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/.

Thought-police is here – israeli state-propgaganda HASBARA


The Foreign Ministry unveiled a new plan this week: Paying talkbackers to post pro-Israel responses on websites worldwide. A total of NIS 600,000 (roughly $150,000) will be earmarked to the establishment of an “Internet warfare” squad.

The Foreign Ministry intends to hire young people who speak at least one language and who study communication, political science, or law – or alternately, Israelis with military experience gained at units dealing with information analysis.

Beyond the fact that these job requirements reveal a basic lack of understanding in respect to the dynamics of the online discourse – the project’s manager argued that “adults don’t know how to blog” – they are not too relevant either. An effective talkbacker does not need a law degree or military experience. He merely needs to care about the subject he writes about.

The sad truth is that had Israeli citizens believed that their State is doing the right thing, they would have made sure to explain it out of their own accord. Without being paid.

Foreign Ministry officials are fighting what they see as a terrible and scary monster: the Palestinian public relations monster. Yet nothing can be done to defeat it, regardless of how many foolish inventions will be introduced and how many bright communication students will be hired.

The reason is that good PR cannot make the reality in the occupied territories prettier. Children are being killed, homes are being bombed, and families are starved. Yet nonetheless, the Foreign Ministry wants to try to change the situation. And they have willing partners. “Where do I submit a CV?” wrote one respondent. “I’m fluent in several languages and I’m able to spew forth bullshit for hours on end.”

Anti-democratic initiative

Any attempt to plant talkbacks online must fail. Especially if the State is behind it. Not only because it’s easy to identify responses made on behalf of someone, but also because it’s anti-democratic. When the Israel Electric Company or other companies do it, it’s annoying. Yet when the State does it, it’s dangerous.

Imposters on behalf of the government are threatening free discourse even if they only wander through the virtual space. The Internet was meant to serve as an open platform for dialogue between people, rather than as a propaganda means.

Something worrisome is happening here lately. We see the accumulation of silencing attempts. The Nakba Law, the bill calling for a ban on protests outside the homes of politicians, Lieberman’s Loyalty Law, and the biometric information database. The free speech hunting season is on.

Thankfully we have the Internet, and it enables us to identify processes, discuss them, warn about them, and join forces against them. We can assume that soon we’ll see the establishment of a website opposed to this new initiative, unless such site already exists. Perhaps even a group on Facebook. I wonder whether all its members will be Foreign Ministry agents, or whether it will also include some real people.

This is not a police state: This is a thought-police state.

NAKBA DAY … “THEY KILLED ANYONE THEY SAW” + “Happy Nakba Day!”

OCCUPIED WEST BANK — Mohammed al-Saghir Abu Sharar was 37 when the Hagana and other Jewish terrorist gangs attacked al-Dawayema, a village located 18 kilometers northwest of Al-Khalil (Hebron) in 1948.

“When they came they started killing the civilian population en mass, men, women and children,” recalls Mohammed, now nearly 100-year-old.

“They killed anyone they saw. They broke the heads of children and cut open the bellies of women with bayonets. They even raped some women before murdering them.”
Mohammed said one of the bloodiest chapters of that day took place in the mosque.

“It was Friday and many elderly people had already gone to the local mosque for the congregational prayer,” he remembers.

“About two hours before the prayers, around 10:00 or 10:30 a.m., a number of vehicles carrying gunmen arrived. They sprayed everyone with bullets, killing all the 75 elderly people. Not a single one survived,” he added with tears in his eyes.

“They then started going into the houses, killing entire families. The killings forced people to flee eastward. However, the Hagana men pursued the fleeing civilians, killing more people.”

In his book “All That Remains,” Walid al-Khalid, a Palestinian historian of impeccable credentials, wrote that al-Dawayema had a population of 3710 in 1945.

The world marks on May 15 the “Nakba Day,” when Israel was created on the rubble of their country.

On April 18, 1948, Palestinian Tiberius was captured by Menachem Begin’s Irgun militant group, putting its 5,500 Palestinian residents in flight. On April 22, Haifa fell to the Zionist militants and 70,000 Palestinians fled.

On April 25, Irgun began bombarding civilian sectors of Jaffa, terrifying the 750,000 inhabitants into panicky flight.

On May 14, the day before the creation of Israel, Jaffa completely surrendered to the much better-equipped Zionist militants and only about 4,500 of its population remained.

No Shelter

Mohammed, who now lives with his family at the small village of al-Majd, about 7 kilometers southwest of al-Dawayema, says dozens of families had sought shelter at a big cave called “Turel Zagh”.

“The Jews told them to come out and get into a row and start to walk. And when they started walking, they sprayed them with machinegun fire from two sides,” he adds.

“One woman, the wife of Mir’ie Freih, survived the massacre by pretending to be dead.”

Mohammed said the victims of the massacre were later buried inside the Bir al-Sahra and Bir al-Sil wells.

His testimony was corroborated by Israeli historians and researchers relying on the de-classified archives of the Israeli army and interviews with veteran soldiers.

Happy Nakba Day!

Israeli historian Benny Morris had interviewed a participant in the massacre who told him that about 80 to 100 people, including women and children, were killed by “the first wave of conquerors.”

In 1984, an Israeli journalist interviewed the former Mukhtar (village notable) of al-Dawayema, Hasan Mahmoud Ihdeib, and took him back to the site for the first time since the massacre.

Ihdeib told him about the people killed in the mosque and the families
slaughtered at the cave, showing him the cistern where the bodies had been buried.

A few days later, the Israeli journalist brought workers who dug and discovered bones and skulls.

In 1955, the Jewish settlement of Amatzya was built on the ruins of al-Dawayema.

Aharon Zisling, Israel’s first agriculture minister, had likened the massacre, codenamed “Operation Yo’av”, to Nazi crimes.

Living Memory

A few years ago, Mohammed and his family visited the ruinous cite of his village where his father, mother, grandfather and their ancestors are buried.

“I stood their crying. I saw our home, badly dilapidated. I saw the chamber where my father used to receive guests. I saw the abandoned wells of water.”

The century-old Palestinian still hopes he would be allowed to live in his old home village.

“My wish has remained unchanged, it is to return to my village, to die and be buried there.”

Asked further if he would accept compensation for his lost property, he lapsed into a moment of silence before answering.

“It is not a matter of property and compensation,” he said.

“This is my country, my history, my home, my childhood memories. My forefathers and foremothers are buried there. Would you trade the grave of your father for all the money in the world?”

Ref: Islamonline

Many Israeli Jews celebrated Israeli Independence Day (according the Hebrew calendar) not long ago. Many more Israeli Jews had fun a couple of weeks later, on Lag B’Omer, while thousands of Israel’s Arab citizens decried the “Nakba” (The Catastrophe), namely the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 (according to the general calendar) with a day of mourning among Israel’s Arab community. That says everything…

So while the Jews were happy and dancing, first on Independence Day, then on the anniversary of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi’s death (over 300,000 near his grave in Meron alone), the Arabs were crying over the tragedies that befell them. Isn’t that just the way it should be?

Well, Happy Nakba Day!

For example in Lod, a Jewish city with Arabs living there, over 1,500 Arabs attended a “Nakba Day” rally. So did some Arab Knesset members, such as Azmi Bishara. “This is a day of mourning for the Palestinian people,” MK Jamal Zahalka said. “Lod is a special place for us, because it is here that the massacre [?] of 1948 took place at the Great Mosque, and that is why the city has become a symbol for us. Our message is that we will never forget and never forgive for what happened. We have come here to say that the Arab population will remain in Lod forever.”

Several major attacks by Arab forces occurred in the Lod area during Israel’s War of Independence. Lod and Ramle were counter-attacked by the IDF because they were on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road and convoys attempting to resupply and reinforce Jerusalem had to travel through the streets of the two towns, routinely under fire. The IDF could not afford to allow Jerusalem to be cut off from the rest of the country.

Yitzhak Rabin, then a commander involved in the operation, later said he agreed with Ben-Gurion’s order to expel the Arabs of Ramle and Lod. The Arabs in Lod were “armed and hostile,” Rabin said, presenting a danger, and they had to be driven away. Fighting with Arab gunmen took place, but no massacre occurred, the enemy during wartime was dealt a heavy blow.

Lod is a town where till this day; the Arab population has been consistently harassing the Jewish population. See my article, “The Jewish Struggle Against Arabs in Israel”.

“This is our memorial day,” National Democratic Assembly member Gabi Tanus said in Lod. “It is more important to us than the Holocaust is to the Jewish nation.”

Notice the Arabs suffered more than the Jews did from the Holocaust…

Happy Nakba day!

Lag B’Omer by the way, also marks the end of a period of deaths, of thousands of Rabbi Akiva’s students. Tradition tells us that 24,000 died during a plague. Rabbi Akiva was an arms smuggler during Bar Kochba’s revolt against the Roman occupation of Judea (according to Maimonides). Others surmise, they died in the battles to liberate Judea from the Roman occupation. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi (one of Rabbi Akiva’s top students), was forced to flee for his life and hide in a cave. There, he and his son studied Torah night and day for 13 years, till the “secrets of creation” were revealed to him. His teachings were later written down as “The Zohar,” the Book of Splendor, the “Bible” of Jewish Mysticism.

So just as the Jews of Judea fought and gained independence from the “super-power of their time” the Roman Empire, for 3 and a half years, Modern Israel finally gained independence, over 1,800 years later.

And the Arabs? They sit and weep, just as Jews did for those intervening 1,800 years. The only difference is that the Arabs are a recent settler population, who came to the Land of Israel only in the last hundred years or so, and have no real connection to this place, in spite of their weeping (and terrorism).

Notice they are not mourning the loss of the 1967 territories, but all of “Palestine”. Coming up in a little over a week is Jerusalem Day. Jews the world over will celebrate the liberation of Eastern Jerusalem, with it’s Temple Mount and Western Wall. Hebron, Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights were all delivered out of the hands of the Arab occupiers and into the hands of their rightful Jewish owners.

Israeli Arabs were never a happy bunch even though they have full civil equality. But in recent years, there has been growing active involvement from their community with “Palestinian” terrorists from the Palestinian Authority. Combined with their recent (since Oslo) vocal repudiation of Israeli Independence Day as their “Catastrophe;” it has been proven to many Israeli Jews, what they always suspected, Israeli Arabs are not trustworthy.

According to the Israel Democracy Institute’s recent study, the “2006 Democracy Index,” only 14% feel that relations between Jews and Arabs are good in Israel and 62% of Israelis would like to see the government actively encourage Arabs to leave Israel through financial incentives (the poll includes Israeli Arabs, so the figure for Israeli Jews must be even higher).

Professor Asher Arian (who conducted the survey), said he was not surprised by the support expressed for encouraging the Arabs to leave. “This has been a stable sentiment in the Israeli Jewish public for many years,” he said. “The public is both cynical and very Zionist.” He pointed out that if the survey were carried out right after a terrorist attack, the numbers would have been even higher in support of encouraging Arabs to leave.

The Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research of Tel Aviv University, found in their latest, “Peace Index: March 2006” (conducted on April 3-4, 2006, after the Israeli elections), a clear majority of Jews are against expelling more Jewish “settlers” from their homes. When questioned whether Israel should act unilaterally to set its final borders (Olmert’s Convergence/Expulsion Plan) or continue the existing situation (leave the
Jewish settlements alone) and wait until conditions are ripe for renewing contacts with the PA, 44% said they were for maintaining the status quo, whereas only 41% favored acting unilaterally to expel Jews from their homes. Don’t forget this poll too included about 20% Arab respondents.

Maybe Israel will one day soon decide to solve its “Arab security and demographic problem” the way most Jews in Israel would like it to, not by expelling Jews from parts of their ancestral homeland but by removing “the thorns in our side,” (Numbers 33:55).

Then Israel’s “good Arab citizens,” freed from their burdensome host, would have a real cause for celebration, as would the rest of us.

Ref: Israelinsider
Views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of israelinsider.

Paramilitary police attack Al-Nakba march

It has been a week of adulation from world leaders, ostentatious displays of military prowess, and street parties. Heads of state have rubbed shoulders with celebrities to pay homage to the Jewish state on its 60th birthday, while a million Israelis reportedly headed off to the country’s forests to enjoy the national pastime: a barbecue.

But this year’s Independence Day festivities have concealed as much as they have revealed. The images of joy and celebration seen by the world have failed to acknowledge the reality of a deeply divided Israel, shared by two peoples with conflicting memories and claims to the land.

They have also served to shield from view the fact that the Palestinians’ dispossession is continuing in both the occupied territories and inside Israel itself. Far from being a historical event, Israel’s “independence” — and the ever greater toll it is inflicting on the Palestinian people — is very much a live issue.

Away from the cameras, a fifth of the Israeli population — more than one million Palestinian citizens — remembered al-Nakba, the Catastrophe of 1948 that befell the Palestinian people as the Jewish state was built on the ruins of their society.

As it has been doing for the past decade, Israel’s Palestinian minority staged an alternative act of commemoration: a procession of families, many of them refugees from the 1948 war, to one of more than 400 Palestinian villages erased by Israel in a monumental act of state vandalism after the fighting. The villages were destroyed to ensure that the 750,000 Palestinians expelled from the state under the cover of war never return.

But in a sign of how far Israel still is from coming to terms with the circumstances of its birth, this year’s march was forcibly broken up by the Israeli police. They clubbed unarmed demonstrators with batons and fired tear gas and stun grenades into crowds of families that included young children.

Although most of the refugees from the 1948 war — numbering in their millions — ended up in camps in neighbouring Arab states, a few remained inside Israel. Today one in four Palestinian citizens of Israel is either a refugee or descended from one. Not only have they been denied the right ever to return to their homes, like the other refugees, but many live tantalisingly close to their former communities.

The destroyed Palestinian villages have either been reinvented as exclusive Jewish communities or buried under the foliage of national forestation programmes overseen by the Jewish National Fund and paid for with charitable donations from American and European Jews.

There have been many Nakba processions held over the past week but the march across fields close by the city of Nazareth was the only one whose destination was a former Palestinian village now occupied by Jews.

The village of Saffuriya was bombed from the air for two hours in July 1948, in one of the first uses of air power by the new Jewish state. Most of Saffuriya’s 5,000 inhabitants fled northwards towards Lebanon, where they have spent six decades waiting for justice. But a small number went south towards Nazareth, where they sought sanctuary and eventually became Israeli citizens.

Today they live in a neighbourhood of Nazareth called Safafra, after their destroyed village. They look down into the valley where a Jewish farming community known as Zippori has been established on the ruins of their homes.

This year’s Nakba procession to Saffuriya was a small act of defiance by Palestinian citizens in returning to the village, even if only symbolically and for a few hours. The threat this posed to Israeli Jews’ enduring sense of their own exclusive victimhood was revealed in the unprovoked violence unleashed against the defenceless marchers, many of them children.

Like many others, I was there with a child — my five-month-old daughter. Fortunately, for her and my sake, we left after she grew tired from being in the heat for so long, moments before the trouble started.

When we left, things were entirely peaceful. Nonetheless, as we drove away, I saw members of a special paramilitary police unit known as the Yassam appearing on their motorbikes. The Yassam are effectively a hit squad, known for striking out first and asking questions later. Trouble invariably follows in their wake.

The events that unfolded that afternoon have been captured on mostly home-made videos that can be viewed on the internet, including here. The context for understanding these images is provided below in accounts from witnesses to the police attack:

Several thousand Palestinians, waving flags and chanting Palestinian songs, marched towards a forest planted on Saffuriya’s lands. Old people, some of whom remembered fleeing their villages in 1948, were joined by young families and several dozen sympathetic Israeli Jews. As the marchers headed towards Saffuriya’s spring, sealed off by the authorities with a metal fence a few years ago to stop the villagers collecting water, they were greeted with a small counter-demonstration by right-wing Israeli Jews.

They had taken over the fields on the other side of the main road at the entrance to what is now the Jewish community of Zippori. They waved Israeli flags and sang nationalist Hebrew songs, as armed riot police lined the edge of the road that separated the two demonstrations.

Tareq Shehadeh, head of the Nazareth Culture and Tourism Association whose parents were expelled from Saffuriya, said: “There were some 50 Jewish demonstrators who had been allowed to take over the planned destination of our march. Their rights automatically trumped ours, even though there were thousands of us there and only a handful of them.”

The police had their backs to the Jewish demonstrators while they faced off with the Palestinian procession. “It was as if they were telling us: we are here only for the benefit of Jews, not for you,” said Shehadeh. “It was a reminder, if we needed it, that this is a Jewish state and we are even less welcome than usual when we meet as Palestinians.”

The marchers turned away and headed uphill into the woods, to a clearing where Palestinian refugees recounted their memories.

When the event ended in late afternoon, the marchers headed back to the main road and their cars. In the police version, Palestinian youths blocked the road and threw stones at passing cars, forcing the police to use force to restore order.

Dozens of marchers were injured, including women and children, and two Arab Knesset members, Mohammed Barakeh and Wassel Taha, were bloodied by police batons. Mounted police charged into the crowds, while stun grenades and tear gas were liberally fired into fields being crossed by families. Eight youths were arrested.

Shehadeh, who was close to the police when the trouble began, and many other marchers say they saw the Jewish rightwingers throwing stones at them from behind the police. A handful of Palestinian youngsters responded in kind. Others add that the police were provoked by a young woman waving a Palestinian flag.

“None of the police were interested in stopping the Jews throwing stones. And even if a few Palestinian youths were reacting, you chase after them and arrest them, you don’t send police on mounted horseback charging into a crowd of families and fire tear gas and stun grenades at them. It was totally indiscriminate and reckless.”

Clouds of gas enveloped the slowest families as they struggled with their children to take cover in the forest.

Therese Zbeidat, a Dutch national who was there with her Palestinian husband Ali and their two teenage daughters, Dina and Awda, called the experiences of her family and others at the hands of the police “horrifying”.

“Until then it really was a family occasion. When the police fired the tear gas, there were a couple near us pushing a stroller down the stony track towards the road. A thick cloud of gas was coming towards us. I told the man to leave the stroller and run uphill as fast as he could with the baby.

“Later I found them with the baby retching, its eyes streaming and choking. It broke my heart. There were so many families with young children, and the police charge was just so unprovoked. It started from nothing.”

The 17-year-old boyfriend of Therese Zbeidat’s daughter, Awda, was among those arrested. “It was his first time at any kind of nationalist event,” she said. “He was with his mother, and when we started running up the hill away from the police on horseback, she stumbled and fell.

“He went to help her and the next thing a group of about 10 police were firing tear gas cannisters directly at him. Then they grabbed him by the keffiyah [scarf] around his neck and pulled him away. All he was doing was helping his mother!”

Later, Therese and her daughters thought they had made it to safety only to find themselves in the midst of another charge from a different direction, this time by police on foot. Awda was knocked to the ground and kicked in her leg, while Dina was threatened by a policeman who told her: “I will break your head.”

“I’ve been on several demonstrations before when the police have turned nasty,” said Therese, “but this was unlike anything I’ve seen. Those young children, some barely toddlers, amidst all that chaos crying for their parents – what a way to mark Independence Day!”

Jafar Farah, head of the political lobbying group Mossawa, who was there with his two young sons, found them a safe spot in the forest and rushed downhill to help ferry other children to safety.

The next day he attended a court hearing at which the police demanded that the eight arrested men be detained for a further seven days. Three, including a local journalist who had been beaten and had his camera stolen by police, were freed after the judge watched video footage of the confrontation taken by marchers.

Farah said of the Independence Day events: “For decades our community was banned from remembering publicly what happened to us as a people during the Nakba. Our teachers were sacked for mentioning it. We were not even supposed to know that we are Palestinians.

“And in addition, the police have regularly used violence against us to teach us our place. In October 2000, at the start of the intifada, 13 of our unarmed young men were shot dead for demonstrating. No one has ever been held accountable.

“Despite all that we started to believe that Israel was finally mature enough to let us remember our own national tragedy. Families came to show their children the ruins of the villages so they had an idea of where they came from. The procession was becoming a large and prominent event. People felt safe attending.

“But we were wrong, it seems. It looked to me very much like this attack by the police was planned. I think the authorities were unhappy about the success of the processions, and wanted them stopped.

“They may yet win. What parent will bring their children to the march next year knowing that they will be attacked by armed police?”

Ref: Counterpunch

Jonathan Cook is a journalist and writer based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest book, “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East”, is published by Pluto Press. His website is http://www.jkcook.net