Saturday, 23 May 2009

Gaza disowned: O papa, Israel e a "reconciliação"

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Gaza Disowned: The Pope, Israel and 'Reconciliation'

'Let justice flow like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.'

By Ramzy Baroud

"Gaza is not on the Pope's itinerary, nor will it be. There will be no change in these plans. But I'll say it very clearly, the Pope is absolutely not going to Gaza."

Such were the astounding comments made by the Pope’s spokesman in Israel, Wadie Abunasser, prior to Pope Benedict XVI visiting Palestine and Israel.

As if there was no massacre in Gaza, no families entirely slaughtered, no human rights violated to match the record of the most grisly of crimes in modern history. As if Gaza were a mere irritant in the annals of human suffering. More, as if there were no Catholic flock in Gaza. To clarify, there are actually nearly 2,000 Catholics in Gaza, apparently not important enough for the ‘cut’.

Now, there are a lot of important religious sites to see around the Holy Land, lots of old churches, stones, ruins and the like…sites of much more significance, such as the Western Wall, the Holy Sepulcher and so on… far more important than visiting the site of a fresh massacre, where the stench of rotting bodies - laid to rest beneath a tomb consisting of the rubble of their own homes - has just faded. Such sites are apparently of little import to the Holy See. Rather, there are memorials to victims of greater standing, in shrines of superior grandeur, such as Yad Vashem…now, that’s something to see.

On a trip that was apparently dedicated to promoting “reconciliation”, it is baffling that Pope Benedict made little mention of the Israeli occupation of Palestine as a source of discord. Imagine that. But what he did say was, “Allow me to make this appeal to all the peoples of these lands: No more bloodshed! No more fighting! No more terrorism! No more war! Instead let us break the viscous circle of violence.”

As if he was imploring two nations with common grievances, with mutually strong armies and nuclear arsenals. As if he were exhorting two peoples, both of which have access to clean water, both of which are properly nourished and educated. Or to put it another way, as if both peoples face the daily threat of their house being toppled while they are held up inside by an occupying army, as if both peoples face the daily threat of arrest, extra-judicial execution, the humiliation of curfews and checkpoints.

The Vatican needs some serious introspection. It ought to replace its highly politicized and, frankly, questionable apologies, with an earnest apology to oppressed people, who might have little political worth. The Pope should apologize to Palestinians and to Gazans in particular for failing to appreciate the seriousness of their plight, for cozying up to the very Israeli leaders who champion the suffering in Gaza, and fail to console the very victim of their onslaught.

More, as an institution that has garnered the reputation of advocating social justice throughout the world in recent years, the Catholic Church must abandon its current course, cowering before Israeli leaders, its Holy Father imparting such smug condescension on a nation that has endured a slow and gradual process of genocide for the past six decades.

Wishy-washy is the term that comes to mind. While he never wavered from condemning the “godless nation” that carried out the Holocaust, his references to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine were so indistinct, that it was difficult to make any clear separation between the aggressor and the victim. As he witnessed with his own eyes the monstrosity of the Apartheid Wall, his comments were painfully elusive, “How earnestly we pray for an end to the hostilities that have caused this wall to be built.” Oh really? Is this all the Holy Father has to say? Never mind occupation. Never mind hunger. Never mind randomly closing schools for months on end and denying an entire nation the right to education. But now we are talking about illegal weapons being used on civilian populations in Gaza. Now we are talking about a wall that has been declared “illegal” by the International Court of Justice. There is simply no time or place here for indecisiveness and moral flexibility.

And it is completely unacceptable for anyone to have the ‘audacity’ to urge Palestinian youth not to allow, as the Holy Father stated, “the loss of life and the destruction you have witnessed to arouse bitterness or resentment in your hearts”. More, when making a stop at Aida Refugee Camp, he blamed the plight of the displaced population on “the turmoil that has afflicted this land for decades.” It would have been far more favorable for him to stay home and not insult these sites of misery at all.

But in the end, the Pope finally was able to muster up some courage and took one truly audacious stand: When at the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority’s chief Islamic judge, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, declared that Israelis had killed innocent women and children in Gaza, the Pope stood up and in an act of defiance, walked out. Now that’s courage.

The Palestinians, and millions of people around the world, expected more from a person who should be advocating the New Testament teaching: “let justice flow like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

But the Pope has proven fallible, after all.

- Ramzy Baroud ( is an author and editor of His work has been published in many newspapers, journals and anthologies around the world. His latest book is, "The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle" (Pluto Press, London), and his forthcoming book is, “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London)

Mostrando zero tolerância para 'os cruéis racistas'

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Showing 'Cruel Racists' Zero Tolerance

'There are loads of people with heart disease in Gaza..'

By Stuart Littlewood – London

"Lucky we're not in Gaza," I said to my surgeon last week, "or you wouldn’t have been able to fix my problem."

I was lying in a hospital bed in England, thinking how many Palestinians suffer a similar illness but are cruelly denied treatment.

Not because there aren't the surgical skills - Gaza’s health professionals are very talented, I hear - but because the Zionists whom our political leaders call friends and allies have systematically blockaded medical supplies and equipment, especially these last 2 years, wiping out proper healthcare in the Strip and sentencing innocent men, women and children to death. Those they can’t vaporize or blow to bits with high explosives and phosphor they destroy slowly by starvation and untreated disease.

The news this week that three British medics are on hunger strike in Egypt makes the cruelty point clear enough to those who have so far been blind and deaf to it. They are protesting against being refused entry into Gaza for a humanitarian mission to set up a cardiac surgery unit at the al-Shifa hospital and help train medical students and junior doctors there. But the team have been denied access through Rafah by Egypt since 4 May. "We are on hunger strike until they let us through," says Omar Mangoush, a cardiac surgeon from London. "There are loads of people with heart disease in Gaza. They can't get out to Egypt and they can't get out through Israel."

He took a month's holiday from work to go on this charity-based mission.

So who are the ones responsible for this outrage? This time it’s the Egyptians, whose strings are pulled by the Israelis and their buddies in the American administration. The do-nothing whimps in the British foreign office, apparently, were told by the Egyptian foreign ministry that the medics' request for access to Gaza had been "postponed".

While in my hospital bed I also had to endure TV footage and press reports of the Pope's visit to the Holy Land.

From the very start Vatican chiefs committed public relations suicide by meekly bowing to the criminal regime's instruction not to visit Gaza. Here was an opportunity for the Pope to wait at the gates of the Erez crossing, under the glare of the international media, until allowed through - or until a full-scale international incident was provoked.

Alternatively he could have sailed with a flotilla of boats and landed peacefully on Gaza's beach… Israel’s choice whether or not to make an unseemly issue of it.

Then he was banned from making a speech with the world's news cameras showing Israel’s apartheid wall in the background. The Aida camp near Bethlehem wanted to welcome the Pope on a specially built stage in front of the ugly and offensive barrier with which the ugly and offensive state of Israel has surrounded and imprisoned the birthplace of Christ. The Israeli authorities ordered work on the stage stopped. Couldn't the Vatican have responded by saying something like: "If you Israelis don't want the world to see your wretched Wall why don’t you remove it, as required by the International Court of Justice?"

The Vatican then put up another ‘black’ by arranging for the Pope to visit the family of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Such concern for one Israeli soldier while 11,000 Palestinians lie rotting in Israeli jails calls for the global sick-bag to be handed round.

And while this overdressed "representative of God on Earth" was diligently sticking to illegal occupier rules, the said occupier continued to withhold cement and other necessary materials for Gaza’s reconstruction and humanitarian revival.

What is the point of a pope who's not prepared to stick his neck out to help liberate the Holy Land from long and brutal occupation by fanatics who hold to the ludicrous belief that they are inheritors of all the real estate in the Holy Land and beyond, and are superior to the rest of the human race? Indeed, this latest papal tour has illustrated, if it hadn’t been obvious before, that a pope needs to be a hard-nosed politician of special calibre as well as a holy man.

His Holiness said Palestinians should have a homeland so that “both peoples may live in peace in a homeland of their own, within secure and internationally recognized borders".

But the Palestinians already have a homeland. It was occupied in 1948 in a move that launched the Zionists’ master-plan to steal the entire territory and expel the Arabs, Christians included. And there are already internationally recognized borders. The Vatican and the rest of the international community choose to forget.

At the Yad Vashem memorial the Pope's address (as reported on the Vatican website) included the following passage: "One can rob a neighbour of possessions, opportunity or freedom. One can weave an insidious web of lies to convince others that certain groups are undeserving of respect. Yet, try as one might, one can never take away the name of a fellow human being." I applaud the words. Presumably they were intended to refer to the Jews killed in the Shoah; but the irony is that they equally apply to the slaughter and suffering of the Palestinians on the receiving end of Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing.

The Pope's visit, whatever the truth behind the scenes, had the appearance of a cack-handed conspiracy designed to make Israel look good by providing an abundance of PR images of the pontiff glad-handing the regime's leaders and thus legitimizing humanity’s dark side. Getting him to pass by the Gazans (Christians as well as Muslims) “on the other side of the road” was a propaganda master-stroke.

No genuine “God on Earth” would have fallen for that.

But take heart, all you right-minded people out there. In Britain, the parliamentary worm has suddenly turned and decided it will tolerate no longer the greedy and the self-serving in its own ranks. Sleaze has been uncovered by the bucket-full and the shamed Speaker of the House of Commons has been forced from office for the first time in 300 years thanks to the courage of a few good men. Many tried to block the truth but ultimately failed, and we are seeing the start of a new era of zero tolerance when it comes to greed, lies and corruption.

The public are the key. They know what is right and wrong even if their politicians don’t, and they are venting their extreme displeasure at ministers and MPs who are having a laugh at public expense.

So when will world leaders show zero tolerance against the cruel racists who foul and vandalize the Holy Land? What place do they and their sympathizers have in a civilized community of nations?

All it takes – maybe - is a few good men, and the general public.

- Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit He contributed this article to

Israel destrói a agricultura de Gaza


Israel destroying Gaza's farmlands
Eva Bartlett, The Electronic Intifada, 22 May 2009

A farmer holds crops destroyed by Israeli troops.

On the morning of 4 May 2009, Israeli troops set fire to Palestinian crops along Gaza's eastern border with Israel. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reported that 200,000 square meters of crops were destroyed, including wheat and barley ready for harvest, as well as vegetables, olive and pomegranate trees.

Local farmers report that the blaze carried over a four-kilometer stretch on the Palestinian side of the eastern border land. Ibrahim Hassan Safadi, 49, from one of the farming families whose crops were destroyed by the blaze, said that the fires were smoldering until early evening, despite efforts by the fire brigades to extinguish them.

Safadi says he was present when Israeli soldiers fired small bombs into his field, which soon after caught ablaze. He explained that "The Israeli soldiers fired from their jeeps, causing a fire to break out on the land. They burned the wheat, burned the pomegranate trees ... The fire spread across the valley. We called the fire brigades. They came to the area and put out the fire. But in some places the fire started again." According to Safadi, he lost 30,000 square meters to the blaze, including 300 pomegranate trees, 150 olive trees, and wheat.

In the border areas it has long since become nearly impossible to work on the land due to almost daily shooting from the Israeli soldiers. The crops that were burned on 4 May were dried and ready to harvest, meaning that they were extremely flammable.

"It took only three minutes for the fire to destroy 65,000 square meters," said Nahed Jaber Abu Said, whose farmland lies a few kilometers down the road from Safadi. He added that "It was nearly 9am. I was here when the Israeli jeeps came. An Israeli soldier at the fence shot an explosive into our field of wheat. It went up in flames immediately."

Safadi said that the arson attack was the third major time his farm has suffered from an Israeli attack. In previous attacks over the last decade, he explained, Israeli soldiers bulldozed his land, razing his lemon, olive and clementine trees as well as demolishing greenhouses.

"We've suffered great losses. The Israeli soldiers have destroyed so much of our land, trees and equipment. They've cost us a lot of money," he said, citing cumulative losses of $330,000 since 2000 when the heightened invasions began. In the last attack, Safadi said that $130,000 worth of crops, trees and irrigation piping was destroyed.

A wheat field destroyed by fire.
On top of the destruction, Safadi complains of not being able to replace destroyed items like the plastic hosing used to irrigate his fields. These, along with fertilizers and machinery replacement parts, are banned from entering Gaza due to the Israeli-led and internationally-backed whole-scale siege of the territory.

Abu Said reports losses of $2,000 on one patch of his land alone. "This isn't including the land closest to the border fence," he said. "I'm so sad now, what can I do?"

His experiences also extend beyond the 4 May attacks, and beyond the loss of land. In 2008, Israeli soldiers shot and killed 11 of his sheep and seriously injured a 15-year-old cousin, Jaber, by shooting him in the mouth.

Attacks by Israeli soldiers occur on a near-daily basis along Gaza's borders with Israel. Nearly a decade ago, Israel unilaterally imposed a "buffer" or "no-go" zone solely on the Gaza side of their shared borders. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee, the initial 100-meter "off-limits" area has now extended to one kilometer across much of Gaza's eastern border and two kilometers along the Strip's northern border. FAO further reports that roughly one-third of Gaza's agricultural land lies within the confines of the "buffer zone."

Since the 18 January ceasefire, three Palestinian civilians, including one child, have been killed in the "buffer zone" area from shooting and shelling by Israeli forces. Another 12 Palestinians have been injured, including three children and two women, due to Israeli fire along the border.

In addition to the physical threat and the destruction of agricultural land and equipment, Gaza's farming sector is further devastated by the destruction of what is believed to be hundreds of wells and sources of water and the contamination of farmland due to Israel's invasion of Gaza at the beginning of the year. As reported by the Guardian newspaper in February 2009, these attacks have left nearly 60 percent of Gaza's agricultural land useless.

The consequences of the active destruction of Gaza's farming sector are amplified within the context of Israel's siege and the stagnant state of rebuilding efforts since the ceasefire. With only a trickle of aid entering Gaza and poverty and malnutrition rates soaring, the ability to produce food is all the more vital to Palestinians in Gaza.

All images by Eva Bartlett.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian human rights advocate and freelancer who arrived in Gaza in November 2008 on the third Free Gaza Movement boat. She has been volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement and documenting Israel's ongoing attacks on Palestinians in Gaza. During Israel's recent assault on Gaza, she and other ISM volunteers accompanied ambulances and documenting the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Novos Rostos velhas lutas

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

New Faces for an Old Struggle

Abbas may be signaling to Obama that he is ready and willing to move forward.

By Joharah Baker – Jerusalem

Two major events took place this week, which will most definitely contribute to the shape and outcome of future events in the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The first is the meeting that took place between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama on May 18, which in many senses, laid down the groundwork for US-Israel relations for at least the next four years. The second is, of course, the swearing in of the new Palestinian caretaker government, the 13th in 14 years, on May 19.

Much can be said about both. In terms of the Netanyahu-Obama meeting, the Israeli prime minister didn't pull any surprises out of his hat – at least not any pleasant ones. His position vis-à-vis the Palestinians was more or less the same, falling far short of endorsing the two-state solution and remaining adamant about settlements. The most he would offer was to say Israel would work to dismantle illegal outposts and commit to not building any "new" settlements. Anyone who knows anything about Jewish settlements in the West Bank understands that this so-called commitment is nothing more than a brush-off and a whitewashing of any commitment to real progress. For one, according to international law, all Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land are deemed illegal, not just these wayward "outposts". Secondly, committing to not building any new settlements just means the ones already there will continue to expand at exponential rates. Netanyahu was sure he did not impinge on Israel's "right" to build within existing settlements to accommodate these colonies' "natural growth". Never mind that every time these settlements grow, they are doing so at the expense of the Palestinians, their land and their livelihood.

In all fairness, Bibi did say at the closing press conference that he was ready to "restart" the peace process with the Palestinians. Where exactly he intends for this process to go is still uncertain, given that autonomy seems to be the most far-reaching concession Netanyahu is willing to grace the Palestinians with. Even this is contingent upon the Palestinians' recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, something to which they have already said they would not agree.

Good-intentioned President Obama is still adamant that the two state solution is the only way to a peaceful settlement of this conflict. He even mentioned Gaza, rarely alluded to by western leaders in such passionate tones.

"The fact is, that if the people of Gaza have no hope, if they can't even get clean water at this point, if the border closures are so tight that it is impossible for reconstruction and humanitarian efforts to take place, then that is not going to be a recipe for Israel's long-term security or a constructive peace track to move forward."

He's right of course. The peace process will not move forward, nor will Israel ever feel safe and secure as long as the Gaza Strip continues to suffer under a strangulating siege, poor sanitation and lack of clean water and sufficient basic necessities.

However, Israel and its oppressive measures in all of the Palestinian territories, regardless of their magnitude, are unfortunately not the only problems the Palestinians are facing today.

Yesterday's swearing in of the newest caretaker government – basically an amendment of the last one under reinstated Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad – has by nature of the circumstances surrounding it, probably the testiest road ahead of it yet. Not only is this government faced with the less-than-friendly Israeli government under Netanyahu and his sidekick Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, but the internal strife and division that has plagued the Palestinians for so long is still securely in place.

Hamas and Fatah have stumbled through five rounds of reconciliation talks in Cairo over the past several months. There has been plenty of name-calling, finger-pointing, back-stabbing and rumors generating between the two sides, each burdening the other with complete responsibility for their failure to reach an agreement. The fact is, all the original sources of strife still exist if not even more firmly planted on the ground. Hamas, in spite of the recent devastating Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip, is still ruling the coastal area. It has not even attempted to loosen its hold over power there and will only share power with the secular West Bank government under President Abbas if it on its own terms.

This seems to be more or less the case with Abbas. Not willing to hand the PA over to the Islamic movement, the president was willing to put reconciliation talks on hold to restructure his own government with ministers that, unsurprisingly excluded anyone from Hamas, which is now calling its formation "illegal and unconstitutional." Other factions have also opted to sit this government out, including the PFLP and the People's Party along with members of Abbas' own faction, Fatah, claiming this would only consolidate the state of disunity among the Palestinians.

In all cases, it is too early to tell what the future has in store for this fledgling authority. President Abbas is due to meet President Obama on May 28 and some say he cannot possibly meet the man of the hour empty-handed. With a full cabinet of old and new ministers, Abbas may be signaling to Obama that he is ready and willing to move forward as long as there is a wiling Israeli partner, thus throwing that ball into Netanyahu's court.

If the Obama-Netanyahu meeting is any kind of indicator, Abbas will find a sympathetic ear on his upcoming trip. President Obama has made it clear that he opposes settlement expansion and does not appreciate Netanyahu's disregard for his government's roadmap obligations. He has publicly endorsed the two-state solution, of which Abbas is an avid proponent and he is resisting Netanyahu's implication that the "Iran issue" must be settled before the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is solved. If anything, the US President insists on the opposite, that a resolution to this problem could pave the way for a more regional solution.

As with almost every other time period in Palestinian history, this stretch of time is very volatile and can go either way depending on which way the political winds blow. While no one – including Obama apparently – has much faith in Netanyahu shifting his positions by his own accord – there is always hope that if the right circumstances present themselves, he will simply have to.

- 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 –

Friday, 22 May 2009

a próxima geração deve continuar a nossa luta


"The next generation must continue our struggle"
Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 21 May 2009

Dr. Abdullah al-Hourani is a Palestinian politician and researcher based in the Gaza Strip. He is the director of the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for National Studies in Gaza and chairman of the Palestinian Popular Committee for the Defense of the Right to Return. Al-Hourani was displaced by Zionist forces, along with more than 750,000 other Palestinians, from historical Palestine in 1948. On the occasion of the 61st aniversary of the disposession of Palestine, The Electronic Intifada correspondent Rami Almeghari interviewed Dr. al-Hourani at his Gaza City office.

Rami Almeghari: As a politician in charge of the Palestinian Center for National Studies and the Palestinian Popular Committee for the Defense of the Right to Return, how do you view the refugee question after 61 years?

Dr. Abdullah al-Hourani: First of all, I am a refugee and I was forced out of Masmaiya town which is between Gaza and Jerusalem. I was 12 and I still remember everything in my village -- the school, everything. When I pass by the village en route to Ramallah in the West Bank, I cry, remembering its soil, remembering my school.

My village, my land, my right of return are still there. My house is destroyed, but I am ready to rebuild it if I am allowed to return. I never forgot my village, and nor have my three sons and my grandson.

Throughout our struggle, we kept telling the younger generations to remember their hometowns. If you ask a six-year-old boy, he will answer quickly the name and place of his [family's] hometown, prior to 1948.

Along with the refugees in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and some Arab countries, there are about one million Palestinians living under the rule of the Israeli state. They are now in the Galilee, the Naqab [Negev] and all these inhabitants insist that those who were displaced should return to their homes.

For instance, Mohammad Baraka, who is a member of Israeli parliament, is originally from the Safuria village, but he is not allowed to live in Safuria. All these refugees including those inside and outside, are still suffering and their main aim is to return to Palestine.

In 1965, the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] stared its work in the refugee camps of Syria and Lebanon, with the main aim of regaining the right of return. So up to now we still insist on this right.

RA: There have been many peace initiatives to resolve the problem of Palestinian refugees, including the 2002 Arab peace initiative, which is based on peace with Israel in exchange for land. Israel has so far turned down all such initiatives. What do you say to this?

AH: Look, whatever Israel refuses or accepts, there will not be any peace in the region unless the right to return is achieved. Also, the Palestinians will not recognize or accept any Palestinian leadership that renounces the right to return.

The Arabs used to take a strong interest in the Palestine problem. In the '50s and '60s it was the main cause. Nowadays, however, we find a retreat in the positions of the Arab regimes towards the Palestinian issue.

This has affected the Palestinian leadership and struggle, and we know now that the majority of the Arab regimes are very close in their policies to the American administration. These regimes supported the American war on Iraq, so they are weak in terms of the Palestinian issue. Because of such subordination to American policy, these regimes have sought solutions that go with the American and Israeli interests.

The Arab peace initiative was formulated during the 2002 Arab Summit in Beirut. To the best of my knowledge, this initiative was written by the well-known American journalist Thomas Friedman.

At first the Arab initiative did not include any clause regarding the Palestinian refugee problem. But during the 2002 summit meeting, the Lebanese president insisted on including that part. There was a sentence that read "a solution can be worked out during talks, based on UN resolution 194."

Now there is a tendency by the Arab regimes to give more concessions. The Jordanian king, for example, returned recently from Washington with a new proposal that is based on removing that clause and on Arab countries taking steps towards normalization with Israel, such as recognizing Israel, before any peace talks.

I would like to assure you that no Palestinian leadership should accept that, otherwise it would be punished by the Palestinian people.

RA: Recently, the Israeli government has hinted at the possibility of creating economic prosperity in the occupied territories, sidelining the two-state solution proposed by Washington as well as the Arab peace initiative.

AH: In general, all Israeli governments are against the right of return, not only Netanyahu's government, but all his predecessors. But the current government comes with the support of racist Israeli parties. This will complicate more and more the possibility for return to Palestine. This government does not want to be in conflict with the current American administration, which supports peace.

The Israelis try to show they are interested in peace but they didn't yet recognize a two-state solution, and they insist that Palestinians should recognize Israel as a Jewish state. This means that Israel is obliterating the right of Palestinians to live on the soil of Palestine. Such a policy indicates that the conflict is a conflict about existence.

RA: US president Barack Obama recently indicated that Washington wants the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations to end in a final agreement.

AH: Bush also always reiterated his vision to realize a successful end to peace negotiations but he did not succeed. So this speech by Obama doesn't mean he will succeed. Maybe Obama himself has new views or new policies, maybe because of his origins, culture or charisma.

But the question is, will he be able to change American policies in just two or three years? These policies are based on American institutions for hundreds of years with definite guidelines. Also, there is a great influence by the Zionist movement on American policies, therefore it will not be easy for Obama to enforce a change.

I think Obama would rather pressure the Arab regimes, towards recognizing Israel before coming to a result regarding peace. And if Israel gains that, Israel will not consider real peace.

If the Arab regimes modify their peace initiative by dropping the demand for the right of return, Israel won't consider peace with Arabs and there won't be peace in the region or a Palestinian state. Israel is now considering getting rid of Gaza to Egypt and finding a solution for the West Bank in connection with Jordan.

RA: How do current Palestinian division between Hamas and Fatah overshadow the right of return in particular and the Palestinian question in general? I mean here the separate political platforms proclaimed by both parties.

AH: This division is further complicating the situation, including the right of return, establishing an independent Palestinian state and everything. Such a split is even giving a chance to Israel and the Arab regimes to neglect the Palestinian question.That's why the Palestinians must try to find a solution to unite themselves as a people, a government or a land. Only this would strengthen the Palestinian situation vis a vis Israel, the Arabs and the United States.

RA: As a veteran Palestinian politician and a refugee, what do you say to upcoming refugee generations?

AH: I would like to apologize to these generations because we failed to achieve any results after these prolonged years of the Nakba [catastrophe], but I would like to emphasize that we have succeeded to keep our people steadfast on their lands and persistent in seeking their inalienable rights. Also, we have succeeded in maintaining the Palestinian identity and convincing the international community that there is a Palestinian people and there are rights for this people, and we succeeded in gaining the recognition of more than 100 countries for our rights. Even though we have not achieved those rights we kept those rights alive. The next generations should continue the struggle and achieve what we have failed to realize.

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.

Focus on Gaza:a relação entre Israel e os E.U.-parte 2

fonte:Al Jazeera (English)

Focus on Gaza:a relação entre Israel e os E.U.-parte 1

fonte:Al Jazeera (English)

Inside Story: o novo governo palestiniano

fonte:Al Jazeera (English)

a república hebraica– Book Review

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

The Hebrew Republic – Book Review

Avishai's final change is that Israel would separate religion and state.

By Jim Miles

The Hebrew Republic – How Secular Democracy and Global Enterprise Will Bring Israel Peace at Last. Bernard Avishai. Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin), Orlando. 2008.

Two events have severely diminished the prospects of this book since it was published in early 2008 – the IDF attack on Gaza and the current global recession. In what are somewhat hopeful but weakly expressed arguments, Bernard Avishai was on slim grounds to begin with. His two main pillars of Israel of the future are of a Hebrew republic based on “globalization” – essentially the Washington consensus economics of finance capitalism. While there is some room for hope that he has expressed certain ideas that are progressive, they are surrounded by misleading ideas and omitted ideas. Finally his arguments are based much more on philosophical musings without a significant amount of practical logistics on how to achieve his end – a Hebrew republic that is also secular and democratic, inclusive of the Palestinians in Israel.


Avishai admits to being within the Zionist tradition, but that of the ‘progressive’ viewpoint of a socialist all-inclusive state of Palestinians and Jews. It is fairly obvious that Israel is here to stay as its military dominance is unquestionable and its relationships with its Arab neighbors of Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, at least the elites that make up those in control, seem relatively stable. Avishai develops his ideas within the concept of the elites, both for the Arab states and for Israel. Given that, Avishai attempts to formulate some ideas that are “centrist” in that they avoid the extreme views of the Orthodox fundamentalist Jewish sects and the extremes of the right wing secularists fearing the Palestinian demographic explosion. I am not sure I have interpreted Avishai’s definition of centrist properly, but that view is what remains after reading his mostly philosophical musings.

At any rate, the positives, at least for those supporting the right of an independent Palestinian people are his statements about Palestine itself. For historical items he recognizes that “large tracts [of Palestinian land] were expropriated after the 1948 War, effacing some four hundred Arab villages,” after “some 750,000 Palestinian Arabs either fled their homes or…were driven out.” The current settlement initiatives are seen as “oddly greedy and provocative,” not in his mind similar to the initial “pioneering settlements.” Recognition is given to the ongoing attempts to deprive the Palestinians of their land, from the lack of a constitution (which in many U.S. minds denies the ideal of democracy) and the development of the Basic Laws, “the Jewish Agency, Zionist land banks and mortgage companies…the labor federation Histadrut…the Law of Return…the Orthodox rabbinate’s determination of what a Jew is…all of these mechanisms for appropriating and distributing land.” Finally he recognizes that the current occupation is counterproductive for the development of the Israeli state.

Looking towards the future Avishai posits some progressive views on Israel/Palestine. His first point is that Israel “would have boundaries” and “agree in advance to a border based on the internationally recognized Green Line. It would welcome a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem in return for an internationally recognized Israeli capital in West Jerusalem.” Secondly Israel would “pass a bill of rights and a formal constitution, guaranteeing all of its citizens an impartial state apparatus,” and “would retire the Law of Return and replace it with an immigration bill.”

The third suggestion is that “Israel would guarantee equality of property rights” and within ten years, privatize all lands in open, impartial auctions.” While this latter point sounds positive, the vast inequalities in economic positions between Palestinians and Jews within and without Israel proper, and the same inequities within the Jewish population would lead to a great land grab by the same “elites” he is citing as being the leaders into the future.

Avishai’s final change is that Israel would separate religion and state. That would lead to “civil marriage, divorce, and burial,” rather than control by the Orthodox Rabbinate, and a “true public schools system” that taught a full curriculum of science and the humanities rather than the strict Orthodox teachings now in place in many schools. Hebrew would be the official language with Arabic and English taught from the first grade on.

Much of this possible, much of it falls within the frameworks that have been accepted by the Palestinians for some years, but also much of it is antagonistic to current trends in Israeli government policies and actions. Whether any of it is probable is highly arguable, as I am sure Avishai would be in full agreement.


There are two levels of concern with the text. First is the lack of much definition of logistics on how to achieve all this. Avishai presents long arguments of a philosophical nature regarding differences between the various interested Israeli parties, but does not come to grips with the problems of how specifically to do this, nor how to keep it successful other than the weakly argued implication of a trickle down effect from an economy based on globalized high technology. Attached to that are the omissions that tend to complicate the situation, such as the recognition of the militaristic nature of all that high technology.

One of the biggest problems is that lack of recognition of U.S. support for the current Israeli government, both economic/military support as well as diplomatic support from Congress. Nowhere is the $3 billion in annual aid monies recognized (well more than enough to guarantee that all the settlements continue with their associated economic and social benefits for the settlers). Nowhere is the power of the Jewish lobby, AIPAC mentioned other than being obliquely referenced as “American Jewish organizations” who “rallied” Congress, when in reality they do much more than rally Congress and had all presidential candidates bowing before them while seeking election.

Current Events

This brings the reader up against current events. In a phrase that now reads like “Oops, did I write that?” Avishai sees that a “rightist coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu could well make a comeback; if, say, a terrorist shoots down a jumbo jet landing at Ben-Gurion Airport, a rightist victory would be certain.” Obviously without that happening, the rightists and their allies had to create their own “terror” with the Gaza missiles and execute their plan to invade Gaza and destroy Hamas. This one action alone, the terror of an occupying force using a pre-conceived terror image to attack and kill hundreds of Palestinians, most of them civilian, worked reasonably well (for the Israelis, not the Gazans) in the following elections. Avishai is strictly against Hamas, giving them little recognition as a political and social force as well as an armed insurgency against an occupying force. He takes their election out of context, not recognizing the U.S. push towards this “democratic” event and not recognizing that it was the withdrawal of economic support by the U.S. and its servient allies that led to the weakening of the government – and not that the support was withdrawn after the Hamas almost-government had become weakened and ineffective.

The second current event is the global recession. One of Avishai’s central arguments for a strengthened Israeli economy that would also strengthen the Palestinians within and without Israel proper is that of going full out within a “globalization” of the economy based on the strength of the Israeli technology sector. This has several faults. First off is that “globalization” is mainly a corporate led wealth grab by the elites and is based mostly on consumption and finance capitalism, the latter dealing recklessly with great amounts of debt at many levels. Admittedly technology has its hardware and software components, but it also falls under the rubric of military hardware, and Avishai says little of standing down the Israeli military (and its nuclear weapons) when all else is settled. This of course ties in with the globalized economy as it currently stands, with U.S. military bases, and its mercenaries in NATO, creating and supporting that economy.

The world is now in a global recession, created by the wonderful corporate bosses who are the “elites”, who are not democratic nor transparent nor open and who are supported by the largest military in the world (understanding also that the military is not always beneficial for civilian corporations but great for the likes of Boeing, Intel, Lockheed-Martin and hundreds of others). Israel has joined that recession and its recent economic success is just as shallow as that of the rest of the world when based on corporate finance capitalism.


While much of what Avishai writes is possible, the probabilities of building a democratic, secular yet Jewish state (mainly through the language), and maintaining it within a “globalized” economy based on a corporate-military model are very slim. While I have touched on the main arguments above, there are other smaller items that creep in as well (for example, comparing Israel to Quebec in Canada with its official French language; unfortunately for his arguments Canada as a whole is officially bilingual, something I believe Israelis would find great difficulty accepting). The weakness of some of the presentations, the reliance more on philosophical musing rather than logistics, and the omissions and avoidance of certain issues (nuclear non-proliferation, U.S. support, a corporate sponsored elitist economy) ruin much of the possible becoming a probable. Within that, give it a read for the various philosophical arguments as they do present some insights into the variety of thoughts within Israel itself.

- Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.

Jogar Beach Tennis Enquanto os helicópteros estão acima de nós

fonte: Palestine Chronicle

Playing Beach Tennis While the Helicopters Pass by

We are at a sufficient distance when something we do not understand zooms past.

By Mats Svensson - Tel Aviv

We don’t know if we should stay. Late afternoon on the beach in Bat Jam south of Tel Aviv. There is a cool breeze. Just a few middle aged men dare to take a swim. A couple play tennis on the beach. Dogs are being walked. The seafood tastes wonderful and to that a full white wine. It is fantastic to be here on a Sunday afternoon.

Then we hear the sound of choppers. Three helicopters slowly approach us from the north. We see the couple playing beach tennis stop for a shortly while. They look up at the three large birds. They say something but continue playing before the birds have passed over their heads. Shortly thereafter come two more. Now no one reacts. Five helicopters carrying heavy rockets. Five rockets that are already aimed towards the south, to a small strip south of Tel Aviv, Gaza.

I have experienced this before, a few years ago. We were four people from Sida who sat on the beach. Four persons who had just arrived in Israel. We sat on the beach as the sun was setting. That time we also tasted the white wine while the helicopters began going in a kind of shuttle traffic towards Gaza with heavy weapons hanging underneath. We could later read that one of the largest operations was being carried out against Gaza. At that time everything was new for us. Everything was unreal. Something happened within us when the sunset, the beautiful yellow and red horizon was traversed by heavily loaded helicopters.

Much has happened between these two occasions on the beach in Tel Aviv. Arafat is gone and Sharon is no longer the leader in Israel. Blair has completed his period as prime minister and Bush has been replaced. Hamas won the 2006 elections but soon had to leave Ramallah. The two state solution has become three: Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. We are speaking of a completely new political landscape in Israel, Palestine, the UK and the USA. Even Sweden has gone through large political changes and today finally has a foreign minister with a lot of knowledge about the Middle East.

But independently of the political landscape the helicopters have continued. There, nothing has changed, time has stood still. The most sophisticated weapons against a confined people who retaliate with suicide bombers and homemade rockets. The helicopter borne missiles almost always hit their target, the homemade ones almost never. Statistics from Israeli B’Tselem confirm this. But independently of weapon type, fear, sleepless nights and urgings of revenge are created.

The couple playing beach tennis nonchalantly looked up at the fighter helicopters. They were used to seeing helicopters carrying missiles. Here, a few miles from Gaza they temporarily felt safe despite an uncertain future. But neither the Palestinian nor the Israeli collective is supported by safety. The fear, the everyday presence of fear, or the more long-term future of fear is constantly there. One waits for a power, somebody who will have the ability to do the unexpected, the different. The power is sought in Israel, in the West Bank, Gaza or somewhere in another country. But today we do not see the slightest hint of this. Everything is predictable. The actors playing in this historic play know their parts. Refine them over time but within clearly defined borders. The unexpected move that everyone awaits does not come. No one dares or has the ability. The same applies to the international community. Governments fumble, foreign ministers fumble and everyone with responsibility today exhibit an enormous weakness and lack of initiative.

All we see are the meaningless fights. Walls of all kinds multiply, becoming higher and higher, and the costs in dollars, human lives, lost hope and psychological wrecks are countless. On a daily basis the newspapers have pictures from Gaza of masses of people who follow their relatives into the simple grave. The only thing we know is that soon the ground offensive will start again. Every freely thinking fellow being knows that this is a wrong and criminal act.

At the same time, we sit in the first stalls, on the beach as the sun sets in the distance and to our calamari we sip our wine. We are at a sufficient distance when something we do not understand zooms past. Something that moves between two points. We do not participate but we try to understand. We feel but do not know whether we feel the right thing. We do not know what to say, what to tell. We do not know how to make our friends understand. We do not understand ourselves. We do not know whether we should stay or leave.

- Mats Svensson, a former Swedish diplomat working on the staff of SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, is presently following the ongoing occupation of Palestine. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Filhos da Eilaboun - Movie Review

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Sons of Eilaboun – Movie Review

Sons of Eilaboun is a story of one small village in the Galilee.

By Gilad Atzmon - London

The truth of the Nakba has been hidden for many decades. Not many except the Palestinians are aware of the scale of 1948 ethnic expulsions and even fewer are aware of the atrocities occasionally performed by the newly born IDF. As a young Israeli pupil I was taught to believe that the 'Arabs' (this is how we called them) just run for their lives. No one forced ‘them’ to do so, they were just a bunch of cowards, we were told. Similarly, we were preached that they were not as attached to the land as we, the Israelis, are. While they fled for their lives without fighting back, we, the chosens, schlepped all the way back to Zion after 2000 years to reclaim ‘our’ historic land.

The truth of hundreds of massacres of Palestinian villagers committed by a young and well-trained enthusiastic IDF was absolutely hidden. There wasn’t even a hint that such a thing took place. We knew of one massacre only, the one in Deir Yassin. We were aware of it just because it was there to serve the Israeli so-called ‘left’ leadership, as a means of vilifying their rightwing political rival, namely Menahem Begin (who was directly responsible for this very massacre).

In the last decade, the horrifying exposure of Israeli brutality in the Nakba starts to filter through. Nowadays we know that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was an orchestrated operation that was planned well in advance. As we learn by reading the early Zionist texts we find out that the intention to wipe out the Palestinian existence in the Holy Land was apparent from the very beginning of the movement. The Jewish national aspiration was all about the erection of a Jews-only state in Palestine. The indigenous habitants on the land had to be expelled for the Zionist project to prevail.

It is rather obvious that the scale of Israeli atrocities in the Nakba is far from being fully explored. This alone may also explain why many of us tend to believe that Israelis are becoming more and more vicious as time goes by. We tend to believe that Israelis deteriorate ethically. The truth of the matter is pretty devastating. Israel was born into a colossal sin. The birth of the Jewish state was a tragedy involved with an endless chain of barbarian massacres and other war crimes. As we learn from Hisham Zreiq’s film Sons Of Eilaboun, the first Israelis, the 1948 IDF soldiers, were at least as sinister as their grandsons in Gaza 2009.

Sons of Eilaboun is a story of one small village in the Galilee, one village amongst many. It is a story of one massacre, one massacre amongst many. It is a story of a small community that is tormented and traumatized for generations. Sons of Eilaboun is in fact the story of Palestine.

With pretty much very minimal means, Zreiq manages to deliver a very deep and authentic reading of Palestinian history. He manages also to portray the intense emotional impact of the Nakba on the survivors of the horror. It is a documentation of villagers that were dispossessed and have run for their lives. But it is also an unusual story of a small Palestinian community that managed to return (thanks to UN intervention) just to find out that their houses were looted and they were left with nothing. As if this is not enough, once back, they soon found out that their beloved murdered brothers’ and sons’ eyes were poked out by the Israeli invaders. Seemingly, mutilating young Palestinians’ corpses (eye poking for instance) was another 1948 IDF soldiers’ inclination. I presume that not many people are aware of it. One may expect that just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz Israelis soldiers would be slightly more compassionate.

You better see it to believe it.


- Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military. He is the author of the several novels. Atzmon is also one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe. His CD, Exile, was just named the year's best jazz CD by the BBC. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

"No hope" ou alterações da reunião de Obama-Netanyahu


No hope or change from Obama-Netanyahu meeting
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 21 May 2009

President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the Oval Office, 18 May 2009. (Pete Souza/White House Photo)

Seldom has an encounter between an American and Israeli leader been as hyped as this week's meeting between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As expected, Obama committed himself to diplomacy with Iran and pledged an enormous effort to achieve a two-state solution. Netanyahu continued to incite confrontation with Iran and refused to commit himself to a Palestinian state.

On the surface it may seem there are real differences and that the forces arrayed on each side -- including the formidable Israel lobby -- are gearing up for an epic battle to determine the fate of US-Israeli relations.

But Obama offered little new, reaffirming well-worn US positions that view Palestinians, particularly Hamas, as the aggressors, and Israel as the innocent victim. While calling for Israel to halt settlement construction (as US presidents have done for decades), Obama offered no hint that he would back those words with action. Quite the contrary, the president said he would urge Arab leaders to normalize relations with Israel, rewarding it in advance of any renewed peace talks.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that Obama applies unprecedented pressure to force Israel to make a deal with the Palestinians. What would such a deal look like? The outlines were suggested in the recent report sent to Obama by a group of US elder statesmen headed by former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. The document, warning that there was only a "six to twelve month window" before all chances for peace evaporated, called on the US to forcefully advocate the creation of a Palestinian state. But this would be a demilitarized truncated state "based on" the 1967 borders. Israel would annex large West Bank settlements and there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees. This "state" would be occupied indefinitely by a NATO-led "multinational force," which the Scowcroft group suggests could also include Israeli soldiers (see "A last chance for a two-state Israel-Palestine agreement, 2009).

Of course the Scowcroft proposal does not necessarily represent Obama administration thinking, but it expresses the pervasive peace process industry consensus that views such an outcome as "reasonable," "pragmatic" and all but inevitable, and it accords with Obama's own statements opposing the right of return and supporting Israel's demand to to be recognized as a "Jewish state."

In other words, what the vast majority of Palestinians would view as a horrifying plan to legitimize their dispossession, grant Israel a perpetual license to be racist, and turn the apartheid regime set up by the Oslo accords into a permanent prison, is now viewed as bold and far-reaching thinking that threatens to rupture American-Israeli bonds.

Netanyahu has little to lose by embarking on another "peace process" after making a show of resisting American pressure (or extracting more American concessions or money). He knows the chances of ever getting to the stated destination are nil. Obama will not apply significant pressure, and even if he did, it is unclear on whom he would apply it, since on the Palestinian side there are no leaders ready, willing and able to carry off a second Oslo-style fraud against their people.

Obama reportedly believes peace in Palestine is the key to transforming US relations with the "Muslim world." If he were serious about this, the US would have to break with all its past policies and support peace based on democratic and universal human rights principles and equality -- something incompatible with a commitment to Israel as a "Jewish state" practicing legalized discrimination. All the signs are however that the Obama administration will push to try to force Palestinians and Arabs to accept and normalize Israel as it is and that the US will continue to underwrite a morally and politically bankrupt Zionist settler-colonial project with a permanent American military, economic and diplomatic bailout.

The real problem for US-Israeli relations is not to be found in whether Netanyahu utters the magic words "two-state solution." Rather it is that after Gaza it is impossible to keep peddling the fiction that Israel is a brave, self-reliant liberal democracy deserving of unconditional support. No matter what this administration does, this will eventually result in pressure on Israel -- such as growing American public support for the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006). This article was originally published by bitterlemons-international and is republished with permission.

The Russell tribunal sobre a Palestina

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine

'The Russell Tribunal is part of the larger BRussell Tribunal.'

By Stephen Lendman – Chicago

After two years of 'underground' work, it was launched with a 'successful press conference' and announcement that:

"The Russell Tribunal on Palestine seeks to reaffirm the primacy of international law as the (way to settle) the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Its work will focus on "the enunciation of law by authoritative bodies. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), in its opinion on the (Separation Wall in Occupied Palestine, addressed relevant) "International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, as well as dozens of international resolutions concerning Palestine." (Watch video, Part I, Part II)

This Tribunal will "address the failure of application of law even though it has been so clearly identified." It begins where the ICJ "stopped: highlighting the responsibilities arising from the enunciation of law, including those of the international community, which cannot continue to shirk its obligations."

The Russell Tribunal is part of the larger BRussell Tribunal, named after noted philosopher, mathematician, and anti-war/anti-imperialism activist Bertrand Russell. Established in 1967 to investigate Vietnam war crimes, it's a hearing committee, most recently on the Iraq war and Bush administration imperialism. Its work continues as "the only game in town for the anti-war movement in America, Britain and Europe" - to unite non-violently for peace on various world's hot spots, now for Occupied Palestine to expose decades of injustice against a defenseless civilian population.

National committees will be formed globally, including expert ones composed of jurists, lawyers, human rights and international law experts, weapons experts, and others "to work on the evidence against Israel and third parties" to be presented in Tribunal sessions. Two are planned, "the the end of this year."

Frank Barat of the Organizing Committee urges activists to spread the news and offer support for this vital project. After Israel's unconscionable Gaza attack, it's never been more vulnerable given mass world public outrage. It's long past time to hold Israel accountable for its decades of crimes of war and against humanity, flaunting international humanitarian law, waging aggressive wars, continuing an illegal occupation, expropriating Palestinian land, and committing slow-motion genocide, so far with impunity. No longer can this be tolerated. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is dedicated toward that end.

The Tribunal's Declaration on Iraq applies to Palestine. Substituting Israel for America and Palestine for Iraq, it reads as follows:

"The (Israeli) occupation of (Palestine) is illegal and cannot be made legal. All that has derived from (it) is illegal and illegitimate and cannot gain legitimacy. The facts are incontrovertible. What are the consequences?"

"Peace, stability and democracy in (Palestine) are impossible under occupation. Foreign occupation is opposed by nature to the interests of the occupied people, as proven" by:

-- the forced diaspora;

-- many others internally displaced or in refugee camps for decades;

-- harsh military subjugation;

-- a regimented matrix of control;

-- the genocidal Gaza siege;

-- state-sponsored mass incarceration, violence, and torture;

-- the flaunting of international law and dozens of UN resolutions;

-- targeted assassinations;

-- the many tens of thousands of Palestinians killed, injured, or otherwise grievously harmed;

-- massive land theft and home demolitions;

-- the lack of judicial redress;

-- denying all rights to non-Jews; and

-- a decades-long reign of terror against defenseless Palestinian civilians.

Western propaganda tries to justify the unjustifiable, vilify ordinary people, call the legitimate government "terrorist," rationalize savage attacks as self-defense, reject the rights of the occupied, and deny their self-determination.

"In (Palestine, people) resist the occupation by all means (including armed struggle), in accordance with international law. "The Commission on Human Rights has routinely reaffirmed" it. So have numerous General Assembly resolutions. The March 1987 Geneva Declaration on Terrorism states:

"Terrorism originates from the statist system of structural violence and domination that denies the right of self-determination to peoples....that inflicts a gross and consistent pattern of violations of fundamental human rights....or that perpetuates military aggression and overt or covert intervention directed against the territorial integrity or political independence of other states," such as Palestine.

The UN General Assembly has "repeatedly recognized" the rights of "peoples who are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination (to) have the right to use force to accomplish their objectives within the framework of international humanitarian law."

It also recognizes the legitimacy of self-determination seeking national liberation movements and their right to strive for and receive appropriate support for their struggle. Further, under the UN Charter's Article 51, "individual or collective self-defense (shall not be "impair(ed) to respond against) an armed attack."

In other words, armed force is a legitimate form of self-defense as distinguished from "acts of international terrorism," especially by one state against another or any group, organization, or individual. Israel refuses to accept this. It continues an illegal occupation, calls armed resistance "terrorism," and imposes its will oppressively and illegally.

World leaders "continue to justify the negation of popular sovereignty under the rubric of (fighting terrorism), criminalizing not only resistance but also humanitarian assistance to a besieged (and beleaguered) people. Under international law, (Palestinian freedom-fighters) constitute a national liberation movement. Recognition of (them) is consequently a right, (an obligation, and) not an option." World leaders have a duty to hold Israel accountable under the law and no longer support its crimes.

Palestine "cannot recover lasting stability, unity and territorial integrity until its sovereignty is (recognized, affirmed,) guaranteed," and enforced by the world international community.

"If (world leaders) and (Israel want) peace, stability and democracy in (Palestine), they should accept that only the (Palestinian) resistance - armed, civil and political - can achieve these by securing the interests of (their) people. (Their) first the unconditional withdrawal of (Israeli forces) illegally occupying" their land.

Palestinians are the only legitimate force to secure their own security and rights under international law. "All laws, contracts (and other occupation-related) agreements....are unequivocally null and void. According to international law and the will of the (Palestinian) people, total sovereignty" over Palestine, its resources, culture, and all else (past, present, and future) rests in (their own) hands.

Further, international law demands that full " paid" to compensate for what Israel plundered and destroyed. Palestinians want self-determination and "long-term peace" and security. They have every right to expect it. "We appeal to all peace loving people in the world to work to support" their struggle. Regional "peace, democracy, progress" and justice depend on it. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is committed to work toward this end. Nothing short of it is acceptable.

- Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He contributed this article to Contact him at: Also visit his blog site at and listen regularly, live or from archives, to The Global Research News Hour on Monday through Friday at 10AM US Central time.

Obama governo dá um visto a ex-espião, o conselheiro de Netanhayu


Obama gov't restores visa to former spy, Netanhayu adviser
Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 20 May 2009

Uzi Arad (Herzliya Conference)
As might be expected of a former senior official with Israel's spy agency Mossad, Uzi Arad -- the most trusted political adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister -- has become used to being in the shadows as he exerts influence.

But that is fast changing. Arad was prominent in preparing Netanyahu's tough positions as he headed for Washington this week to meet Barack Obama, the US president, who is seeking to advance a Middle East peace plan.

Arad, recently appointed the head of Israel's revamped National Security Council, will oversee an organization that Netanyahu regards as the linchpin of the new government's security and foreign policy.

One military analyst, Amir Oren, has noted that, given Netanyahu's unstable coalition, Arad "is likely to emerge as a strong adviser to a weak government."

Arad has been outspoken both in rejecting Palestinian statehood and in promoting the military option against Iran, positions believed to be shared by the Israeli prime minister and that will be at the root of a possible confrontation in the coming months with the Obama administration.

Arad is also one of only a handful of senior figures on Netanyahu's Iran Task Force, charged with devising a strategy for dealing with Tehran and its supposed ambitions to attain nuclear weapons.

That will make some in Israel uneasy. The hawkish views that have made Arad indispensable to Netanyahu have also earned him several high-profile opponents.

Arik Carmon, founder of the Israel Democracy Institute, has described Arad's proposal to arrange "territorial exchanges" to strip some of Israel's Palestinian minority of their citizenship as "racist."

Alon Liel, a former director-general of Israel's foreign ministry, has called Arad's efforts to derail recent talks with Syria by demanding the continuing occupation of the Golan "ridiculous and nasty."

In 2007, before his rise to public prominence, Arad also fueled worried speculation about Israel's plans for a military strike on Tehran, after he described it as "easier than you think." A wide range of non-military Iranian targets were legitimate, he added.

But despite Arad's espousal of opinions that in many respects accord with those of Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu Party and Netanyahu's foreign minister, few doubt the prime minister's fierce loyalty to him.

In a sign of that commitment, Netanyahu pushed through Arad's appointment as national security adviser, a post in which he will need to be in almost continual consultation with the US, at the risk of provoking a diplomatic crisis with the Obama White House.

He had been barred from entering the US by the Bush administration after implication in a spying scandal. A Pentagon official, Larry Franklin, jailed in 2006 for passing secrets about Iran to the Israel lobby group AIPAC, was reported to have met Arad frequently.

When the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, arrived in Jerusalem in April for meetings with Netanyahu, then prime minister-designate, her staff quietly suggested he remove an official -- a hint that Arad's presence was not welcome. Netanyahu instead sent out Sallai Meridor, the ambassador to the US, who resigned soon afterwards.

The Obama administration has since restored Arad's visa and agreed to his political rehabilitation, not least so that he will be able regularly to meet his US opposite number, Gen. James Jones.

Arad spent more than 20 years in Mossad, much of it working in the intelligence section, before being appointed as Netanyahu's foreign policy adviser in his first government in the late 1990s.

He was also closely associated with a leading neoconservative think-tank in New York, the Hudson Institute, in the 1970s.

But paradoxically, his influence on Israeli thinking -- both among policy-makers and the public -- may have actually increased during his years in political opposition, after the fall of the first Netanyahu government in 1999.

It was then that he established an influential think-tank, the Institute for Policy and Strategy, at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.

The institute stages an annual conference, dedicated to the "balance of Israel's national security," that has become the most important event in the Israeli calendar for politicians, generals and diplomats, as well as attracting high-profile US guests.

Since the first meeting in 2000, the conferences have defined the major security issues supposedly facing Israel, closely mirroring Arad's own key obsessions.

Chief among these have been fears about the demographic threat to Israel's Jewishness from Palestinian birth rates both in the occupied territories and among Israel's own Palestinian citizens, and the danger posed to Israeli hegemony in the region from Iran's acquisition of a nuclear bomb.

In an indication of his implacable opposition to a Palestinian state, Arad recently told an interviewer: "We want to relieve ourselves of the burden of Palestinian populations, not the territories."

He has suggested that the Palestinians be required to become economically self-reliant, in the hope that their leaders will be forced to promote family planning methods to reduce the population. His motto is that the Palestinians need "one man, one job" before they need "one man, one vote."

He has also promoted a complex territorial exchange involving Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt that would see many Palestinians relocated to the Sinai so that Israel could take control of chunks of the West Bank.

But his greatest vehemence is reserved for Iran -- an antipathy apparently shared by the Israeli prime minister. In the past he has called for "maximum deterrence," including threats to strike "anything and everything of value" in Iran, including its "holiest sites."

As Netanyahu's plane touched down in Washington on Sunday, Arad briefed reporters that Tehran posed an "existential" threat to Israel and that "all options are indeed on the table."

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

A version of this article originally appeared in
The National, published in Abu Dhabi.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Edinburgh film festival retorna financiamento israelita


Edinburgh film fest returns Israeli funding
Press release, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, 18 May 2009

The 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) organizers announced on Friday they were returning money donated by the Israeli embassy. The return of the money was accompanied by an admission that it had been "a mistake to accept the 300 [British pounds] from the Israeli embassy" and followed a torrent of angry letters expressing incomprehension, fury or sadness at the EIFF being associated with the Israeli state. Many pledged to support Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) pickets of screenings throughout the 2009 Festival, and an initial public protest planned for the following day.

Many were shocked at such a public association with the pariah state so soon after the massacres in Gaza, given Israel's continuing siege and its ongoing ethnic cleansing and illegal settlement in the West Bank. The EIFF was also pressured into returning money to the Israeli embassy in the wake of the Israeli massacres (during their defeat) in Lebanon in 2006.

Filmmakers and artists pointed out that the EIFF's claim to separate culture and politics is absurd, while Israel harshly suppresses Palestinian efforts to hold cultural events, most recently in March in Jerusalem and Nazareth. Ken Loach, one of the UK's most prominent filmmakers, joined in the effort, and issued a statement through the SPSC:

"I'm sure many filmmakers will be as horrified as I am to learn that the Edinburgh International Film Festival is accepting money from Israel. The massacres and state terrorism in Gaza make this money unacceptable. With regret, I must urge all who might consider visiting the festival to show their support for the Palestinian nation, and stay away."

We welcome the outcome whereby the festival organizers have returned Israel's tainted money, thus aligning the Edinburgh International Film Festival with the growing Scottish and world-wide campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the apartheid state. In a short period, anger at Israel's savagery in Palestine has already led, for example, to:

  • The Scottish TUC (Trades Union Congress) joining with its South African and Irish counterparts in committing to BDS and a re-examination of its relations with the Israeli racist pseudo-trade union, the Histadrut.

  • Groups of students staging occupations across many British universities to win scholarships for Gazan students and to drive Israeli companies off their campuses.

  • An Israeli security company, 360 Defense, going "underground" -- it had earlier boasted of the skills its personnel acquire in fighting the Palestinian freedom struggle, and its delivery of "anti-terrorism" (sic) courses to Scottish police forces.

  • Israeli company Eden Springs suffering a continuous hemorrhage of lost contracts, forcing the closure of its East of Scotland depot in Loanhead -- they have recently hired a public relations company to counter the growing boycott.

These unambiguous trends in civil society contrast with the unflinching support of the British government and the EU for Israel's occupation of the West Bank, for its brutal siege of Gaza and intensifying repression of Palestinian citizens inside Israel. While supporting Israeli brutality abroad, British legal authorities are taking steps to criminalize aspects of solidarity with Palestine here in the UK. With official government endorsement of such efforts, five members of the SPSC have been charged with "racially motivated conduct" and go on trial shortly. This follows a performance in Edinburgh by an Israeli ensemble, the Jerusalem Quartet, of whom it was said approvingly by admirers that "carrying a rifle in one hand and a violin in the other was the ultimate Zionist statement." SPSC carried the protest against these official "cultural ambassadors of Israel" into the concert hall and we urge others to do likewise, wherever they exchange their rifles to make "the ultimate Zionist statement" with their violins.

The upwelling of anger at Israel's crimes and natural sympathy with the Palestinian people, can now be converted everywhere into active solidarity with their struggle for freedom. BDS is the only strategy that allows people around the world to participate as auxiliaries in this struggle, and to reduce and possibly neutralize the shameful support of our governments for Israel. It won't happen automatically, but a determined campaign can succeed in mobilizing the widespread anger at Israeli racism and violence. Opinion polls everywhere show that Israel's violent ethnic cleansing is being seen for what it is, and that Palestinian resistance, however costly, has not been in vain. Israeli is, clearly and irreversibly, a polecat state, able to kill Palestinians in huge numbers but extremely vulnerable to a world-wide campaign of boycott.

We must keep our eyes on the prize: freedom for the people in Israel's vast gulag. Our contribution to that will be a mass campaign of BDS. We in SPSC have already chosen our next targets and we have not the slightest doubt that popular opinion will support us. Our opponents know this.

a escolha de Israel, o desafio de Obama


Israel's choice, Obama's challenge
Mustafa Barghouthi, The Electronic Intifada, 20 May 2009

President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after their meeting at the White House on Monday, 18 May 2009. (Lawrence Jackson/White House Photo)

I cannot recall a more important meeting between an American president and an Israeli prime minister than today's meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Will the Obama administration have the courage to challenge Netanyahu, or will all the talk of change dissolve in the face of a concerted one-two punch from Netanyahu and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee?

I am increasingly convinced that if Obama fails to speak out now, it will doom the two-state solution forever. Further fiddling in Washington -- after eight years of it -- will consign Jerusalem, the West Bank and the two-state solution to an Israeli expansionism that will overwhelm the ability of cartographers to concoct a viable Palestinian state.

It's now or almost certainly never. If Obama lacks the political will to stand up to Netanyahu now, he will lack the capacity later. And by the time Obama leaves office, it will be too late to salvage anything more than an archipelago of Palestinian Bantustans. We Palestinians seek freedom, not apartheid, and not the sort of Potemkin villages on the West Bank that Netanyahu is trying to package to the West as visionary economic boomtowns for desperate Palestinians. Yes, we want economic improvement, but the best way to achieve that is through control over our own lives, borders and resources.

Israel's new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, claimed in an April interview that "America accepts all our decisions." I was in Washington in February and did not find that to be the case. The Obama administration, I was pleased to hear, planned to be in neither the Israelis' nor the Palestinians' pocket. That is all we Palestinians have ever asked.

Yet, just as in the '90s, Netanyahu believes that he is the world's driving force and that a Democratic president should be following his lead. In his memoir, former lead American negotiator Dennis Ross quoted an exasperated President Clinton as complaining that Netanyahu comported himself as though he thought Israel, and not the United States, was the superpower. That doesn't appear to have changed. How else to explain the recent assertion by Israeli officials that before Israel will address core Palestinian-Israeli negotiating issues, the United States must deal -- apparently to Israel's satisfaction -- with Iran's nuclear program?

The false Iran-Palestine linkage troubles me because its Israeli boosters think that Iran is an immediate concern, and Palestinian freedom can once again be kicked down the road. Danny Ayalon, Israel's deputy foreign minister and a representative of Lieberman's extremist Yisrael Beiteinu party, said in April that "the Iranian clock should be measured in months," but the Palestinian timetable "is open-ended."

What Ayalon, Lieberman and Netanyahu fail to grasp is the world's increasing recognition that they are attempting to dictate the timetable for another people's freedom. This is unacceptable in the 21st century.

Yet Netanyahu wants either an impossibly long timetable or no Palestinian state at all. In May 2002, when the central committee of the Likud Party voted on a resolution declaring that "no Palestinian state will be established west of the Jordan River," Netanyahu urged party members to support the resolution. To this day, he has failed to embrace the idea of a Palestinian state, even though the two-state solution has been Israel's avowed policy for years. He hopes to destroy the idea, de facto, through delays that allow time for further settlement activity.

More recently, Netanyahu has added a new demand: that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. This is intended only to confuse and delay peace talks. And it's wrong. Palestinians in the occupied territories have no standing to sign away the rights of the Palestinian citizens of Israel in order to get Israel to the negotiating table. To tell the truth, we don't believe that Israel can be a true democracy and an exclusivist Jewish state at the same time. Yet Israeli leaders seem oblivious -- or pretend to be oblivious -- to why Palestinians would decline to acknowledge Israel's status as a Jewish state.

Increasingly, Israel is out of step with a world hurtling into the 21st century with Obama. This is no longer the segregated world of President Truman and David Ben-Gurion at Israel's founding. Yet Netanyahu's selection of Lieberman, who once stated that "minorities are the biggest problem in the world," exemplifies Israel's tone-deafness in a changed world.

The choice is Israel's: two states, or increasing isolation by a world that will not accept apartheid dressed up as an economic development plan. Tragically, the consequences of further delay and oppression will be endured by Palestinians -- both in the occupied territories and in an increasingly exclusivist Jewish state whose self-definition comes at the expense of Palestinian citizens.

Mustafa Barghouthi, a doctor and a member of the Palestinian parliament, was a candidate for president in 2005. He is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, a political party. This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times and is republished with the author's permission.

dor da consciencia

fonte:Alternate Focus

a unidade Palestina e Israel: lutas no Titanic

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Israel and Palestinian Unity: Quarrel on the Titanic

Israel makes every effort to present Abbas' PA as a Palestinian Vichy regime.

By Uri Avnery – Israel

One of the happiest moments in my life occurred in a restaurant. It happened before the second Intifada. I had invited Rachel to celebrate her birthday with dinner at a famous restaurant in Ramallah.

We were sitting in the garden under strings of colorful lights, the air was fragrant with the perfume of flowers and the waiters were hurrying back and forth with laden trays. We ate Mussakhan, the Palestinian national dish (chicken with tahini baked on pita bread), and I drank arak. Our waiter, who had overheard us talking, took our order in Hebrew. We were the only Israelis there. At the nearby tables, Arab families with the children in their best clothes, as well as a bride and groom with their wedding guests. Bursts of laughter punctuated the murmur of Arabic conversations, and spirits were high.

I was happy, and a sigh escaped me: “How wonderful this country could be, if only we had peace!”

I think of that moment every time I hear sad news from Ramallah. The news is depressing, but the memory helps me to keep alive my hope that things could be different.

The most depressing news concerns the split between the Palestinians themselves. This split is a disaster for them, and, I believe, also for Israel and the world at large. That’s why I dare to comment on a matter that seemingly does not concern us Israelis. It does.

It is easy to blame Israel. Easy and also justified. In their struggle against the national aspirations of the Palestinians, successive Israeli governments have applied the old Roman maxim divide et impera, divide and rule.

Since the Oslo agreement, the central component of this policy has been the physical separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Article IV of the Oslo Agreement of September 1993 says: “The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, whose integrity will be preserved”.

Article X of Annex 1 of the Interim Agreement of September 1995 says: “There shall be a safe passage connecting the West Bank with the Gaza Strip for movement of persons, vehicles and goods…Israel will ensure safe passage for persons and transportation during daylight hours…in any event not less than 10 hours a day.”

In practice, the safe passage was never opened. Among all the blatant violations of the Oslo agreements, this was the most severe. Its consequences have been disastrous for both sides.

True, there was a lot of talking about the passage. Ehud Barak once fantasized about constructing a giant bridge between the West Bank and the Strip, after seeing such a 40 km long bridge somewhere abroad. Others spoke about a tunnel underneath Israeli territory. Yet others proposed an extraterritorial highway or railway. None of these ideas was ever implemented. On the contrary, while before Oslo there had been free movement for all, including the inhabitants of the occupied territories, after Oslo this freedom was abolished.

The pretext was – as always – security: convoys of murderers and terrorists would pack the safe passage, trucks loaded with Palestinian rockets would drive to and fro. But the consequences disclose the true aim: what remained of Palestine was cut into two disconnected parts.

One cannot rule a territory without physical contact with it. That was proven in Pakistan, which was founded as a state with two disconnected parts separated by Indian territory. Soon enough, war between the two broke out and the Eastern part became the independent state of Bangladesh.

According to the latest Palestinian statistics, which seem reliable, there are now 2.42 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and 1.46 million in the Gaza Strip; in addition to 379 thousand in East Jerusalem. From Yasser Arafat I once heard that more than half of the Palestinian Authority’s resources were being devoted to the Gaza Strip, in spite of the fact that the Strip amounted to only 6% (one sixteenth) of the Palestinian territories.

Now there exist in practice two Palestinian entities: the West Bank, whose actual capital is now Ramallah, and the Gaza Strip, with its capital Gaza city. From the political, economic and ideological points of view, the distance between them is growing.

And from the point of view of the Israeli occupation policy, that is a great victory.

The Israeli government conducts different strategies against the two Palestinian entities.

Against Gaza, the policy is simple and brutal: to overthrow the Hamas government by turning the life of those 1,460,000 men and woman, old people and children, into hell. They are allowed to bring in only the most basic foodstuffs. There was an international outcry when Senator John Kerry discovered the import of noodles is prohibited, because pasta is apparently a luxury. “We shall not give them chocolate when Gilad Shalit is not getting chocolate,” an army officer declared this week. It would be interesting to know how much chocolate the 11 thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are getting.

The war against Gaza (“Molten Lead”) was intended to wreak death and destruction upon the civilians, so that they would rise up and overthrow their elected government. The dead are already buried, but the piles of rubble remain. The Israeli government does not allow building materials to be brought in, and the inhabitants have started to build homes of mud, as their ancestors did centuries ago. (To make the whole thing even more depressing, it is forbidden to bring in toys, books and musical instruments.)

The Egyptian government cooperates with the Israeli army in enforcing the blockade on the inhabitants of Gaza. Lately it has intensified its efforts to choke the essential supply line through the Rafah tunnels (“smuggling” in Israeli and Egyptian parlance). The campaign recently started by the Egyptian authorities against Hizbullah agents in Sinai has the aim, among others, of cutting this pipeline.

The Gaza people have not toppled the Hamas government. On the contrary, their opposition to the Ramallah government seems to be growing, and some say that it is turning into pure hatred.

Against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, the occupation authorities employ a different, but no less destructive, strategy. They make every effort to present it as a kind of Palestinian Vichy regime, in order to prevent the healing of the Palestinian rift.

The Israeli government declares this openly and loudly. This week, the Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, wondered publicly how the Palestinian Minister of Justice could sue Israel before the International Criminal Court for war crimes committed in Gaza.

How come, Ashkenazi complained, when throughout the Gaza War there was such close cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority?

In other words, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli army declares publicly before the Palestinian people and the entire world that the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah cooperated with the Israeli government in the war against their Palestinian brothers in Gaza, in which - according to the Ramallah Minister of Justice - systematic war crimes were committed. A more damaging blow to the standing of Mahmoud Abbas can hardly be imagined.

Other Israeli officers do not spare their praise for the Palestinian security forces, which – they allege - cooperate with the Israeli army in eliminating Hamas sympathizers in the West Bank. It is hard to imagine that such statements by the occupation officers will do anything to elevate the standing of Abbas in the eyes of the Palestinians, who see with their own eyes how the settlements on their land grow daily.

This week, a friend told me about a conversation he had with a Palestinian official from Ramallah. If Israel attacks Iran, he said with great enthusiasm, the Hamas regime in Gaza will collapse.

For an outsider looking in, this is incomprehensible. When the entire Palestinian people is facing a danger to their very existence, when the Israeli government is working tirelessly to make it impossible for a Palestinian state to come into being and there is a real threat that the Palestinian people will be eventually driven out of Palestine altogether, the split resembles a quarrel on the bridge of the Titanic.

There is an old Jewish saying that “the destruction of the temple (in the year 70 A.D.) was caused by mutual hatred.” When the Romans were already besieging Jerusalem, the various Zealot factions in the beleaguered city burned each other’s stocks of food. Among the Palestinians, such things are happening right now.

Disunity has always been a curse. In 1948, when they were fighting for their survival, they were unable to form a unified leadership and a unified military force. In practice, every village fought alone, without coming to the aid of its neighbors. Otherwise, perhaps, the Naqba would not have happened, and the untold suffering that continues to this very day would have been prevented.

The main result of the disunity 61 years ago was that the Palestinians were unable to establish the State of Palestine next to the State of Israel, and the territory allotted for it by the UN was divided between Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

Yasser Arafat understood this well. He made a huge effort to maintain the unity of his people at almost any cost. As long as he was alive, this unity was maintained. The secret services that planned his murder obviously wanted to sabotage this unity, much as Yitzhak Rabin’s murderers wanted to destroy the peace process. The two murders complemented each other, and not by accident.

Anyone who believes that peace is essential for the two peoples and for the entire world must fervently hope for the establishment of a Palestinian unity government.

I believe that this is still possible.

It seems that in this matter, too, Barack Obama must play a leading role. He must put an end to the stupid and disastrous policy of boycotting Hamas and employ his full power to bring about the creation of a Palestinian unity government. Perhaps it will have to be, in the beginning, a kind of super-government under which both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip keep some kind of autonomy.

Peace among the Palestinians themselves is a necessary precondition for peace between Israel and Palestine. Only Israeli-Palestinian peace can also bring about reconciliation between the two peoples and perhaps restore the atmosphere of that magic evening in the Ramallah restaurant – so that it will not remain just a sweet memory.

- Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He contributed this article to

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