Saturday, 18 April 2009

o sentido de encontrar uma casa em "Salt of this sea"

fonte:Electronic Intifada

Finding a sense of home in "Salt of this Sea"
Maymanah Farhat, The Electronic Intifada, 15 April 2009

A scene from Salt of this Sea

Annemarie Jacir's Salt of this Sea (2008) is the first full-length feature film by a Palestinian female director. Since its world premier at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, it has toured the world and is scheduled to screen at this year's Tribeca Film Festival in New York at the end of the month. Originally from Bethlehem, Jacir is a central figure of contemporary Palestinian cinema. In recent years she has established herself as an apt experimental filmmaker with such poignant shorts as like twenty impossibles (2003) and An Explanation (then burn the ashes) (2005), while demonstrating her talents as an exceptional cinematographer in the stunning documentary A Few Crumbs for the Birds (2005), a collaboration with Nassim Amaouche. As a curator she has been instrumental in supporting the work of her colleagues in the global scene, most notably by co-founding Dreams of a Nation, an independent collective that promotes and documents Palestinian filmmaking.

Aspiring to be the first Palestinian "heist film," the plot of Salt of this Sea focuses on Soraya (Suheir Hammad), a Palestinian woman born in Brooklyn who travels to Ramallah to retrieve the savings her grandfather left in a local bank prior to his expulsion in 1948. Disconcerted and disturbed by the reality she finds in Palestine, Soraya's frustration quickly turns to indignation after encountering incessant bureaucracy (a byproduct of the occupation) and a bank manager who downplays her insistence on retrieving her grandfather's funds. With the help of Emad (Saleh Bakri), a charming waiter who anxiously awaits the opportunity to study abroad, and Marwan (Riyad Ideis), a laid-back filmmaker, she devises to rob the bank in order to recover the money. Once their plan is executed they have no choice but to live on the run, heading for Jerusalem before making their way to the coast and arriving at Soraya's family home in the port-city of Jaffa.

Shortly after their arrival, Soraya finds her grandfather's home and is invited in by the Israeli woman who now lives there. While she sees remnants of the home her grandfather built, with its ornate tiles that line the floor and old wooden doors, she is confronted with a jarring experience -- the space has been completely transformed by an Israeli artist who, although against the occupation, dismisses Soraya's claims of ownership of the house. The woman is in her late 20s or early 30s, the same age as Soraya, an apparent comment on the disparities between the lives of Palestinians and Israelis. This scenario recalls the real life event of pioneering female painter Tamam al-Akhal who returned to her family home in Jaffa after being expelled in 1948 only to find that an Israeli female artist had converted it into a home/gallery.

After a brief stay in Jaffa and an altercation with the Israeli peacenik occupying her ancestral home, Soraya continues to travel through parts of Palestine otherwise off-limits to the West Bank-based Emad thanks to her American accent, Israeli license plates and Jewish headgear.

In spite of its aspirations, Salt of this Sea is fundamentally a road film. Some of the most dramatic imagery is captured after the bank robbery while the trio travels through Palestinian countryside. Israel's ever-present wall in the West Bank serves as a star backdrop as the characters head toward Jerusalem, near what appears to be the dissected town of Abu Dis. Emad's truck is overshadowed by its colossal size while they drive along the seemingly never-ending snaking structure. Other shots of Jaffa's sea port, lined with its traditional Palestinian stone houses, hint at the glory that once was prior to the arrival of Zionist settlers. Soraya and Emad search for the ruins of old homes and destroyed villages, icons of the Palestinian struggle that evoke the sweeping loss and tragedy of the Nakba.

Throughout the film Soraya's journey is punctuated by encounters with Israeli checkpoints, soldiers and occupational apparatus. These scenes shape the film's narrative, providing viewers with some of the regular bouts of harassment and humiliation Palestinians are subjected to. Soraya addresses Israeli forces with contempt and forthrightness, her honesty is at first partially naive, but essentially stems from a matter-of-factness that she presents as a sign of courage and defiance. By the end of the film, Soraya's idealized vision of Palestine remains but her understanding of its current situation becomes even more embittered when the occupation stands in her way. Eventually finding love and a sense of home, she experiences how vulnerable these basic elements of life are under the conflict.

In many ways the film's main character represents the Palestinian diaspora, those belonging to generations born outside of Palestine whose parents or grandparents were forced from their homes at some point during the 20th century. Much of this population is deeply tied to its homeland through the stories of older generations and the recreation of Palestine through culture and traditions. This is exemplified by a conversation Soraya has with Emad at the beginning of the film. Her understanding of Palestine is based on notions of memory, heritage and community and she recounts the lives of her grandparents in Jaffa, giving the minutest details of their everyday being and environment. Emad remarks that it is as if she has already been to the seaside town she one day hopes to visit.

Through Emad, Jacir provides some insight into the lives of Palestinian youth, which lie in limbo due to the never-ending restrictions and challenges of the occupation. Displaced from his village and prevented from leaving Ramallah by Israeli forces, he attempts to leave Palestine by applying to study in Canada. Although he is accepted to a university and is to receive a scholarship for his education, his visa is denied for the fourth time. This is a reoccurring experience for countless Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in neighboring Arab countries. Despite these challenges, Emad is level-headed, finding small but significant ways to circumvent the occupation, both logistically and ideologically. This has a profound impact on Soraya who ultimately learns to adapt to her surroundings and attempts to take control of her fate.

Although their stories are compelling, Jacir's characters are unfortunately underdeveloped. Much of this results from dialogue and scenarios that seem contrived, lacking the fluidity of those seen in her previous film, like twenty impossibles, which also utilized characters to show the varying experiences of Palestinians. This stems from the film's heavy reliance on traditional symbols of Palestinian determination. Jaffa's famous oranges, for example, which have been co-opted as produce of Israel, are evoked in several scenes, while Emad's mother refers to the coastal city as "the bride of the sea," its pre-1948 Arabic sobriquet. Although these signifiers work to connect with those familiar with local history while introducing international audiences to the wealth of metaphors and symbols that have configured the Palestinian existence, these representations are not always substantiated, resulting in fleeting moments that could have been anchored and contextualized.

In fact, this state of in-betweenness is prevalent throughout the film. Scenes intended to convey the difficulties of the occupation, such as Soraya's frequent encounters with Israelis, contain unrealistic dialogue, with the Palestinian protagonist straining to espouse slogans that allude to a collective frustration. These slogans and symbols have appeared in Palestinian consciousness for decades and while countless artists and writers have employed them, Jacir's film would have been better served through the explorations of that which holds the most meaning for Palestinians living under occupation or in Israel. This is not to say that these communities are disconnected from their history but that perhaps new images are needed to reflect contemporary struggles. Jacir's basic premise is refreshing but because she employs an emblematic language rooted in the past the film stands as a reiteration when it could have been a groundbreaking contribution to contemporary Palestinian visual culture.

Inevitably the viewer is left with a fragmented understanding of Palestine. In the scenes of Ramallah, one learns little about the daily experiences of its residents -- particularly the youth, which is the focus of the director's narrative. Through occasional scenes the viewer learns that oversized and inefficient bureaucracy is a common characteristic of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and is witness to glimpses of Israel's ever-increasing network of barriers and checkpoints. However, they are rarely brought into the interior space of how Palestinians go about their lives under such difficult conditions.

When Jacir's lens drifts from her characters and pans out to shots of their surroundings we find disheartening evidence of the toll of the conflict such as when a couple passes their baby over a large metal gate covered in barbed wire as they attempt to navigate a labyrinth of blockades. In another, an opening sequence of Soraya's arrival into Ramallah shows the lion sculptures of the city's central square flanked by men, their cocky stances emanating with the universal defiance and swagger of adolescence as they gawk at passing cars. The scene ends with a shot of a young man atop the turnabout's tall metal structure, wryly questioning the camera's gaze, as a Palestinian flag waves freely behind him. More of this type of footage and greater attention to it, as opposed to mere seconds of film time, would have grounded the film and subsequently created a better sense of the intimate workings of contemporary Palestinian life.

Maymanah Farhat specializes in modern and contemporary Arab art. Her collected writings can be viewed online at

Salt of this Sea will be screening at the upcoming Chicago Palestine Film Festival and Providence Palestinian Film Festival.

o caso curioso do Benjamin Netanyahu


Israel's Political and Moral Regression

The Curious Case of Benjamin Netanyahu


It is one of the great paradoxes of the modern Middle East:

When peace with the Palestinians is in sight, Israel will turn violent.

This is quite understandable though, when one realizes that the entire raison d’être of the Jewish state is based on the principle of establishing “greater Israel.” That could not happen of course, were there to be a just peace. As the country’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion infamously proclaimed, “To maintain the status quo will not do. We have to set up a dynamic state bent upon expansion.”

Relinquishing conquered territory, ending occupation, halting further settlement activity (let alone dismantling existing ones), stopping home demolitions or anything deemed to conflict with this fundamental objective will never be (seriously) considered.

Israel has also attempted to persuade us that it cannot but be on a constant war-footing. The reality is however, that an enemy must necessarily be present – or created – so it can avoid having to reach an equitable settlement with the Palestinians.

Israel’s siege and subsequent attack on Gaza was a prime example.

Enemy At The Gates?

Waged under the pretext of ending the launch of crude, home-made, fertilizer-based rockets from Gaza into southern Israel (which killed 16 Israelis in seven years and none in the year prior) and after a crippling 18-month siege left Gaza’s population starving and destitute, Israel claimed to be acting in “self-defense” when it attacked the territory. We now know the war was planned six months in advance.

The real motives for it were multifactorial. They included crushing any hopes or aspirations Palestinians may have had of establishing a fully independent, sovereign state under a freely elected leadership – one not under the diktats of Washington or Tel Aviv. It was also meant to collectively punish the people for having elected Hamas in that capacity.

But often overlooked and of equal importance was Hamas’ willingness to accept a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with Israel. This was clearly stated by both Hamas chief Khaled Meshal and the elected Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyah.

Without any rejectionist party present, Israel has no basis in refusing substantive talks. Hence, a premeditated and barbarous war initiated on flimsy and hyped pretense was conducted to ensure the people of Gaza and Hamas remain resentful, angry, and far less likely to sit at the negotiating table.

More Of The Same, Only Different?

It is well known that all Israeli governments, be they Labor, Likud or Kadima, are interchangeable in terms of their foreign policy. The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu though, has been exceptional in broadcasting its political platform.

Avigdor Lieberman, a veritable child-abuser and former member of the Kach party – a extremist group outlawed in Israel for its violently racist nature – was granted one of the most important portfolios in the administration, that of foreign minister. His approach to Hamas (“Do to Hamas what the U.S. did to Japan”), the loyalty oath he wants all Palestinians living in Israel to take, and his proposed annexation of Palestinian land have certainly given him a great deal of notoriety.

Regardless of whether Lieberman will ultimately make Netanyahu out to be the “moderate,” his positions underscore the moral temperament the government has adopted.

Just this week for example, Israeli transport minister Yisrael Katz called for Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah’s assassination, while the “dovish” President Shimon Peres threatened Israel would strike Iran. With an aim to further incite, Peres felt he too must jump on the sectarian bandwagon, saying a clash between Sunni Arabs and [Shia] Iran was “inevitable.”

Netanyahu has remained silent during all this, including Lieberman’s recent declaration that the 2007 Annapolis peace conference (where parties agreed final resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would involve two states) “is dead.” Netanyahu himself has been adamant there will be no withdrawal from the Golan Heights or dismantlement of settlements.

The confrontational and hostile tone of Netanyahu’s government has occurred, quite predictably, against the backdrop of a renewed atmosphere of engagement. There are now increasing calls for dialogue with Hamas, the United Kingdom has lifted its ban on speaking with Hezbollah and the U.S. rapprochement with Iran is slowly taking shape. Even President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaimed Iran “… may forget the past and start a new era …” in its relationship with the U.S.

Like Benjamin Button, Israel is regressing; not in age, but politically and morally. And as its enemies become involved in more constructive talks with the U.S. and Europe, Netanyahu – or whoever the prime minister may be – will inevitably seek to instigate a new crisis in order to justify continuing Israel’s aggressive policies.

This explains why many who follow the Middle East, including this writer, remain pessimistic at the prospects for peace in the region.

Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator. He may be reached at: rbamiri at yahoo dot com.

Focus on Gaza: a familia Durra-parte 2

fonte:Al Jazeera (English)

Focus on Gaza: a familia Durra-parte 1

fonte:Al Jazeera (English)

Friday, 17 April 2009

Resolver a questao palestiniana enquanto Israel destrói-a

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Solving Palestine While Israel Destroys It

'Silence about the realities on the ground in Palestine is no longer an option.'

By Kathleen and Bill Christison

To a greater degree than perhaps ever before, Washington today is engulfed in denial about Israel and its stupefying behavior, about its murderous policies toward the Palestinians, about the efforts of Israel and its U.S. defenders to force us to ignore its atrocities. Blinders have always been part of the attire of U.S. policymakers and politicians with regard to Israel and Israeli actions, but in the wake of the three-week Israeli assault that laid waste to the tiny territory of Gaza -- an assault ended very conveniently just before Barack Obama was inaugurated, so that he has been able to act as though it never occurred -- the perspective from which Washington operates is strikingly more blinkered than ever in the past.

At a symposium on Capitol Hill sponsored by the Middle East Policy Council just days before Obama took office, Ali Abunimah, a sharp Palestinian-American commentator who runs the website, declared frankly that Washington exists in a bubble of ignorance and denial. While the rest of the world, particularly at the level of civil society, is talking about war crimes tribunals for Israeli leaders and about sanctions against Israel, Abunimah observed, Washington and those world leaders beholden to it are trying to move ahead as if nothing had changed. “We have to expect,” he said, “that the official apparatus of the peace-process industry -- the Hillary Clintons, the Quartets, the Tony Blairs, the Javier Solanas, the Ban Ki-Moons, the whole panoply of official and semi-official Washington think tanks -- will carry on with business as usual, trying to make believe that, through their ministrations, a Palestinian state will come into being.” But in the real world, this state won’t happen, he said, and the time has come to speak frankly about what is going on.

So far, three months into the Obama administration, there is little evidence that Obama sees clearly or is ready to speak frankly. Another very savvy Palestinian political commentator and activist, Haidar Eid, who lives and endures Israel’s constant punishments in Gaza, recently told an interviewer that the international reaction to Israel’s Gaza assault was like the reaction to some kind of natural disaster -- as if no human hand had had a role in the destruction and nothing but money and aid was required to resolve the problem. As if, he said, the disaster had not been “created by the state of Israel to annihilate the Palestinian resistance and Palestinian society.”

Eid was commenting on an international conference of donors that convened in Sharm el-Sheikh in early March and made themselves feel magnanimous by pledging almost $5 billion in aid to relieve the “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza -- but not to do anything to resolve the political reality of Israeli occupation that is at the root of Gaza’s humanitarian plight. The donors -- the same “peace-process industry” leaders Abunimah spoke of -- were there only to pretend concern and to dole out money, always the easiest way in the minds of political elites to make messy human problems go away. Thus do they relieve their own consciences and at the same time tell Israel it can proceed with impunity to destroy Palestine and Palestinians; the international community will pick up the pieces and pick up the tab. Israel has not failed to get the picture.

Any thought of forcing Israel to cease its gross oppression of Palestinians, any thought of doing anything to deprive Israel of the carte blanche it enjoys, was apparently beyond these do-gooders. Any realization that their aid pledge was merely part of an endless destructive cycle was also lost on them -- a cycle in which these same donors, led by the United States, arm Israel with the world’s most advanced weapons and the absolute political power that comes with the weapons, and Israel then uses the arms and the political license to destroy the Palestinians, and the donors convene again to pay to repair the destruction. The hypocrisy was further underlined by the firm U.S. demand that, before Gazans receive any of this international largesse, Hamas must recognize Israel’s right to exist -- in other words, Hamas must recognize the right to exist of the very state that just tried to destroy it and its people, and even the land they live on.

Were Israel’s behavior not so loathsome, the U.S. and international denial would be something to laugh at. But the aid pledge and the endless loop of Western-financed misery -- and the myopia they signify -- together constitute but one striking example of the willful ignorance, arising from a thought process wholly oriented toward Israel’s perspective, from which the United States and the international community always approach this conflict. The end of George W. Bush’s long tenure and the advent of Barack Obama have now given rise to other initiatives that are as naïve and myopic as the aid pledges -- myopic because, wittingly or not, they come from a starting point that is totally centered on Israel and its demands and totally oblivious to Israel’s barbaric behavior.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton speak earnestly of the “inevitability” and the “inescapability” of a solution based on two states, without regard to the growing impossibility of a real Palestinian state or to the fact that Israel is killing off any prospect for such a state and is in fact openly killing off the Palestinians. The early months of the administration, and the appointment of George Mitchell as special Middle East envoy, are bringing out others who, more enamored of the process than of any prospect of genuine peace, blindly pursue the “peace-process industry” regardless of realities on the ground or the virtual guarantee of failure.

Probably the most detailed plan purporting to lay out a path toward a two-state solution was actually written before Obama took office and is only now being publicized. This plan -- entitled “A Last Chance for a Two-State Israel-Palestine Agreement” -- was drawn up in December by a group of well meaning U.S. elder statesmen, including Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Lee Hamilton, and Paul Volcker, the only one of the ten to enter the Obama administration. The elders were drawn together by Henry Seigman, a former head of the American Jewish Committee and scholar of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict who has distinguished himself in recent years by his frank, realistic criticism of the Israeli occupation.

The proposal is a 17-page blueprint for achieving the impossible. It approaches the conflict from an Israel-centered perspective and indeed, by heavily emphasizing the need to meet Israel’s security needs, contains the prescription for its own failure. The report devotes a remarkable one-fifth of its entire length to an annex on “Addressing Israel’s Security Challenges,” in addition to considerable verbiage devoted to this subject in the body of the document. There is no mention whatsoever of any need to ensure Palestine’s security against threats from Israel.

The impulse behind this plan is admirable: it recognizes the centrality of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to other issues and U.S. interests in the Middle East; it urges that the new administration overturn the Bush administration’s eight years of disengagement from the conflict and do so quickly; it calls for engaging Hamas; and it urges that the peace effort be undertaken even at the cost of angering “certain domestic constituencies.” But the plan itself is naïve and oblivious to the brutal realities of the situation, which existed even before the Gaza assault. Because it takes no account of Israel’s lethal intentions toward the Palestinians or its responsibility for the current level of violence, the report actually encourages Israeli intransigence while blithely assuming that this rigidity can be overcome by issuing a plan on a few pieces of paper while the U.S. continues to send Israel the arms necessary to destroy Palestine.

The report exists in a never-never land in which Israel has no responsibility for occupying Palestinian land and has concerns only for its own security but no obligations to the Palestinians. The report refers repeatedly to the “chicken and egg” security situation in the occupied territories -- as if it cannot be determined whether Israel’s occupation or Palestinian resistance to it came first, as if the occupation is not the reason for Palestinian resistance, as if the Palestinian suicide bombings that the report says cause Israel “understandable anxiety” might have arisen out of nowhere rather than precisely out of Israel’s oppression.

The plan addresses the requirements of peace between the two envisioned states almost solely in terms of Israel’s needs -- not only its security needs, but its settlements needs and its concerns about Palestinian refugees’ right of return. For instance, while it calls for the border between the two states to be “based on” the lines of June 1967 with only minor reciprocal modifications, it recommends that the United States “take into account areas heavily populated by Israelis in the West Bank.” Although the language minimizes the magnitude of this issue, this passage means that accommodation must be made for major Israeli settlement blocs, which include approximately ten percent of the small Delaware-sized West Bank, cover virtually the entirety of East Jerusalem, and include fully 85 percent of the 475,000 settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In April 2004, George Bush gave Ariel Sharon a letter that officially granted U.S. approval to Israel’s retention of what Bush called “major [Jewish] population centers” in the West Bank, thus altering what had been almost 40 years of U.S. policy supporting a virtually full Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories. Bill Clinton’s “parameters” outlined in 2000 had done the same on a somewhat smaller scale by proposing to allow Israel to retain its settlements -- referred to by the anodyne term “neighborhoods” -- in East Jerusalem. The latest proposal by the elder statesmen repeats this Clinton dictum and in general endorses both Clinton’s and Bush’s declarations unilaterally ceding Palestinian land to Israel, without negotiation or consultation with Palestinians.

This proposal also gives away the Palestinians’ right of return. Although it gives a nod to the refugees’ “sense of injustice” and calls for “meaningful financial compensation,” it declares, again unilaterally and pre-emptively, that resolution of the refugee problem should “protect Israel from an influx of refugees” -- meaning that the right would not be available to all or even most refugees who might choose to return to the homes and land inside Israel from which they were expelled. This provision would “protect” Israel from any requirement that it rectify the massive injustice it perpetrated in 1948 and would require that the victims be satisfied, after 60-plus years, with a little money and a home somewhere outside their own homeland.

The major element of the elders’ report proposes that the Palestinian state would be non-militarized and would be policed by a U.S.-led, UN-mandated multinational force that would function for five years but would have a renewable mandate, the intention being to permit Palestinians to control their own security affairs (and of course be able to guarantee Israel’s security) within 15 years. The force would be a NATO force supplemented by Jordanian, Egyptian and -- amazingly enough -- Israeli troops. The Alice-in-Wonderland aspect of this particular proposal is the elders’ assumption that Palestinian sovereignty would somehow be respected even as the Palestinians were being forced to turn their security over to a multinational force that included not merely elements of multiple outside armies, but troops from the very oppressor the Palestinians are presumed to have just shed by attaining statehood. This is the kind of “peace-process industry” nonsense that renders proposals such as this utterly meaningless.

The proposal gives away, before negotiations have begun, more than any state-to-be could ever possibly afford to give. It cedes territory in what would be the Palestinian state before Palestinians are even able to sit down at the negotiating table. It cedes, without cavil or apology, the Palestinians’ right to redress of a gross injustice that is, and has been from the beginning 60-plus years ago, the fundamental Palestinian grievance against Israel. It cedes Palestinian sovereignty and security by inviting in an international security force including troops of precisely the occupying force that the Palestinians seek to be rid off. And it cedes any viability in the new so-called state.

The elders who composed this document should know better. Some of them have actually worked as specialists on the Arab-Israeli conflict in the past, and the proposal’s convener Henry Siegman has been working on this issue for decades. But the proposal exhibits so little understanding of the extent to which Israel has already absorbed the West Bank into itself that it would appear that none of these individuals has ever even visited the region. Nor, in its blithe assessment that it will be possible to induce Israel to agree to any withdrawal at all from the occupied territories, is there much understanding that no Israeli government of any political stripe, and particularly none of the rightwing governments that have led Israel for the last decade and more, has any intention of permitting the Palestinians any degree of true independence and sovereignty anywhere in Palestine.

Finally, just like the donors’ conference that treated the Gaza disaster as if some natural force beyond human control had descended like a hurricane on the territory, this proposal gives no sign of recognition that Israel is the responsible party in this conflict. Israel is the party with all the power, controlling all the territory; Israel is the party that is in occupation over the Palestinians, in defiance of international law; Israel is the party that demolishes homes, bombs civilian residential neighborhoods, drops white phosphorus on civilians, imposes checkpoints and roadblocks and other movement restrictions, builds walls to close off Palestinians, blocks imports of food to an entire Palestinian population, confiscates land to build settlements and roads for Israeli Jews only. Israel is the party that has carried out 85 percent of the killings in the conflict since the Intifada began eight and a half years ago.

But the ignorance of these statesmen and their denial of the realities of Israeli occupation, Israeli brutality, Israeli aggression are indicative of just how much Israel is able to get away with in the atmosphere of adulation for Israel that prevails in the United States. One wonders, in fact, if these people are truly as ignorant as they seem to be of what is going on, with U.S. facilitation, in Palestine. Do they believe it is all right and that it advances U.S. national interests in some way to continue arming Israel and grant it total carte blanche to continue oppressing Palestinians? Or have they been so sucked into the Israel-centered discourse in this country that they are literally afraid to oppose Israel and confront its U.S. lobbyists?

The house of cards that is the “peace-process industry” that Abunimah referred to -- that house of cards that pretends Israel is not a rogue nation rampaging through its neighborhood whenever it feels like it -- must soon collapse. As Abunimah told the Capitol Hill conference, what people know in Europe and in Chicago, where he lives and works, is quite different from what people in Washington and New York think they know and, as he noted, silence about the realities on the ground in Palestine is no longer an option. When the history of this period is written, Abunimah said, “Gaza will be seen as the moment after which it became impossible for Israel to be integrated into the region as a so-called Jewish-Zionist state.”

- Kathleen and Bill Christison have been writing on the Middle East for several years and have co-authored a book, forthcoming in June from Pluto Press, on the Israeli occupation and its impact on Palestinians. Thirty years ago, they were analysts for the CIA. Contact them at:

PCHR Weekly Report: 3 palestinianos mortos, 23 raptados (3 criancsa);

PCHR Weekly Report: 3 Palestinians injured, 23 abducted this week

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, during the week of 09 - 16 April 2009, 3 Palestinian civilians were wounded by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank. Israeli forces abducted 23 Palestinians, including 3 children. 18 were abducted during military invasions in the West Bank, and 5 were abducted at Israeli checkpoints within the West Bank.

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PCHR logo

The Palestinian Territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip remain under full military closure for the second week in a row, an action taken by the Israeli military during the Jewish holiday of Pesach (Passover). Although no Palestinians celebrate this holiday, Israeli forces say they must maintain a closure in order to 'protect Israelis enjoying their holiday'.

Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip:

On Monday April 12th, Israeli troops fired an artillery shell at a fishing boat west of Beit Lahia. No injuries were reported in the incident.

On Wednesday April 14th, troops fired at fishing boats west of Beit Lahia, totally destroying one of the boats. No injuries were reported. The army claimed that the fishing boat had been wired with explosives, but only fishing nets and equipment were found on the boat.

The Israeli military continued its nearly two year siege on the Gaza Strip, preventing imports, exports, exits and reentries for residents and goods.

Fuel supplies have not allowed fuel supplies into the Gaza Strip – excluding limited amounts of cooking gas – since 10 December 2008. The Rafah International Crossing Point has been opened for a few days for a number of patients who received medical treatment abroad and needed to return home to the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces have continued to close Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing for Palestinian civilians wishing to travel to the West Bank and Israel for medical treatment, trade or social visits. In the past two months, five patients, including two children, have died due to the denial of access to medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces have imposed additional access restrictions on international diplomats, journalists and humanitarian workers attempting to enter the Gaza Strip. They have prevented representatives of several international humanitarian organizations from entering the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian civilian population’s living conditions have seriously deteriorated; levels of poverty and unemployment have sharply increased.

At least 900 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have been denied family visitation for more than 17 months.

At least 10% of the population of the Gaza Strip is deprived of electricity supplies.

Israeli attacks in the West Bank:

Israeli forces conducted 15 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those incursions, Israeli forces abducted 23 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children.

On Thursday April 9th, Israeli soldiers invaded Sielet al-Thaher, south of Jenin, searched several homes and fired randomly, and abducted two residents.

On Friday April 10th, the Israeli army invaded Qalqilia, and searched several homes. On Saturday April 11th, the army invaded Tulkarem, where they searched homes and used some homes as military posts after forcing the Palestinian residents out.

On Monday April 13th, soldiers invaded Budrus village west of Ramallah and abducted 7 Palestinian youth aged 17 – 20. Also on Monday, troops invaded Saffa village in the Hebron district, in the southern West Bank. The soldiers searched and ransacked homes, and abducted three brothers. The troops continued their two-week long occupation of two Palestinian homes in the village. In addition, soldiers invaded Al-Aroub refugee camp in the Hebron district, searched and ransacked homes, and occupied the rooftop of one Palestinian home to use it as a sniper post. Soldiers also occupied a home in Al-Salaam Street in Hebron and abducted one youth after searching his home.

On Monday night, soldiers invaded Tiqua' village, broke into shops and homes, firing randomly throughout the village. They handed several residents over to the Israeli military camp nearby for interrogation.

On Tuesday April 14th, Israeli troops invaded Madama town south of Nablus, ransacking homes and abducting 8 Palestinian youth between the ages of 15 and 21. Military forces also invaded Qas'in village, west of nablus, ransacking homes and abducting one resident. Also on Tuesday, troops invaded Abu Da'if village near Jenin, searching and ransacking homes. Soldiers also invaded Matalla village east of Jenin and abducted one resident.

In Jerusalem on Tuesday, soldiers broke into two homes and handed the owners military orders to leave their homes, after the High Court denied the owners' petition to maintain their residence. The owners had presented titles to the land that dated back to the Ottoman empire, prior to the existence of the state of Israel, and the Israeli High Court refused to recognize the documents.

On Wednesday April 15th, Israeli troops invaded Romana village west of Jenin, fired live rounds, concussion grenades and flares at residents in the streets of the village, then left without abducting anyone.

Israeli forces implemented a strict closure of many parts of Jerusalem, preventing Palestinians from going to pray in the Al Aqsa mosque and closing roads throughout east Jerusalem and in Silwan.

Israeli Annexation Wall:

Israeli forces continued their pattern of engaging in excessive violence against non-violent demonstrators at weekly protests against the Israeli Annexation Wall.

In the village of Bil'in, west of Ramallah, villagers gatherd, as they do each week, after Friday prayers on Friday April 10th. The villagers held flags and chanted, and marched toward the site of the Wall construction. Israeli troops fired rubber-coated steel bullets and high-velocity tear gas canisters. Three people were injured, including an AP reporter, by high-velocity tear gas canisters. Dozens of people were treated for tear gas inhalation.

South of Bethlehem, in al-Masara village, soldiers attacked a protest held on Friday April 10th. The soldiers barred the march from moving forward by placing a barbed wire barrier in front of the marchers. Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and high-velocity tear gas canisters, injuring a 9-year old child. One Israeli protester was beaten by Israeli troops. Dozens of protesters were treated for tear gas inhalation.

When complete, the illegal Annexation Wall will stretch for 724 kilometers around the West Bank, further isolating the entire population. 350 kilometers of the Wall has already been constructed. Approximately 99% of the Wall has been constructed inside the West Bank itself, further confiscating Palestinian land.

Although the Israeli military claims to have lifted some restrictions on movement in the West Bank, 630 Israeli military roadblocks remain in place, preventing Palestinians from travelling within the West Bank.

Israeli settlement activity:

Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians on a number of occasions this week. The largest scale attack this week took place on Monday, April 13th, when a group of about 80 right-wing Israeli settlers stormed the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, which is the third-holiest site in Islam. The settlers attacked the mosque, shouting and claiming that they would destroy the mosque to build a Jewish temple. Access to the mosque is controlled by Israeli soldiers, who made no effort to stop the extremist group of settlers from entering. A Palestinian reporter was arrested while filming the incident.

On Thursday April 9th, right-wing extremist settlers from Kiryat Arba settlement near the southern West Bank city of Hebron expanded their settlement by setting up two trailers, which they connected with electricity, in Al-Ras neighborhood in Hebron. Israeli soldiers who were present in the area made no effort to stop the settlers. Under Israeli law, Israeli settlers are able to expand their settlements if they can prove to the Israeli government that they have hooked up the new expansion with electricity and a road.

Also on Thursday, three Palestinian shepherds, including a pregnant woman, were injured when Israeli settlers attacked them in Yatta town south of Hebron. The attack came one day after settlers attacked an 80-year old Palestinian shepherd in the same area.

On Friday April 10th, settlers in Tel Rumeida neighborhood in the center of the city of Hebron attacked an ambulance that was carrying a female patient with a heart condition. The attack took place even though the hospital had communicated and coordinated with the Israeli army in the area to ensure the safety of the patient, but the army did not take any action to stop the settlers from attacking the ambulance with bricks and rocks.

Recommendations to the International Community

Due to the number and severity of Israeli human rights violations this week, the PCHR made a number of recommendations to the international community. Among these were a recommendation that the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their legal and moral obligations under Article 1 of the Convention to ensure Israel's respect for the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The PCHR stated that they believe the conspiracy of silence practiced by the international community has encouraged Israel to act as if it is above the law and encourages Israel to continue to violate international human rights and humanitarian law. The PCHR called upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to comply with its legal obligations detailed in Article 146 of the Convention to search for and prosecute those responsible for grave breaches, namely war crime

como a ONU está a proteger Israel das acusações de racismo


UN Protects Israel from racism charges
Nora Barrows-Friedman, The Electronic Intifada, 17 April 2009

Israel-Palestine has been removed from the program of the upcoming Durban Anti-Racism Review Conference. (Mamoun Wazwaz/MaanImages)

BETHLEHEM, occupied West Bank (IPS) - As the wreckage from Israel's recent siege on Gaza continues to smolder, international civil society organizations are assembling this week in Switzerland to address Israel's crimes of military occupation and racism.

But any discussion on Israel's actions in Palestine will be excluded from the formal framework at the Durban Anti-Racism Review Conference in Geneva Monday. Israel-Palestine has been deliberately eliminated from the official program, structured by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR). Civil society groups believe that the United States, countries within the European Union and Israel pressured the UN to omit a review of Israel's racial discrimination against Palestinians.

Hundreds of delegations from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and human rights organizations will converge in Geneva for the Durban Review Conference on Racism. The conference is a follow-up to the 2001 World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in Durban, South Africa, that outlined an international legal and political concept to deal with global issues of race and human rights.

Immediately following that conference, the WCAR NGO forum recommended an international campaign of isolation towards Israel's institutionalized "brand of apartheid and other racist crimes against humanity."

The Durban Review Conference website states that the 2009 Geneva symposium is designed to "review progress and assess the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA)." Adopted by general consensus at the 2001 WCAR in Durban, "the DDPA is a comprehensive, action-oriented document that proposes concrete measures to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It is holistic in its vision, addresses a wide range of issues, and contains far-reaching recommendations and practical measures."

In order to assess and review any progress made since the 2001 WCAR in Durban, Palestinian human rights organizations planned several side events that were to take place within the schedule of the conference.

However, two weeks ago, the UN High Commissioner's office unilaterally cancelled all side-events pertaining to Palestine issues. Ingrid Jarradat-Gassner, director of the BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights in Bethlehem, one of several Palestine-based organizations attending the Durban Review conference, tells IPS that BADIL and the other NGOs had organized a side-event specifically about how and why they see Israel as a "regime of institutionalized racial discrimination on both sides of the Green Line."

"As Palestinian NGOs and other NGOs working on the issue of Israel and its violations against the rights of the Palestinian people, we were expecting that there would be a possibility for us to organize these side-events during the official Durban review conference in Geneva," Jarradat-Gassner says. "We were informed by the UN itself that this would be possible."

Jarradat-Gassner says that on 3 April, less than three weeks before the Durban Review Conference, the UN High Commissioner's office called BADIL's representative in Geneva into a meeting at the UN, and verbally informed her that all side-events pertaining to the specific issue of Palestine and Israel had been banned.

"We were not even informed in any sort of direct of official way. In fact, we have no record of the decision of the UN not to let us work on such side-events," says Jarradat-Gassner.

According to the UN's Durban Review Conference agenda, other side-events focusing on indigenous rights, women's rights and the link between racism and poverty will have an official platform.

Jarradat-Gassner says she knows there is a specific apprehension within the political UN body towards Palestine issues. In the draft document for the Durban Review Conference, she points out, there are particular recommendations for victims of HIV/AIDS, for victims of slave trade, Roma people, people of African descent, but, Jarradat-Gassner says, "there is not a single reference to Palestine, Palestinians or Israel in this whole document."

BADIL, Al-Haq (a Palestinian human rights organization) and Adalah (the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel) wrote a joint formal complaint to the UN OHCHR, but have not received any reply. The UN OHCHR did not respond to IPS's request for a comment either.

Dr. Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, tells IPS he had not known about the disallowance of side-events pertaining to Palestine/Israel by the UN's OHCHR. "One has to assume it was part of an effort to meet the objections of the United States that the event was discrediting to the extent it engaged in 'Israel-bashing.'" However, Falk points out, "US leverage is probably greater than it has been because Obama is President and Washington has indicated its intention to rejoin the Human Rights Council."

Palestinian organizations say that banning these side-events is a significant disappointment in pursuing Israel's legal responsibility towards its actions in Palestine. Dr. Falk echoes this sentiment. "I believe that the strong evidence of Israeli racism during the recent Gaza attacks makes it strange to refuse NGOs organizing side-events to address the issue," he tells IPS. "Also, the collective punishment aspects of the occupation seem to qualify the Israeli policy as a form of racism, combined with the rise of the extreme right, with [Avigdor] Lieberman as [Israeli] foreign minister."

Jarradat-Gassner says that within the framework of the Durban Review Conference, the issue of Palestine and Israel should be prominent. "There is an obvious link between colonization and apartheid [in Palestine-Israel]. If you have a settler-colonial regime that comes here to stay, and codifies into law its relationship of domination over the indigenous population, you are entering the field of apartheid ... We are talking about what Israel has been practicing over the last 60 years in Palestine."

Meanwhile, anticipating a limited platform for debate and discussion on Israel's actions in Palestine, BADIL helped structure a separate symposium along with international Palestinian human rights and justice organizations and sponsored by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee.

Entitled the Israel Review Conference: United Against Apartheid, Colonialism and Occupation: Dignity and Justice for the Palestinian People, these Palestine-focused NGOs will have a platform to address international civil society two days before the Durban Review conference commences. Jaradat-Gassner tells IPS she hopes that the Israel Review Conference "succeeds to make mainstream the analysis of Israel as a regime of colonial apartheid that also uses military occupation. It's not easy to dismiss this sort of analysis."

Additionally, US President Barack Obama's administration appears to have decided not to attend the Durban Review conference. In 2001, the United States representatives walked out of the first Durban conference when Zionism was defined as racism against Palestinians.

In the United States, progressive African-American organizations have expressed their disappointment and frustration that Obama has avoided the Durban Review conference. Ajamu Baraka, executive director of the US Human Rights Network in Atlanta, Georgia, tells IPS that his organization "takes the position that the Obama administration should participate and be willing to discuss all of the issues that will be addressed during the review process ... A strong stand on this issue by the first African-American President of the United States would have a revolutionary impact on the global discourse on race."

All rights reserved, IPS - Inter Press Service (2009).

Focus on Gaza: a luta das facções-parte 2

fonte:Al Jazeera English

Focus on Gaza: a luta das facções-parte 1

fonte:Al Jazeera English

Thursday, 16 April 2009

a ajuda humanitaria apodrece fora de Gaza


Aid rots outside Gaza
Erin Cunningham , The Electronic Intifada, 16 April 2009

People and goods are prevented from entering the Gaza Strip at the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing, January 2009. (Matthew Cassel)

AL-ARISH, Egypt (IPS) - Hundreds of thousands of tons of aid intended for the Gaza Strip is piling up in cities across Egypt's North Sinai region, despite recent calls from the United Nations to ease aid flow restrictions to the embattled territory in the wake of Israel's 22-day assault.

Food, medicine, blankets, infant food and other supplies for Gaza's 1.5 million people, coming from governments and non-governmental agencies around the world, are being stored in warehouses, parking lots, stadiums and on airport runways across Egypt's North Sinai governorate.

Egypt shares a 14-kilometer border with Gaza that has been closed more or less permanently since the Islamist movement Hamas took control of the territory in June 2007.

Flour, pasta, sugar, coffee, chocolate, tomato sauce, lentils, date bars, juice, chickpeas, blankets, hospital beds, catheter tubes and other humanitarian-based items are all sitting in at least eight storage points in and around al-Arish, a city in North Sinai approximately 50 kilometers from Gaza's border.

Three months after the end of the war, much of the aid has either rotted or been irreparably damaged as a result of both rain and sunshine, and Egypt's refusal to open the Rafah crossing.

"To be honest, most of this aid will never make it to Gaza," a local government official told IPS on condition of anonymity. "A lot of the food here will have to be thrown away."

The Gaza Strip was the target of Israel's three-week operation codenamed "Cast Lead," where both the enclave's civilian population and an already decrepit infrastructure were pummeled by powerful Israeli weaponry, leaving some 1,400 dead and over 5,000 injured by the time a unilateral ceasefire was called by Israel 18 January.

The UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) head in Gaza, John Ging, told IPS last week that the stranglehold on relief efforts in the post-war period was having devastating consequences, both physical and emotional, on the strip's population.

The last Situation Report released by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) 30 March stated that the "amounts and types of deliveries reaching Gaza continue being subject to random restrictions and unpredictable clearance procedures, creating major logistical problems for humanitarian agencies."

Food aid and other essential humanitarian supplies for Gaza began pouring into Egypt at the outset of the war, and medical supplies were routed through Rafah -- Gaza's only crossing that bypasses Israel -- throughout the assault, while food aid was directed through Israel.

All aid meant for Gaza via Egypt must currently pass through either al-Auja or Kerem Abu Sellem, Egypt's commercial crossings with Israel, and is subject to both Israeli-Egyptian trade specifications and Israeli import law.

Much of what is being stored in North Sinai -- including food items like lentils, pasta, chickpeas, and juice -- has been deemed by Israel to be "non-essential" to life in the Gaza Strip.

Two thousand "family boxes" -- containing essential supplies for Palestinian families and donated by the Italian non-governmental organization (NGO) Music for Peace -- were recently rejected at the al-Auja crossing by Israeli authorities because they each contained a jar of honey, the NGO's President, Stefano Robera, told IPS in al-Arish.

Representatives from international NGOs currently in both al-Arish and Rafah say not even a sliver of the aid donated is going through any of Egypt's transit points, despite assurances by the Egyptian government that the Rafah crossing remains open for "humanitarian considerations."

OCHA says Rafah was closed to all cargo for the month of March, and was opened for just two days to send blankets and mattresses into the Gaza Strip.

Since 27 December 2008, the day Israel launched its war, just 43 trucks of what OCHA calls "human food products" were sent into the Gaza Strip via Rafah. The first truckload was sent in 10 January, 2009, more than two weeks after the war began.

Some organizations coordinating their aid through Egypt say North Sinai governor Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha asked them to simply donate the goods to local NGOs. Other witnesses told IPS that Egyptian security forces tasked with guarding aid supplies have been giving it away to residents of al-Arish.

The Rafah border crossing opened in November 2005 when Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) signed an Agreement on Movement and Access as part of Israel's "disengagement" from the Gaza Strip.

In coordination with the PA, Egypt allowed passengers, cargo and humanitarian aid to pass under the supervision of both EU monitors and Israeli security. When Hamas, the Islamist movement democratically elected in 2006, seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, Egypt closed its border with the coastal enclave.

The Egyptian government has since refused to open the Rafah crossing to any cargo or non-medical humanitarian aid, leaving the supplies in a state of political limbo and Gaza's population grappling with the after-effects of both deadly war and continued economic siege.

Human rights organizations have recently said that not only Israel but Egypt, the EU and the US could be in violation of international law for failing to adhere to the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, and consequently violating the basic human rights of Gaza's 1.5 million people -- particularly in the post-war period.

All rights reserved, IPS - Inter Press Service (2009).

A retórica israelita da "paz


The rhetoric of "peace"
Ziyaad Lunat, The Electronic Intifada, 15 April 2009

Benjamin Netanyahu's promise of "economic peace" means the beginning of a new stage of colonization. (Moti Milrod/MaanImages)

The Israelis have offered the Palestinians many types of "peace." Their first attempt to reach out to the Palestinians was in 1948 with an offer of a "racist peace." Ethnic cleansing was the basis of a "racist peace" where Zionist terrorists drove out two thirds of the Palestinian population from their homes. Its logic was that expulsion would end strife between Zionists and Palestinians (by eliminating one side) enabling the Zionists to enjoy peace in an ethnic Jewish haven. The Palestinians, stubborn as they were, refused a racist Zionist state as the basis for "peace."

Israel relentlessly extended its hand to the Palestinians offering them a "military peace" instead. Deterrence was the basis of a "military peace" where a Zionist state armed to the teeth would instill fear in the hearts of the Palestinians. Its logic was that through military deterrence the Palestinians would accept their condition of displacement. Soon after their expulsion in 1948, Palestinian refugees continuously attempted to return to their properties. The Zionists initiated a campaign of reprisals to deny their right to return. Hundreds were killed in this way, massacres included Qibya in 1953, Lebanon in 1982, Jenin in 2002 and Gaza in 2009. Palestinians however rejected Zionist military domination as the basis for "peace."

While the above two peace offers were crude, Israel devised an "apartheid peace" as a more elaborate proposal to the Palestinians, hoping they would finally reciprocate. Physical separation between Jews and Arab Palestinians was the basis for an "apartheid peace." Its logic was that the Palestinians would be given limited autonomy to manage their internal affairs and build their own institutions but their demands would have to eventually fall short of full sovereignty. Some Palestinians were co-opted in signing the Oslo accords in 1993, accepting apartheid as the basis for "peace."

During the following years, Israel consolidated its vision for an "apartheid peace," generously referred to as a "two-state solution." More land was taken from the Palestinians for building of Jewish-only colonies and Jewish-only roads, fragmenting the territories. House demolitions cleared unwanted Palestinians from certain areas and a wall was built to encircle the ghettos. Israel's "peace" offensive divided the Palestinians into those who accepted Israel's apartheid, namely the Palestinian Collaborationist Authority in Ramallah, and those who refuse to subordinate their most basic rights to Israel's racism.

In the latest peace overture, the new Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu promised the Palestinians "economic peace," this time literally. Previous Israeli governments have used the economy to pacify the Palestinians and allure them with short-term individualist and materialist gains. Netanyahu however is astute and understands that the circumstances today are different than in the 1970s or 1990s. He has even more enthusiastic support from the Palestinian side and the international community.

Since taking office, Salam Fayyad, the unelected prime minister of the Palestinian Collaborationist Authority, has worked with Quartet envoy Tony Blair to develop an economic plan to "revitalize" the Palestinian economy. The Paris conference at the end of 2007 raised $7.4 billion for the "Palestinian Reform and Development Plan." It called for the creation of "an enabling environment for private sector growth." The document says nothing about basic freedoms or human rights. Moreover, it positions Israel as an implementing partner, normalizing its status as the occupier and explicitly accepting the existing colonizing structures. The plan, for example, calls for "tourist-friendly checkpoints."

Much due to pressure from the security establishment, Israel had in the past been reluctant to facilitate these initiatives, refusing to remove the odd roadblock or allow foreign investor access. It conditioned such a steps to demonstrable willingness on the Palestinian side to police and contain resistance to Israel's colonialist actions. Collaborationist security forces passed a crucial test during Israel's 22-day-long massacre in Gaza, when hundreds of protesters were violently repressed and prevented from expressing their revulsion at the attacks and from reaching Israeli military checkpoints. The security forces acted as loyal subcontractors on behalf of Israel. Israel is now willing to reward the Ramallah clique with more "confidence-building measures" as an incentive for continued collaboration.

Netanyahu's "economic peace" proposal should not only be seen in this context but crucially too as the beginning of a new stage of colonization. Israel has been successful in dividing the Palestinians into different groups, separated politically and geographically. Israel has also been successful in creating a collaborating political class. Israel failed however to squash their desire for freedom and their right to resist aggression. In other words, Israel was successful in the physical colonization of the land, de facto controlling the whole of historic Palestine, but failed to colonize Palestinian minds, for the most part, at least. This new stage will target the latter.

A sample of what is to come can already be seen within the Palestinian Collaborationist Authority's bureaucracy. Employing roughly 300,000, it is the biggest employer in the occupied territories. These employees and their families are dependent on the bureaucracy to sustain their livelihoods, raising incentives for compliance and creating costs for dissent, namely loss of income and political reprisals. Netanyahu's "economic peace" will mean that further to the existing political stratification of the Palestinian society, a capitalist class will be co-opted to subordinate the Palestinian working class to the requirements of the market. It is expected that the Palestinians will become too comfortable with the newly bestowed economic freedoms and relegate political rights to a secondary concern. The plan strives for the creation of a homo economicus, an individualist, self-interested man, a slave to the capitalist structures of inequality. Dependence on this neo-liberal structure-in-formation is aimed at removing individual and collective agency. The resulting false consciousness -- under the framework of hegemonic capitalism -- betrays the true relation of forces between the occupier and the occupied.

Of course, it is not all doom and gloom; the Palestinians have survived worst attempts on their existence. This mode of thinking -- that the Palestinians can simply be manipulated -- is too naive in its underpinnings. It is linked to an orientalist view of the lesser people, which sees them as devoid of principles, with the assumption that Palestinians with a full stomach will accept their condition of oppression. Israel has butchered the word "peace" with its many strands. Netanyahu's latest proposal of an "economic peace" will go to the history books as one of the many failed attempts to control a people with a thirst for freedom and justice.

Ziyaad Lunat is an activist for Palestine and co-founder of the Palestine Solidarity Initiative ( He can be reached at z.lunat A T gmail D O T com.

lista dos civis Palestinianos mortos pela guerra em Gaza

List of the Palestinian civilians killed by the Israeli war on Gaza

Palestine Center for Human Rights
List Palestinian civilians January 2009
fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Little Hope in Gaza Aftermath

'The shortage of building materials means many families are still living in tents.'

By Jeremy Bowen – Gaza City

I can't imagine what Gaza would be like if it didn't have the sea. The other morning its tiny piece of the Mediterranean was coming in lazy and calm, and a light breeze was blowing down the beach.

If you are Gazan and your soul is troubled, or if you just want some space, the beach must be one of the better places to go.

Most of Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians are impoverished and are not allowed to leave by their Israeli and Egyptian neighbours.

It is hard to think of another place in the world that can be as oppressive.

But considering that Gazans have so much experience of war, loss and bloodshed, it is remarkable that the human spirit here is so resilient.

But it has been severely tested by everything that has happened this year.

Life was hard enough anyway before the January conflict, mainly because of the blockade imposed by Israel and supported by its allies.

Eighty per cent of Gaza's population lives in poverty, defined here as an income of less than $2 daily.

But since the Israeli offensive things have got much worse. The UN says that 35,000 people don't have running water. More than 20,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged.

In the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh in early March international donors promised US $4.48 bn to rebuild Gaza.

The money, which comes in through procedures designed to keep it away from Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, has funded some of the immediate needs of the population.

But it hasn't yet made a difference to the way that people live.

Israel still will allow in virtually no building materials - such as steel, cement and piping - which it says Hamas would use for military purposes.

Living in Tents

So the people who have been living in tents, or in the ruins of their homes, still do.

Next to the village of Izbet Abed Rabbo, now mainly rubble, in the northern Gaza Strip close to the border with Israel, lines of frame tents are pitched in orderly rows.

They are nice ones, the sort you will see this summer if you go to one of the camping sites on more peaceful stretches of the Mediterranean coast.

They were not cheery bright holiday colours but khaki, which suggests they came from someone's army.

Life in Gaza can be intense. Pain and suffering runs very deep, and pleasure when it comes is something to grab and hold hard.

Near the tents in Izbet Abed Rabbo they were having a children's party.

A man dressed as a clown was supervising some boisterous games. In one of them blindfolded children were racing to feed another one, unblindfolded, a whole pot of runny-looking chocolate pudding.

The girl who ate fastest looked like she was going to drown as her big sister advanced on her with the spoon.

The prize was a small bunch of carnations, beautiful fresh flowers that used to go for export.

They have no commercial value anymore, but the children who were given them, whose families have lost everything, looked as if they liked them very much.

A solemn man in a tweed jacket walked out of the chaos and explained that the games (including orange peeling contests and races to blow flour off a plate) were designed to help the children recover from everything they have been through.

He was proud that the volunteers who had organized it, all local people, had paid for the party too.

It seemed as important for their mental health as it was for the children's.

In this part of the Middle East one of the most damaging consequences of the last years of bloodshed has been the loss of hope.

I met Raad al-Athamna, a taxi driver and father of seven children, who stood on a low pile of rubble that was his house until Israeli forces destroyed it.

He thumbed through photos of a decent home surrounded by mature trees, children playing in Gaza's dusty sunshine and doing their school studies.

Raad worked hard to create that life for his family, which has now gone.

Now his 12-year-old boy wets the bed every night, another child sleepwalks and his eldest girl, once a star pupil, has nowhere to study and cries when she thinks about the future.

Across the Border

It is not just Palestinians who worry about what happens next.

Over the border in the Israeli town of Sderot, which has borne the brunt of Palestinian rocket fire over the last eight years, I met Avi Mamam.

He is a fireman whose house was badly damaged by a rocket fired out of Gaza.

The experiences of Israelis and Palestinians either side of the Gaza border in December and January were not equivalent.

One hundred times more Palestinians than Israelis died. The level of destruction in Gaza is massively more extensive than in Israel.

But Avi, who was looking after his elderly, wheelchair bound mother as he showed me round what is left of his house, still seems to be at a crossroads, looking ahead at a future that should be much more certain.

He is a family man, with sons in the army, wondering whether it is worth rebuilding within rocket range of Gaza, assuming his compensation comes through.

Avi, like the overwhelming majority of Israelis, believes the war was justified.

But in the end, he says, there will have to be some sort of agreement with Hamas, because they are part of real life in this part of the world and people, on both sides, need to live in peace.

Jeremy Bowen is a BBC Middle East Editor. (Published in BBC News, April 9, 2009)

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

a politica da fe

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

The Politics of Faith

'It is unfortunate that even religious significance of Palestine must be tainted by politics.'

By Joharah Baker

It occurred to me the other day as I as browsing the internet that this conflict is so entangled with details, biases and religious undertones that it is no surprise we are so far from a solution.

I innocuously came upon a travel advertisement on MSN entitled “Journeys of Faith.” The writer, who generously provided the readers with an attractive slide show of the aforementioned destinations, had narrowed down the world’s 13 most significant destinations for the most faithful. Of course, upon seeing this, I thought, no doubt, my beautiful country would certainly occupy at least four or five of these. How could it not? They don’t call it the holy land for nothing.

As I clicked my way through the slideshow, I was taken to exotic destinations in France, Mexico, India, Saudi Arabia and the United States. What? No Jerusalem? No Nazareth or Bethlehem? It couldn’t be. Then, somewhere wedged between Mecca and Lourdes, France was Jerusalem. Ahh, of course, the slide that came along with it could be no other, could it? This was MSN. Religious Jews praying at the Western Wall, piles of Torahs on a table behind them. The text did not make me feel any better.

“Situated at the crossroads of nations and cultures, Jerusalem is a focal point for many religions, particularly Judaism, Islam and Christianity. The city has been the holiest Jewish city for more than 3,000 years.”

Bam. Politics enters everything, even this slideshow of faith. To be fair, there were other mentions of Jerusalem’s religious distinction further down after an elaborate historical description of the Western Wall. Here is the last line.

“Other holy sites in Jerusalem include the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. “

I was appalled. How is it that the place where Christ is said to have been crucified and subsequently resurrected not be given proper recognition? How could the supposed rock where Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven, thus revered as Islam’s third holiest site not be given space?

As I continued to click through the slide show, I was sure I would at least come upon Bethlehem, where Christ was born. That for sure, was a “journey of faith” any devout Christian was sure to make. Again, I was disappointed and appalled. Was it because the editors would have to mention that Bethlehem was located in Palestine? Or that it was occupied by Israel? For whatever reason, it seems utterly ridiculous that the Nativity Church did not make the list of 13.

It all comes down to politics, doesn’t it? How much bad rap would MSN get if they mentioned Jerusalem and instead of putting a picture of the Western Wall had posted the hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshippers at Friday noon prayers at Al Aqsa? In the twisted logic of political agendas, this would mean sidelining Jewish dominance and more importantly trumping it with Muslim significance. That, apparently, would lead to issues such as rights in Jerusalem, inadvertently implying that Muslim or Christian rights overrode those of Jews. And that, as we all know, is a major no-no for the West.

Slide show or not, we all know that Jerusalem and Palestine overall, is the ultimate journey of the faithful, at least the monotheistic faithful. Unfortunately, in a place like Palestine, politics clouds over even this. Pope Benedict XVI will visit Israel/Palestine in May, traveling through Nazareth and Jerusalem. He will not, however, travel to the Gaza Strip, which does not sit well with, if the petition is accurate, 2,000 people. Mostly Roman Catholics but also Muslims, Buddhists, humanists and even atheists have signed a petition put together by members of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, the University of San Francisco, and several other peace groups in the United States, calling for the Pope to travel to the Gaza Strip. “The people of Gaza in large part represent ‘the least among us’ today,” reads the petition, in reference to Christ’s penchant to “visit, eat and listen to the least among us.” According to Caritas, Jerusalem, a Catholic organization in the city, many Christian Palestinians felt that if the Pope does not visit Gaza, he should not come at all. The Vatican has yet to give any indication of a change in the Pope’s itinerary, which does not include the beleaguered Strip.

It is unfortunate, to say the least, that even the religious significance of Palestine must be tainted by politics. As we speak, Jewish extremists continue to force their way into the Aqsa Mosque to perform Passover prayers, with complete disregard to the Muslim majority. It was acts like these that first started the uprising back in 2000 and if we are not careful will certainly lead to more bloodshed in the future. As long as the rights of one group – Palestinians both Muslim and Christian – continue to be swept aside for the rights of another, there can never be conciliation, religious or otherwise.

The sad part in all of this is that historically, these three religions peacefully coexisted once upon a time. Pre-Israel, Jews lived side by side with Muslims and Christians, shared land and food, history and culture. It was the onset of Zionism, the usurpation of an entire homeland from beneath the feet of its original inhabitants and the politicization of a religion that was once just that, which ultimately ruined any hope for reconciliation. Add to this the clear bias of the world in favor of Israel and by proxy, the Jewish claim to this land, and we have a very complicated situation indeed.

I am not very religious, nor do I believe that any one religion has a monopoly over faith, monotheistic or otherwise. I am however, fiercely Palestinian and with that identity comes an affiliation to what I believe is a history stolen from us. I know my words cannot change the balances of power that make such injustices against the Palestinians possible. I do hope, however, that when, for example, you come across a slide show portraying the “journeys of faith” you will not forget that the Western Wall is just a tiny slice of the religious significance of this city, that Muslims and Christians have laid claim to it for centuries and that Israel, no matter how strong it is today, can never obliterate that claim.

- Joharah Baker is a Writer for the Media and Information Program at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at (Published in MIFTAH –

a institucao colonial Zionista ultrapasso o Judaísmo

fonte:Palestine chronicle

Zionist Colonial Enterprise Superseded Judaism
Zionism had 'calamitous consequences for Palestinians and the Jewish religion.'

By Hasan Afif El-Hasan

Jewish people are observing the Passover tradition of escaping slavery in Egypt and enjoying freedom. While they celebrate their ancient struggle against slavery and claim having Jewish moral superiority, they at the same time accept terrorizing, starving, strangulating, detaining and humiliating another people on a daily basis and occupying and colonizing their lands under false narratives.

Last time I read the Ten Commandments that were given to Moses by God in the form of two stone tablets, according to Judaism, the sixth and eighth commandments prohibit murder and stealing. Murdering a human being is a capital sin according to God, but the Israelis murder Palestinians and steal their lands and properties every day.

I wonder how the Jewish people, despite their achievements and contributions to science, philosophy, music and art, could have descended into the madness of suppressing a people and denying them free life in only one fifth of the land that they owned for centuries. Where is the morality in calling the indigenous Palestinians only as “Arabs” to deny their linkage to their home land? It is sad that some Jewish intellectuals routinely use the tragedy of the Holocaust to vindicate the obliteration of the Palestinians’ society and human rights. Have they accepted the fiction that their occupation of the Palestinian lands is part of their “enlightenment”?

Even some Israelis here and there question the morality of their fellow countrymen who abuse the indigenous Palestinians. The respected Israeli novelist, Yizhar Smilansky expressed his feeling of unease and anguish about the defacement of the Jewish humanistic ideals in an open letter to Haaretz. He ended his letter by stating, “The Jew in me is crying out!” In a soul searching moment, David Grossman, an Israeli novelist and essayist wrote in his 1984 book, “The Yellow Wind”: “I could not understand how an entire nation like mine, an enlightened nation by all accounts, is able to train itself to live as a conqueror without making its own life wretched”. The answer is simple. It is the Zionist colonialism.

Because Zionism was a project to erect a state on the ruins of the indigenous Palestinian society; and due to its commonality with the nineteenth century European colonialism in Africa; and because it was conceived by European Jews, it must be recognized as a movement in the European colonial tradition. Zionism has been supported and its project was made possible by the European colonialists. Like the nineteenth century colonizers who employed Christian ideologies to justify conquering far away lands at the expense of its indigenous population, the Zionists employed the Jewish religion to colonize Palestine. Perez Smolenskin, a nineteenth century Russian Jew and the founder of the Hebrew “Literary Monthly” suggested that all methods were legitimate to sustain the Jewish national goal including colonizing the “Land of Israel”.

The Zionists declared secularism, but they managed to have their nationalism culturally dependent on the Jewish religion. They expressed their ideology in religious terms of redemption and rebirth. “Zion” is the religious name of a hill in Jerusalem and the Zionists chose their flag based on the prayer-shawl used by Orthodox Jews. The secular Zionists who are economically and numerically the strongest sector in Israel, gave the religious Jews only the power to define the Jews identity culturally.

Theodore Herzl (1860-1904), a broadly traveled well known Hungarian non-practicing Jewish, perhaps atheist, journalist and a writer, was obsessed with the Jewish question since his university days but he had different solutions at different times. Until the eruption of violence against the Jews in France as a result of the “Dryfus Affair”, the court martial of a Jewish officer in 1894, Herzl believed that gradual Jewish assimilation with the Christian Europeans would be the best solution to anti-Semitism. In 1895, Herzl wrote in his diary, “About two years ago I wanted to solve the Jewish question, at least in Austria, with the help of the Catholic Church. I wished to arrange for an audience with the Pope and say to him: help us against the anti-Semites and I will lead a great movement for the free and honorable conversion of Jews to Christianity”.

A year later after the “Dryfus Affair”, he changed his belief and attempted to articulate a new ideology based on Jewish nationalism, in his formal sixty-five page essay, Der Judenstaat, translation, “the Jewish State”, addressed to the Rothschilds banking Jewish family in 1896. He proposed a Jewish state as a modern solution to the Jewish question because Jewish-hatred was inevitable fact of life. He asserted in his essay that all Jews, whether in Russia or those assimilated in Western Europe, belong to one nation and their question was a national question rather than religious or social. He stated in his essay, “The idea which I have developed in this situation is an ancient one: it is the establishment of the Jewish state”.

Herzel was explicit that the Jewish state should be secular. He wrote that, “We shall not permit any theocratic tendency to emerge among our spiritual authorities. We shall keep them to their synagogues..” Despite his non-religious ideology, Herzl’s writings were replete with religious references only to justify the Zionist’s ideology. The Jews should settle in Palestine because, in his words, “the Temple will be visible from long distance, for it is only our ancient faith that has kept us together”. Herzl’s solution to the anti-Semitism was for the Jews to have a land of their own. He suggested Argentina or Palestine as the settlement site, but he preferred Palestine as the first choice because of its historical significance to the Jews.

One century after Zionism was conceived, Israel is a reality and the Palestinians are denied the right to establish a mini-state on one fifth of their land because it is against the Zionist colonialists’ way of thinking. The Zionist project turned out to have calamitous consequences for the Palestinians as well as the Jewish religion. The Zionist colonial enterprise has superseded Judaism, and the practice of the oldest monolithic religion in Israel has lost any claim to spiritual or moral superiority among cultures.

As a result, Judaism has been reduced to mere ritual practices.

- Born in Nablus, Palestine, Hasan Afif El-Hasan, Ph.D. is a political analyst. He contributed this article to

Photostory: Hip hop por Gaza


Photostory: Hip-hop for Gaza
Photostory, Matthew Cassel, 14 April 2009

DAM's Tamer Nafar doing a soundcheck before the concert.

In the aftermath of Israel's three weeks of attacks on the Gaza Strip earlier this year, a group of young students, activists, artists and professionals from Chicago formed the Gaza Aid Project (GAP) to support Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

On 12 April 2009 GAP brought together world-renowned hip-hop artists to Chicago's Logan Square Auditorium to perform in solidarity with Gaza. The event -- titled Roots of Resistance -- aimed to raise funds and gather support for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, brought out a diverse crowd of hundreds from around the city.

The night began with performances by local Chicago artists, before the Gaza Strip's first rapper, Mohammed al-Farra took the stage. He rapped about the Gaza Strip and talked to the audience about the struggles that Palestinians in Gaza face on a daily basis under siege and occupation.

Tamer Nafar of DAM (the first Palestinian rap group, comprised of Palestinian citizens of Israel) then took the stage before he was joined by his band members Mahmood Jrere and Suhell Nafar. The group rapped about the situation in Palestine and performed their hit "Who is the terrorist." The group spoke about the influence hip-hop that originated in the African-American community has had on them as Palestinians facing Israeli oppression.

DAM also joined UK-based Palestinian hip-hop artist Shadia Mansour as she performed her song "They all have tanks." Wearing her trademark Palestinian traditional embroidered dress, she spoke to the crowd in both English and Arabic about Palestinian culture and the attacks on Gaza.

The hip-hop trio from Chicago, Rebel Diaz, now based in New York City, rapped about issues ranging from immigration and the prison system in the US to the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and the occupation in Palestine.

The five-hour-long event concluded with the night's headliner, M1 of Dead Prez. Wrapped in a scarf with the traditional checkered design and images of Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock, M1 spoke out about the struggle that black people in the face US. He related it to that of Palestinians in Gaza, identifying imperialism as the common enemy. The evening concluded with M1 inviting all the evening's performers on stage to take part in the song "Hip Hop," which brought Dead Prez to fame.

All images by Matthew Cassel.

A youth from Chicago break-dances as people start coming into the concert.

One of the night's emcees, Gihad Ali, welcomes the crowd with her poem, "I am not a Palestinian."

Editor of Poets for Palestine, Remi Kanazi performs a poem for the audience.

Mohammed al-Farra (right) performs his song "al-Shisheh" (hookah) with DAM's Tamer Nafar.

DAM's Suhell Nafar performs.

Hundreds of people from around Chicago were in attendance.

Shadia Mansour on stage.

The crowd cheers Shadia Mansour.

Rebel Diaz pose for a picture back stage with young Chicago dancers who they invited to perform on stage with them.

Dead Prez's M1 on stage.

A poster of Palestinian resistance icon Laila Khaled next to the stage as M1 performs in the background.

DAM's Mahmood Jrere on stage with Rebel Diaz and the other performers at the end of the concert.

M1 performs "Hip Hop" alongside Mohammed al-Farra and the other performers at the end of the concert.
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