up as a strutting jackbooted puppet on the global stage by the well-muscled fingers of Washington and some other capitals whose endorsement of violence seems boundless, can get away, quite literally, with murder. Innocent men, women and children can be exterminated by armed forces that have no reason to fear justice or even criticism from the world’s juridical system.
A highly respected international jurist, Mr Richard Goldstone (a South African Jew), produced a report for the UN about Israel’s attempted genocide and Hamas atrocities and was impartial and objective about assessing facts and apportioning responsibility, as would be expected of such a distinguished judge.
His terms of reference were “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.”
He investigated thoroughly (although the Israelis refused to cooperate in any way) and reported fairly. His finding was that Palestinian terror groups were culpable of atrocities, as were Israeli armed forces, and for the latter ruling he was promptly attacked by Israel, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist and the Financial Times.
And by President Barack Obama.
The Obama administration pronounced the report to be “flawed,” without giving any indication of what the flaws might be. Mr Goldstone, courteous and balanced as ever – if a trifle taken aback at such a reaction – observed gently that “I have yet to hear from the Obama administration what the flaws in the report that they have identified are . . . I would be happy to respond to them, if and when I know what they are . . . Of course I’m concerned and would like to engage with the Obama administration, at least informally.”
Fat chance of that happening, unless Mr Obama is prepared to risk the wrath of Israel.
But Mr Obama, like his predecessors, isn’t in favor of anything that is critical of Israel. He wants a second presidential term, after all, and must not offend the rich and dominant Israel Lobby. And his country’s legislators, who are equally beholden to that Lobby and have to follow the Tel Aviv line, “overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning a report by a United Nations fact-finding panel that criticized Israel as part of an assessment of the conflict in Gaza in 2008 between Israel and Hamas.” They voted against the report by 344 to 36, thereby showing, like the White House, their contempt for impartial analysis, the UN, the eminent Justice Goldstone, international law, and almost everything that remains civilized in this horrible world. (And you wonder how many of them read the report before voting.)
Hundreds of legislators in the US and Britain have sold their souls to Israel and will support Tel Aviv in any circumstances.
Britain’s governing Labor Party is right behind Israel, and it is recorded that “The Labor Friends of Israel (LFI), ‘a Westminster based lobby group working within the British Labor Party to promote the State of Israel’ fostered close ties with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who joined the society upon his premiership.”
After his catastrophic decade as prime minister, Blair, a squalid, greedy and unprincipled man, and a proven liar, was appointed “Middle East envoy working on behalf of the US, Russia, the UN and the EU,” as which he achieved precisely nothing. The selection of Blair as a representative to the Middle East was absurd. Nobody could imagine for an instant that his activities would be regarded as impartial – unlike Mr Goldstone – but this didn’t matter, because he had the seal of Israeli approval.
Just as in the US, Israel knows no political borders in Britain, whose present prime minister, an uninspiring and petulant dullard called Brown, declared that :
“it is one of the great privileges I have to be able to address the Labour Friends of Israel, to be able to thank you for everything that you do to promote the cause of justice . . . I count myself not only a friend of Israel but someone who wants to support the future of Israel.”
“The cause of justice”?
As Judge Goldstone recorded, Israel “committed actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity” by intentionally killing civilians during its Gaza blitzkrieg.
But Britain’s prime minister imagines that Israel’s slaughter of over 300 children will “promote the cause of justice.”
And the leader of Britain’s Conservative Party was equally toadying in June when he told the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) fundraising dinner at the Dorchester Hotel that he supported Israel unequivocally, “Not simply because of my party’s unstinting support for Israel through the decades, but also because it’s something I feel very deep inside of me.”
What drivel. This little man, whose name escapes me, has jumped on the Israeli bandwagon because it means money. 80 per cent of Conservative legislators are members of the CFI, and subsidies for political campaigns from Israel-supporting business organizations are discreetly disguised and happily grasped.
There is hardly a word of criticism of Israel by politicians in the US and the UK, and it’s not at all surprising that this is so, because so many of them couldn’t exist without cash from the Israel Lobby, passed on in one way or another. All the lavish expenses-paid holiday trips to the land of “the cause of justice” are simply confirmation that legislators are out to get whatever they can for free.
And Peace Prize-winning Mr Obama, of whom so many of us had high hopes of even-handedness, has a Secretary of State who told the Israel Lobby “It is wonderful being here with all of you among so many friends and I feel like this is a giant family reunion . . . and I feel like I am among family . . . I have a bedrock commitment to Israel’s security . . . God bless Israel . . .”
With servile, bootlicking friends like these, Israel can continue to defy UN Security Council resolutions, it can build scores of illegal settlements on land stolen from Palestinians, it can condemn the people of Gaza – and especially countless thousands of children – to indefinite and hideous hardship. The state of Israel exists in a wicked and vicious parallel world, bolstered by smug and sleazy western politicians.
Ten years ago Justice Goldstone declared that “bringing war criminals to justice stems from the lessons of the Holocaust.”
Indeed it does.
But when so many politicians and so much of the media in the US and Britain are intent on supporting Zion and ignoring Israel’s repulsive human rights violations, you wonder if the lessons of the Holocaust are perhaps a bit one-sided. The people of Gaza are suffering from the effects of an illegal and malevolent Israeli blockade. Its people are enduring horrible privation. The crimes against them go unpunished.
And nobody cares. For it would be very difficult to admit that war crimes have been committed by people who come to your giant family reunions, promoting “the cause of justice.”
Brian Cloughley’s book about the Pakistan army, War, Coups and Terror, is to be published in the US by Skyhorse next month. His website is http://www.beecluff.com.
Filed under: BLOGISM | Tagged: barack obama, Blair, blitzkrieg, Britain’s Conservative Party, CFI, Conservative Friends of Israel, gaza, Gaza blitzkrieg, genocide, God bless Israel, Goldstone, Hamas atrocities, Hamás, Holocaust, Israel’s security, lobby, nazi, Nazi concentration camps, Nobel peace prize, obama, Peace Prize, phosphorus, tel aviv, the cause of justice, UN Security Council resolutions | Leave a comment »
While Jewish settlers were burning the mosque of the village of Yasuf near the city of Nablus in the West Bank and writing on the walls of the village “We’ll burn you all”, which is the phrase German Nazis used to write on Jewish homes in the 1930s, EU member states backed down from a resolution proposed by Sweden to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state after the interference – as a result of Israeli pressure – of France and Germany, two countries involved in building the Israeli nuclear arsenal.
Despite the fact that the draft resolution was better than the resolution taken, they both fell short of meeting the requirements of international legitimacy. The draft resolution stated that the EU Council “urges” Israel to stop all settlement activity immediately, including those in East Jerusalem, and dismantling those built since “March 2001”. It stresses that the settlements, the segregation wall built on the occupied territories, and house demolition were all “illegal practices” according to international law and constitute a barrier to peace.” When the Council expressed “extreme concern” for the situation in East Jerusalem, it “called on all parties”, i.e. nuclear-armed Israel and the unarmed Palestinians to refrain from “provocative practices.” In this way, the settlers who burned the mosque of the village of Yasuf and the unarmed Palestinian civilians besieged in Gaza are considered the same.
The Council also called on “those detaining the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to release him immediately, while it completely ignored the fate of tens of thousands of Palestinian prisoners [held by Israel] kidnapped years ago, including women, children and elected members of the Palestinian parliament. This timid language does not condemn Israeli crimes like expelling the native people of the land and burning their homes. It considers the whole policy of ethnic cleansing and collective punishment mere “illegal practices” which do not (according to the draft resolution) require deterrent punishments for the Israeli rulers committing them in the same way Hamas should be punished and Iran should be punished for its nuclear policies.
In order to avoid showing the ugliness of Israeli crimes, it calls “all parties to refrain from provocative practices.” Thus the EU considers the Palestinian toddler whose home was demolished by Israel in the Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem, and who is sleeping in a tent with his family like hundreds of other Palestinian families in Gaza, as “a party” that should not provoke Israel!
All this European generous tolerance to Israeli crimes and all this timidity in standing up to them, even verbally, was faced by a ferocious Israeli campaign which was able to prevent the draft of a mere modest statement like this to be published. It succeeded in replacing the shy language which “urges,” “applauds” and “encourages” in an abstract, vague and unbinding language that does not have any force to stop the crimes or deter those who commit them.
Such a complacent European stance will not have a lasting political influence in favour of the cause of freedom and democracy in Palestine. That is why, and since the Zionist government realizes that blackmailing Europeans is an effective policy, prevented a European parliamentary delegation from visiting Gaza without fearing any firm European reaction. The Europeans found it sufficient to say “it was strange for the visit to be cancelled a few hours after the EU Council statement which is supported by a strong European position in relation to the creation of a Palestinian state within the borders of 1967, and stopping settlement in the West Bank, including “East Jerusalem.’”
But the fact is that the EU did not express a “strong position” in relation to Jerusalem and the two-state solution. It rather bowed to Israeli blackmail and turned a blind eye to Israeli crimes against humanity. That is why it had to accept more Israeli blackmail when its MEPs were prevented from entering Gaza, and had their permission cancelled three hours after it was given. This official humiliation of the MEPs would not have been accepted by the smallest country in the world. So, how could it be accepted by the largest parliament Europe has ever known?
If the EU Council continues to succumb to Israeli pressures made by an extremist government, Israeli crimes against civilians will continue. International statistics show that between last year’s anniversary of the Human Rights Declaration and this year’s, Israel killed 1,460 Palestinians with Europe watching. Nevertheless, the EU Council equates “the parties”, the Israeli killer and the Palestinian victim.
Nevertheless, some people believe that for Sweden, which holds the current EU presidency, merely to dare propose a draft resolution considering Jerusalem the capital of two states, this means a positive shift and an act of breaking the barrier of fear which haunted Europe for decades as a result of the Holocaust-related guilt complex. I do not understand why the past continues to haunt those who were born after the Holocaust: the current generation of Europeans is not responsible for the Holocaust committed by the Nazis against German Jews. And the Israeli Jews of today are not victims of German anti-Semitism. They are those who kill Palestinian people and deprive them of freedom, democracy and human rights.
The only thing Western papers were interested in, as far as this important issue is concerned, is that Europe finally gave in to Israeli pressure which succeeded in curbing this European move. Articles in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, and the CNN report were all based on an Israeli source saying that Europe backed down from its call for considering East Jerusalem as capital of Palestine, and that this backing down was in the interest of Israel which is planning to Judaize Jerusalem, i.e. ethnically cleansing it by demolishing Palestinian homes and expelling Palestinians. What they are doing is actually leaving future European generations with a guilt complex greater than the one felt by the current generation’s guilt as a result of the Holocaust.
Their children and grandchildren will find it difficult to understand how their ancestors chose not to see facts because they feared Israeli blackmail, because of their greed for Jewish money or in order to get a political position.
In the wake of this shameful European submission to Israeli blackmail, events have shown that this has only boosted Israeli arrogance. There is no difference in this regard between the government and the settlers: while the Israeli government decided to prevent MEPs from entering Gaza so that they do not see the atrocities perpetrated against the Palestinian people, Israeli settlers, as usual, attacked the villages of Nablus this time where they burned a new big mosque in the village of Yasuf in the northern part of the West Bank, including its furniture and library, destroyed the electricity network and left Hebrew graffiti saying: “we’ll burn you all”, “prepare to pay the price.” With all this happening, the EU and others are merely asking for clarifications for the cancellation, clarifications for demolition, clarifications for killing, clarifications for expulsion, clarifications for humiliation. The only reasonable and logical clarification is that the Zionist entity is a racist entity based on the destruction of the native people, destroying their culture and institutions, depriving them of a free and dignified life and accusing them of threatening Israel’s security. But the racist Israeli entity is no longer a danger to the Palestinian people alone; it is endangering the relationship between Muslims and the West and peace and security in our region and the world. It is not the Palestinians alone who should confront this horrendous racism. Europe and the West should shoulder their responsibility in this regard. Hence, Israeli promotion in the West of ideas like banning minarets and veils and putting more restraints on Muslims all lead to aggravating conflicts between peoples.
Fortunately, however, the cowardice of western governments is countered by the courage of conscientious people and opinion leaders of the Western world. This is a transitional phase before the civilized world realizes the danger of the Zionist model not to the Arabs alone, but to international peace and security. Hence, taking a firm European decision against ethnic cleansing, settlement and killing is the Europeans’ duty not only towards Palestinians but towards Europeans themselves.
Filed under: A MUST READ, ANTI-ISRAEL, ISRAEL, ISRAELI-APARTHEID POLICY, occupation, palestine, proIsrael thinktanks, Racism/hate, reflections, Resistance, resistance, settlers, shoah, zionism | Tagged: East Jerusalem, EU, Europe, Holocaust, Israeli blackmail, Jewish settlers, jewish terrorists, mosque burning, nazis, shoah, We’ll burn you all, Yasuf | Leave a comment »
Israel denounces Sweden’s silence on IDF organ harvest article (Israel is the only “democracy” that do not respect other countries laws and press. supprise?)
sraeli officials demanded that the Swedish government denounce a recent article by a top Swedish newspaper alleging that Israel Defense Forces soldiers kill Palestinian civilians in order to harvest their organs.
On Friday, the Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Benny Dagan met with Deputy Foreign Minister of the Scandinavian country and urged his government to issue a denunciation of the article. Deputy Foreign Minister Frank Belfrage emphasized his country’s freedom of speech and how it limits the ability of the government to respond to articles in the media.
Dagan rebuffed Belfrage’s explanation, saying that in the past the Swedish government responded to similar articles and their reluctance to do so in this case has made it unclear what their stance is.
The stance of the Swedish deputy foreign minister was backed up on Saturday by the country’s prime minister.
A Netanyahu aide said that “Israel does not wish to infringe upon the freedom of the press in Sweden. However, as much as the Swedish press is entitled to freedom, the Swedish government should enjoy the freedom of denouncing such reports.”
The article claims that as far back as 1992, the IDF had removed organs from Palestinian youths killed in clashes. It also makes a link to an alleged crime syndicate in New Jersey, which includes several members of the American Jewish community, as well as one Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, who faces charges of conspiring to broker the sale of a human kidney for a transplant.
Belfrage told Dagan that Bildt had responded to the article in a blog entry, which Dagan told him was not sufficient because it is unclear in a blog whether or not he is speaking as a private citizen or as the foreign minister.
Dagan then told Belfrage that the historical legacy of the Holocaust made the issue all the more important to Israelis, in that hateful words and anti-Semitism can often evolve into violent actions. Dagan also expressed his fear that the article could lead to violence against Jews.
Dagan told Belfrage that Israel believes the responsibility for cooling tensions over the article lies with the Swedish government, and said it was imperative for Sweden to resolve the crisis before the country’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt visits Israel on September 10th.
The meeting had been scheduled before the article was published, officials in the Swedish foreign ministry told local news agencies on Friday that it would now be used to address the escalating tension between the two countries.
Swedish officials said Thursday that comments by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in response to the article “had aroused anger” in Stockholm.
The article in Sweden’s biggest-selling newspaper, first reported internationally by Haaretz.com on Tuesday, has sparked fierce widespread debate both in Sweden and abroad.
Lieberman on Thursday criticized Sweden for not intervening in “the blood libel against Jews.” He said that “the affair is reminiscent of the state’s [Sweden’s] stand during World War II, when it also did not intervene.”
On Thursday, Bildt rejected Israeli calls for an official condemnation of the article.
Lieberman had asked Bildt to print a a state rebuttal to the piece. Dagan was expected to make a similar request during his meeting with Swedish Foreign Ministry officials.
Bildt denied the request, however, writing in a blog post late Thursday that he would not condemn the article as “freedom of expression is part of the Swedish constitution.”
“Freedom of expression and press freedom are very strong in our constitution by tradition. And that strong protection has served our democracy and our country well,” Bildt wrote.
“If I were engaged in editing all strange debate contributions in different media I probably wouldn’t have time to do much else.”
Bildt said he understood why the article stirred strong emotions in Israel, but said basic values in society are best protected by free discussion.
The article has enraged Israeli officials, who called it blatantly racist and said it played on vile anti-Semitic themes.
Bildt, meanwhile, says the rejection of anti-Semitism is “the only issue on which there has ever been complete unity in the Swedish parliament.”
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem had been doubtful that the Swedish government would publish a condemnation of the article, and was considering other measures. One idea is to cancel an upcoming visit by Bildt to Israel, set take place in 10 days.
Another idea was to allow Bildt to make the visit, but to use the trip as a well publicized criticism of the article, and for Israeli officials to refuse to speak with him about any subject other than the article.
Foreign Ministry officials the crisis would not end without official Swedish condemnation of the article.
Lieberman has informed Foreign Ministry employees to consider the cancellation of government press cards given to Aftonbladet reporters in Israel, as well as to refuse to assist the paper in any way whatsoever in covering Israeli news.
It also emerged Thursday that Defense Minister Ehud Barak is considering a libel lawsuit against Donald Boström, the writer of the article. Boström has reportedly been trying to publish a version of the article about Israel harvesting organs since 1992.
The Swedish government on Thursday distanced itself from a statement by its ambassador to Israel, in which she criticized the article saying that “the condemnation was solely the judgment of the embassy [in Tel Aviv], and designed for an Israeli audience.” The comments came in a statement released Thursday by the Swedish Foreign Ministry.
“The article in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet is as shocking and appalling to us Swedes, as it is to Israeli citizens,” said Ambassador Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier on Wednesday.
“Just as in Israel, freedom of the press prevails in Sweden,” Bonnier said. “However, freedom of the press and freedom of expression are freedoms which carry a certain responsibility.”
Israel is to lodge an official complaint with Sweden over claims in a newspaper that Israeli soldiers killed Palestinians to sell their organs.
Amazing as it is, it´s true!
Israel is bulling another country to think, act and talk as Israel wants. Everyone that do not do what Israel wants is a “palestinian”. Everyone that the jews + zionist do not like is an antisemite. Meanwhile the ethnical cleansing of Palestine and the israeli organ theafts countinues.
But let´s not talk about that.
Facts are boring when you are an israeli.
Filed under: A MUST READ, imperialism, ISRAEL, ISRAELI-APARTHEID POLICY, occupation, palestine, proIsrael thinktanks, Racism/hate, shoah, zionism | Tagged: aftonbladet, anti-Semitic, Belfrage, Bildt, blood-libel, Dagan, democracy, Foreign Minister, free discussion, free media, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, hatered, Holocaust, IDF, Lieberman, media, organ theaft, palestinian organ theaft, Rosenbaum, sweden, Swedish constitution, tryckfrihet, zionism | 2 Comments »