Saturday, 30 May 2009

O Mr Abbas vai a Washington


Mr. Abbas goes to Washington
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 29 May 2009

US President Barack Obama meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office of the White House, 28 May 2009. (Saul Loeb/Getty Images)

If the Oval Office guest list is an indicator, US President Barack Obama is making good on his commitment to try to revive the long-dead Arab-Israeli peace process. On 18 May President Obama received Israel's new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu; on 28 May he met with Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

As this process gets under way, the United States -- Israel's main arms supplier, financier and international apologist -- faces huge hurdles. It is deeply mistrusted by Palestinians and Arabs generally, and the new administration has not done much to rebuild trust. Obama has, like former US President George W. Bush, expressed support for Palestinian statehood, but he has made no criticisms of Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip -- which killed more than 1,400 people last winter, mostly civilians -- despite evidence from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and UN investigators of egregious Israeli war crimes. Nor has he pressured Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza, where 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are refugees, are effectively imprisoned and deprived of basic necessities.

Obama has told Netanyahu firmly that Israel must stop building settlements on expropriated Palestinian land in the West Bank, but such words have been uttered by the president's predecessors. Unless these statements are followed by decisive action -- perhaps to limit American subsidies to Israel -- there's no reason to believe the lip service that failed in the past will suddenly be more effective.

On the Palestinian side, Obama is talking to the wrong man: more than half of residents in the Occupied Palestinian Territories do not consider Abbas the "legitimate" president of the Palestinians, according to a March survey by Fafo, a Norwegian research organization. Eighty-seven percent want the Fatah faction, which Abbas heads, to have new leaders.

Hamas, by contrast, emerged from Israel's attack on Gaza with enhanced legitimacy and popularity. That attack was only the latest of numerous efforts to topple the movement following its decisive victory in the 2006 legislative elections. In addition to the Israeli siege, these efforts have included a failed insurgency by Contra-style anti-Hamas militias nominally loyal to Abbas and funded and trained by the United States under the supervision of Lieut. Gen. Keith Dayton. If Obama were serious about making real progress, one of the first things he would do is ditch the Bush-era policy of backing Palestinian puppets and lift the American veto on reconciliation efforts aimed at creating a unified, representative and credible Palestinian leadership.

None of these problems is entirely new, though the challenges, having festered for years, may be tougher to deal with now. Netanyahu did add one obstacle, however, when he came to Washington. In accord with his anticipated strategy of delay, he insisted that Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist as a "Jewish state" as a condition of any peace agreement. Obama seemingly endorsed this demand when he said, "It is in US national security interests to assure that Israel's security as an independent Jewish state is maintained."

Israel has pressed this demand with increasing fervor because Palestinians are on the verge of becoming the majority population in the territory it controls. Israel wants to ensure that any two-state solution -- something that looks increasingly doubtful even to proponents -- retains a Jewish majority. This explains the state's longstanding opposition, in defiance of international humanitarian law, to the return of Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled from homes in what is now Israel.

But can Israel's demand be justified? A useful lens to examine its claim is the fundamental legal principle that there is no right without a remedy. If Israel has a "right to exist as a Jewish state," then what can it legitimately do if Palestinians living under its control "violate" this right by having "too many" non-Jewish babies? Can Israel expel non-Jews, fine them, strip them of citizenship or limit the number of children they can have? It is impossible to think of a "remedy" that does not do outrageous violence to universal human rights principles.

What if we apply Israel's claim to the United States? Because of the rapid growth of the Latino population in the past decade, Texas and California no longer have white majorities. Could either state declare that it has "a right to exist as a white-majority state" and take steps to limit the rights of non-whites? Could the United States declare itself officially a Christian nation and force Jews, Muslims or Hindus to pledge allegiance to a flag that bears a cross? While such measures may appeal to a tiny number of extremists, they would be unthinkable to anyone upholding twenty-first-century constitutional principles.

But Israeli leaders propose precisely such odious measures.

Already, Israel bans its citizens who marry non-citizen Palestinians from living in the country -- a measure human rights activists have compared with the anti-miscegenation laws that once existed in Virginia and other states. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has long advocated that the nearly 1.5 million Palestinians who are citizens of Israel be "transferred" from the country in order to maintain its Jewish majority.

Recently, Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party has sponsored or supported several bills aimed at further curtailing the rights of non-Jews. One requires all citizens, including Palestinian Muslims and Christians, to swear allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state. Another proposes to punish anyone who commemorates the Nakba (the name Palestinians give to their forced dispossession in the months before and after the state of Israel was established) with up to three years in prison. Ironically, Lieberman is an immigrant who moved to Israel from Moldova three decades ago, while the people he seeks to expel and silence have lived on the land since long before May 1948.

And as Obama continues to remind us of America's "shared values" with Israel, another proposed bill passed its first reading in the Knesset this week. According to the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, the law would prescribe "one year in prison for anyone speaking against Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state" -- making it a thought crime to advocate that Israel should be a democratic, nonracial state of all its citizens.

It would be sad indeed if the first African-American president of the United States were to defend in Israel exactly the kind of institutionalized bigotry the civil rights movement defeated in this country, a victory that made his election possible.

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 The Nation and is republished with permission.

razão pela qual a polícia israelita encerra a feira do livro de Jerusalém cada ano


Israeli police shut Jerusalem book fest, again

Thu May 28, 2009 6:00pm EDT

By Ivan Karakashian

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli police shut down a Palestinian theater in East Jerusalem on Thursday, forcing foreign writers taking part in an international literature festival to move elsewhere for the second time in a week.

The police action was the latest in recent weeks against what Israel sees as attempts by the Palestinian Authority to host political activities in the city, where both sides in the conflict have staked claims to have their national capital.

Organizers and guests voiced disappointment at the treatment of what they said was a cultural, not a political, event.

"All cultural events which take place in areas of contention have political undertones," British writer Jeremy Harding said at the theater after police moved in. "Talking about what literature is and what it means in a fraught political situation is the most honest thing we can do. They didn't like that."

On the same day, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was meeting Barack Obama at the White House, seeking support from the U.S. president for Palestinian demands that the new Israeli government change policies that Abbas says will block a resumption of peace negotiations.

Police ordered the assembled authors and the audience for the closing event of the 6-day Palestine Festival of Literature to leave before a reading at the Palestinian National Theater. It lies in the city's east, which was captured by Israeli forces in 1967 and occupied along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Saturday's opening event at the theater was also shut down.

A police notice declared a closure on the orders of Israel's internal security minister on the grounds of a breach of interim peace accords from the 1990s. These laid the framework for talks on establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but left the status of Jerusalem to be determined by further negotiation.


Israel says the entire city is and always will be its capital, a point stressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week on the 42nd anniversary of Israel's capture of Arab East Jerusalem.

For their part, Palestinians want their capital to be in the city.

Since a February election that brought the right-wing Likud leader to power, Israeli authorities have also banned events marking Jerusalem becoming the Arab League's Capital of Arab Culture for 2009 and closed down a media center set up in East Jerusalem for this month's visit to the city by Pope Benedict.

Palestinians, who make up about a third of the population of Israel's municipality of Jerusalem, complain of a campaign to drive them out.

Israeli officials deny any discrimination in policies that range from the demolition of homes built without permits to the provision of municipal services in Arab areas.

Amal Nashashibi, attending the literature festival, said: "Because of the drive to make the city purely Jewish, they're trying to black out anything that is related to Arab culture."

Dozens of people moved quietly from the theater to the nearby British Council, one of the sponsors of the festival.

In its second edition, it lists among its patrons the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and British playwright Harold Pinter. Both Pinter, who was Jewish, and Darwish were known as critics of Israeli policy. Both died in the past year.

(Writing by Alastair Macdonald, editing by Tim Pearce)

Franca desafia as regras da EU que impedem a venda de armas a Israel


FRANCE: 'Defying Rules on Arms Sales to Israel'
By David Cronin

BRUSSELS, May 29 (IPS) - French arms sales to Israel are "in total contradiction" of European Union rules on the defence industry, the author of a new study has said.

Between 2003 and 2007 France issued licences worth more than 446 million euros (623 million dollars) for arms exports to Israel. This made France by far the largest supplier of weapons to Israel in the EU.

Patrice Bouveret from the French Centre for Research on Peace and Conflicts (CRDPC) in Lyon says that these sales are at variance with the Union's decade-old code of conduct on weapons exports. Formally declared legally binding by EU governments last year, the code forbids weapons sales in cases where they may exacerbate regional tensions or where there is a strong likelihood they will be used in violation of human rights.

Speaking at the launch Thursday of his new report on Israel's involvement in the arms trade, titled 'Who Arms Israel and Hamas?', Bouveret dismissed repeated assurances from the French government that the exports in question are generally only components of military goods rather than complete weapons systems. "Even if they are only components, they are used directly by the Israeli army," he added.

According to the results of an Amnesty International investigation published in February, electrical components with 'Made in France' written on them were found in the wreckage of buildings destroyed by the Israeli army during the offensive it launched on Gaza late last year. The components were part of Hellfire AGM missiles manufactured by the U.S. company Hellfire Systems, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Bouveret also argued that Israel is eager to bolster its military cooperation with Europe in order to reduce its traditional reliance on the U.S.

Since a seven-year embargo on weapons sales to Israel was lifted by the French government in 1974, Israel has turned to France to buy lasers and specialised equipment for reconnaissance which it has been unable to obtain from the U.S.

The overall value of licences awarded by EU governments for arms sales to Israel amounted to 846 million euros between 2003 and 2007. After France, the largest exports came from Germany, Britain, Belgium, Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic.

Ten of the Union's 27 member states officially state, however, that they do not sell any weapons to Israel. These include Portugal, Ireland, Finland and Denmark.

Caroline Pailhe from GRIP, a Belgian organisation that monitors the arms trade, said at the launch of the report in Brussels Thursday that Israel's attack on Lebanon in the summer of 2006 appeared to have had "no net influence" on defence exports to Israel. At 127 million euros the value of licences approved by EU countries for 2006 fell from 145 million euros the previous year. But it then climbed to 199 million euros in 2007.

Israel is becoming an increasingly important player in the global defence industry. It is both the sixth largest arms importer and the fourth largest exporter. Last year appears to have been a record year for its industry. In the first six months, Israel sold 5.3 billion dollars worth of arms abroad, compared to 4.7 billion dollars for the entire 2007, according to the France- Israel Chamber of Commerce.

The development of this industry has been heavily subsidised by the U.S. In the 1951-2006 period, the U.S. has provided Israel 162 billion dollars. In contrast, sub-Saharan Africa, the world's poorest region, has received just 88 billion dollars.

About 75 percent of bilateral U.S. aid to Israel has been channelled via two programmes: Foreign Military Financing, which funds the sale of U.S. weapons, and the Economic Support Fund, which allocates subsidies to strategic allies.

Gerald Loftus, a former U.S. diplomat, says he expects President Barack Obama not to reduce the size of aid to Israel.

But Leila Shahid, the Palestinian Authority's chief representative in Brussels, draws a distinction between the tone of the foreign policy advocated by Obama and that pursued by his predecessor George W. Bush. "Fear was the leitmotiv of all the policies of President Bush," she said at the launch of the report. "He exploited fear against Islam and fear of a clash of civilisations. Obama has rejected the idea of manipulating fear."

Meanwhile, former speaker of the Israeli Knesset Colette Avital has criticised the restrictions placed by her government on supplies of goods to Gaza.

Pharmacists in Gaza say they are unable to sell treatment for head-lice in children, or sell knee braces for people with leg injuries, and a variety of medicines because Israel will not allow such items to be transported into the strip. Books and newspapers have also been prevented from entering Gaza.

Avital, a leading member of the Israeli Labour Party, told IPS that she would be in favour of ensuring that material which may be used as explosives is prevented from entering Gaza but that denying access to goods that are commonly available elsewhere is "counterproductive".

"I don't see the purpose of not allowing in certain items that are not destructive," she said during a visit to Brussels this week. "Books and medicines have to go in." (END/2009)

UNRWA em greve!!!

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

UNRWA Strike Could Hit Vulnerable Refugees

A pay dispute between employees and the management of the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) in Jordan could affect vulnerable refugees, especially in the many UNWRA-run schools and clinics.

Thousands of UNRWA employees went on strike 12-14 May in UNRWA facilities, members of the teachers committee who declined to be identified, said, and an all-out strike - potentially paralyzing hundreds of clinics and schools across Jordan - is being threatened.

The employees are demanding a 7 percent pay rise, in line with a promised government pay rise of the same magnitude for civil servants.

During the three-day strike, about 124,000 students in different parts of the kingdom, including all 10 of the UNRWA-run refugee camps, were unable to attend classes, according to UNRWA.

The strike involved about 10,000 workers, including teachers, doctors, sanitation workers and administration officials, teachers committee members say. However, some media reports put the figure at 7,000.

Health centers and refuse collection activities also came to a halt, and the alleyways of the al-Hussein-camp in Amman filled up with rubbish during the three-day strike.


One of the disgruntled teachers, Salem (not his real name), said he was also a refugee and deserved a “decent salary”.

“People used to envy us… due to the good salaries, but as the years passed by and inflation ate into our pay, people began to pity us,” he told IRIN.

Salem shares his two-room concrete home near the centre of the al-Hussein-camp with his wife and eight children. He said he had no option but to strike: “The salary is barely enough for 10 days. What to do for the rest of the month?”

UNRWA provides services to Palestinian refugees who arrived in Jordan after the 1948 and 1967 wars with Israel. Together with their offspring, they now number nearly 1.8 million.

Meanwhile, UNRWA officials in Amman said the strike, which came less than a month after a one-day work stoppage for the same reason, was “futile”.

UNRWA spokesman in Amman Matter Saqer said he was “concerned about the fate of tens of thousands of students as well as beneficiaries of health care in the camps and outside.”

“We made all possible efforts up to the last minute to avert the strike. We did not want this to happen, but schools were closed and health care clinics stopped working,” said Saqer, stressing that the UN agency never ignored its workers’ demands, but “needs time”.

According to officials from the Department of Palestinian Affairs (DPA), which manages the affairs of the 1.8 million Palestinian refugees, UNRWA needs urgent financial assistance to implement its programs and increase its budget.

UNRWA’s camps contain 338,000 registered refugees, while the total number of registered refugees in Jordan is 1,951,603.

(IRIN News)

Friday, 29 May 2009

camaradas vos sois o vosso proprio inimigo

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

'Comrades, Your Enemy is Yourselves!'

Mavivi: 'Comrades, your enemy is yourselves and your struggle has not yet begun.'

By Mats Svensson

It feels like a very long time ago. Between a then and a now walls have been built. Not just one but many. The walls have also become higher, uglier, thicker and today the walls seem impossible to destroy.

Then, four years ago, we told each other that it couldn’t get worse. The suffering couldn’t become deeper. It was dark and bullets killed, young soldiers became murderers and family members disappeared.

And during this time of constant darkness and humiliation the Palestinian fractions gathered in mid-December 2004 to discuss a common future. At a conference hotel in the ghetto of Gaza the political leaders sat lined up like school boys to listen to Yvette Lillian Myakayaka-Manzini (Mavivi), vice president of the ANC women’s department. Listen and discuss something important, the struggle against apartheid.

They were all family fathers and Gaza residents. They were all confined behind high walls and accustomed to being humiliated by young boys and girls dressed in green from all the corners of the world.

They met in the hotel lobby, hugged each other and kissed each other on the cheek. This particular morning they congratulated each other on having successfully blown up a guard tower at the border crossing to Egypt.

But it soon became worse. What couldn’t happen, the impossible, was possible. The next time we arranged a similar meeting the different fractions could no longer meet, they had become enemies. The international community had said no. The coalition government had submerged into civil war.

But first there was the presidential election after President Yasser Arafat. Abu Mazen became the new Palestinian leader.

Soon thereafter the world forced a democratic parliamentary election on the Palestinians in which everyone would participate, even Hamas. Palestine would finally become democratic and many Western countries helped finance the costs of the election process. In Ramallah the Fatah leadership tried to prevent Hamas’ participation. But the world wanted something else. Bush had made up his mind. Democracy would be created to any price under the device that even a forced democracy is a democracy.

Jimmy Carter and Carl Bildt were election observers. Carter spoke about a victory for democracy. Carter held a press conference with Bildt by his side. Bildt looked like a school boy beside Carter. He silently sat beside the ex-President and looked with admiration in his eyes at one of the world’s most famous peace brokers.

But soon we got flies in the beaker and the dream about a two state solution translated into a de facto three state reality: Gaza, West Bank and Israel. The world had spoken. Carter and Bildt raised their voices but very few heard their calls.

But back to the meeting between Mavivi and a collection of family fathers from Gaza.
It was a day when one had agreed not to talk about Israel. Not speak about what the occupier had done in Jenin or what had happened in the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. No, it really became a special day when everyone instead talked about South Africa, the struggle against apartheid and simultaneously linked it to what just happened or didn’t happen in Gaza. Gaza was in the center.

Mavivi told the group that during the battle against white oppression in South Africa one had decided not to use violence against civilians. Civilians died, said Mavivi, but each time it was seen as a failure. The reason that we didn’t use a strategy that was directed against civilians was simple, Mavivi continued. The ANC sought support from the surrounding world, wanted to break the isolation. “We were also seen as terrorists,” said Mavivi. “The question we kept asking ourselves was how to break the isolation?”

“We soon reached an understanding of the outside world,” said Mavivi, “that was based on the following thought. If a taxi driver in Stockholm doesn’t understand the idea behind a suicide bomber then the Swedish government doesn’t either. If an elementary school teacher in Paris doesn’t understand it then the French government doesn’t either. We had to gain an understanding from people all around the world, we needed their support. We could only get support if the taxi driver and the teacher understood and could stand behind our actions. The governments in Sweden and France were expressions of the people’s wishes. We thought support comes from below and becomes a power only when one can unite behind it.”

Mavivi, woman from South Africa, has when the issue of suicide bombers comes up on the agenda already spoken for an hour. The conversation has flown, the fractions are open to each other and participated intensively. One had also spoken about the need for leadership and Ariel Sharon was compared to De Klerk and Yasser Arafat with Mandela. Other points on the agenda included the need to compromise and the truth and reconciliation commission that was established in South Africa, to forgive your enemy.

To forgive your enemy led to intensive discussions. One nevertheless agreed that a peace agreement was necessary before one could begin to forgive. That two signatures were required before one could begin hugging and kissing on the stage.

But it was when Mavivi brought up the strategic thinking behind suicide bombers that the discussion slowed down. One could discern a difference of opinion between the fractions.

The participant was silent when Mavivi as her last point spoke about the struggle in southern Africa and the need for unity, and unity behind a strategy. To work towards a common goal. ANC’s struggle, the resistance, needed to be clear, visible and effective when the enemy was stronger, both financially and militarily.

Mavivi explained that “during apartheid in South Africa we were forced to work so closely to our enemy as if he or she was our brother or sister. We were forced to get to know our enemy, know what he thought. We needed to understand how he thought and above all know when our brother or sister, our enemy, changed his or her strategy. We always had to be one step ahead. To manage this we had to work, be close to him.”

“And we succeeded,” Mavivi continued. ”We succeeded because throughout the struggle we maintained a high sense of morale. Our morale soon gave us wide international support. First came the support from the Scandinavian countries. Soon other countries followed and the white minority regime in Pretoria became increasingly isolated.”

But equally important was the internal debate within the ANC. The debate had as its starting point to create unity behind the strategy. “Compromise therefore became an important guiding principle within the ANC. A strategy without unity was for us within the ANC a meaningless strategy that would only have benefitted the oppressors,” said Mavivi. “We strove to get everyone on the same boat, we made a common journey.”

“We constantly faced difficult choices. Our leadership was spread across many countries. Moreover, many of our major leaders were in prison. But the debate was alive. The debate that was being held on Robben Island was also being held in study centers in Sweden, in Tanzania, in Kenya, in Namibia, everywhere. The island outside Cape Town was closed, the security high, but no one could shut out Mandela’s message, his message about unity.”

“Young and old had to unify, women and men soon created a common front. Communists, social democrats, liberals and conservative signed onto a common platform. Equally important was that Muslims, Christians, Jews and Hindus united in the struggle against the oppressors. Everyone was included in the common battle against evil. Soon came the condemnation from the world’s powerful leaders and then the UN could also comply.”

“The leadership was decisive in this drawn out struggle. We had a unique situation with a leader who stood for high morals, unity and long term thinking. Many of our leaders had been imprisoned for decades. They had been locked up for a complete life, many counted on dying behind high walls on an isolated island.”

Mavivi was very clear during the whole conversation. She did not have any pointers. She just told her own story, South Africa’s story. A story about struggle, about resistance, about a strategy, about unity. “I don’t know,” said Mavivi, “what is right in Palestine, I only know what was right for us. We listened to our friends. Our friends gave us good advice but our actions, our actions were our own. Had we listened to all the advice and followed them we would never have become free. The struggle against apartheid was our struggle.”

She had finished speaking. I thought the conversation was over. I was wrong. Mavivi now turned to the highly placed Hamas representative and asked him to tell her about their strategy. Tell her about their strategy in the same way that she had told them about the ANC’s.

But he was silent. The other leaders did not have anything to add either. Even Fatah’s representative was silent. There was no common strategy. There was no common goal. At that time, creating unity in Palestine felt distant.

Mavivi, woman from South Africa, now says with a clear voice, ”Comrades, you don’t seem to have an enemy. Comrades, your enemy is yourselves and comrades, your struggle has not yet begun.”

The Hamas representative remained silent for a while. His gaze was fixed and he gravely looked at Mavivi. Then he slowly and with a high voice said, “We will never forget the one who came to us in a time of deepest despair. Mavivi, when can you come back?”

- 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:

as ameacas existenciais de Israel

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Israel's 'Existential Threats'

Palestinians represent the antithesis of Zionism; thus they are an 'existential threat'.

By Dina Jadallah

The last few days have witnessed an inflection point in the history of Israel. It has effectively shed its democratic veneer and blatantly embraced its racist, fascist and colonialist ideology. I am referring to the passage of three bills in the Knesset. One would require loyalty oaths to maintain citizenship. A second states that citizens must recognize Israel as a Jewish state or else face up to one year in prison. And the third makes commemoration of the Nakba (Catastrophe – referring to the creation of Israel in 1948) a crime. (1) These come on the heels of PM Netanyahu’s demands that the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a State for the Jewish People in return for “economic development.”

These steps were all taken ostensibly to counteract Israel’s “existential threats,” which include the “demographic time bomb,” being “surrounded by enemies,” “anti-Semitism,” and so forth. The “threat” to Israel is real. But not because of its proclaimed reasons. The central and unacknowledged “threat” is that it is natural and inevitable that there will be Resistance from the victims of Zionist praxis. Israel’s “existential” dilemma can only be resolved within universal ethical parameters.

And yet, as outrageous and revolting as the above developments are, there is an underlying silver lining. Namely, the quality of Israel’s conduct has now reached a new low from which it will be hard to emerge. These developments cap a demonstrated weakening of its overwhelming regional military power, both in terms of deterrence capacity and execution, which has resulted in its growing inability to use aggression in order to achieve political goals.

There is an irony in being unjust, racist, colonialist, expansionist, murderously brutal, and unapologetic and still expecting an “existential” free-ride. Adding insult to irony is that the above statement would be a moral and ethical given, but is frequently qualified or denied when applied to Israel. It is, after all, the only state to claim a “right to exist.” There are two main reasons for this. First is Israel’s self-designated status as the sine qua non Victim -- historically, presently, existentially, and perpetually – placing it outside of moral equivalence. And second is the international balance of power (BOP) which accepts and encourages its actions because they often serve larger strategic goals.

"Peace"-ful Solutions To "Existential Threats"

Israel and its sponsors have relied on a BOP approach to “peace” in order to address these “existential threats.” Ever since its establishment in 1948, Israel has dominated the region militarily. This dominance made them useful to international powers – first England, then United States. Whatever “solution” the Israelis proposed served as the basis of a “peace” formula that was to be implemented. The most significant result has been the categorical denial of the Nakba and of Israel’s responsibility for dispossessing and uprooting the Palestinians.

From the outset, a solution was impossible because Israel made sure that, institutionally, the refugees do not exist. Fearing their repatriation, Israel insisted that the UN’s International Refugee Organization (IRO) not be in charge of displaced Palestinians. Instead, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) was created. Its goal was not to ensure the return of refugees (their right, even under the UN’s own General Assembly Resolution 194), but to provide humanitarian relief, employment, and shelter.

Within Israel, denial of dispossession was legally institutionalized through a series of land laws adopted in the Knesset. (2) Then, the 2001 Law for Safeguarding the Rejection of the Right of Return was passed. Knesset Member Yisrael Katz (Likud) introduced the bill saying: “The bill reflects a Zionist consensus not to allow Palestinians of 1948 and 1967 to return to the sovereign areas of the state of Israel... The bill… is non-partisan, Zionist, Jewish, Israeli, moral and historically justifiable… The right of return, a state of all its citizens—are expressions synonymous to the wish to destroy Israel…” (3)

Because Palestinians represent the antithesis of Zionism, they are the essential (known but unacknowledged) “existential threat” and Israel continuously attempts to erase and eradicate collective memory, especially among the real victims. That is the objective from the latest bill criminalizing Nakba commemorations. This is not the first time such a bill was introduced. A similar one was introduced on 24 July 2001 called the Proposed Independence Day (Amendment—Prohibition on Commemorating Nakba Day) Law. (4)

In fact, Israel went so far as to object even when UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, not known for his support of Palestinian rights, called Mahmoud ‘Abbas and used the word “Nakba” when discussing the Nakba! Israel protested to the UN his choice of words and demanded that it be banned from the UN lexicon. Immediately complying, a UN spokesperson said that Moon had uttered term “by mistake.” (5)

Moreover, there is a continuity to the Nakba. It supersedes the originally dispossessed. And the dispossession continues in various forms. Israel implements policies that de-develop Palestinian society and are intended to destroy human and material infrastructure, thereby “encouraging” Palestinians to leave. These include attempts at Judaizing almost everything, land expropriation, home demolitions, lack of investment in services and infrastructure for the Palestinian population, barriers and closures, and the building of “settlements,” to name a few.

In a similar vein and in continuing efforts to stave off the “demographic time bomb,” Israel has twice used massive Jewish immigrations (Mizrahis in 1949 and Ex-Soviet Union immigrants in the 1980s) in order to maintain Palestinians at below 20% of the population. Nevertheless, the balance is precarious and does not bode well for the future of a Jewish majority in Israel – especially with its insistence on not relinquishing any of the Occupied Territories. Even in Jerusalem, Israel’s “spiritual” capital, Jewish residents are moving out at double the rate at which they are moving in. (6) And, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics “Special Report on the 61st Anniversary of the Nakba (5/13/2009), the Palestinian population has grown by seven times since 1948 and will be 50% of the population by 2016 within historical Palestine.

The Dead Cannot Carry the Dead

Attempts to deny injustice done to Palestinians are part and parcel of Israel’s defense strategy against its “existential threats.” But without acknowledgement of the Nakba and its repercussions, the search for “peace” in accordance with the Israeli agenda is doomed. Because in reality, it is only addressing “threats” that are essentially derivative and symptomatic (and frequently fabricated in the minds of the self-appointed Victims).

What is very significant in this writer’s opinion is that the quality of Israeli arguments and actions to consecrate their self-proclaimed “existential” rights is deteriorating.

Initially and for a long time, Palestinians had no say in any negotiations concerning their fate. Others, like Egypt and Jordan, were chosen to speak for them. After that approach failed, there has been an endless search for “peace partners” focused mainly on those who benefit from the exclusion of the Palestinian people and who are amenable to limitless concessions. This approach is evident in the Israeli-Quartet insistence on dealing only with the term-expired ‘Abbas government, specifically under the prime minister-ship of Salam Fayyad. Only this group is deemed worthy of “negotiating” (conceding) on behalf of all Palestinians.

While discouraging on the face of it, this actually represents a qualitative decline in Israeli options. The chosen “partner” is successively weaker. Netanyahu’s supposed “carrot” of partial autonomy and economic development in return for ending the resistance and an acceptance of a State for the Jewish People falls under this rubric. And it is now directed at only a section of Fatah leadership within the PLO. Moreover, in attempting to re-define the Israeli state, the political argument is qualitatively deteriorating. In reality, a State of the Jewish People means that states do not recognize Israel as a state – as is normal – but as an ideology or religion or regime. Thus, Israel will sink further into the politically and ethically indefensible.

For now, Israel also seems to have halted its old means of protecting the Zionist entity: expansionism. After retreating from Egypt and Lebanon, today even Gaza and Hamas with their meager military resources are a challenge. Recognizing the shift in its BOP, Israel is focused on the pragmatically possible using its strong army, its nuclear arms arsenal, and the unconditional support of the US to protect against “existential threats.” (Usually, these are only “threats” to its ambitions.)

Nevertheless, proof of the limits inherent in the BOP approach is that it is now resorting to asking Arab states (and Quislings) for help. Never mind that their powers are significantly inferior and their influence over most Palestinians is questionable at best. Most Palestinians refuse any retreat from their “fundamental” rights. (Obviously, I am excluding the Quisling members of Fatah in the PA from this group.) Notwithstanding the creation and use of joint “intelligence” and “security forces” groups between Arab states and Palestinian Quislings, there is still a lack of rhetorical and institutional mechanisms that can overcome Palestinian popular aspirations.

Truth be told, Arab “leaders” are trying to help by “updating” the “peace plan.” They refused to exploit Israel’s new defensive position, effectively leaving Iran as the only strategic “threat.” According to the Palestinian Information Center, on 5/3/2009, American “security” envoy Keith Dayton announced that the US will help the Palestinian Authority construct 52 new prisons in the West Bank. Of course, this comes on the heels of Israeli Chief of the Armed Forces Gabi Ashkenazi stating that there was “rare cooperation” between the PA and Israel during “Operation Cast Lead” against Gaza. Israeli press reports also spoke of “help” to foil resistance actions by Hamas and al-Jihad al-Islami, and Maariv said that Fayyad is trying his best to “improve” relations with Israel. (7)

Arab states also try to help in other ways – mainly economic. For instance, Egypt and Jordan have increased trade with Israel in the last year. In fact, according Muhammad al-Khader’s “Companies added and removed from Israel Boycott List,” al-Jazeera (5/14/2009), Egyptian trade with Israel exceeds that with most Arab states and jumped 56% since the outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifada. And according to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, Jordanian imports from Israel jumped 95% from 2007 to 2008 and Egyptian imports increased by 40% over the same period. (8) Similarly, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reports that Palestinian exports to Israel increased 61% between 2004 and 2007 and imports from Israel increased 32% over the same period. (9)

For most Palestinians however, and despite the new wisdom proclaiming that “economic prosperity will bring peace,” resistance to the Israeli agenda is on the upswing. Even within the almost defunct and dead PLO, including Fatah, there is growing resistance. Calls rejecting the term-expired ‘Abbas presidency as well as rejecting the (US-Israeli-backed) Fayyad Government that was dictatorially created came from Hamas, Fatah rank-and-file, and some Fatah leadership. Al Jazeera reported on 5/15/09 the denunciations of ‘Abbas’ “unilateral” decision to announce a government without consultation and his “negotiations” and potential concessions with the Israelis over fundamental Palestinian issues. They criticized the strategy of trying to liberate Palestine under Israeli supervision and without armed struggle.

Other Fatah members accused ‘Abbas and Fayyad of conducting an “organizational butchery” through the forced retirement of over 6000 party cadres. They also object to the fact that Fatah’s budget is now in the hands of the Ministry of Finance, run by none other than Fayyad. These actions are perceived for what they are: attempts by dominant powers to marginalize and eliminate its role as a representative political party in favor of the appointed “leaders” who are to speak for and concede away Palestinian rights.

Agitation to maintain its dominant regional BOP position was also on display lately. Namely, conflating Palestinians with Terrorists and with the US’ newest bogeyman, Iran, the (claimed) Shi’i source of threat and conflict to all Sunni Arabs. (They forgot to mention that Palestinians Muslims are mainly Sunnis.) Sunnis are now asked to believe that Israel cares more for their welfare than their ancient (and historically peaceful) Iran. This is the latest version of an old tried and true method to counteract “existential threats.” Like the reliance on compliant “peace partners,” it has had questionable results.

Perhaps, this is a realization that in the event of Iran developing nuclear arms, one leg of Israel’s BOP’s three supports would be knocked off. Yet once again, Israel is reduced to resorting to Arab “leaders” to try to both quell Palestinian resistance (a feat that Israel could not accomplish) and to counteract Iran. The agitation against Hezbollah in Egypt and Lebanon and the use of Egyptian Intelligence offices to sponsor Hamas-Fatah “talks” (meant to minimize the threat of Hamas) fall under this rubric.

Even their campaign to make Iran the primary source of “danger” in the region is only a qualified success. Though the campaign succeeded in lowering Arab public opinion of Iran’s role somewhat, the vast majority of Arabs still consider the US and Israel to be the main danger. According to Shibley Telhami’s 2009 Arab Public Opinion Poll, only 18% think a nuclear armed Iran would be “negative.” Asked which countries posed the biggest threat – 77% said the US, 88% said Israel, and only 13% said Iran. (10)

Very significantly for the future of the Arab-Israeli conflict is that post-Lebanon and Gaza, very few Arabs are impressed with Israel’s military performance or its power. In fact, between 2008 and 2009, the percentage of people who said that Israel is now more powerful, declined from 16% to 11% -- and this is after its wanton destruction of Gaza. 44% think that it is neither powerful nor weak. And more people think that it is weaker than it looks. (11) Even though Arabs surveyed think that Israel “won” the Gaza war – unlike their opinion that it “lost” in Lebanon in 2006 – they are still not impressed with its power. (12) And when asked which world leaders were disliked the most, the overwhelming majority chose Sharon and then Olmert, followed by Bush and Blair, and a tiny portion chose Nasrallah. (13)

This leaves just one more leg under Israel’s dominance and that is unconditional US support. All Obama rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding, this leg shows no practical signs of withering. Still, in terms of Balance of Power, this cannot create a stable status quo, despite this particular leg’s strength.

As for within the state of Israel, it too is being pushed towards confronting some internal contradictions that are becoming more blatant and that may force it to make unpleasant choices. In terms of its character it must decide on whether it wants to be secular or Jewish, democratic or racist, colonialist and expansionist or “peaceful.” Until only recently, Israel’s aggressive and usually triumphant choices reified their differences and imagined superiority over the other and served to hide societal differences that may have been threatening. But, one wonders how much longer this can go on in light of its failures to achieve its goals and its inability to translate its overwhelming military superiority into political achievements.

None of the above bodes well for the future of Israel as it confronts growing Arab resistance.

- Dina Jadallah is an Arab-American of Palestinian and Egyptian descent, a political science graduate, an artist and a writer. She contributed this article to Contact him at:


(1) Ironically, the bill criminalizing the commemoration of the Nakba was introduced by Knesset Member (KM) Alex Miller (Yisrael Beiteinu), who (without noting the hypocrisy) lives in the settlement of Ariel in the West Bank. He said “the bill will contribute to the coexistence and unity of the state.” Palestine Monitor, “Criminalizing Commemoration of al- Nakba”, 5/20/09).

(2) Ilan Pappe discusses these extensively in The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, (One World Press, 2006: pp. 212 – 253. The first is the 1950 Law of Absentee Property passed to prevent the return of refugees and take over Palestinian property in order to safeguard the “Jewishness” of the state via the services of the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The 1960 Law of the Land of Israel and the Law of the Israel Land Authority were reinforcement. Then the 1967 Law of Agricultural Settlement ensured that even subletting land to Palestinians was illegal. Practically, this entailed the de-development of Palestinian areas and the lack of investment in infrastructure in their areas. The result is that Palestinians now live on only 3% of the land even though they constitute 20% of the population.

(3) Quoted in Nimer Sultany, Citizens Without Citizenship, al-Mada First Annual Report 2000-2002, p. 20.

(4) Ibid, p. 44.

(5) See Yizhak Binhoren,” Israel Demands that the UN strike “Nakba” from its lexicon,” YNET, 5/16/08.

(6) See Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies.

(7) See: Wadee’ ‘Awawda, “Israeli Press: Israel and the PA cooperated during the war on Gaza, Al-Jazeera, 5/12/2009.

(8) See Central Bureau of Statistics.

(9) See Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

(10) See p. 39 of the survey.

(11) Ibid, p. 28; and p. 17 of Telhami’s presentation transcript.

(12) See p. 35 of survey and p. 20 of presentation transcript.

(13) See p. 42 of survey.

combatantes pelo paz acabam com o cyclo da violencia

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Combatants for Peace End Cycle of Violence

Combatants for Peace in a Feb. 2007 Demonstration in Bil'in. (Combatants for Peace)

By Rima Merhi

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were on a routine errand throwing hand grenades at three o’clock in the morning in one of the most populated areas in Gaza. Their faces were camouflaged in brown and green paint. They were wearing anti-bullet vests, special hats, and armed with M16’s.

IDF instructions were clear: “Let them know Golanis (known to be brutal) are here.” And this meant they could break into Palestinian homes through doors and windows at any time looking for terrorists and weapons.

In one of the homes Yaniv Reshef –an ex foot soldier in the sabotage unit of the IDF – had broken into, he had seen a suspicious door and assumed someone was in hiding.

A family of five Palestinians in Jebalya camp stood shivering at the sight of the armed strangers.

As he pointed his M16 towards the door, Reshef prepared himself to confront and overwhelm his prey, the terrorist.

To his complete surprise, he watched the father bring a huge rabbit out from the mysterious looking door, and place it gently between his arms and the weapon.

The “terrorist” turned out to be an eight kilo rabbit grown by the family for food.

“I stood there stroking the bunny,” said Reshev, “It is so sad it took me another 15 years to realize what I had been doing was wrong.”

Yaniv Reshev and Bassam Aramin –a Palestinian previously jailed in Israeli prisons- both belong to an organization called Combatants for Peace. This is a group of Israeli and Palestinian individuals who were actively involved in the cycle of violence.

“Combatants for Peace was created in 2005, but we let our weapons down before that. I lost my daughter two years later on 16-jan-2007. I think not because we have some sadness in our life, in fact all of it is sadness, so we started to believe in our way,” said Aramin.

Two years ago, Aramin’s ten year old daughter Abir was walking home from school in the West Bank with her sister and friend. She was shot in the head by Israeli Border Police.

Abir is one of over a thousand Palestinian children killed in the Occupied Territories since 2002. The perpetrators were not brought to justice.

“I will use my child’s blood to form a bridge between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Revenge is a way of the weak,” said Aramin.

Andrea LeBlanc, a member of September 11th Families For Peaceful Tomorrows, had met Aramin in Italy at The Peoples' UN Conference. “It wasn't Aramin’s tragic story that was so important, but his wisdom and courage compelled me to want to bring the Combatants for Peace story to the US,” said Leblanc.

In collaboration with two other organizations promoting non violent means to end the conflict- known as The Peace Abbey and The Rebuilding Alliance- September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows sponsored Aramin and Reshev to come to America for a Courage of Conscience speaking tour in March 2009.

Their purpose was to invite a discussion amongst Americans about tangible ways to bring peace and justice to Israel and Palestine.

Speaking to a group of students at MIT, Aramin, a co-founder of Combatants for Peace, said: "We know at the end of the day, we are going to have a two state solution, so why do we fight?” he asked.

“Israel can never feel safe because they are occupiers,” said Reshef. “We are like a child beaten in school who is now the bully of the class. We know violence. It worked for us in 1948, 1967 and still working. We see we can achieve things by force,” he said.

“But clearly not freedom and safety,” said Andrea Leblanc.

The response to their work is different among their own people. Reshef pointed out that in his own country he is seen as an extremist leftist. His own brother had gone far enough to tell him that he would not be on speaking terms with him had he not been a sibling.

On the other hand, Aramin’s call for peace fails to resonate loud enough amidst a frustrated Palestinian youth.

Thrown in Israeli prisons at a young age for being involved in Palestinian armed resistance, Aramin became “sorta friends” with no other than his jailer. He had engaged in dialogue with him, and learned Hebrew and enough about the history of the Jews to be able to understand their fears and feel compassion towards them.

For instance, one day, a Holocaust movie was shown in jail. “I was getting ready to revenge my enemy. But instead I found myself crying,” said Aramin.

In cooperation with the Rebuilding Alliance, a nonprofit that rebuilds war torn communities, Combatants for Peace have built a playground at Abir’s school and are now planning others.

“I’m not going to lose my common sense, my direction, only because I’ve lost my heart, my child. I will do all I can to protect her friends, both Palestinian and Israeli. They are all our children,” said Aramin. Reshef described Aramin as a Martin Luther King- a “hero” and example to others.

He pointed out that Aramin’s daughter was shot by a bullet made in the United States of America. The gun, jeep and perhaps even uniform of the Israeli soldier were also made in the United States of America. “You are making money of death. Even the settlements are built with US money,” Reshef said.

Reshef explained that the Israeli soldier is a victim of darkness and wrong education. “Palestinian children are not seen as children. They are seen as suspects and future terrorists,” he said.

He believed that the Israeli army is no worse than any army in the world. “We are not better or worse than the American soldiers in Iraq or soldiers of Iranians or Russians…”

He explained that when you are a soldier, you have the headline of "enemy" inscribed in your head with someone's picture under it, and that enemy could be anyone portrayed as dangerous to your country and people. “We felt we were defending our country,” he said.

Reshef previously served in the south of Lebanon and Gaza. In the south of Lebanon, he watched an Israeli soldier shoot a man with his M16 just a few meters away from him, because he was thought to be an enemy - but was not.

“It’s not normal that in one family two people have seen people with their heads off, but in Israel it’s normal.” Reshef’s father had served in the Yom Kippur war. “For one year he would not hold me. He told me he was seeing me and other babies’ burn in flames.”

Aramin and Reshef- two men who seemingly come from different worlds consoled one another as they shared their tragic personal stories. Both received the Courage of Conscience Awards at the Peace Abbey in Cambridge Sherborn, Massachusetts in March 2009.

“There has been too much death and too much killing. If not as directly as it touches Bassam and Yaniv, it touches all of us. We too often become inured to violence,” wrote Rabbi Victor H. Reinstein in a letter to his congregation after hearing Aramin and Reshef speak in his synagogue.

Aramin and Reshef have now gone back to Israel and the Occupied Territories and will continue to promote peace through non violent means through Combatants for Peace.

“Good stories are a tool for young people. If the only choice presented by society is to either bomb or do nothing, we are not presenting them with much of a choice. There are other and better choices. We must find the middle ground,” said LeBlanc.

(For more information visit:

- Rima Merhi contributed this article to Palestine Chronicle.

o apoio a Israel ajuda o terrorismo: Cheney rompe o tabu?


Support for Israel Feeds Terrorism

Cheney Breaks the Taboo


If we hear in the coming days that former Vice President Dick Cheney has fired one of his speechwriters — or perhaps grounded Lynne or Liz — it will be clear why.

Oozing out of the sleazy speech he gave Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute was an inadvertent truth regarding the Israeli albatross hanging around the neck of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

I watched the speech, but had missed the gaffe until I went carefully through the written text before a radio interview Thursday evening. It amounts to a major faux pas, though I’ll give you odds that the usual-suspect pundits of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) will not touch it, because it raises troubling questions about the close U.S. relationship with Israel.

I wanted my 10-year-old grandson to learn a nice word to describe the arguments in the former Vice President’s speech, so he has now learned “disingenuous.” Today we’ll study “superficial,” for that is the right adjective to assign to both Cheney and President Barack Obama as they addressed the threat of “terrorism,” the threat always guaranteed to resonate among Americans — much like the threat of communism did, not too many decades back.

To burnish his anti-terrorist credentials, Obama pledged to do whatever is necessary to protect the United States and warned that al-Qaeda is "actively plotting to attack us again.”

What continues to be missing in the rhetoric of both Obama and Cheney is any discussion of al-Qaeda’s actual capability to perpetrate, in Cheney’s words, “a 9/11 with nuclear weapons” or some other scary thought designed to make Americans hand over their liberties for some dubious promise of safety. Equally important -- and equally missing -- there is never any sensible examination of the motives that might be driving what Cheney called this “same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers [who] are still there.”

There are a number of reasons why al-Qaeda and other terrorist movements wish to attack us, but this question never gets a complete – or honest – answer, certainly not from the FCM or from the mouths of politicians like Cheney and Obama.

Why They Hate Us

Cheney’s explanation of a motive mostly reprised George W. Bush’s old “the terrorists hate our freedoms” canard. Cheney said the terrorists hate “all the things that make us a force for good in the world — for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences,” an odd set of qualities for Cheney to cite given his roles in violating constitutional rights, torturing captives and spreading falsehoods to justify invading Iraq.

But that’s also where Cheney slipped up. You didn’t notice? Well, Cheney couldn’t resist expanding on the complaints of the terrorists:

“They have never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion…our belief in equal rights for women…our support for Israel… — these are the true sources of resentment…”

“Our support for Israel.” Cheney got that part right.

My radio interview Thursday was with an FCM station, and I thought I would make an extra effort to be “fair and balanced.” So I noted that, to his credit, Cheney — advertently or inadvertently — did articulate one of the (usually unspoken) key reasons “why they hate us.”

I was immediately jumped on, figuratively, not only by the interviewee representing “the other side,” but also by the not-so-fair-and-balanced moderator. My interlocutors did not seem all that hospitable to facts, but I thought I owed them a try at adducing some anyway.

9/11, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed…and 9/11…

In his speech, Cheney mentioned 9/11 some 30 Times — for reasons that by this stage are obvious to all. Referring specifically to waterboarding, Cheney said that waterboardee Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, “the mastermind of 9/11 … also boasted about beheading Daniel Pearl.” (Here, I thought, is a really good example of “disingenuous” — a nice concrete example for my grandson. For the only thing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed did NOT take responsibility for, after being waterboarded 183 Times, was climate change.)

But since the name Khalid Sheikh Mohammed came up, I asked my two interlocutors if they knew how “KSM” explained why he masterminded 9/11. Apparently, neither had made it as far as page 147 of the 9/11 Commission Report, so I told them what the 9/11 Commission found on that key point:

“By his own account, KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”

KSM, you see, had attended North Carolina A & T in Greensboro, and apparently the first thought that came to those drafting the 9/11 report was that perhaps he had suffered some gross indignity accounting for his hatred for America. Not so.

Moreover, the footnote section (page 488 of the 9/11 Commission Report) reveals that KSM was not the only terrorist motivated by “U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel”:

“On KSM’s rationale for attacking the United States, see Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Sept. 5, 2003 (in this regard, KSM’s statements echo those of Yousef, who delivered an extensive polemic against U.S. foreign policy at his January 1998 sentencing).”

The reference is to Ramzi Yousef, KSM’s nephew. The 9/11 Commission Report had noted earlier (page 147) that, “Yousef’s instant notoriety as the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing inspired KSM to become involved in planning attacks against the United States.”

In the “Recommendations” section of its final report, the 9/11 Commission suggested:

“America’s policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world. … Neither Israel nor the new Iraq will be safer if worldwide Islamist terrorism grows stronger.” (pp 376-377)

These observations seemed to strike my radio interlocutors as unfit for the airwaves. When the shouts of protest died down, there was an opportunity to offer additional evidence, so I threw in what a prestigious board appointed by the Pentagon had to say about all this over four years ago.

Defense Science Board Report

Are you ready for a scoop that is not a scoop, but that almost no one knows about?

It has to do with an unclassified study published, not by some “liberal” think-tank, but by the Pentagon-appointed U.S. Defense Science Board just two months after the 9/11 Commission Report. That report directly contradicted what Cheney and President Bush had been saying about “why they hate us,” letting the elephant out of the bag and into the room, so to speak:

“Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf States. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.”

You didn’t know about that report? Well, maybe this is because of the timing. The Defense Science Board final report was given to Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Sept. 23, 2004, just weeks before the presidential election.

That is a time when presidential candidates and the U.S. Establishment in general are hyper-allergic to discussing how U.S. support for Israeli policies toward the Palestinians encourages the recruitment of anti-American terrorists.

Suppressed, Then Gutted

Bending over backwards to oblige, the FCM suppressed the Defense Science Board findings until after the election. On Nov. 24, 2004, the New York Times, erstwhile “newspaper of record,” did publish a story on the board’s report — but performed some highly interesting surgery.

Thom Shanker of the Times quoted the paragraph beginning with "Muslims do not 'hate our freedom'" (see above), but he or his editors deliberately cut out the following sentence about what Muslims do object to; i.e., U.S. "one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights" and support for tyrannical regimes. The Times did include the sentence that immediately followed the omitted one. In other words, it was not simply a matter of shortening the paragraph. Rather, the offending middle sentence was surgically removed.

Similarly creative editing showed through the Times' reporting in late October 2004 on a videotaped speech by Osama bin Laden. Almost six paragraphs of the story made it onto page one, but the Times saw to it that the key point bin Laden made at the beginning of his presentation was relegated to paragraphs 23 to 25 at the very bottom of page nine.

Buried there was bin Laden's assertion that the idea for 9/11 first germinated after "we witnessed the oppression and tyranny of the American-Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon."

Wading through the drivel in the FCM’s Times and Washington Post on Friday morning, I am hardly surprised that they missed Cheney’s slip about U.S. policy toward Israel being one of the terrorists’ “true sources of resentment.”

Ray McGovern was an Army officer and CIA analyst for almost 30 year. He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He is a contributor to Imperial Crusades: Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair (Verso). He can be reached at:

A shorter version of this article appeared at

Netanyahu vai a Washington


The Meeting

Netanyahu Goes to Washington


Barack Obama is often compared to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but it is from the book of another Roosevelt that he has taken a leaf: President Theodore Roosevelt, who, 108 years ago, advised his successors: “Speak softly and carry a big stick!”

This week, the whole world saw how this is done. Obama sat in the Oval Office side by side with Binyamin Netanyahu and spoke to the journalists. He was earnest, but relaxed. The body language spoke clearly: while Netanyahu leaned forward assiduously, like a traveling salesman peddling his merchandise, Obama leaned back, tranquil and self-assured.

He spoke softly, very softly. But leaning against the wall behind him, hidden by the flag, was a very big stick indeed.

* * *

THE WORLD wanted, of course, to know what went on between the two when they met alone.

Coming home, Netanyahu strenuously tried to present the meeting as a great success. But after the spotlights turned off and the red carpet rolled up, we can examine what we have really seen and heard.

Among his great achievements, Netanyahu emphasized the Iranian issue. “We have reached complete agreement,” he proudly announced time and again.

Agreement on what? On the need to prevent Iran from getting a “military nuclear capability”.

Just a moment. What is that we hear, “military”? Where did this word creep up from? Until now, all Israeli governments have insisted that Iran must be prevented from acquiring any nuclear capability at all. The new formula means that the Netanyahu government now accepts Iran having a “non-military”– which is never very far from a “military” - nuclear capability.

This is not Netanyahu’s only defeat on the Iranian issue. Before his trip, he demanded that Obama give Iran just three months, “until October”, and that after this “all the options would be on the table”. An ultimatum that included a military threat.

Nothing of this remains. Obama said that he would conduct a dialogue with Iran until the end of the year, and that he would then assess what had been achieved and consider what to do next. If he came to the conclusion that there had been no progress, he would take further steps, including the imposition of more stringent sanctions. The military option has disappeared. True, before the meeting Obama told a newspaper that “all the options are on the table”, but the fact that he did not repeat this in Netanyahu’s presence speaks volumes.

No doubt Netanyahu asked for permission to attack Iran, or – at the very least – to threaten such an attack. The answer was a flat No. Obama is resolved to prevent an Israeli attack. He has warned the Israeli government unequivocally. Just to make sure that the message has been properly absorbed, he sent the CIA chief to Israel to deliver the message personally to every Israeli leader.

The Israeli plan for a military attack on Iran has been taken off the table – if it was ever lying there.

Netanyahu wanted to connect Iran with the Palestinian issue, in a negative way: as long as the Iranian danger exists, the Palestinian matter cannot be dealt with. Obama has turned the formula upside down and made a positive connection: progress on the Palestinian issue is a precondition to progress on the Iranian one. That makes sense: the unsolved conflict is fuelling Iran, provides it with a reason to menace Israel and weakens the opposition of Egypt and Saudi Arabia to Iran’s ambitions.

* * *

OBAMA’S MAIN message concerned one issue that returned to center stage this week: settlements.

This word almost disappeared during the reign of Bush the Younger. True, all US administrations have opposed the enlargement of the settlements, but since the failed attempt by James Baker, the Secretary of State of Bush the Elder, to impose sanctions on Israel, no one has dared to do anything about them. In Washington they mumbled, on the ground they built. In Jerusalem they dissimulated, and on the ground they built.

As a senior Palestinian put it: “We are negotiating about dividing the pizza, and in the meantime Israel is eating it.”

It has to be repeated again and again: the settlements are a disaster for the Palestinians, a disaster for peace and a double and triple disaster for Israel. First, because their main aim is to make the establishment of a Palestinian state impossible, and thus prevent peace forever. Second, because they suck the marrow out of the Israeli economy and swallow resources that should be used to help the poor. Third: because the settlements undermine the rule of law in Israel, they spread the cancer of fascism and push the whole political system to the right.

Therefore Obama is right when he puts the settlement issue ahead of everything else, even ahead of the peace negotiations. A total cessation of building in the settlements comes before anything else. When a body is bleeding, the flow has to be stopped before the disease can be treated. Otherwise the patient will die of loss of blood and there won’t be anybody left to treat. This is precisely the aim of Netanyahu.

This is why Netanyahu has refused to accede to the request. Otherwise his coalition would have fallen apart and he would be compelled to resign or set up an alternative coalition with Kadima. The hapless Tzipi Livni, who has not found a role in opposition, would probably jump at the opportunity.

Netanyahu will try to use Barak against Barack. With the help of Ehud Barak he is putting on a performance of “demolishing outposts”, in order to divert attention from the ongoing building in the settlements. We shall see whether this ploy succeeds and whether the settlers’ leadership will play their part in this charade. The day after Netanyahu’s return, Barak demolished for the seventh time (!) Maoz Esther, an outpost consisting of seven wooden huts. Within hours, the settlers returned to the place.

(The Israeli army has built an entire Arab village in the Negev for training purposes. Somebody joked this week that the army has also built this outpost and manned it with soldiers disguised as settlers, so it can be demolished every time there is pressure from America. Afterwards the soldiers build it up again, ready for use the next time pressure is exerted.)

* * *

REFUSAL TO freeze the settlements means refusal to accept the two-state solution. Instead, Netanyahu juggled with empty slogans. He spoke about “two peoples living together in peace”, but refused to speak about a Palestinian state. One of his aides called the demand for two states a “childish game”.

But this is not a childish game at all. It has already been proven that negotiations, the aim of which has not been defined in advance, do not lead anywhere. The Oslo agreement collapsed for precisely this reason. Netanyahu hopes that the next round of negotiations will also founder because of this.

He has not presented a plan of his own. Not because he has no plan, but because he knows that nobody would accept it.

Netanyahu’s plan is: total Israeli control over all the country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Unlimited Jewish settlement everywhere. Limited self-government for a number of Palestinian enclaves with a dense Palestinian population, which will be surrounded by settlements. All of Jerusalem to remain part of Israel. Not a single Palestinian refugee to return to the territory of Israel.

This merchandise will find no buyers in the whole wide world. So Netanyahu, a professional salesman, tries to wrap it in an attractive package.

For example: the Palestinians will “govern themselves”. Where exactly? Where will the borders run? He has already pronounced that the Palestinians cannot have control over “their airspace or their border crossings”. A state without a military and without control over its airspace and border crossings – that looks suspiciously like the Bantustans of the late racist apartheid regime in South Africa.

I would not be surprised if at some point in the future Netanyahu starts to call these native reservations “a Palestinian state”.

In the meanwhile he tries to gain time and postpone the negotiations as long as possible. He demands that the Palestinians recognize Israel as ‘the state of the Jewish people”, expecting and hoping that they will reject this with both hands. And indeed, accepting it would mean giving up in advance their main card – the refugee issue – and also sticking a knife in the back of the 1.5 million Palestinians who are citizens of Israel.

Netanyahu is ready to accept Obama’s proposal to involve the Arab and other Muslim states in the peace process – an idea that has always been rigorously rejected by all Israel governments. But that is just one more of the rabbits that he will pull out of his hat from time to time in order to delay everything. Before dozens of Arab and perhaps more than fifty Muslim states decide whether to join the process, months, perhaps years, will pass. And in the meantime, Netanyahu demands from them an advance payment in the form of normalization – which means that the entire Arab and Muslim world would give up their only card without getting anything in return. Pure baksheesh.

That is Netanyahu’s working plan.

* * *

DOES OBAMA have a peace plan of his own? If one puts all his statements of the last few days together, it seems that he has.

When he speaks about “two states for two peoples”, he practically accepts the peace plan that has by now become a world-wide consensus: as the “parameters” put forward by Bill Clinton in his last days in office, as the core of the Saudi peace proposal and as the peace plans of the Israeli peace movement (the draft peace agreement of Gush Shalom, the Geneva initiative, the Ayalon-Nusseibeh statement and more.)

In short: a sovereign and viable State of Palestine side by side with Israel, the pre-1967 borders with minor and agreed exchanges of territory, the dismantling of all the settlements that will not be joined to Israel in the territory exchanges, East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine and West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a mutually acceptable solution to the refugee problem, a safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, mutual security arrangements.

* * *

IN THE MEANTIME, throughout the world there is a growing consensus that the only way to get the wheels of peace moving again is for Obama to publish his peace plan and call upon both sides to accept it. If need be, in popular referendums.

He could do this in the speech he is due to deliver in two weeks time in Cairo, during his first presidential trip to the Middle East. Not by accident, he will not come to Israel during this trip, something that is almost unprecedented for a US president.

To do this, he must be ready to take on the powerful Israeli lobby. It seems that he is ready for that. The last president who dared to do this was Dwight D. Eisenhower, who compelled Israel to give back the Sinai straight after the 1956 war. “Ike” was so popular that he was not afraid of the lobby. Obama is no less popular, and perhaps he will dare, too.

As ”Teddy” Roosevelt indicated: when you have a big stick, you don’t have to wave it. You can afford to speak softly.

I hope Obama will indeed speak softly – but clearly and unambiguously.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch's book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

o próximo passo por Israel: Armageddon Now?


Israel's Next Move

Armageddon Now?


Of all the analysis generated by the Obama-Netanyahu meeting Robert Satloff's is the most significant. Satloff is executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which serves as AIPAC's think tank. His piece, circulated Thursday, provides insights into what the lobby -- and Israel -- might do next. And it should ring alarm bells.

Satloff starts quietly enough. Unlike other analysts, he is relatively sanguine about the divergences between the United States president and the Israeli prime minister over the peace process.

For example, he believes that American-Israeli differences about the "natural growth" of Israel's existing (illegal) settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, though contentious, have been managed before and can be managed again.

This demonstrates confidence in AIPAC's clout in Congress as regards the peace process. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can tell Al Jazeera, as she did Tuesday, "We want to see a stop to settlement construction, additions, natural growth - any kind of settlement activity" as often as she likes. Water off the AIPAC back.

But when it comes to Iran, Satloff is very worried indeed. He doesn't buy the New York Times' spin that Barack Obama, a master of nuance, gave Iran a clear deadline. He frets that Obama's plan to wait until year-end to reassess the position means Iran can spin its centrifuges for six more months. And even then there may still be no stomach for "crippling" sanctions in Europe or America.

Satloff sees a "stark" difference between Obama's goal of preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon and Netanyahu's determination to prevent Iran from even acquiring a nuclear capability.

He believes there are chances of a collision between the United States and Israel potentially more damaging than the "face-off" over Suez. Great care, he concludes, should be taken to prevent the divergence over Iran from "metastasizing into the worst crisis in the six decades of U.S.-Israeli relations."

Satloff's analysis is alarming because Iran has been an Israeli -- hence AIPAC -- priority for several years. The peace process consistently takes second or third place on the AIPAC agenda behind sanctioning Iran and aid to Israel. Indeed, the lobby treats the Palestinian question as something largely dealt with, on the back burner while more urgent matters are pursued.

For example, at the 2007 conference of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) -- AIPAC's strange bedfellows on the Christian right whom Netanyahu has assiduously courted for years -- the 4,000 attendees were asked to push three issues with their Congressional representatives. The top demand: stop Iran's nuclear program and let it know military action is an option. The other two: stopping Hezbollah rearmament, and supporting aid to Israel. All three also featured prominently on the AIPAC website.

A fourth lobbying issue -- not to pressure Israel to give up land -- was only added when former president George Bush proposed an international peace conference in a speech that coincided with the CUFI conference. (See the Autumn 2007 issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies for an in-depth account.)

That addition was particularly important to the Christian Zionists, who don't want Israel to cede an inch of occupied territory. They believe the Second Coming will take place after the ingathering of Jews and the Battle of Armageddon. CUFI lobbied hard to delay a ceasefire during Israel's attack on Lebanon in June 2006 in case that was it. Netanyahu's Christian Zionist allies would eagerly support an Israeli attack on Iran.

AIPAC's top legislative priority at present is securing legislation to sanction Iran's ability to import and produce petroleum products (draft resolutions H.R. 2194 in the House and S. 908 in the Senate.) Iran imports some 40% of its needs so such sanctions would indeed be crippling.

AIPAC also wants legislation to support state and local government divestment from Iran's oil and gas sector (H.R. 1327), another longstanding Israeli desire.

So will Israel wait quietly for the next six months while centrifuges spin before its eyes? Not if Netanyahu's take-home message is that the Obama Administration is willing to live with an Iranian nuclear capability as distinct from a nuclear weapon. And not if the past is any guide: Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981 and a suspected Syrian site in 2007 were just two pre-emptive Israeli strikes against perceived threats.

Israel often launches surprise attacks when the world is on holiday or there is a power vacuum. Most recently, it attacked Gaza just before New Year and a few weeks before Obama took office. Summer holidays are just around the corner, as is a political transition -- the Iranian presidential elections scheduled for June 12. If you'd rather not be around for Armageddon, pray for a short, cool summer.

Nadia Hijab is a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies.

Repensar os custos da Paz

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Rethinking the Costs of Peace

The US has provided to Israel more than $100 billion in military and economic assistance.

By Josh Ruebner

In pledging to trim ineffective spending, President Obama declared that "there will be no sacred cows and no pet projects. All across America, families are making hard choices, and it's time their government did the same."

By asking earlier this month for $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel in his FY2010 budget request, it would seem that on this important policy issue President Obama’s commitment is more rhetorical than substantive. Since 1949, according to the Congressional Research Service, the United States has provided to Israel more than $100 billion in military and economic assistance. In 2007, the United States and Israel signed an agreement for $30 billion in additional military aid through FY2018.

Yet the provision of U.S. weapons to Israel at taxpayer expense has done nothing to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to achieving a just and lasting peace. Rather, these weapons have had the exact opposite effect, as documented recently by Amnesty International, which pointed to U.S. weapons as a prime factor “fueling” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, during the Bush Administration, Israel killed more than 3,000 innocent Palestinian civilians, including more than 1,000 children. During its December 2008-January 2009 war on the occupied Gaza Strip alone, Israel killed nearly 1,200 non-combatants.

On average, for each day that President Bush sat in the Oval Office, Israel killed one Palestinian civilian, often with U.S. weapons. Before Congress appropriates any additional military aid to Israel, it should insist upon President Obama providing a comprehensive and transparent review of the effects U.S. weapons transfers to Israel have on Palestinian civilians. The Arms Export Control Act limits the use of U.S. weapons given to a foreign country to “internal security” and “legitimate self-defense.”

If, after reviewing the impact of Israel’s misuse of U.S. weapons, the President and Congress cannot find the political will to sanction Israel for its violations of the Arms Export Control Act and prohibit future arms transfers as is required by law, then there are still steps that the U.S. government should take to ensure that any future transfers are not used to commit human rights abuses but instead to promote U.S. policy goals. For example, previous U.S. loan guarantees to Israel have stipulated that funds cannot be used to support Israeli activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Conditioning U.S. military aid to Israel in the same way would prevent these weapons from being used to kill innocent Palestinian civilians.

As President Obama has stated, “We can't sustain a system that bleeds billions of taxpayer dollars, on programs that have outlived their usefulness or exist solely because of the power of politicians, lobbyists or interest groups. We simply can't afford it.” In regard to U.S. aid to Israel, this is true as much from a budgetary standpoint as it is from a moral one.

- Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. This article was contributed to (Originally published in the Detroit Free Press, May 21, 2009)

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