Saturday, 20 June 2009
Canadian diplomat honored on confiscated Palestinian land
Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 18 June 2009
Canada's chief diplomat in Israel has been honored at an Israeli public park -- built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law -- as one of the donors who helped establish the park on the ruins of three Palestinian villages.
Jon Allen, Canada's ambassador to Israel, is among several hundred Canadian Jews who have been commemorated at a dedication site. A plaque bearing Allen's name is attached to a stone wall constructed from the rubble of Palestinian homes razed by the Israeli army.
Allen, who is identified as a donor along with his parents and siblings, has refused to talk about his involvement with the park.
Rodney Moore, a Canadian government spokesman, said the 58-year-old ambassador had not made a personal donation and that his name had been included as a benefactor when his parents gave their contribution. It is unclear whether he or they knew that the park was to be built on Palestinian land.
Canada Park, which is in an area of the West Bank that juts into Israel north of Jerusalem, was founded in the early 1970s following Israel's occupation of the West Bank in the 1967 war. It is hugely popular for walks and picnics with the Israeli public, most of whom are unaware they are in Palestinian territory that is officially a "closed military zone."
Uri Avnery, a former Israeli parliamentarian who is today a peace activist, has described the park's creation as an act of complicity in "ethnic cleansing" and Canada's involvement as "cover to a war crime."
About 5,000 Palestinians were expelled from the area during the war, whose 42nd anniversary is being marked this month.
Israel's subsequent occupation of the West Bank, as well as East Jerusalem and Gaza, is regarded as illegal by the international community, including by Canada. The country has become increasingly identified as a close ally of Israel under the current government of Stephen Harper, who appointed Allen as ambassador.
About $15 million -- or $80m in today's values -- was raised in tax-exempt donations by the Canadian branch of a Zionist organization, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), to establish the 1,700-acre open space following the 1967 war.
The Canadian government spokesman declined to say whether an objection had been lodged with the fund over its naming of Allen as a donor, or whether Allen's diplomatic role had been compromised by his public association with the park. The spokesman added that the park was a private initiative between Israel and the JNF in Canada.
That view was challenged by Dr. Uri Davis, an Israeli scholar and human rights activist who has co-authored a book on the Jewish National Fund.
"Canada Park is a crime against humanity that has been financed by and implicates not only the Canadian government but every taxpayer in Canada," he said. "The JNF's charitable status means that each donation receives a tax reduction paid for from the pockets of Canadian taxpayers."
Davis and a Canadian citizen are scheduled to submit a joint application to the Canadian tax authorities next week to overturn the JNF's charitable status. He said they would pursue the matter through the courts if necessary.
Davis said attempts to rename Canada Park "Ayalon Park" over the past decade suggested that the Canadian authorities were already concerned about the prospect of the country's involvement in the park coming under scrutiny.
Joe Rabinowitz, the executive vice-president of the JNF in Canada, said ceramic plaques to Canada Park's donors -- including Allen -- had been erected a couple of years ago. Previous metal dedication signs were stolen many years ago, he said.
He refused to comment on the circumstances of the park's creation, saying details about the park were available on the JNF's website. A search, however, found only passing references to Canada Park.
The JNF is a major landowner in Israel, with duties that include establishing and managing parks and forests on behalf of the Jewish people worldwide. Most of the parks have been created over the remains of more than 400 Palestinian villages destroyed after the foundation of Israel in 1948.
Canada Park is believed to be the only example, outside East Jerusalem, of the JNF becoming directly involved in managing land in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. JNF operations in the West Bank are run by a subsidiary, Himanuta. The formal division between the two companies is designed to protect the charitable status of contributions to the JNF.
Donations are often used to plant forests of pine trees over destroyed villages, including at Canada Park. The organization boasts it has helped plant more than 240 million trees in Israel.
According to Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian, only a tenth of local indigenous tree species survived the JNF's reforesting program with pines.
He said that fast-growing pine was preferred because it was a rapid way to ensure expelled Palestinians could not return to their land and year-round foliage also helped to conceal the rubble of the destroyed villages.
At Canada Park, scattered stones from the three villages are still visible, and one building, a mosque misleadingly labelled a Roman bathhouse, stands near its entrance.
One of the villages, Imwas, is believed to be the Biblical site of Emmaus, where Jesus supposedly appeared to two disciples after his resurrection.
Among non-Canadian donors mentioned on the plaques in Canada Park is "Martin Luther King, USA." It is believed the donation was made on behalf of the human rights leader after his assassination.
In an interview with Canadian TV in 1991, Yitzhak Rabin, who headed the army during the 1967 war and later became prime minister, said he had personally ordered the destruction of the three villages within what became Canada Park. He justified the decision on the grounds that Egyptian commandos were hiding there.
However, photographs by Amos Keenan, who entered the villages with the army as an official photographer, confirm Palestinian testimony that the Israeli soldiers faced no resistance as they advanced.
Uzi Narkiss, the Israeli general who led the assault on the villages, has said their destruction was "revenge" for the army's failure to capture this much-prized section of West Bank land -- then known as the Latrun Salient -- in the earlier, 1948 war.
Today most of the Palestinian families expelled from the three villages are living in the West Bank or Jordan, unable to visit their former lands.
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 www.jkcook.net.
A version of this article originally appeared in The National, published in Abu Dhabi.
Friday, 19 June 2009
Nonviolent resistance in the south Hebron hills
Joy Ellison writing from Hebron, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 18 June 2009
|An Israeli settler yells at a Palestinian farmer in the south Hebron hills. (Christian Peacemaker Teams)|
A couple of months ago I had the great pleasure of watching Palestinians successfully graze their sheep near Avigail settlement, on land where they are regularly attacked and harassed. The joy I felt in watching my friends and partners grazing their sheep on their ancestral lands was overwhelming. Sitting on the hill and eating lunch together felt like having a party.
As the day drew to an end, Mahmoud, one of the Palestinian elders, excitedly explained to me the strategy he had used in dealing with the Israeli army and settlers that morning. He told me how, even though the army had declared the area a closed military zone, he firmly stood up for his rights. He explained how he pretended to slowly begin to comply with the military order, all the while challenging the soldiers and insisting on his right to graze his sheep. Eventually, he said, the army lost control of the situation and gave in. When he finished his description, Mahmoud turned to me and grinned. "I read in a book that this is called nonviolence," he said, laughing.
When US President Barack Obama called on Palestinians to practice nonviolence, I laughed just like Mahmoud. Palestinians like Mahmoud have never needed to be told about nonviolence. The English word may be unfamiliar but the steadfast, daily acts of resistance known as nonviolence are nothing new. In the south Hebron hills, Palestinians face Israeli soldiers and violent Israeli settlers who are illegally expanding their settlements and attacking Palestinians, including children walking to school. In response to this profound injustice, Palestinians are organizing demonstrations, refusing to comply with military orders, filing complaints against settlers, and courageously working their land despite the risk of arrest and attack. They don't need President Obama to tell them to practice nonviolence.
Palestinians have practiced nonviolent resistance for the last 60 years. From the "Great Revolt" during the British Mandate to the first Palestinian intifada in 1987, to the loose-knit but powerful community-based movement of today. Certainly, it's inaccurate to omit armed resistance from Palestinian history, but it is equally false to claim that Palestinians are unfamiliar with nonviolence. President Obama missed the point in his Cairo speech -- Palestinians do not need to be admonished towards peacefulness. It's radical Israeli settlers and the Israeli government who do.
Instead of preaching to Palestinians, Obama should insist emphatically on the dismantlement of Israeli settlements that violate international law and the enforcement of laws to prevent Israeli settlers from attacking Palestinian villagers, a frequent occurrence in the south Hebron hills. After 42 years of Israeli military occupation, it is time for an American president to call on Israel to stop its violence towards Palestinians.
Joy Ellison is an American activist with Christian Peacemaker Teams, an organization that supports Palestinian nonviolent resistance. She lives in At-Tuwani, a small village in the south Hebron hills which is nonviolently resisting settlement expansion and violence. She writes about her experiences on her blog, "I Saw it in Palestine."
Netanyahu's "brilliant" peace plan
Hasan Abu Nimah and Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 17 June 2009
|The Har Homa settlement in the occupied West Bank. Netanyahu defied calls for a halt to settlement expansion in his speech on Monday. (ActiveStills)|
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a peace plan so ingenious it is a wonder that for six decades of bloodshed no one thought of it. Some people might have missed the true brilliance of his ideas presented in a speech at Bar Ilan University on 14 June, so we are pleased to offer this analysis.
First, Netanyahu wants Palestinians to become committed Zionists. They can prove this by declaring, "We recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in this land." As he pointed out, it is only the failure of Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular to commit themselves to the Zionist dream that has caused conflict, but once "they say those words to our people and to their people, then a path will be opened to resolving all the problems between our peoples." It is of course perfectly natural that Netanyahu would be "yearning for that moment."
Mere heartfelt commitment to Zionism will not be enough, however. For the Palestinians' conversion to have "practical meaning," Netanyahu explained, "there must also be a clear understanding that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside Israel's borders." In other words, Palestinians must agree to help Israel complete the ethnic cleansing it began in 1947-48, by abandoning the right of return. This is indeed logical because as Zionists, Palestinians would share the Zionist ambition that Palestine be emptied of Palestinians to the greatest extent possible.
Netanyahu is smart enough to recognize that even the self-ethnic-cleansing of refugees may not be sufficient to secure "peace": there will still remain millions of Palestinians living inconveniently in their native land, or in the heart of what Netanyahu insisted was the "historic homeland" of the Jews.
For these Palestinians, the peace plan involves what Netanyahu calls "demilitarization," but what should be properly understood as unconditional surrender followed by disarmament. Disarmament, though necessary, cannot be immediate, however. Some recalcitrant Palestinians may not wish to become Zionists. Therefore, the newly pledged Zionist Palestinians would have to launch a civil war to defeat those who foolishly insist on resisting Zionism. Or as Netanyahu put it, the "Palestinian Authority will have to establish the rule of law in Gaza and overcome Hamas." (In fact, this civil war has already been underway for several years as the American and Israeli-backed Palestinian "security forces," led by US Lt. General Keith Dayton, have escalated their attacks on Hamas).
Once anti-Zionist Palestinians are crushed, the remaining Palestinians -- whose number equals that of Jews in historic Palestine -- will be able to get on with life as good Zionists, according to Netanyahu's vision. They will not mind being squeezed into ever smaller ghettos and enclaves in order to allow for the continued expansion of Jewish colonies, whose inhabitants Netanyahu described as "an integral part of our people, a principled, pioneering and Zionist public." And, in line with their heartfelt Zionism, Palestinians will naturally agree that "Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel."
These are only the Palestinian-Israeli aspects of the Netanyahu plan. The regional elements include full, Arab endorsement of Palestinian Zionism and normalization of ties with Israel and even Arab Gulf money to pay for it all. Why not? If everyone becomes a Zionist then all conflict disappears.
It would be nice if we could really dismiss Netanyahu's speech as a joke. But it is an important indicator of a hard reality. Contrary to some naive and optimistic hopes, Netanyahu does not represent only an extremist fringe in Israel. Today, the Israeli Jewish public presents (with a handful of exceptions) a united front in favor of a racist, violent ultra-nationalism fueled by religious fanaticism. Palestinians are viewed at best as inferiors to be tolerated until circumstances arise in which they can be expelled, or caged and starved like the 1.5 million inmates of the Gaza prison.
Israel is a society where virulent anti-Arab racism and Nakba denial are the norm although none of the European and American leaders who constantly lecture about Holocaust denial will dare to admonish Netanyahu for his bald lies and omissions about Israel's ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.
Netanyahu's "vision" offered absolutely no advance on the 1976 Allon Plan for annexation of most of the occupied West Bank, or Menachem Begin's Camp David "autonomy" proposals. The goal remains the same: to control maximum land with minimum Palestinians.
Netanyahu's speech should put to rest newly revived illusions -- fed in particular by US President Barack Obama's Cairo speech -- that such an Israel can be brought voluntarily to any sort of just settlement. Some in this region who have placed all their hopes in Obama -- as they did previously in Bush -- believe that US pressure can bring Israel to heel. They point to Obama's strong statements calling for a complete halt to Israeli settlement construction -- a demand Netanyahu defied in his speech. It now remains to be seen whether Obama will follow his tough words with actions.
Yet, even if Obama is ready to put unprecedented pressure on Israel, he would likely have to exhaust much of his political capital just to get Israel to agree to a settlement freeze, let alone to move on any of dozens of other much more substantial issues.
And despite the common perception of an escalating clash between the Obama administration and the Israeli government (which may come over minor tactical issues), when it comes to substantive questions they agree on much more than they disagree. Obama has already stated that "any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state," and he affirmed that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided." As for Palestinian refugees, he has said, "The right of return [to Israel] is something that is not an option in a literal sense."
For all the fuss about settlements, Obama has addressed only their expansion, not their continued existence. Until the Obama administration publicly dissociates itself from the positions of the Clinton and Bush administrations, we must assume it agrees with them and with Israel that the large settlement blocks encircling Jerusalem and dividing the West Bank into ghettos would remain permanently in any two-state solution. Neither Obama nor Netanyahu have mentioned Israel's illegal West Bank wall suggesting that there is no controversy over either its route or existence. And now, both agree that whatever shreds are left can be called a "Palestinian state." No wonder the Obama administration welcomed Netanyahu's speech as "a big step forward."
What is particularly dismaying about the position stated by Obama in Cairo -- and since repeated constantly by his Middle East envoy George Mitchell -- is that the United States is committed to the "legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own." This formula is designed to sound meaningful, but these vague, campaign-style buzzwords are devoid of any reference to inalienable Palestinian rights. They were chosen by American speechwriters and public relations experts, not by Palestinians. The Obama formula implies that any other Palestinian aspirations are inherently illegitimate.
Where in international law, or UN resolutions can Palestinians find definitions of "dignity" and "opportunity?" Such infinitely malleable terms incorrectly reduce all of Palestinian history to a demand for vague sentiments and a "state" instead of a struggle for liberation, justice, equality, return and the restoration of usurped rights. It is, after all, easy enough to conceive of a state that keeps Palestinians forever dispossessed, dispersed, defenseless and under threat of more expulsion and massacres by a racist, expansionist Israel.
Through history it was never leaders who defined rights, but the people who struggled for them. It is no small achievement that for a century Palestinians have resisted and survived Zionist efforts to destroy their communities physically and wipe them from the pages of history. As long as Palestinians continue to resist in every arena and by all legitimate means, building on true international solidarity, their rights can never be extinguished. It is from such a basis of independent and indigenous strength, not from the elusive promises of a great power or the favors of a usurping occupier, that justice and peace can be achieved.
Hasan Abu Nimah is the former permanent representative of Jordan at the United Nations.
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).
A version of this article first appeared in The Jordan Times and is reprinted with the authors' permission.
Netanyahu's Sacred Cows
The Israeli position will render a host of international treaties useless.
By Ali Younes
No one should be surprised or even raise an eyebrow over Netanyahu's speech this past Saturday regarding his policies with the Palestinians. True to his cunning nature, Netanyahu played the semantics game by appearing to be accepting the "Palestinian state" as declared by President Obama in his Cairo speech. In actuality, Netanyahu accepted a resemblance of state or a virtual state within the Israeli illegal occupation system that will function more like a Zulu state in the former South African apartheid state.
Netanyahu, in his speech, played the Iranian card claiming that Iran is an imminent danger not just for Israel but for the entire world. The impression one’s get from hearing Netanyahu is that if the United States did not act and perhaps wage another war to get rid of the “Iranian threat” the world might come to an apocalyptic end. Strange as it sounds, Netanyahu went on to cite Iran, Islamic radicalism, and the economic crises as his priorities. On the Palestinian question, Netanyahu relegated the Palestinian issue to back burner thus defying, in essence, the United States declared policy without risking a head-on collision with Obama administration. The most important thing about Netanyahu’s speech however, was his treatment of the issue of Jerusalem and Jewish Settlements as “Sacred Cows” that are off limits to negotiations. Netanyahu however agreed to:
- A Palestinian state that cannot and should not defend itself militarily therefore to stay forever under Israeli threats and control.
- The Part of Jerusalem Israel occupied in 1967 will, according to Netanyahu, remain occupied forever “and he likes to use the pretty word “United”. Its worth telling, however, that Palestinians are not asking for the part of Jerusalem Israel occupied in 1948. And never mind that this is all illegal under international laws and conventions.
- Palestinians, Arabs and the rest of the world should regard Israel as a wholly ‘Jewish state” for Jewish people only. This means of course that all of the native Palestinians, Christians, and Muslims who are Israeli citizens will be at some point expelled or at best be considered as “guests” in their own villages and towns that they inhabited well before Moses thought about leaving Egypt. And this is akin to something like making America a country for the white folks of German stock only or for those who are Baptists.
- Palestinian refugees shall never return to their homes or lands that are now either Israeli settlements, airports or a stranger’s home.
- He wants an economic peace with the Arabs, in other words “lets just do business and the hell with Palestinians, and they can just work the fields and pick our cotton”.
In the meantime, it will be hard to imagine peaceful settlement in the region that will not address and actually solve the issues of Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees displaced by the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. The Israeli position on these two issues is not only unfair and unjust to the Palestinians, but also dangerous. Its danger lies in the fact that it sets a precedent for international law. If the Palestinians and the rest of the world accept the Israeli conditions, then it would be legal for any other country to cross its borders on a land-grab mission, occupy other’s territories and make it its own. The Israeli position will also render the Geneva Conventions, the laws of war, and host of other international treaties useless. Israeli leaders should realize that if the Palestinians did not give up and surrender their rights in 1948, or in 1967 they are unlikely to do it now.
- Ali Younes is a writer and Middle East political analyst based in Washington DC. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shocking Testimonies: Brutalizing Palestinian Children
Israeli soldiers have been routinely using violence against Palestinian children.
By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth
The rights of Palestinian children are routinely violated by Israel's security forces, according to a new report that says beatings and torture are common. In addition, hundreds of Palestinian minors are prosecuted by Israel each year without a proper trial and are denied family visits.
The findings by Defence for Children International (DCI) come in the wake of revelations from Israeli soldiers and senior commanders that it is “normal procedure” in the West Bank to terrorise Palestinian civilians, including children.
Col Itai Virob, commander of the Kfir Brigade, disclosed last month that to accomplish a mission, “aggressiveness towards every one of the residents in the village is common”. Questioning included slaps, beatings and kickings, he said.
As a result, Gabi Ashkenazi, the head of the armed services, was forced to appear before the Israeli parliament to disavow the behaviour of his soldiers. Beatings were “absolutely prohibited”, he told legislators.
Col Virob made his remarks during court testimony in defence of two soldiers, including his deputy commander, who are accused of beating Palestinians in the village of Qaddum, close to Nablus. One told the court that “soldiers are educated towards aggression in the IDF [army]”.
Col Virob appeared to confirm his observation, saying it was policy to “disturb the balance” of village life during missions and that the vast majority of assaults were “against uninvolved people”.
Last week, further disclosures of ill-treatment of Palestinians, some as young as 14, were aired on Israeli TV, using material collected by dissident soldiers as part of the Breaking the Silence project, which highlights army brutality.
Two soldiers serving in the Harub battalion said they had witnessed beatings at a school in the West Bank village of Hares, south-west of Nablus, in an operation in March to stop stone-throwing. Many of those held were not involved, the soldiers said.
During a 12-hour operation that began at 3am, 150 detainees were blindfolded and handcuffed from behind, with the nylon restraints so tight their hands turned blue. The worst beatings, the soldiers said, occurred in the school toilets.
According to one soldier’s testimony, a boy of about 15 was given “a slap that brought him to the ground”. He added that many of his comrades “just knee [Palestinians] because it’s boring, because you stand there 10 hours, you’re not doing anything, so they beat people up”.
The picture from serving soldiers confirms the findings of DCI, which noted that many children were picked up in general sweeps after disturbances or during late-night raids of their homes.
Its report includes a selection of testimonies from children it represented in 2008 in which they describe Israeli soldiers beating them or being tortured by interrogators.
One 10-year-old boy, identified as Ezzat H, described an army search of his family home for a gun. He said a soldier slapped and punched him repeatedly during two hours of questioning, before another soldier pointed a rifle at him: “The rifle barrel was a few centimetres away from my face. I was so terrified that I started to shiver. He made fun of me.”
Another boy, Shadi H, aged 15, said he and his friend were forced to undress by soldiers in an orange grove near Tulkarm while the soldiers threw stones at them. They were then beaten with rifle butts.
Jameel K, aged 14, described being taken to a military camp where he was assaulted and then had a rope tightened around his neck in a mock execution.
Yehuda Shaul, of Breaking the Silence, said soldiers treated any Palestinian older than 12 or 13 as an adult.
“For the first time a high-ranking soldier [Col Virob] has joined us in raising the issue -- even if not intentionally -- that the use of physical violence against Palestinians is not exceptional but policy. A few years ago no senior officer would have had the guts to say this,” he said.
The DCI report also highlights the systematic use of torture by interrogators from the army and the secret police, the Shin Bet, in an attempt to extract confessions from children, often in cases involving stone-throwing.
Islam M, aged 12, said he was threatened with having boiling water poured on his face if he did not admit throwing stones and was then pushed into a thorn bush. Another boy, Abed S, aged 16, said his hands and feet were tied to the wall of an interrogation room in the shape of a cross for a day and then put in solitary confinement for 15 days.
Last month, the United Nations Committee Against Torture, a panel of independent experts, expressed “deep concern” at Israel’s treatment of Palestinian minors.
According to the DCI report, some 700 children are convicted in Israel’s military courts each year, with children older than 12 denied access to lawyers in interrogation.
It adds that interrogators routinely blindfold and handcuff child detainees during questioning and use techniques including slaps and kicks, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, threats to the child and his family, and tying the child up for long periods.
Such practices were banned by Israel’s Supreme Court in 1999 but are still widely documented by Israeli human rights groups.
DCI says it has been disturbed by reports from several children of a special tiny cell, referred to as No 36, at a detention centre near Haifa. The cell has no windows or ventilation, its walls are dark and a dim light is kept on 24 hours a day.
In 95 per cent of cases, children are convicted on the basis of signed confessions written in Hebrew, a language few of them understand.
Once sentenced, the children are held in violation of international law in prisons in Israel where most are denied visits from family and receive little or no education.
DCI also criticises “a culture of impunity” among the Shin Bet, noting that not one of 600 complaints of torture filed against its interrogators during the second intifada has led to a criminal investigation.
Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, reported in November that soldiers too rarely face disciplinary action over illegal behaviour.
Army data from 2000 to the end of 2007 revealed that the military police had indicted soldiers in only 78 of 1,268 investigations. Most soldiers received minor sentences.
Academic studies suggest that Israeli soldiers have been routinely using violence against Palestinian civilians, including children, for many years.
In late 2007 Israelis were shocked by the testimonies collected by clinical psychologist Nufar Yishai-Karin from 21 soldiers with whom she shared her military service during the early 1990s.
The soldiers told her of incidents in which bystanders were shot or assaulted. In one of the most disturbing testimonies, a soldier said he had witnessed his commander attacking a four-year-old boy playing in the sand in Gaza.
“He broke his hand here at the wrist. Broke his hand at the wrist, broke his leg here. And started to stomp on his stomach, three times, and left ... The next day I go out with him on another patrol, and the soldiers are already starting to do the same thing.”
Such revelations have grown in number since the Breaking the Silence began drawing attention to the army’s mistreatment of Palestinians in 2004.
- 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). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.jkcook.net. A version of this article originally appeared in The National - www.thenational.ae - published in Abu Dhabi.
Thursday, 18 June 2009
Netanyahu's Peace of the Cowardly
There is always room for hope, not in Netanyahu's offer, but in our own strength..
By Joharah Baker – Jerusalem
For some reason, everyone wanted to hear what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to say in his policy speech given on June 14. After the right-winger finished and the analysis began to flow, a few things became certain, first and foremost that nothing in this cursed conflict has really changed, at least for the better.
Many political pundits are saying that Netanyahu catered his speech to accommodate new worldly US President Barack Obama and his policies, which he outlined on June 4 in Cairo. Hence, came the two words Netanyahu hates most – Palestinian state. It was not however, a declaration of conceding to the idea that Palestinians deserved a sovereign and independent country. No, Netanyahu almost choked the words out, like a person who is made to swallow poison. The Israeli premier did say those words, but almost in the same breath he ticked off his conditions for this to happen – one, the Palestinians would have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, a homeland for the Jewish people, and two, any state that may come into being would have to be completely demilitarized. This was, believe it or not, after Netanyahu called on the Palestinians to "begin peace negotiations immediately without prior conditions." Israel he said, "is committed to international agreements, and expects all sides to fulfill their obligations." Really?
What a farce. Netanyahu would have done better by not saying anything at all. At least that way, he would have stuck to his so-called principles. Instead, his speech amounted to nothing, a big, fat "zero" in the words of Palestinian presidential advisor Yasser Abed Rabbo. He did not back down on so-called natural growth in settlements, saying the settlers, whom he forgot to mention were living on Palestinian land illegally, must lead normal lives. Jerusalem, of course, would remain the eternal capital of Israel, refugees would never be allowed to return home and apparently there would be no return to the 1967 borders. What's worse, Netanyahu built his entire speech on the premise that all past and present hindrances to achieving peace were the fault of the Palestinians. We (and the Arabs) rejected the partition plan, we resorted to "terror", we would not accept Israel's extended hand in peace. In short, according to the premier, "The simple truth is that the root of the conflict has been and remains - the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to its own state in its historical homeland."
Well, at least we know. It is all our fault. "The closer we get to a peace agreement with them, the more they [the Palestinians] are distancing themselves from peace. They raise new demands. They are not showing us that they want to end the conflict," Netanyahu maintained.
Nothing has changed. Since Netanyahu apparently made his speech to quiet the rumblings in Washington over his intransigence on both the settlement issue and his lack of endorsement of a Palestinian state, we have only to look at the White House response to see that it is business as usual. That is, Netanyahu seems to have placated America, at least for the time being. In a written statement following the Israeli Prime Minister's speech, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration viewed Netanyahu's conditional endorsement of a limited Palestinian state as an "important step forward."
Gibbs went on to read, "The president is committed to two states, a Jewish state of Israel and an independent Palestine, in the historic homeland of both peoples. He believes this solution can and must ensure both Israel's security and the fulfillment of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations for a viable state, and he welcomes Prime Minister Netanyahu's endorsement of that goal."
Netanyahu really didn't endorse that goal at all. There was nothing in his speech that suggested he supported a "viable" Palestinian state nor did he mention anything about "Palestinians' legitimate aspirations."
Obviously, this shows that Netanyahu is smarter than he sometimes comes across to be. Everyone has been eyeing what shift in dimension Israeli-American relations may take after the two leaders came into office. While they got off to a bumpy start, Netanyahu was not about to jeopardize his country's strong relationship with the US, even if this meant sugar-coating his words just a bit. In the end, he is a politician.
It seemed to have worked as well. Everyone realizes nothing positive is going to come of Netanyahu's term in office, especially in regards to a push towards Palestinian statehood. But, with this policy speech in which he made himself utter the unutterable words "Palestinian state", he has pushed the pacifier back into America's mouth, at least for now. Let's be honest. This has been Israeli-American policy for years, regardless of who ran their respective governments. The US has been calling for a peaceful resolution based on the two-state solution for years and Israel's governments have verbally endorsed that solution all the same. On the ground though, we are no closer to the realization of a Palestinian state than we were under former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who openly "supported" the two-state solution. The difference today however, is represented in the leaders of the two countries, differences that may just serve as catalysts for some real change.
First there is Netanyahu, who unlike his predecessors does not mince his words. This policy speech was the farthest he has ever gone in terms of Palestinian statehood, which proves how hard line he really is. We have a man who is not embarrassed to say he doesn't support an independent Palestinian state or that Jerusalem is non-negotiable. His politically-incorrect bluntness could just be the thing that will urge America to take a harder stance with its ally, especially when the euphoria of his latest speech wears off in Washington.
Hence, the second major difference, US President Barack Obama. In sharp contrast to George W Bush, with his limited vocabulary, cowboy mentality of "with us or against us", Obama is educated, eloquent and worldly and seems honestly to want change. He is not looking to exclude anyone, including Iran and Hamas and he made it clear that a two-state solution is the only way to resolve this conflict.
Whether or not Obama will have the power or time to actually realize this goal, it is hard to say. There are huge obstacles in the way, such as Israel's adamancy not to change the status quo, Palestinian internal division and the pull of the Jewish lobby within the United States.
Still, there is always room for hope, not in anything Netanyahu has to offer, but in our own strength to utilize these new players to our advantage. Obama may be able to set these wheels in motion, if he continues to have the political will to do so. It remains for us to bring it home.
- 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 email@example.com. (Published in MIFTAH – www.miftah.org).
US Has to Choose - Roadmap to Nowhere
This is not a roadmap to peace but a call for another Intifada. (Lasse Shmidt)
By Aijaz Zaka Syed – Dubai
Former US president Jimmy Carter is one of those rare birds who have retained their humanity even after four years in the world's most powerful job. The architect of the first Arab-Israel peace accord was moved to tears when he visited the ruins of Gaza this week, comparing the condition of the Palestinians to “worse than animals.”
Granted, most Americans are not familiar with the Palestinian way of life, I often wonder what the Israelis themselves think of the people living next door in a permanent hell? Are the Israelis ever moved by the Palestinian suffering, as Carter has been and rest of the world often is? If they are, it is yet to be seen.
No matter what happens to the Palestinians and what the rest of the world thinks of their suffering, Israel and its leaders remain as indifferent and as unreasonable as ever.
When Benjamin Netanyahu promised his own roadmap, after President Barack Obama gave him those stony looks in the Oval Office with the world media watching, even the most hardened cynics like me began nursing hopes of peace.
We thought, maybe, Israel, prodded by its faithful ally and biggest backer, finally has had a change of heart. Maybe, we hoped, it’s finally time for the doves of peace to descend on the Holy Land. Perhaps, the time has come for Palestinians to find themselves a home -- even if moth eaten -- of their own on this big and wide planet.
But Israel is nothing if not consistent. Netanyahu did unveil a ‘roadmap’ in his much-hyped speech but you do not know what to make of it.
Having refused to acknowledge the existence of Palestinians all these years, Netanyahu has finally agreed for ‘peace’ and a Palestinian state, if it can be called one. However, his one hand takes back what the other proffers.
The ‘sovereign and independent’ Palestine envisaged by Israel will have no military or security forces of its own. It is not permitted to possess or import any weapons. It cannot control its own airspace. And, yes, the borders of this Bantustan will be controlled by the able and efficient forces of the great state of Israel. His Imperial Majesty Netanyahu is kind enough though to grant the future Palestinian state the right to have its own flag and currency.
In return, all Israel asks from the Palestinians is the surrender of their rights over their lands and homes in what was once Palestine. They must recognize Israel as the Jewish state and the divine right of Jewish people to the Holy Land.
So what if this means the Palestinians can never dream of returning to their homes and lands from which they were driven out or even hope for recompense? In any case, where’s the land and where are the homes that the Palestinians dream of returning to?
It’s all Israel now – greater Israel, from the river to the sea! When will Palestinians grow out of their dreams? How long will they continue to cling to idle hope, year after wasted year, generation after lost generation? After all, it’s been nearly seven decades since the Nakhba?
And yes, Jerusalem shall remain the capital of Israel, no matter what the Palestinians claim or Muslims and Christians believe. As for the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and around Jerusalem, they will continue to grow and multiply by the day like all good neighborhoods should do.
After all, they’ve been growing over the past half-a-century or so. No one has been able to stop them, no matter who is in power in Tel Aviv or Washington. This is why Netanyahu thinks it is not in the “interest of peace and stability” to put a freeze on them now.
Like Israel’s good ol’ friend Bush would argue, they are, after all, ground realities. No one can change them, not even Obama. How dare Barry, hardly four months in the White House, demand a freeze on the settlements when all his predecessors failed to do so! Does he know what he is up against?
No one has taken on Israel and survived to tell the tale. No US president has ever managed to push the Israelis in a direction they do not want to go. Israeli politicians have repeatedly played cat-and-mouse not just with the Palestinians and Arabs but also with successive US presidents, forever buying time even as more and more Palestinian land is eaten away by settlements.
No wonder Netanyahu believes he can play the same games with Obama. This is why he came up with that roadmap to nowhere.
While the White House praised the Netanyahu juggernaut as an ‘important step forward,’ it is seen by the Palestinians, Arabs and rest of the world as a huge setback to Obama’s groundbreaking initiative.
This is not an important step forward, Mr. President, but a clever move to sabotage your peace efforts. This is not a two-state solution but a massacre of the aspirations and hopes of a long persecuted people. In Palestinian leader Mustafa Barghouti’s words, Netanyahu hasn’t endorsed a Palestinian state but a ghetto.
If you call this ‘embracing peace,’ I must be Alexander the Great. For God’s sake, Netanyahu doesn’t even call it a Palestinian state but ‘territory’—whatever that means!
As Palestinian spokesperson Saeb Erekat puts it, Netanyahu’s proposal is a ‘slap in the face’ for Obama. So much so even the Israeli commentators are shocked by the in-your-face belligerence of their leader.
A blogger on the Israeli daily, Haaretz, has to say this on Netanyahu’s offer: "It seemed to be ‘no’ to dividing Jerusalem, no to the return of refugees and no to an independent state and no to a real settlement freeze."
This is not a roadmap to peace but a call for another Intifada. This will not put an end to Palestinian suffering but perpetuate it.
The question is, what does Obama do now? Does he have the courage to call Israel’s bluff? Is he prepared to beat Bibi at his own game?
His courageous and sincere efforts to end the world’s longest running conflict have awakened hope across the Middle East and beyond. He has not only gone against America’s own hallowed traditions of blind support to Israel, but is also prepared to challenge the powerful vested interests and lobbies in Washington to bring peace to the Holy Land.
If people around the world are, for the first time in decades, optimistic about the Middle East peace today, the credit goes to this extraordinary individual with an equally extraordinary history. Would Obama squander all this euphoria and goodwill because of Israel’s continuing obstinacy? Would he allow Netanyahu to undermine this historic opportunity?
As Carter has pointed out, the United States is in this together with Israel. It shares the equal responsibility for the Palestinians’ exploitation and the mess in the region.
The US has to choose between peace and justice for both Palestinians and Israelis -- and the Middle East -- or take Israel’s side and perpetuate the cycle of violence and chaos across the region.
- Aijaz Zaka Syed is Opinion Editor of Khaleej Times. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
La France s'étend à GazaPar Georges Malbrunot le 2 juin 2009
A Gaza, un nouveau centre culturel français devrait bientôt être construit sur un terrain de
La France est le dernier grand pays occidental à avoir gardé un centre culturel dans la bande de Gaza, où des centaines de jeunes palestiniens viennent y apprendre la langue de Molière.
« Cette présence est très importante pour nous », souligne Anis, un Gazaoui, qui a appris le français dans ce centre, il y a bientôt vingt ans. « Savez-vous qu’il y a aujourd’hui 5 000 Palestiniens francophones à travers la bande de Gaza », ajoute-t-il. L’automne dernier, une « Nuit blanche », organisée au "CCF" de Gaza, rassembla plus de 500 jeunes palestiniens.
« Nous ne comptons pas nous désengager de Gaza », insiste un diplomate français, même si le territoire est administré par les islamistes du Hamas, considéré comme une organisation terroriste par l’Union européenne et avec lesquels la France n’a pas de relations.
Ultime précision : avant d’engager les premiers coups de pioche, Paris doit encore attendre l’autorisation d’Israël, qui contrôle l’entrée des hommes et des marchandises dans cette étroite bande de terre, évacuée par l’armée de l’Etat hébreu en 2005.
Israel's efforts to suppress Palestinian activities in Jerusalem
Marian Houk, The Electronic Intifada, 16 June 2009
|A Palestinian man in Jerusalem stands atop his home that was destroyed by Israel with the pretext that it was built without a permit. (Anne Paq/Activestills)|
Israel is currently using provisions in the lengthy documents of the Oslo accords as the legal basis for intensifying efforts to suppress activities in Jerusalem that the state says are linked to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The Oslo accords were interim agreements that were signed by the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and from which the PA was created.
The Israeli government argues broadly that because the Oslo accords leaves the issue of Jerusalem unresolved until final status talks, it is forbidden to function in Jerusalem. Yet, just a month after the first of the Oslo accords were signed in 1993, then-Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres promised in writing that Israel would not "hamper" -- and would instead "preserve" and "encourage" -- the activity of "all the Palestinian institutions of East Jerusalem." Jawad Boulos, a Palestinian lawyer with Israeli citizenship who has represented PA interests in court, said that a subsequent Israeli law on the implementation of the Oslo accords has superseded the Peres letter, and is the basis for the current prohibition.
The latest examples of this crackdown were closure orders delivered last month by armed Israeli police and border police at the opening and closing sessions of this year's annual Palestine Festival of Literature, which were scheduled to be held in East Jerusalem's Al-Hakawati Palestinian National Theater.
Festival organizers denied any connection with the Ramallah, West Bank-based PA, which had been involved in intensive US-sponsored peace negotiations with the Israeli government following the Annapolis conference in November 2007. Despite those negotiations -- or perhaps because of them -- the Israeli government suppression of Palestinian activities in East Jerusalem has intensified over the past two years.
Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said in a phone interview last week that "Any event in Jerusalem that is organized or financed or backed by the Palestinian Authority" will be shut down. It has been happening with increasing frequency in recent months, and it happens this way: the Israeli Ministry of Internal Security makes the decision and signs shut-down orders which are then enforced by a combination of Israeli national police and border police.
During the Pope's recent visit to the Holy Land, a Palestinian media center set up temporarily in the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem was ordered closed. Israeli police and border police deployed to deliver a prohibition against holding press conferences by Jerusalem personalities in a public room at the hotel during the last four days of the Pope's trip.
Additionally, the Israeli crackdown hit hard at the March launch of the Arab League-sponsored year of Jerusalem as capital of Arab culture for 2009 (the event was postponed in January due to the large-scale Israeli military operation in Gaza). Rafiq Husseini, a resident of East Jerusalem and a senior advisor to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, heads the committee in charge of organizing the activities. The main event was in Bethlehem, due to the ban on PA activities in Jerusalem. The Israeli national police and border police stopped at least eight related events that were organized in Jerusalem, including the release of balloons into the air, the distribution of T-shirts, a soccer match and a visit of students to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The students were waving Palestinian flags and about 20 persons were detained.
Last June, Israeli forces unexpectedly showed up to ban the seventh annual memorial meeting in honor of the late PLO leader in Jerusalem, Faisal Husseini, which was to be held in East Jerusalem's al-Hakawati theater. Husseini died of a heart attack on 31 May 2001 while on a mission to try to mend Palestinian relations with Kuwait.
"The Israeli police brought with them 'the brass,' and they had special forces ready on the side," according to Adnan Abdelrazek, a former UN official who later worked with Husseini in the Orient House, and who had gone to attend the service. The Orient House is a family property that was reinvented by the late Husseini during the Oslo period as a quasi-representative Palestinian office in Jerusalem, where a number of community services and organizations worked together. The Orient House was closed down by the Israeli authorities, a few months after Husseini's death, in the midst of the second Palestinian intifada, after a suicide bombing in August 2001.
Abdelrazek said of the police breaking up the memorial, "But they did not even have a court order -- which meant they would have had to go to the court and explain why they wanted to prevent the memorial, and we would have had the opportunity to explain why we wanted to hold it. No, in Jerusalem, in this supposedly 'united Jerusalem,' the Israeli police relied on the British Military Regulations of 1947," which limit the right to assembly. During the raid, the sponsor of the memorial and Faisal Husseini's son, Abdel-Qader Husseini, was briefly detained.
Abdelrazek explained that "The Israelis have zero tolerance for any Palestinian voice, and it's getting worse and worse. But there is no way the Israelis can prevent people forever from exercising their basic human rights to political expression and free speech." However, this year there was no effort made to organize a memorial service in East Jerusalem to honor Faisal Husseini on the anniversary of his death.
Attorney Boulos worked with Husseini in the Orient House. He said in a recent interview that "the way [that] Israel is responding to all Palestinian initiatives in East Jerusalem, in a crazy way -- to cultural events, international cultural events, music events -- trying to prove they are the masters of the place, this will hurt Israel in the end."
Boulos said that the multiple detentions and summons for questioning given to Palestinian activists is another strategy used by the Israeli police and the Ministry of Internal Security to prevent Palestinian events from taking place in Jerusalem. Boulos pointed to the multiple detentions of Hatem Abdel Qader, an East Jerusalem activist who has been an adviser to appointed PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, himself a resident of East Jerusalem. Abdel Qader was recently sworn in as Palestinian Authority Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, with a full portfolio. Boulos said that "There were no orders for his arrest. The police say only that they want to have a conversation with Abdel Qader and the others they detain, or summon for interrogation. The Palestinians are held from one to five hours, and that's how the activities are disrupted."
It's not only the cultural sphere that is affected by these strengthened measures. After the Orient House was ordered closed, the East Jerusalem-based Arab Chamber of Commerce was forced to relocate to al-Ram. Since mid-February, al-Ram has been completely sealed off behind Israel's wall. Businesspersons who are members of the Chamber of Commerce complain that there is no convenient location nearby where they can legally hold a meeting. This is despite an explicit stipulation in the US-brokered Road Map that the Israeli government is supposed to "reopen the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce and other closed Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem based on a commitment that these institutions operate strictly in accordance with prior agreements between the parties."
East Jerusalem was not part of Israel when the state was declared on 14 May 1948, but was under Jordanian control until Israel captured it and the rest of the West Bank in the June 1967 war. Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the war, and successive Israeli governments have since worked relentlessly to isolate Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. Moreover, each Israeli administration has made it clear that they regard all of Jerusalem as theirs -- meaning the "Greater Jerusalem" municipality that Israel unilaterally designated after the 1967 war by absorbing parts of the West Bank, running north to the Atarot/Qalandiya airport at the doorstep of Ramallah, and south to the entry of Bethlehem.
However, Israeli officials are proposing to undo the "Greater Jerusalem" package, and reverse the process in specific areas by detaching Palestinian-populated neighborhoods in the northern and southern parts of "Greater Jerusalem" and turning them over to the PA's jurisdiction. The expansion of Jewish settlements in and around Jerusalem and the route of the wall that Israel has been constructing on Palestinian territory since 2002 appear to conform to this plan.
Palestinian officials, for their part, have spoken of a Jerusalem without barriers or checkpoints that would serve simultaneously as the capital of two states. However, as things stand now, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have no real political representation, which has a direct negative impact on their daily lives. They bitterly complain about being forgotten and abandoned by all sides. They are taxed as much as or sometimes more than the Israeli Jewish residents of West Jerusalem, yet they receive a disproportionately smaller share of municipal services, including but not limited to the obvious problems of inadequate garbage collection. There is also a significant lack of primary school classrooms for Palestinian residents.
Making matters worse, in the November 2008 municipal elections, ballot boxes were not set up in East Jerusalem areas that have been isolated on the other side of Israel's wall. This provoked further anxiety among Palestinians who live in constant fear of losing their Jerusalem residency. Also at stake is Palestinians' access to family, friends, work, schools, shops, libraries, parks, health care, as well as places of religious worship. In recent months, orders for the eviction or demolition of Palestinian homes have rapidly increased, while building permits for Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are both extremely costly and nearly impossible to obtain.
Suggestions have been made that this could be provisionally corrected if Palestinians would organize to elect representatives who would work for their interests on the Jerusalem municipal council. Palestinian East Jerusalemites became permanent residents in Israel in 1967, and they are eligible to vote in the Jerusalem municipal elections. However, only a fraction of the potential Palestinian voters in East Jerusalem have done so. The overwhelming majority has conformed with a decades-long decision to boycott the elections in protest of the continuing occupation.
Meanwhile, under the terms of the Oslo accords, East Jerusalem Palestinians were also given the right to vote in PA elections. In practice however Israeli-imposed movement restrictions and other difficulties mean that only a minority cast a ballot in PA elections.
Hypothetically, East Jerusalem Palestinians have the right to vote in elections in two different jurisdictions. But they are in a unique situation, deprived of any effective governmental representation. They are prevented from exercising self-governance, and they are not permitted representation from the PA whose president and parliament they vote to elect. At the same time, the Israeli prohibition of Palestinian activities in Jerusalem is constricting the ability of Palestinian residents to express, develop and practice their own culture freely.
Marian Houk is a journalist currently working in Jerusalem with experience at the United Nations and in the region. Her blog is www.un-truth.com.
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Gaza frozen in time
Stephanie Westbrook writing from Rome, Italy, Live from Palestine, 16 June 2009
|Since Israel does not allow materials like concrete or steel into Gaza, many are unable to rebuild their homes after the devastating 22 days of attacks that ended in January. (Matthew Cassel)|
While traveling throughout Gaza with a delegation of mostly US citizens organized by Code Pink, the absurdities of Israel's 24-month-long siege were ever-present. Upon returning home, a friend commented, "It must have been horrifying seeing all the destruction." And it was. The 22-day Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip (December 2008-January 2009) laid waste to this already ravaged and impoverished territory.
Gaza's landscape is dotted with piles of rubble of bombed out buildings, the twisted iron and aluminum of destroyed factories, once green fields reduced to sand and dirt by Israeli tanks, apartments with two-meter holes in the walls and toppled minarets of mosques turned to ruins. But as devastating as bearing witness to the destruction was, it was the absurdities of the total blockade of Gaza imposed by Israel and Egypt that really affected me.
Gaza itself remains frozen in time. Israel will not allow concrete and steel into Gaza, and as a result, nearly five months after the ceasefire no post-war reconstruction has begun. In only a few rare cases, cinder blocks have been used to fill gaping holes in the sides of buildings.
At al-Shifa hospital, the largest in Gaza, state-of-the-art isotope scan and radio therapy machines in the oncology department cannot operate because key supplies and equipment have been refused entry by Israel. A row of dialysis machines sat unused, lacking the required fluids.
As medical conditions in Gaza deteriorate due to the siege, many look for medical care abroad. However, the sealed borders prevent them from traveling. We met the director of an orphanage who already lost vision in one eye and was losing it in the other, but had been unable to obtain permission from Israel to travel to Egypt for eye care.
Power outages are regular occurrences. The Gaza power plant simply cannot keep up with the demand due to a lack of fuel, which is blocked by Israel, as is supplemental electricity produced in Israel. There are scheduled blackouts of 8 to 10 hours, as well as spontaneous outages.
While touring al-Shifa, the minister of health apologized for the heat in the room, saying their generator must be reserved for higher priority uses than air conditioning. Families are forced to carry their loved ones up the stairs because the elevators shutdown during blackouts.
The centers working to create employment opportunities for Gaza's women inevitably fall prey to the siege. Power cuts bring the sewing machines making dresses and linens to a standstill. Even the embroidery thread used to make traditional handicrafts must be smuggled in through the tunnels.
The siege has also taken its toll on the father figure. According to Dr. Hasan Shaban Zeyada, a psychologist with the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, with almost 80 percent unemployment due to the siege, children see their fathers as unable to provide for them. This was compounded by Israel's invasion, when they saw that their fathers were also unable to protect them. As a result, children have started looking to other role models.
Another sector suffering due to the siege is education. At a UN vocational training center in Khan Younis, the library consists of roughly 12 bookcases, but only two had any books at all, with half being photocopied manuals. The textbooks destined for the center have been held up in a storage facility in Jerusalem; the Israelis have simply refused to allow them in. The vocational center is also unable to get the raw materials for their metal and woodworking courses.
Sharif, a university student studying business administration in his second year, is understandably proud of having top marks. His friends have nicknamed him "The Genius." Sharif was awarded a scholarship at Portland University in Oregon starting this fall. Unfortunately, the irrationality of the siege is likely to prevent him from being allowed to go. "If I don't get authorization [to leave Gaza] by August, there goes my scholarship," he explained.
A professor at Gaza's al-Aqsa University has been offered a position at the University of Manchester in England. However, Israel has denied him permission to travel. Professors are also unable to travel to attend international conferences. And students of the English department have a tough time finding native speakers with whom to practice the language, as getting into Gaza is almost as difficult as getting out.
Numerous projects for which funding has already been approved are currently suspended for the simple fact that the materials to complete them are not allowed in. Turkey has donated funds for a new university library and PalTel, the Palestinian telecommunications company, has allocated funds for an information technology center. But both projects remain in limbo, victims of the siege.
An official with the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) remarked that it is also a problem to get the actual banknotes in. UNRWA, which provides services to more than a million registered refugees in the Gaza Strip, is often only able to get money in to pay the salaries of their 10,000 employees, while money to fund projects is blocked.
Not only are Palestinians restricted in their movement in and out of Gaza, but also within. In late May, Israel began dropping thousands of leaflets near the border areas warning the people of Gaza not to come within 300 meters of the border or they would be fired upon. Farmers are forced to risk their lives in order to work their fields that fate has placed too close to the border. The same restrictions are imposed on Palestinian fishermen. The sound of shots pierce the silence nightly, as Israeli gunboats fire on fishing boats that dare to venture far enough away from the shore in order to catch fish to sell and provide a living for their families.
These are the absurdities that have become the norm in Gaza. But perhaps most absurd of all is how anyone can believe that Israel's severity in the closures, the destruction of the economy and social fabric of the Gaza Strip, will serve to convince Palestinians to place their trust in international law.
What we in the international community must do is to heed the call we heard repeatedly from the people of Gaza: work to break the siege so that they can take care of themselves.
Stephanie Westbrook is a founding member of US Citizens for Peace & Justice in Rome, Italy (http://www.peaceandjustice.it) and currently serves on the group's coordinating committee.
Obama Won't Wink Back
'It seems that in Afro-American culture the wink is unknown.'
By Uri Avnery – Israel
Remember Dov Weisglass? The one who said that peace must wait until the Palestinians become Finns? Who talked about preserving the peace process in formaldehyde?
However, Weisglass will mainly be remembered less for his mouth than his eyes. Weisglass is the King of the Wink.
This week, Binyamin Netanyahu called him in for urgent consultations. He needed a lesson in “working with the eyes” (as cheating is called in modern Hebrew slang).
Winking is the main instrument of the settlement enterprise. The wink is the real father of the settlements. The settlers wink. The government winks. Officials don’t issue a permit, but wink. They say no, and wink. Wink and build. Wink and connect to electricity and water. Wink and send soldiers to protect the outposts, and also remove the Palestinians from adjoining fields and olive groves.
The wink is also the main instrument of Israeli diplomacy. Everything is done by winking. The Americans demand a freeze of the settlements – and wink. The Israelis agree to the freeze – and wink back.
Trouble is that there is no printed sign for a wink. The computer has no standard symbol for it. So Hillary Clinton could honestly assert this week that no wink is documented in any agreement signed by the US and Israel. Not in any memorandum of oral exchanges. So there are no understandings. No mention at all of a wink in any file or document.
Worse: it seems that in Afro-American culture the wink is unknown. When Netanyahu came to the White House and winked – Barack Obama did not respond. Winked again, and again Obama did not understand. Winked and winked and winked until his face ached – nothing. Obama thought, perhaps, that Netanyahu had a nervous tic. Really embarrassing.
What can you do with someone who is no winkee? How, for God’s sake, does one get him to wink back?
That is the main problem confronting the Prime Minister of Israel.
Tomorrow he is going to deliver a Great Speech. Not just great, Historic. His resounding response to Obama’s speech in Egypt. Everything has been done to put the two events on the same level. Obama spoke at Cairo University? Netanyahu will speak at Bar-Ilan University, the religious right-wing institution that nurtured the murderer of Yitzhak Rabin.
But that is the only similarity. Obama outlined the contours of a New Middle East? Netanyahu will outline the contours of the Old Middle East. Obama spoke about a future of peace, cooperation and mutual respect? Netanyahu will speak about a past of Holocaust, violence, hatred and fears.
Netanyahu’s biggest problem is to make believe that the old is new. To make yesterday’s tired old clichés sound like the rallying call for tomorrow. But how to do that without using winks, facing a person who does not understand winks?
How to speak about the “natural increase” of the settlers without winking? How to speak about a Palestinian state without winking? How to speak about speeding up peace negotiations with the Palestinians without winking?
The most expert tailors have been called for advice about the emperor’s new clothes. Ministers and Knesset members and professors and magicians and, of course, Shimon Peres.
All of them rallied to the call: to tailor a beautiful robe, fashionable trousers and a colorful tie – such as only the very wisest of people will see.
Once we could rely on the Holocaust. We said Holocaust, and the room fell silent. We could oppress the Palestinians, steal their lands, set up settlements, scatter checkpoints everywhere like the droppings of flies, blockade Gaza and so on. When the Goyim opened their mouths to protest, we cried “Holocaust” – and the words froze on their lips.
So what to do with someone who himself speaks incessantly about the Holocaust and denounces its deniers? A person who actually bothers to visit a concentration camp and drags with him “Mr. Holocaust”, Elie Wiesel, in person?
No wonder that our Prime Minister tosses and turns in his bed and finds no rest for his soul. Netanyahu without the Holocaust is like the Pope without the cross. Netanyahu without a “second Holocaust” – how can he speak about Iran? What can he say about the Existential Danger, which prevents us from dismantling cabins in Judea and sheds in Samaria?
(Thank God for small mercies: at least Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, our main asset in the region, has been reelected.)
So how will Netanyahu pitch his Historic Speech?
He will have to try and hammer a square peg into a round hole. To say Yes when he means No. That is what his predecessors did. Ehud Barak did it. Ariel Sharon did it. Ehud Olmert did it. With one big difference: they did it with a sly wink. Netanyahu will have to do it with a straight face.
He must speak about Two States without mentioning two states. To speak about freezing the settlements while building work there is proceeding at full speed.
In the past, there were many ways of going on with the settlement. “The Jewish brain produces patents”, as a popular Hebrew song goes. New neighborhoods were built under the pretense that they were simply an extension of existing ones – at a distance of ten meters, or a hundred, or a thousand or two, as long as they were in the range of visibility. Or it was said that the building activity was taking place within the boundaries of existing settlements – helped by the fact that the municipal area of Maaleh Adumin settlement, for example, is officially as big as all of Tel-Aviv.
One can also brandish George W. Bush’s famous letter, in which he expressed his opinion that in any future peace agreement “existing Israeli population centers” should be joined to Israel. But Bush did not define the “population centers” nor outline their borders. And he certainly did not say that we are allowed to build there before the signing of a final agreement, including possible swaps of territory. Not that he had any authority to decide such matters in the first place.
One can also talk about “natural increase”. No problem: women can be turned into factories for children, preferable twins and triplets. Also, one can adopt children from the age of 1 to 101. After all, if there is a new child in the family, one needs to build another room, another house, another neighborhood.
(By the way, “natural increase” is, of course, a strictly Jewish matter. Arabs have no natural increase. Their increase is unnatural.)
And what about the State of Palestine, as projected by Obama?
Israeli TV did a beautiful job this week, when it reminded us what Netanyahu said only six years ago: “A Palestinian state – NO!” because “Yes to a Palestinian state means No to the Jewish state.”
Netanyahu seems to think that it is only a matter of presentation. He can mention that in the past we already accepted the Road Map, which contains something about a Palestinian state. True, we made the acceptance conditional on 14 “reservations” which castrated it and turned it into a meaningless scrap of paper. But perhaps Obama will be content with that.
To sum up: no need to talk about Two States when they have already been mentioned in the Road Map (its name be cursed), which we declared dead a long time ago, but which we now consider alive again, and where something like two states is mentioned, so there is no need to repeat it - enough to allude to it in an oblique way.
But what to do if, in spite of everything, the Americans insist that Netanyahu emit the two words “Palestinian state” from his own mouth? If there is no way out, Netanyahu may mutter them somehow, silently adding phooey-phooey-phooey and loudly adding qualifications that empty them of all content. That is what Barak did, then Sharon, then Olmert.
The declarations of Tzipi Livni and her people produce the impression that they are stuck at the same point. They, too, seem to believe that we can go on speaking about two states and doing the very opposite, about freezing the settlements and go on building there. No new message is coming from this camp, but only criticism of Netanyahu for not changing his style to please Obama.
But what Obama is asking for is not a new formulation of old slogans. He demands the acceptance of the principle of Two States as a basis for concrete and rigorous action: achieving an agreement on the establishment of a state called Palestine, with its capital in East Jerusalem, without settlements and all the other paraphernalia of the occupation.
He demands the start of negotiations forthwith, so that within two or three years – before the end of his current term – real peace will be established, a peace that will ensure the existence and security of “the Jewish state of Israel” (as George Mitchell put it this week) and the Arab state of Palestine, side by side.
All this as part of a new Greater Middle Eastern order, from Pakistan to Morocco, and as a part of a world-wide vision.
Against this demand, no winking a la Weisglass or verbal gimmicks a la Peres will be of any avail. In tomorrow’s speech, Netanyahu will have to choose between three alternatives: a head-on collision with the United States, a total change in his policy, or resignation.
The era of winks is over.
- Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.
as criancas palestinianas sao submetidas a abusos constantes nos centros de detencao israelita-parte 2
as criancas palestinianas sao submetidas a abusos constantes nos centros de detencao israelita-parte 1
Report: Palestinian children systematically abused in Israeli detention
Report, DCI-Palestine, 16 June 2009
The following press release was issued on 11 June 2009:
Today, DCI-Palestine is releasing a report which documents the widespread ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children at the hands of the Israeli army and police force -- "Palestinian Child Prisoners: The systematic and institutionalized ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities."
The release of the report comes just days after an article was published in The Independent newspaper reporting the testimonies of two Israeli soldiers which detail the deliberate abuse of Palestinian children. One soldier is reported as saying that in an incident that occurred in a Palestinian village in March, he saw a lot of soldiers "just knee [Palestinians] because it's boring, because you stand there for 10 hours, you're not doing anything, so they beat people up."
The report published today contains the testimonies of 33 children, one as young as 10 years old, who bear witness to the abuse they received at the hands of soldiers from the moment of arrest through to an often violent interrogation.
Most of these children were arrested from villages near the Wall and illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. There is evidence that many children are painfully shackled for hours on end, kicked, beaten and threatened, some with death, until they provide confessions, some written in Hebrew, a language they do not speak or understand.
"A soldier [...] pointed his rifle at me. The rifle barrel was a few centimetres away from my face. I was so terrified that I started to shiver. He made fun of me and said: 'shivering? Tell me where the pistol is before I shoot you.'"
-- Ezzat, 10 years old
Disturbingly, the report finds that these illegally-obtained confessions are routinely used as evidence in the military courts to convict around 700 Palestinian children every year. And the most common charge against these children is for throwing stones. Once sentenced, the children who gave these testimonies were mostly imprisoned inside Israel in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention where they receive few family visits, and little or no education.
The report concludes that this widespread and systematic abuse is occurring within a general culture of impunity where in 600 complaints made against Israeli Security Agency interrogators for alleged ill-treatment and torture, not a single criminal investigation was ever conducted.
The report also contains recent recommendations made by the UN Committee Against Torture which expressed "deep concern" at reports of the abuse of Palestinian children when it reviewed Israel's compliance with the Convention Against Torture in May 2009.
Download report [PDF - 4 MB]
The Other Apartheid State
How do we evaluate the inhumanity of dropping bombs on civilian populations.
By Ronnie Kasrils – Cape Town, South Africa
(Address by Ronnie Kasrils – Cape Town International Conference: Re-envisioning Israel/Palestine. June 12, 2009)
May I start by quoting a South African who emphatically stated as far back as 1961 that “The Jews took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. Israel like South Africa, is an apartheid state” (Rand Daily Mail, 23 November 1961). Those were not the words of Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu or Ruth First, but were uttered by none other than the architect of apartheid itself, racist Prime Minister, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd.
He was irked by the criticism of apartheid policy and Harold Macmillan’s “Winds of Change” speech and the growing international outcry following the Sharpeville massacre, in contrast to the West’s unconditional support for Zionist Israel.
To be sure Verwoerd was correct. Both apartheid South Africa and Zionist Israel were colonial, settler states created on the basis of the harsh dispossession of the land and birthright of the indigenous people. This is unblushingly documented in Israel's case from the time of Herzl through Jabotinsky, Ben Gurion, Menachem Begin, Moshe Dayan to Sharon et al. Both states preached and implemented a policy based on racial ethnicity; the sole claim of Jews in Israel and whites in South Africa to exclusive citizenship; monopolized rights in law regarding the ownership of land, property, business; superior access to education, health, social, sporting and cultural amenities, pensions and municipal services at the expense of the original indigenous population; the virtual monopoly membership of military and security forces, and privileged development along their own racial supremacist lines - even both countries marriage laws are designed to safeguard racial “purity”. The fact that the Palestinian minority within Israel is allowed to vote hardly redresses the injustice in all other matters of basic human rights. In any case those Palestinians allowed to stand for election to the Knesset do so on condition that they dare not question Israel's existence as a Jewish state.
The so-called “non-whites” in apartheid South Africa, indigenous Africans, others of mixed race or of Asiatic origin - like second or third class non-Jews in Israel itself let alone the military occupied areas - were consigned to a non-citizenship status of Kafkaesque existence, subject to all manner of discrimination and prejudice, such as the laws prohibiting their free movement, access to work and trade, dictating where they could reside and so forth.
Verwoerd would have been well aware of Israel’s dispossession of indigenous Palestinian in 1948 - the year his apartheid party similarly came to power - of the unfolding destruction of their villages, the premeditated massacres and the systematic ethnic cleansing.
Within a few short years of coming to power in 1948 South Africa's apartheid regime was ruthlessly cleansing cities and towns of so-called “black spots” - where the “non-whites” lived, socialized, studied and traded - bulldozing homes, loading families onto military trucks, and forcibly relocating them to distant settlements. Unlike the “native reserves” - soon to be reconstituted as Bantustans – these were not too far away from industrial areas because the economy thrived on a quota of cheap black labor.
Whilst Verwoerd did not live to see the division of Palestinian territory after the l967 Six Day War, and the subsequent creation of miniscule Bantustans in the West Bank and Gaza, he would have greatly admired and approved of the machinations that enclosed the Palestinians in their own ghettoized prisons. This after all was the Verwoerdian grand plan, and the reason why Jimmy Carter could so readily identify the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) as being akin to apartheid. In fact the Bantustans consisted of 13% of apartheid South Africa, uncannily comparable to the derisory, ever shrinking pieces of ground Israel consigns to the Palestinians – where it is estimated that well over one-third of the OPT comprises the illegal settlement blocks and security grid system with their bizarre Jewish-only roads. The effect of this is that the 22% of pre-1967 West Bank territory is effectively a mere 12% of historic pre-1948 Palestine.
When former deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad and I visited Yasser Arafat in his demolished headquarters in Ramallah as part of a South African delegation in 2004, he pointed around him and said “See this is nothing but a Bantustan!” No, we responded, pointing out that no Bantustan, in fact not even our townships, had been bombed by warplanes, pulverised by tanks. To a wide-eyed Arafat we pointed out that Pretoria pumped in funds, constructed impressive administration buildings, even allowed for Bantustan airlines to service the Mickey Mouse capitals in order to impress the world that they were serious about so-called “separate development.” The Bantustans were not even fenced-in.
What Verwoerd admired too was the impunity with which Israel exercised state violence and terror to get its way, without hindrance from its Western allies, increasingly key amongst them the USA. What Verwoerd and his ilk came to admire in Israel, and seek to emulate in the southern African region, was the way the Western powers permitted an imperialist Israel to use its unbridled military with impunity in expanding its territory and holding back the rising tide of Arab nationalism in its neighborhood.
After the Six Day War, Verwoerd’s successor John Vorster, infamously stated: “The Israelis have beaten the Arabs before lunchtime. We will eat the African states for breakfast.” He added the latter warning in the face of the independent African states support for the armed liberation struggles growing in our region.
But it was not only the racial doctrine of Israel that excited apartheid’s leaders, it was the use of the biblical narrative as the ideological rationale to justify its vision, aims and methods.
The early Dutch pioneers, the Afrikaners, had used Bible and gun as colonizers elsewhere, to carve out their exclusive fortress bastion in South Africa’s hinterland. Like the biblical Israelites they claimed to be “God’s chosen people” with a mission to tame and civilize the wilderness; disregarding the productivity and industriousness of people who had tilled the soil and traded for centuries - claiming it was only they who would make the land flow with milk and honey. They invoked a covenant with God to deliver their enemies into their hands and to bless their deeds. Until the advent of South Africa’s democracy, the racial history books generally taught that the white man arrived in South Africa more or less as the so-called “Bantu tribes” from the north were wandering across the Limpopo River - and that they the were pioneer settlers in a land devoid of people.
Such a colonial racist mentality which rationalized the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and Australasia, in Africa from Namibia to the Congo and elsewhere, most clearly has its echoes in Palestine. What is so shameless about this latter-day colonial sham is that Zionist Israel has been permitted by the West to aspire to such a goal even into the 21st Century.
It is by no means difficult to recognize from afar, as Verwoerd had been able to do, that Israel is indeed an apartheid state. Verwoerd’s successor, Balthazar John Vorster visited Israel after the 1973 October War, when Egypt in a rare victory regained the Suez Canal and later in a peace agreement the Sinai from Israel. After that Israel and South Africa were virtually twinned as military allies for Pretoria helped supply Israel militarily in the immediacy of its 1973 setback and Israel came to support apartheid South Africa at the height of sanctions with weaponry and technology - from naval ships and the conversion of supersonic fighter planes to assistance in building six nuclear bombs and the creation of a thriving arms industry.
For the liberation movements of southern Africa, Israel and apartheid South Africa represented a racist, colonial axis. It was noted that people like Vorster had been Nazi sympathizers, interned during World War II - yet feted as heroes in Israel and incidentally never again referred to by South African Zionists as an anti-Semite!. This did not surprise those that came to understand the true racist nature and character of Zionist Israel.
It is instructive to add that in its conduct and methods of repression, Israel came to resemble more and more apartheid South Africa at its zenith - even surpassing its brutality, house demolitions, removal of communities, targeted assassinations, massacres, imprisonment and torture of its opponents and the aggression against neighboring states.
Certainly we South Africans can identify the pathological cause, fuelling the hate, of Israel’s political-military elite and public in general, giving rise to more and more extreme racist postures from its elected representatives – as evidenced by the outcome of its most recent national elections. Neither is it difficult for anyone acquainted with colonial history to understand the way in which deliberately cultivated race hate inculcates a justification for the most atrocious and inhumane actions against even defenseless civilians - women, children, the elderly amongst them as recently witnessed in Gaza. It is from such unbridled racism that genocidal wars and holocausts are fuelled.
It can be claimed, without exaggeration, that any South African, whether involved in the freedom struggle, or motivated by basic human decency, who visits the Occupied Palestinian Territories are shocked to the core at the situation they encounter and agree with Archbishop Tutu’s many observations, including his most recent, that such things happen in Israel, “including collective punishment”, that never happened in apartheid South Africa. (London Guardian, 28 May, 2009).
I want to recall here the words of an Israeli Cabinet Minister, Aharon Cizling in 1948, after the savagery of the Deir Yassin massacre of 240 villagers became known. He said: “Now we too have behaved like Nazis and my whole being is shaken.” (Tom Segev - “The First Israelis”)
The veteran British MP, Gerald Kaufman, long time friend of Israel, was reported as remarking that a spokeswoman of the Israeli Defence Force, talked like a Nazi, when she coldly dismissed the deaths of defenseless civilians in Gaza - many women and children amongst them. We dare not allow what is chillingly obvious to be excluded like some elephant in the room from our discourse: the inexorable rise of fascists like Avigdor Lieberman to powerful positions in Israel; the threat of the expulsion of the 1948 Palestinians; the implementation of Jabotinsky's “Iron Wall.” The Knesset has voted by a large majority a law threatening imprisonment for anyone denying that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state; a law prohibiting anyone from advocating a bi-national state is under discussion; so too a bill that seeks to imprison for three years anyone mourning the “Nakba.” None other than Tsipi Livni argues in tandem. These have been described as “a factory of racist laws with a distinct fascist odour”, by Uri Avnery (Israeli writer and peace activist).
It needs to be frankly raised that if the crimes of the Holocaust are at the top end of the scale of human barbarity in modern times, where do we place the human cost of what has so recently occurred in Gaza, the numerous bloodstained milestone since 1948 or the crimes in Lebanon in 1983 and 2006?
How do we evaluate the inhumanity of dropping bombs and blazing white phosphorous on civilian populations, burning people alive, roasting and gassing them in a Gaza ghetto under relentless siege with no place to run or hide. For 22 days relentless bombardment whole families vaporized before the horrified eyes of a surviving parent or child.
Guernica, Lidice, the Warsaw Ghetto, Deir Yassin, Mai Lei, Sabra and Shatilla, Sharpeville are high on that scale - and the perpetrators of the slaughter in Gaza are the off-spring of holocaust victims yet again, in Cizling’s words, behaving like Nazis. This must not be allowed to go unpunished and the international community must demand they be tried for crimes of conflict and crimes against humanity. For the lesson is that if the perpetrators are not stopped in their tracks such crimes will get greater and spread not only to engulf the entire Middle East and Iran, but beyond. And of course with Israel a key ally in the USA’s national interests, there will be no end to this bloody saga - with the Palestinians targeted to go the way of the extinct peoples of the former colonial era.
But such a fate must not be allowed to happen. Dare we believe that an America led by Barak Obama will make a difference? Some raise the hope that after 15 years the stalled Road Map might spring back to life and with it the chimera of a Two-State solution. One notes that President Obama only calls for a freeze in settlement construction – and precious little else. Can 12% or a few percent more in horse- trading provide for a viable Palestinian state? One doubts it. We await with interest the results of this conference's deliberations. May I remind you of Edward Lear's “Alice in Wonderland”, where a lost Alice asks a caterpillar seated on a toadstool the way. He asks her where does she want to go but the bewildered Alice does not know. “Well”, answers the caterpillar, “If you do not know where you are going any road will do.”
Are we naïve to believe that academics can help us find our bearings and point out the correct direction. I want to believe that those worth their salt can help. May your deliberations here be productive. Bear in mind the work of Justice Richard Goldstone's UN investigative team that has been met by Israel's point-blank refusal to co-operate into the Gaza bloodbath. Dozens of survivors have been interviewed in Gaza, one of whom watched Israeli soldiers shoot his elderly mother and sister dead as they fled their home waving white flags. “The committee was just like all the others who have come,” said Majed Hajjaj. “there are lots of reports written, but there's nothing more than ink on paper.” Those could be lines straight from Edward Lear.
I began this address by quoting Dr. Verwoerd. I conclude with this quote from Nelson Mandela who famously stated in 1997: “The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” (Pretoria, December 4, 1997). Just as a united, national movement of a determined people, reinforced by international solidarity actions embracing the peacefull weapons of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) – including many academic initiatives - won freedom for all South Africans, so too can this be the case in the Holy Land.
- Ronnie Kasrils is South Africa’s Minister of Intelligence.