ISRAELI EVERYDAY APARTHEID: West Bank village under threat

EVERYDAY ISRAELI APARTHEID: A Palestinian arrest so ridiculous even the Israeli judges smiled

Something about 12-year-old Bassam caused two Israelis to smile. Two
Palestinians noticed, but did not remember their smiles as being disparaging or arrogant. On the contrary. The Palestinians regarded the smiles as a rare moment in which two Israelis – and not just any Israelis, but military judges – realized how ridiculous the situation was.

There were three other Israelis present, who held back their cries as they watched the boy enter, faltering – the chains around his legs clanging against each other, the prisons service coat he wore much too big for him. These three women, of their own accord, go regularly to the caravans that house the Ofer military tribunal and take notes. Were it not for these three women, who eventually shared his story, Bassam would have become yet another hidden detail of a non-event. A non-event of the sort that takes place countless times, all the time. Without those non-events, it is impossible to comprehend what life is like under hostile rule.

This particular non-event began with Bassam (not his real name), who lives in a village west of Ramallah, deciding to visit his aunt who lives in another village 14 kilometers away. It took place in the afternoon hours of Monday, December 21, 2009. Bassam’s home is some 10 kilometers north of Route 443 and his aunt’s home to the south. A narrow, winding path links the villages located along the way. Bassam took two taxis, then began walking the rest of the way. At the suggestion of another boy he met on the path, he took a shortcut through a valley and headed for the little tunnel that runs below the road which is closed off to Palestinians, but built on their land.

Several hundred meters from the elevated road, some Israel Defense Forces
soldiers popped out from in between the olive trees. According to the boy, they called him over, saying “Come, come.” “I was afraid and fled,” Bassam says. But the soldiers grabbed him. He noticed there were two jeeps nearby.

“They boxed me a little on my ears, covered my eyes and put plastic handcuffs on my wrists. Then they lifted me and threw me into a jeep,” he says. An Arabic speaker, he says, told him: “If they ask you, say that you threw stones.” “I was so afraid that I did not think about anything,” Bassam says two weeks later, at home.

With his eyes covered and hands cuffed, Bassam was taken from place to place. At the first stop, he was kept about two hours. They offered him water, but he said he did not want any. Then they drove to another place where a police interrogator asked him if he “had ever thrown stones on 443,” Bassam relates. “I said yes – because that’s what the soldier in the jeep told me – but I didn’t know what 443 was. He asked me whether I had ever thrown stones with a sling. I asked him what a sling was. He explained to me and I said no.”

At the third stop, Bassam was seen by a doctor who spoke some Arabic. “He
asked me if I had had any operations and I said no. Then they covered my eyes again, handcuffed me and we went off,” he says. By then it was already dark; they next arrived at the Ofer Prison. In the Prison Service records, Bassam is registered as prisoner number 1336183.

The inmates in the cell he was taken to immediately calmed him down, gave him something to eat, and explained that he would appear in court the next day. “I knew about Shabak [the Shin Bet security service] but I didn’t know what the court was,” he says.

‘But I am standing’

At around 3 P.M. on December 22, in the caravan which houses the court,
Iyad Misk, an attorney with DCI (Defence for Children International), spotted Bassam, whom he did not know, huddled among the other prisoners. When the judge, Major Shimon Leibo, entered, Misk thought Bassam didn’t realize he had to stand. “Get up, get up,” he said in a stage whisper from the attorney’s stand. Bassam stared at him in amazement. “But I am standing,” he said. Judge Leibo heard, looked and began to smile.

Misk immediately volunteered to represent the kid. The prosecutor, police
officer Asher Silver, said: “We ask that the suspect be released on condition of a NIS 1,500 deposit and that he be called to a hearing, as we intend to submit an indictment against him.”

Misk explained that the suspect did not have NIS 1,500 (approximately one and a half times a Palestinian worker’s monthly wage), and that his family members were not present and apparently did not even know where he was. In what sounded like a suppressed reprimand, the judge said that not enough had been done to inform the boy’s family about the arrest, and ordered that Bassam be released after NIS 500 was deposited. Misk  who believed the police should have immediately released the boy the previous day, when the soldiers brought him to the police interrogator – was prepared to pay out of his own pocket, but the offices where the payment was to be made were already shut.

Meanwhile, Bassam’s parents were beside themselves with worry. When he did not return home in the morning from his aunt’s home, they started searching for him throughout the surrounding areas  in the orchards, at the checkpoints, on the roads, at army posts. “I walked through the mountains looking for him and crying,” his father, who is a welder, recalls. In the evening, one of Misk’s friends found the father and informed him that Bassam would be spending a second night in detention. The following day, December 23, the father appeared at the military tribunal.

He held back his tears as he watched his son enter the caravan. The jacket reached his knees and his hands were buried inside the long sleeves. “Take a look at him,” the father told the judge, Major Sharon Rivlin-Ahai, in fluent Hebrew. “Is this what the great Israel Defense Forces are needed for – to arrest this boy?”

And then it was time for the second smile – hers this time. The father
remembers her saying, “Right.” But then she added: “That’s the law.” She
reduced the amount of the deposit to NIS 200, along with a guarantee that his son would appear in court if and when a charge sheet is brought against him. As long as there is no indictment, no one will know what the soldiers who took in Bassam are claiming. It is their word against the word of a Palestinian boy.

Ref: Haaretz

UPDATE FROM THE ISRAELI ETHNIC CLEANSING: Palestinians break Israel’s wall

Palestinians and foreign activists have torn down segments of Israel’s separation wall in a demonstration marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In the town of Qalandiya in the occupied West Bank, a group of masked activists using a lorry pulled down a two-metre cement block before Israeli security forces confronted them with tear gas grenades.

In depth

Protesters were wearing shirts with the text “Jerusalem we are coming”, which was the slogan for the protest.

Abdullah Abu Rahma, leader of the People’s Campaign to Fight the Wall, said: “Today we commemorate 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“This is the beginning of the activities, which we do, to express our hold on our land, and our refusal to this wall – the wall of torture, the wall of humiliation.”

Activists have vowed to hold a week of protests in the Palestinian territories and around the world, including a campaign calling for the release of all anti-wall activists currently imprisoned.

Last Friday, Palestinian youths almost toppled a segment of wall using a hydraulic car-jack in the West Bank village of Nilin.

Regular protests

Protests against the wall have become a regular event in Nilin and in the nearby village of Bilin, where Palestinian, international and Israeli activists are commonly confronted by tear gas and rubber bullets fired by Israeli troops.

Israel began building its barrier, consisting of fences and walls, in 2002, citing security reasons.

The wall is up to 8m high in places, twice the height of the former Berlin wall. Palestinian sources anticipate that it may be more than 750km-long when construction is finished, more than four times the length of the Berlin wall.

Palestinians say the route of the wall has been set in such a way that it grabs land that could have been included in a future Palestinian state.

The International Court of Justice, in a non-binding decision in 2004, said the Israeli-built barrier was illegal and should be taken down because it crossed into occupied territory.

A report by Stop the Wall, a Palestinian coalition of NGOs opposed to the wall, said that in 2007 alone, Israel demolished more than 160 houses and appropriated more than 3sq km of land in the Palestinian West Bank in its construction of the wall.

Ref: Al Jazeera

Palestinian villagers protest land seizure – 04 Sep 09

Israel’s illegal wall traps Palestinians

Israel ‘using tourist sites to assert control over East Jerusalem’

Peace groups say government’s secret plans with settler groups could prevent two-state solution

Israel is quietly extending its control over East Jerusalem in alliance with rightwing Jewish settler groups, by developing parks and tourist sites that would bring a “drastic change of the status quo in the city”, according to two Israeli groups.

Ir Amin, a group working for a shared Jerusalem, said the purpose of the “confidential” plan was to link up several areas of East Jerusalem surrounding the Old City with the goal of asserting Israeli control and strengthening its claim to Jerusalem as its capital city. Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, a move not recognised by the international community.

The accounts come ahead of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, who arrives in Jerusalem tomorrow for a week-long pilgrimage, during which he is likely to hear detailed concerns from Palestinians over their future in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Under an eight-year plan, worth 75m shekels a year (£12m), a series of nine national parks, trails and tourist sites based on apparent Jewish historical spots would be established, most under the control of settler groups working together with the Israeli government. The sites would also create a link to Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The parks would be a “biblical playground” built on public and private land and would be fenced in, the group said.

“This act will limit the possibility of territorial compromise in Jerusalem to its northern and southern parts only, outside of areas surrounding the Old City,” said Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer and founder of Ir Amin.

He said the programme was supported by the Israeli prime minister’s office and was being conducted without any public debate or transparency. “This policy fans the flames of the conflict and threatens to change it from a national conflict that can be controlled and solved, into a pointless regional confrontation,” Seidemann said.

Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. Palestinians, who live in the east, make up a third of the city’s population.

Peace Now, another Israeli group, released similar information about the plan, based on a government budget document, saying it feared the proposal was “possibly preventing the ability to reach a two-state solution”.

An Israeli government official told AP the new development was to benefit all Jerusalem. “The government will continue to develop Jerusalem, development that will benefit all of Jerusalem’s diverse population and respect the different faiths and communities that together make Jerusalem such a special city,” the official said.

Ref: Guardian

Also read the report – Israeli Government’s Plans to Deepen hold over Jerusalem – May 2009

Israeli military condemns bloodthirsty T-shirts

(03-24) 04:00 PDT Jerusalem

Israel’s military condemned soldiers for wearing T-shirts of a pregnant woman in a rifle’s cross-hairs with the slogan “1 Shot 2 Kills,” and another of a gun-toting child with the words, “The smaller they are, the harder it is.”

The T-shirts were worn by some Israeli Defense Force soldiers to mark the end of basic training and other military courses, the newspaper Haaretz said.

The appearance of the T-shirts followed allegations of misconduct by Israeli troops during the three-week Gaza war. Palestinian officials say about 1,400 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians. Thirteen Israelis died, three of them civilians.

The army said it would not tolerate the T-shirts and would take disciplinary action against the soldiers involved, although it was not clear how many wore the shirts or how widely they were distributed.

The military sought to portray the T-shirts as tasteless humor and condemned the soldiers involved, saying in a statement that the shirts “are not in accordance with IDF values.”

They were not manufactured or sanctioned by the military.

The shirts’ existence was first reported Friday by Haaretz and later on broadcasts by Israeli radio and television.

Haaretz showed pictures of five shirts and said they were made at the unit level – indicating that they were made for small numbers of troops, perhaps several dozen at a time. It said they were worn by an unknown number of enlisted men in different units. The Tel Aviv factory that made many of the shirts, Adiv, refused to comment.

Few in the Palestinian territories appeared to be aware of the T-shirts. In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said it “reflects the brutal mentality among the Zionist soldiers and the Zionist society.”

Hamas-controlled media consistently glorify attacks on Israelis, and cartoons in Palestinian newspapers frequently use anti-Semitic images of Jews as hook-nosed, black-hatted characters.

Hamas also mocked Israeli suffering, staging a play about its capture of an Israeli soldier in which it makes fun of the serviceman crying for his mother and father.

Israel’s military has come under increasing scrutiny after soldiers alleged that some troops opened fire hastily and killed Palestinian civilians during the Gaza war, including children, possibly because they believed they would not be held accountable under relaxed open-fire regulations. The military has ordered a criminal inquiry into soldiers’ accounts published in a military institute’s newsletter.

On Monday, the military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, defended his troops.

“I tell you that this is a moral and ideological army. I have no doubt that exceptional events will be dealt with,” Ashkenazi told new recruits. Gaza “is a complex atmosphere that includes civilians, and we took every measure possible to reduce harm to the innocent.”

The Gaza offensive, launched to end years of rocket fire at Israeli towns, ended Jan. 18.

Ref: Sf gate

Court rules Jewish immigrant who confessed to killing Arab taxi driver unfit to face charges

The alleged killer of an Arab taxi driver who was stabbed to death in Tel Aviv in 2007 is unfit to stand trial, the Tel Aviv District Court ruled after reviewing the results of the suspect’s psychiatric evaluation Thursday.

Julian Soufir, a 26-year-old Jewish immigrant from France, confessed to killing Taysir Karaki, 35, from Beit Hanina, north of the capital. Police said their investigation revealed that Soufir, whose family lives in Netanya, went to Jerusalem in May 2007 to find an Arab taxi driver to murder.

Several months ago the court rejected the state’s request that Soufir’s mental health be evaluated by a special panel of experts.
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“We’ll read the decision and study it,” said prosecution attorney Anat Ben-Ze’ev. “At the end of the day this means that he will be hospitalized and locked away in a psychiatric institution. It will be impossible to indict him because the court decided that he was insane at the time of the murder.”

Members of Karaki’s family protested Thursday’s decision, noting Soufir’s confession.

“We won’t take this lying down,” said Siham Karaki, the slain driver’s sister. “We will return to the court even if it takes 10 more years. He was released only because he’s Jewish and my brother was Arab.”

In it’s decision, the court said that Soufir displayed mental health problems as early when he was 14, in France, when he would carry around a knife, threatening to kill anyone who threatened to harm him or his mother.

Speculations regarding Soufir’s mental state began after he exhibited seemingly irrational behavior during his first appearance in court.

Soufir, who had recently become religious, appeared in court without a head covering and continued to make faces and clap his hands, sticking out his tongue at reporters.

Police discovered the murder almost by chance after they stopped Soufir and his brother while they were walking down the middle of a Tel Aviv street early in the morning in May 2007.

Soufir confessed to the murder as soon as police asked him for identification. Police said the victim’s throat had been slit a few hours before the body was found.

Ref: Haaretz

Dividing Jerusalem, one wall at a time

JERUSALEM – There is a new wall in the downtown heart of the Holy City. It is, in fact, a new security fence. It is not tall, nor built to last. But the wall, and what it protects, may do more to undermine Israel’s moral claims to Jerusalem than the huge concrete structure that has marred the city’s Arab eastern half for years.

There is no sign on the wall. There is no explanation for the need of a uniformed guard posted at its entrance. There is no indication, therefore, that it protects construction on a quarter-billion dollar monument to insensitivity.

It is a testament, as well, to the principle that Israel’s only reliable natural resource is irony. The walled area is a construction site where a Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights organization dedicated to instilling the lessons of the Holocaust and combating hatred, is building a Museum of Tolerance and Center for Human Dignity atop an ancient Muslim cemetery.

The complex is a project of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, whose founder Rabbi Marvin Hier envisions the museum as a “great landmark promoting the principles of mutual respect and social responsibility.”

No one disputes that Jerusalem is in dire need of tolerance and human dignity. Rabbi Hier was surely right to set that as his goal. But when the Wiesenthal Center originally chose the Mamilla cemetery site from a range of locations offered, it was wrong.

And late last month, when the Supreme Court gave a green light to the project, and Rabbi Hier responded that “Moderation and tolerance have prevailed,” he was dead wrong.

In 2006, less than two years after Rabbi Hier, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, architect Frank Gehry and much of the Israeli cabinet broke ground on the Museum of Tolerance site, construction was abruptly ? and correctly – halted.

Workers excavating the site had struck bones.

At that point, the Wiesenthal Center, mindful of its stated mission, should have immediately begun a search for an alternative site for the museum. Instead, it spent a fortune in legal fees fighting a protracted court battle in which, in a very real sense, everyone came out the loser.

After all, this is the same organization which labored for 15 long years, in the words of Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Abraham Cooper, helping “galvanize world opinion to force the removal of a Carmelite convent from the grounds of Auschwitz.”

Why had the Wiesenthal Center worked so hard and for so long to win the removal of a Catholic convent built there?

“Auschwitz is the largest Jewish cemetery – the single largest unmarked human graveyard – in history,” Cooper noted in 2005.

“It deserves universal respect.”

Rabbi Cooper was right. A burial ground of one faith must be respected by people of all religions, even if the graves are unmarked.

So it was for Jewish graves in Auschwitz. So it was, last year, in Vilnius, where Jews protested vociferously when officials granted permits for apartment construction atop an area believed to be part of Lithuania’s largest Jewish cemetery.

So it was with Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem. Jews were justifiably outraged when they learned that during the former Jordanian rule, construction on and around the cemetery uprooted and destroyed large numbers of Jewish graves.

And so it is, certainly, for a site said to have been the city’s main Muslim cemetery until 1948.

There are Muslims who believe that the Mamilla cemetery includes the graves of men who fought for Saladin against the Crusaders. Archeologists believe the graves are more recent, no more than 400 years old. Either way, for the Wiesenthal Center, the following is the truth that should truly count:

In a city sacred to a majority of the world’s population, the bedrock test of the legitimacy of Israeli rule is the degree of respect the Jewish state accords the sacred sites of other faiths.

The chosen location of a Muslim cemetery in Jewish West Jerusalem casts doubt on Israel’s guardianship of holy sites. It calls into question not only Israel’s moral claims to ruling all of Jerusalem, it erodes its claims to any of it.

It does Israel no honor that Supreme Court approval of the project was based, in part, on the argument that no protests were heard when a the city built a parking lot on part of the cemetery in 1960 ? this at a time when much of Israel’s Arab population was under martial law, and in little position to voice opposition.

Moreover, it is not for Jews to decide what Muslims should and should not hold sacred.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has won its day in court. But in doing so, it defeated the very tolerance, human dignity, mutual trust, and brotherhood for which the center stands.

What is compassion, what is tolerance, if not the ability to reconsider one’s own actions in the light of the ways in which they may injure others?

One needn’t be a jurist, nor an expert in Middle East conflict resolution, to know that Muslims will have zero tolerance for the chosen site of this museum. One need only to be a lover of Jerusalem, and of Israel, to have zero tolerance for it as well.

It is not too late. Now is the time for Rabbi Hier and the Wiesenthal Center to embrace the true message of the project. Make the righteous and courageous decision to leave the Mamilla cemetery and build elsewhere.

It is not too late. Set an example of respect. Tear down this wall. Move the museum.

Ref: Haaretz

……
Noone can really be suprised at this. I call it Israeli banality where sick racist
things have become normality. Noone even thinks about it as something strange.
Ofcourse jews are always right from the Highest level (Supreme court) down to
the IDF solider that shoots for fun. Twisting, apologising, claiming “security reasons”
or other sick arguments is just the rethoric of this mindset; “jews above all”.

Israel is an ethnocrati and an apartheid state with diffrent set of rules for
diffrent kinds of ethnicities. What goes around comes around; the people prosecuted for
their ethnicity is now conductiong a 60 year long shoah on others. Wisenthal Center runing
out of “nazis” to find does what comes “natural” in these circumstances; “jews above all”!

I loong for the international organization that will look and prosecute jewish terrorists.
Who killed the UN official Count Folke Bernadotte?! We all know!

: a

Despite everything, Hebron is still Palestinian

The Pachao family was out Saturday for a Sabbath walk. Sarah and Yosef pushed the baby carriage, and the little ones, Ahuva, Gershon, Hananel and Noah, crowded into the carriage or walked behind it. Why did you come to live here, I asked? “Because of the good air.” The Pachaos, who are members of the Bnei Menashe, immigrated from India, near the Myanmar border, 10 years ago.

They were returning from Sabbath prayers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, along with thousands of other Jews, who walked through the car-free street. This week’s portion was “Life of Sarah.” The Pachaos’ Asian appearance was not the only outstanding thing along the road connecting Kiryat Arba with Hebron, and its “House of Contention.”

A stranger coming to Hebron Saturday would be confused. Border Policemen speaking Amharic with settlers; their Druze friends chattering in Arabic; police, soldiers and settlers praying together in the Abraham hall; American and French Jews armed with machine guns; a sea of tents on the grass in front of the tomb structure. Above all, the surreal look of an abandoned Palestinian quarter, emptied of its inhabitants, a ghost town.

Through the protective wire fence erected to block settlers’ stones, occasionally the face of a terrified old woman, a frightened child or an embittered man would appear, shut up in their cage. It is not difficult to imagine what they felt Saturday on “Life of Sarah” Sabbath, which tells how Abraham purchased the cave for 400 pieces of silver.

The ridiculous visored cap I wore, which covered half my face to prevent the settlers from identifying me, failed in its duty. It is not good to be Gideon Levy on “Life of Sarah” Sabbath in Hebron. “Take your garbage and get out of here now,” thugs threatened here and there. But generally the Jewish quarter was very tranquil, and a “holiday atmosphere” prevailed, as they say. Only toward evening did menacing knots of young boys in their Sabbath white shirts begin to gather.

I entered the “House of Contention” – a huge, unfinished Palestinian apartment building. Saturday it was like an open house, a model home. There were three new washing machines and two solar heaters. For a model apartment, it was rather shabby. A paper sign on the wooden door read, “The Levinger Family.” Tents on the roof. Clutter and plastic tablecloths on shared dining tables. Groups of guests on the roof of the house, to see the wonder of dispossession.

They came here from all over the country. Even one of our colleagues from the Haaretz management left his wife at home to go. “I fantasize about this every year, and this year I came,” he said, his eyes gleaming. He paid for his dinner before Sabbath began, and ate shnitzel and salads in the abandoned Arab wholesale market.

Then, as I stood on Tel Rumeida, a huge noise drowned out everything: the muezzins of Hebron calling to afternoon prayers, a reminder that Hebron is forever, but it is still Palestinian, despite everything.

Ref: Haaretz, by Gideon Levy

In the only “democracy” in the middle east…

…the children sign bombs to be dropped on the people of Lebanon in 2006!

Jeff Halper’s An Israeli In Palestine

According to Israeli-based author and journalist Jonathan Cook, Halper’s book is “one of the most insightful analyses of the Occupation I’ve read. His voice cries out to be heard” on the region’s longest and most intractable conflict. Part II continues the story.

Part III: The Structure of Oppression – Expanding Dispossession, The Occupation and the Matrix of Control

What 1948 left undone, 1967 completed – securing control over the entire “Holy Land” with the seizure of Gaza, the West Bank and all of Jerusalem. Nishul’s fifth stage began and today includes expanding West Bank settlements and continued displacement inside Israel.

After the Six-Day War, all Palestinians came under military rule, and “a comprehensive Matrix of Control was implemented to perpetuate Israeli control forever.” A problem arose, however, as international law prohibits an occupier from remaining permanently. Israel’s Attorney General, Meir Shamgar, got around it in typical Israeli fashion. No “occupation” exists so Israel didn’t violate Geneva or other international law. In other words, “occupation” only occurs when one sovereign state conquers another, so presto – Palestine wasn’t sovereign and Israel did nothing illegal.

This has no legitimacy in international law, yet Israel gets away with it, and it’s the reason it calls the West Bank (and formerly Gaza) “disputed,” not “occupied.” Furthermore, Shamgar’s ruling affected Supreme Court decisions ever since and lets Israel expand its settlement project on annexed Palestinian land.

Immediately after the 1967 war, the Labor government began “integrating Judea, Samaria and Gaza to Israel.” After Menachem Begin’s 1977 election, he appointed Ariel Sharon to head a Ministerial Committee on Settlements and gave him the job to do it. He was charged with two tasks:

— create irreversible “facts on the ground;”

— prevent any chance of a sovereign Palestinian state; and begin implementing a formal “Matrix of Control” – an almost “invisible system…behind a facade of ‘proper administration,’ thus protecting Israel’s” democratic image to this day.

It has four modes of control:

(1) Administrative, Bureaucracy, Planning and Law as Tools of Occupation and Control

They include rules, restrictions, procedures and sanctions under Military orders regulating everything in Occupied Palestine. For example, 72% of the West Bank was classified as “state lands” making seizure a simple administrative task. A further 400 square miles were designated as closed “military zones,” and more restrictions covered zoned “nature reserves.”

Military commanders also have authority to prohibit Palestinian construction for security reasons or to ensure “public order.” Hundreds of other military orders forbid Palestinian building around army bases, installations, settlements, or within 200 meters on each side of main roads. This effectively closes off tens of thousands of acres from their rightful owners. At the same time, settlement expansion continues, and measures in place use every means possible to advance them.

Administrative restrictions among them like requiring Palestinians to get permits to plant crops on their own land, sell it, or have them for their own use. Opening banks and businesses are also curtailed through a process of licensing and inspections to harass the owners and harm the Palestinian economy.

Control encompasses everything. Resistance is called “terrorism,” and legal gymnastics justify assassinations in the name of national security. Mass imprisonments as well. Uncharged victims held administratively. Extensive use of torture. All of it under the radar with a wink and a nod from the West.

(2) Economic Warfare

From 1967 to the Oslo process, “asymmetric containment” defined economic policy in the Territories. The idea was to keep cheap products and labor from competing advantageously with Israel and to prevent Palestinians from gaining economic strength. So constraints were placed on them:

— preventing their opening a bank;

— implementing tariffs and subsidies to advantage Israeli businesses;

— various import controls disadvantaging Palestinians;

— de-developing the Palestinian economy through lack of infrastructure development, housing and key services;

— expropriating agricultural land;

— preventing Palestinian produce from reaching Israeli markets; and

— implementing internal closure policies to impede Palestinian business inside the Territories.

Israel eased off somewhat during the Oslo years, but the Paris Economic Protocol annex to Oslo II (in 1995) assured total Israeli control over the Palestinian economy. Today economic closure is total under strict Israeli measures:

— control over industrial and commercial enterprise licensing;

— issuance of import and export permits; and

— a nightmarish bureaucracy controlling all facets of Palestinian commerce.

It devastated the economy. Most manufacturing is shut down, and 70% of Palestinians companies either closed or severely cut production and staff. Unemployment is staggering – 67% in Gaza and 48% in the West Bank at the time of Halper’s writing. Today it’s higher. Without jobs, Palestinians have no income source. Poverty levels are at 75% or higher. Most people live on $2 a day or less. External food and other aid is essential. Still 30% or more of Palestinian children under age five suffer from malnutrition. With Gaza now under siege, it’s far higher there and dangerously so. It remains to be seen what effect the cease-fire will have.

Israel also controls fuel, water, electricity, phone and other services, and when available they’re at higher prices than Israelis pay. The result is “profound structural imbalances in the Palestinian economy and (an) artificial dependence upon Israel.” A “deliberate de-development” scheme as well is in place with international investment cut off and Gaza’s airport and sea port destroyed during the second Intifada.

Conditions are so extreme that one UN official complained that he doesn’t “know of another conflict area in the world” with these type problems. Nor is there one the entire world is so dismissive of or practically so.

(3) Creating “Facts on the Ground”

Israel began the process with the Six Day War still raging. Ever since, disconnected cantons were created to cement settlements and make control irreversible. Following the Gulf War, the Madrid peace conference promised hope and was the catalyst for Oslo. They established a vaguely-defined negotiating process, specified no outcome, and let Israel delay, refuse to make concessions, and continue colonizing the Territories.

In return, Palestinians got nothing for renouncing armed struggle, recognizing Israel’s right to exist, and leaving major unresolved issues for indefinite later final status talks. They include an independent Palestinian state, the Right of Return, the future of Israeli settlements, borders, water rights, and status of Jerusalem as sovereign Palestinian territory and future home of its capital.

Oslo I led to Oslo II in September 1995. It called for further Israeli troop redeployments beyond Gaza and major West Bank population centers and later from all rural areas except around Israeli settlements and designated military zones. The process divided the West Bank into three parts – each with distinct borders, administrative and security controls – Areas A, B and C plus a fourth area for Greater Jerusalem:

— Area A under Palestinian control for internal security, public order and civil affairs;

— Area B under Palestinian civil control for 450 West Bank towns and villages with Israel having overriding authority to safeguard its settlers’ security; and

— Area C and its water resources under Israeli control; settlements as well on the West Bank’s most valuable land.

The Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum followed and was agreed to by Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak in September 1999. It implemented Oslo II and other post-Oslo I agreements. Months later came “permanent status” talks in July 2000. Promises became betrayal, and Barak’s “generous offer” was fake leaving Arafat no choice to reject it. But not without being blamed for spurning an “unprecedented” chance for peace. Barak insisted Arafat sign a “final agreement,” declare an “end of conflict,” and give up any legal basis for additional land in the Territories. There was no Israeli offer in writing, and no documents or maps were presented.

Barak’s offer consisted of a May 2000 West Bank map dividing the area into four isolated cantons under Palestinian administration surrounded by expanding Israeli settlements and other Israeli-controlled land. They got no link to each other or to Jordan. They consisted of:

— Jericho;

— the southern canton to Abu Dis;

— a northern one, including Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarm; and

— a central one, including Ramallah. Gaza was left in limbo as a fifth canton and “resolved” when Israel “disengaged” in August and September 2005 but kept total control; the right to reenter any time for any reason; and, as it turned out, to impose a medieval siege.

Barak’s deal was no deal, all take and no give, with no chance for reconciliation or resolution of the most intractable issues. Halper calls it “a subtle yet crucial tweaking of the Matrix.” Rather than defend all Israeli settlements, Barak defined seven “blocs” to remain under Israeli control under any future agreement.

Overall, Israel maintains total control of the Territories and occupies most of the West Bank with expanding settlements, by-pass roads, Separation Wall, military areas and no-go zones. Palestinians are tightly confined in disconnected cantons. Checkpoints and other obstacles restrict free movement, and no possibility exists for a viable sovereign state as of now.

Halper gave a “brief tour” of Israel’s settlement blocs. Below they’re listed briefly:

— the Jordan Valley as Israel’s eastern “security border;” it separates Palestinians from Jordan;

— the “Western Samaria” bloc centered around the city of Ariel; it virtually divides the West Bank;

— the Modi’in bloc connects the Western Samaria Bloc to Jerusalem; it contains some of the West Bank’s richest agricultural land;

— the three settlement blocs of (1)Givat Ze’ev, (2) Ma’aleh Adumim and (3) Gush Etzion, Efrat-Beitar, Illit, comprise “Greater Jerusalem;” they contain 97 square miles and house 80,000 settlers; along with Israeli-controlled Jerusalem and its 240,000 settlers, it dominates the West Bank, destroys its territorial contiguity, and prevents any hope for a viable Palestinian state; and

— the Hebron bloc in the southern West Bank.

They’re all linked by 29 highways and by-pass for-Jews only roads. Finally, there’s the Separation Wall. Construction began in June 2002. The World Court ruled it illegal. Israel continues building it. It’s nearly complete, and when finished will be 721 kilometers in length or five times longer than the Berlin Wall and more imposing with its sensors, trenches, security roads, mine fields, checkpoints, terminals, watchtowers, surveillance cameras, electronic sensory devices and military patrols using killer dogs. It entraps 50,000 Palestinians, steals their land, and has nothing to do with purported security. It’s a plain and simple land grab combined with enclosing Palestinians inside disconnected cantons.

(4) Military Controls and Military Strikes

Israel’s Matrix conceals its “Iron Fist” that when unleashed is very visible and destructive. During both Intifadas, major operations were launched killing hundreds of Palestinians and wounding thousands more, mostly innocent civilians. Operations Defensive Shield (March-April 2002), Rainbow (May 2004), Summer and Autumn Rains (second half 2006) are just three among many. Israel’s “Iron Wall” shows no mercy.

Concluding Dispossession: Oslo and Unilateral Separation

Oslo represented nishul’s sixth stage, “a kind of occupation-by-consent,” according to Halper. It’s explained above with a few more comments to add. Israel’s “security” is key to any peace process. So is getting Palestinian acquiescence to all Israeli demands and being willing to act as its enforcer. The process was flawed by design, collapsed under its own weight, led to the second Intifada, and awakened peace activists to be more proactive for their cause. It also inspired Halper to establish ICAHD, and he’s been active in it since.

Oslo’s failure got Israelis to “hunker down” and make “security” their foremost issue. It also explains their willingness to elect Ariel Sharon Prime Minister. Halper says “Everything he did had a clear focus and purpose: beating the Palestinians into submission, extending Israel’s sovereignty to the Jordan River and preventing the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.” He would complete the final nishul stage, and by luck he took power along with George Bush, his close friend and willing co-conspirator. They had a common agenda and 9/11 advanced it – in four decisive stages:

(1) Defeating the Palestinians Once and For All

It began with Sharon’s controversial visit to the Haram/Temple Mount on September 28, 2000 before he was elected Prime Minister. It ignited the second Intifada the result of years of frustration over a “dead-end” peace process. It was also inspired by Hezbollah’s forcing Israel’s May 2000 South Lebanon withdrawal.

Anger and discontent built and finally erupted on September 29. Israel responded harshly. A cycle of resistance and retaliation followed, and the struggle persisted since despite its formal 2005 end. The first five days were especially bloody. Before a single Israeli soldier was targeted, the IDF unleashed over a million projectiles – bullets, shells, air-to-surface missiles, chemical weapons and more against a civilian population in clear violation of international law that classifies this as war crimes. Palestinian deaths numbered over 170. Another 7000 were wounded. It was just the beginning, and Sharon once in office unleashed it full force with Khan Yunis and its refugee camp one of his first targets.

With 60,000 residents, it’s one of the most crowded places on earth. The IDF attacked it and obliterated an entire neighborhood. In April 2002, it invaded Jenin’s refugee camp, home of 13,000 Palestinians in the northern West Bank. It cut it off from outside help. Jenin city as well. Hundreds of buildings were destroyed. People were buried under rubble. Power and water were cut off. Food and essentials kept out, including medical aid, and dozens of mostly civilian men, women and children were killed and many more injured and displaced.

Similar campaigns went on throughout the West Bank that took a terrible toll on the people and left all its cities “smoldering.” Palestinian infrastructure was notably targeted – houses, roads and physical infrastructure. Institutional also, including government ministry data banks for Health, Education, and Higher Education. Affected were NGOs, research institutes, human rights organizations and everything a modern state needs to function.

It was the beginning of the end for Yasser Arafat. No longer a “reliable” ally, he was targeted for removal. His Ramallah headquarters was destroyed, save for a room or two where Sharon imprisoned him. Every Palestinian city, town and village was under siege as well and subjected to police state repression, curfews and midnight raids against helpless civilians. Thousands of acres of farmland and olive groves were leveled. “Security” is always the reason. Harassment explains it better – the beating of all resistance out of contained people with no outside support for help. David v. Goliath hardly defines it.

(2) Completing the Matrix of Control

The Separation Wall is the end process and is now nearly complete. Israel has all the choice land and settlements it needs, and in September 2004 unveiled a plan for Palestinian-only roads to assure they stay disconnected from Israeli ones.

(3) Getting American Approval for the Annexation of the Settlement Blocs

For this, the Road Map was announced in March 2003. George Bush was reluctant but agreed. If serious, it held promise, but that was too much to expect. From the start, it was a dead letter, and Israel’s intransigence killed it although technically it’s still alive. It promises a two-state solution, but not the one Israel envisions – disconnected, cantonized and no state at all for Palestinians who reject it out of hand. It can only work if imposed unilaterally and only for so long. For now, Bush is on board with Israel. Negotiations are at a dead end, and the year end Annapolis conference was a combination tragedy and travesty. It was the first time in memory the legitimate government of one side was excluded from discussions, and that alone doomed them.

(4) Implementation of the Cantonization Plan

In December 2003, Sharon launched some called “the maneuver of the century.” It refers to his 2005 Gaza “disengagement” as a ploy to secure greater West Bank control and give up nothing in return. In March 2006, he suffered a stroke, became incapacitated, and Ehud Olmert took over to “nail down” Sharon’s key objective – “a permanent solution, an end of the Occupation based on the notion of cantonization.” It would have to be unilateral as Palestinians were offered nothing.

Olmert conceived his “Convergence Plan” to control all land Israel wants and maintain separation from Palestinians. It’s the same idea as Begin’s Palestinian “autonomy,” Sharon’s cantonization, unilateral separation, the Matrix of Control, and the Oslo process while it lasted. A Palestinian state would be offered between Israel’s two eastern borders, a mere truncated territory with no potential and little sovereignty. It will be imposed unilaterally, but that contradicts the Road Map that requires negotiation. So Olmert switched his “convergence” to “realignment” – finessing a border one. Palestinians get their state but a “transitional” one with “provisional borders,” according the Road Map’s Phase II. The problem is no Phase III will follow to assure an “independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state.”

If Israel manages this, it wins and Palestinians lose. It can claim the Occupation’s end, a two-state solution in place, and the conflict for the victor ended. So far, Palestinians want none of it. Olmert is beset with corruption problems, and final resolution remains a long way off.

Part IV: Overcoming Oppression – Redeeming Israel

Here’s where things now stand. “Israel/Palestine (is) at a crossroads.” Israel’s political leadership believes it’s won. The settlement project is in place. It “ensures permanent control over the entire Land of Israel.” Palestine is cantonized. The “facts on the ground” are established. America is on board. So are Europeans. The Arab world is indifferent. A mere political act will make Occupation permanent. Israel offers no concessions, Palestinians have no say, and as of now have no chance for a fair and equitable solution – or so Israel thinks. Is it so?

Halper’s view is this, and many share it: Ultimately, Israel will fail in its attempt “to transform its Matrix of Control (and permanent Occupation) into a stable, peaceful state of affairs.” Oppressed people everywhere “have one source of leverage: the power to say ‘no.’ ” And Palestinians have said it for six decades. For six more if they have to. For as long as it takes to get the justice they deserve. For all their wishes? Maybe not, but enough to matter and be able to end the most intractable conflict anywhere. Be assured – it will happen, one way or other, at some future time.

Hamas is a powerful symbol – of the future – the power to say “no,” or as Halper puts it: “To hell with”……Israel, its Matrix of Control, America, the international community, the dismissive Arab world, and corrupted Fatah. We won’t submit; won’t play your rigged game; won’t let you crush us; won’t let you deny us our rights; in the end you’ll come to us, and we’ll prevail. If six decades of struggle doesn’t prove it, what then will. We’ll give you six more, and more still. Had enough? Now we’ll set the terms. Think it can’t happen? Read on.

One day Israel and the world community will reach an inevitable conclusion. The price of Occupation is too great – regional instability, global also, continued war, maybe nuclear, and a potential cost far too great to risk. Push will come to shove when it’s too great to chance.

Palestinians like Jews and people everywhere have national rights of self-determination provided they don’t impinge on others with equal rights. Ethnocracies like Israel don’t work. Nor do they in the Muslim or Christian worlds. And understand the distinction. France for the French and Mexico for Mexicans aren’t the same as Israel for the Jews. France like most countries have Christians, Jews, Muslims, whatever – all entitled to equal rights under law. Israel only affords them only to Jews – an untenable system doomed to fail. When it’s realized, push will have come to shove, and then some.

So where are we, and what’s ahead? Halper doesn’t have a solution, but he offers an approach based on “indispensable” elements:

(1) National expression for the two peoples –

Jews and Palestinians both claim self-determination rights in the same country. Logically, it calls for a two-state or bi-national one-state solution.

(2) Viability –

The two-state option requires real sovereignty for Palestinians to be viable – self rule, over borders, basic resources, and so forth.

(3) Refugees –

The Right of Return is essential or something close enough to matter. Most important – Palestinians have the right to choose. International law backs them. It doesn’t give Israel a pass.

(4) A regional dimension –

Adopting a regional approach opens new options. Middle East countries have a stake in what affects them.

(5) Regional Security –

Israel’s only chance for peace and stability is to achieve a just peace with the Palestinians and integrate fairly in the greater region. Playing hegemon won’t do it. In the end, militarism always fails.

Enormous obstacles must be overcome to achieve any meaningful settlement: locked in attitudes, decades of failure, unresponsive governments, much the same for the UN, so where does that leave things – world public opinion, people of conscience, on a global scale, from the grassroots, creating a groundswell for change. Can it happen? Not easily, but Halper offers a “reframing.”

(1) Conceptualizing the conflict: how to secure mutual national rights –

Reconciling mutually opposing rights is key to a meaningful just solution.

(2) Defining the problem: security v. occupation and a proactive expansion policy –

Palestinians have been conciliatory; willing to compromise; accept a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders (22% of historic Palestine); Israel flatly refuses; diktats, not compromise is its strategy; “security” the mantra; the outcome – win-lose.

Only a rights-based win-win solution can work; one under international law; apartheid is untenable; human rights reframing advances the de-colonization argument; why elsewhere but not in Israel.

Sum it up and here are Halper’s choices:

(1) a traditional two-state solution –

A viable Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories is unrealistic given Israeli settlements with 500,000 Jews in them.

(2) An “Israel plus-Palestinian minus” two-state solution: the Israeli option –

It’s a non-starter for Palestinians – a semi-sovereign, hardly viable, disconnected, South African-style apartheid system.

(3) A single-state solution: multi-national and democratic –

The best choice, but is it workable? Transforming a Jewish state into a democratic one faces enormous obstacles. Maybe one day but not soon.

(4) A regional confederation –

It’s more complex, “less elegant,” but for Halper the only workable choice, and he compares it to the EU – balancing national autonomy with freedom to live and/or work anywhere in the union. It neutralizes Occupation, gets Palestinians out of their trap by allowing them wider economic, social, and geographic opportunities within the region. It’s fair and win-win, and he suggests a “two-stage” process:

(a) A Palestinian State alongside Israel –

Essentially what now exists for starters with “stage two” to follow; a “way out of the trap” – an international community regional confederation guarantee within, for example, a decade. That assures viability.

(b) A regional confederation leading to a wider Middle East confederation –

The international community must take charge; set the terms; get everyone on board; and begin say with Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Later bring in Egypt, others and eventually all regional states – a full-blown Middle East Union, like the EU.

Settlements can stay in place; Israel needn’t offer Palestinians citizenship; but nishul must stop, allow Palestinians out of their trap; and bring an end to conflict because its reason no longer exists. Details are important and must carefully be worked out, but on a fair and equitable basis to both sides and all regional states. It’s no simple task, maybe one too great, but look at the possibilities:

— ending the longest and most intractable conflict anywhere;

— stopping it from getting worse; endangering the region; beyond it as well;

— transforming Israel from an ethnocracy to a legitimate democratic state diplomatically recognized by its neighbors; and

— allowing Jews and Muslims to live in peace; then both with everyone everywhere; imagine the possibilities; the alternative is hopelessness: Jews will also suffer; ethnocracy is self-destructive; the way out is justice; a little compromise for a lot of gain; win-win; Halper sees Israel going beyond peace to redemption, committed to human rights, and beginning the journey to get there.

What About Terrorism?

First off, distinguish between individual/group v. the far greater state kind. Then consider aggressors and victims, one act begetting another, an eventual vicious circle, and nations claiming the high ground when they’re at fault – “worthy” victims of “unworthy” ones even when they act in self-defense.

The real issues is life. It’s sacred, and taking it from non-combatants is terrorism. It’s also “illegal, immoral and prohibited.” Self-defense against combatants is another matter fully justified under international law as is the right to resist with arms. Israel says otherwise, blames its victims, and so far has avoided accountability. That no longer can stand, and Halper suggests a “better language” to hold all terrorist acts accountable.

It exists so let’s use it – the language of human rights. It’s codified in law, and it’s high time it’s applied universally. It’s precise, inclusive and condemns all forms of terror – by individuals, groups and most importantly states. And judicial bodies exist to enforce it – the International Criminal Court (ICC) for example to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression. The principle of “universal jurisdiction” also exists that requires other states to bring rights violators (including heads of state) to trial if their own nation won’t do it.

Halper sees human rights and applying international law as key to genuine peace and conflict resolution. States, of course, are the obstacle. They won’t police themselves, and in-place institutions have proved weak. Changing things requires people action – international civil society demanding justice; doing it proactively; marshaling enough voices to make them heard; refusing to take no for an answer. Think impossible? Think again.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Here’s the problem. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict involves far more than two peoples. Far more than the region. It’s global and resonates everywhere and affects everyone. For the Middle East alone, regional peace is impossible without a just settlement of the conflict. Absent that and anything is possible – all bad.

Globally, the entire world is affected. For Halper, it’s brought him “full circle,” a Jew, an Israeli in Palestine seeing his “own people coopted by Israel’s security framing and disempowered.” Disadvantaged as well considering the alternative. He’s part of an effort to change things and suggests four strategic elements:

(1) A global, regional, local and personal vision

The last two decades have seen the emergence of a vibrant international civil society – thousands of peace and human rights organizations of all types together with activists, intellectuals and concerned people everywhere standing up against injustice and demanding resolution. So far, the other side outmuscles them, but who knows for how long. New tools are around like the Internet that connects people everywhere. Alternative media as well, including online choices attracting growing audiences fed up with the mainstream’s mind-numbing array.

That combination against injustice has power. Omnipotent – no. Effective – why not, and in enough numbers it works. Social movements comprised of ordinary people have enormous political clout. They can win when they’re of a mind to, but it’s no simple task. It takes muscle-flexing, exercising “disruptive power,” according to Frances Fox Piven, and look what it brought America – ending slavery, labor and civil rights and a liberating revolution from Britain. Why not one freeing Palestinians from Occupation. But it needs an effective program for action. Here’s Halper’s:

— reframe the conflict; make it rights-based; include other choices also; mobilize civil society; get support within governments; UN officials; anyone from anywhere to stand up for justice.

ICAHD has “two meta-campaigns:

— an “anti-apartheid” one involving resistance and ending the Occupation employing various tools and strategies; once an apartheid regime is in place, have planned responses to counteract it;

— a “60 Years Later: Marking 1948” one highlighting displacement and dispossession;

— both campaigns focus on other issues as well – home demolitions, the Separation Wall, the entire Matrix of Control, boycotts, disinvestment, sanctions, holding Israel accountable, and framing everything within a “Big Picture” meta-campaign strategy.

Redeeming Israel fits in as well. Making it an “exclusive patrimony” created a “violent nightmare….a self-defeating enterprise.” The more Jews “try to Judaize Palestine, the more (they) destroy it” and themselves. The situation is untenable and begs for an alternative. Political Zionism is “exhausted.” A prosperous and formidable Jewish state has failed – to achieve “accommodation, justice, peace and reconciliation” with Palestinians, the region, and international civil society.

A “New Cultural Zionism” is needed, disassociating itself from self-defeating politics and its corrupting violence. What’s good for Jews is good for Arabs is good for everyone. Halper “can’t argue with that.” Can anyone?
His book is powerful, enlightening, and important to read and act on.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM – 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM – 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Ref: Counter currents