Saturday, 15 August 2009

Ideias expiradas no conflito Israel-Palestina

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Expired and Expiring Ideas in Palestine-Israel Conflict

Lt. General Dayton is now the commander of the 'Palestinian National Security Forces'.

By Dina Jadallah

Now more than ever, it is necessary to state caveats when using words. In some cases, the caveats have expanded so greatly, that there is little space left for the original meaning.

Politically, this means that while some words and ideas refuse to die, they have become denuded of meaning and merely serve as tools of statecraft. Others are dead and buried but are then retrieved and presented as if they are still viable.

In an effort to wipe the lipstick off the proverbial pig, I’ll present a few examples of expired and expiring ideas in the Palestine-Israel conflict . Some of these ideas are blatantly dead. Everyone knows they’re dead. And yet the powers that be prop them up and use them as a means of controlling the population or as justification to conduct “negotiations,” also known as endless concessions.

These expired and expiring ideas are important because they are the tool by which “promises” are extracted and “binding agreements” are made. But how meaningful and representative are these “results”? The answers are crucial to the future of the Palestinian people.


Increasingly, and especially since Oslo, there has been a blurring of the lines between the PLO, Fatah, and the Palestinian Authority (PA). In theory, the PLO represents the Palestinian people. But the lack of specified boundaries allows a “back door” means of “representation.” This is the one that is approved by international power politics because it enables a representation, but of a totally different kind.

Thus, the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) (or sulta, i.e. control, rule, power, command) technically “represents” and “governs” the Palestinians. Yet the PA’s creation and continued existence are dependent on the political, military, and financial backing of non-Palestinian backers. Structurally and practically, the PA is unconcerned with Palestinians in the Diaspora or with Palestinian citizens of Israel.

While sulta implies government and representation, there is a corollary that is often ignored: and that is responsibility and hopefully, accountability. Neither seem to exist in application.

Take, for instance, an example that impinges on the very heart of the Palestinian struggle: land. There is a long list of house appropriations and demolitions that regularly happen in the West Bank and Jerusalem. (1) On 8/10/2009, al-Jazeera reported that Israel dropped leaflets on 13 houses in the Dahyeh part of Kafr Qalil village east of Nablus, informing their owners of intended house demolitions. The “reason” given is dubious at best. Israel claims that the houses fall in Area C (which according to the ill-fated Oslo Agreement of 1993 is under Israeli control even though, it is in the theoretically gestating Palestinian state, which so far is a false pregnancy!). The homeowners denied this, saying that their houses are in the municipality of Nablus which is in Area B, and that proof of this is that the municipality had extended services (water, electricity, etc…) to them years ago.

One can decry the unconscionable, inhumane, and racist behavior of this latest Israeli action. It is all those. But… What about the responsibility of the sulta (PA) to speak on behalf of these people and to defend them? Time after time, they are missing in action. One struggles in vain to find any meaningful protest and non-passive response by the PA against demolitions, land confiscation, Israeli army arrests of Palestinians in the West Bank, and many other “infringements” (to put it mildly) on the PA’s inchoate sovereignty. This raises the question of what the PA’s true function is? And that question is integral to the representation question. The answer should reveal whether the PA is actually dead or alive, from a Palestinian perspective.

This came to the fore at the 20-year delayed Sixth Fatah Organizational Conference in Bethlehem. The PA and its beneficiaries are trying to revive the PLO from its dead state in order to try and regain some relevance or legitimacy, not really for Palestinians, but for its ability to continue making concessions and negotiations in their name so that it may continue its policing role (the only part of “sulta” diligently implemented) on behalf of the occupier.

For many Palestinians, this has raised questions about the legitimacy of representation. Most prominent is why is the conference being held under occupation, with the occupier overseeing who is admitted and who is not? Imagine if the Resistance in Vichy France had held its organizational meetings in Berlin… Furthermore, was the venue chosen in order to allow Israel to enable the entry of only those Fatah delegates that were supportive of ‘Abbas and the endless “peace process?” How can any platform that is adopted be taken seriously given who formulated it, and under whose auspices was it deemed “acceptable”? Does any of this hullabaloo have any meaning or is it a manifestation of the expiring process of an almost expired institution?

Another example of where appearances betray reality is Mahmoud ‘Abbas’ presidency of the PA. Here a blatantly dead “legitimacy” is obvious but ignored. Power interests have yet to acknowledge the expiration of his term. He is still designated as the sole “speaker” for the Palestinian people and the only possible “peace partner.” What the Palestinian people think about the issue is immaterial.

The expired aspects of this situation are many. I will mention just a few that, had they occurred in most other parts of the world, would have been deemed shocking and unacceptable. Consider the idea that the occupier (and her backers) can dictate to the occupied not only who represents them but also what constitutes a valid subject of negotiation. Moreover, the occupier (and her backers) are maintaining the fiction of the constitutionality and legality of these dead institutions and their heads, in order to kill the original ostensible purpose for which they were created in the first place, i.e. the creation of a Palestinian state. In effect, the sulta (PA) is now officially and blatantly transformed (it has always been –but more surreptitiously) a tool with which to end al-muqawama , the Resistance to occupation in pursuit of liberation.

How else to explain Lt. General Keith Dayton, US security coordinator for Israel and the PA, who is now the commander of the “Palestinian National Security Forces,” which he is “transforming… into a gendarmerie,” and the one who dictates who, what, and where they fight.? This is the same Dayton, who in a lecture at the Washington Institute said that overseeing these forces are three intelligence outfits: the Mossad, the CIA, and the Jordanian Muhkhabarat. He also said that the focus is to eliminate nationalistic motivations and leanings, and to replace them with blind obedience to the execution of orders. (2)

How else to explain the training of Palestinian “security forces” in Jordan with the aim of adding seven more battalions (of 500 men each) to the original three? Dayton stated that “the Interior Ministry is the key to normalcy for Palestine.” So now, force and police control are the key to a normal Palestine, not liberation.

From a nationalistic and liberation movement perspective, the term sulta has died and now stands for a dying process. It now represents the hegemonic powers that created it and have since used it as a political and ideological tool of occupation and repression. When one reviews its history and “achievements” (dubious at best), one finds the invidious aim of killing resistance and transforming fundamental and inherent rights and objectives. This has narrowed the scope of debatable and negotiable “issues” to what is “realistic.” It has further functioned as a substitute policing arm and negotiating tool for the occupier. Ultimately, it has relieved Israel, the international community, and Arab governments of any and all responsibility for the plight of Palestinians.

But the simple fact that resistance persists is testimony to the expiring of the PA and its functions and is manifestation of the search for a true voice.

The Two State Solution

The dying PA is used to push for another obviously dead idea, but almost everyone with political power is trying to resurrect it: the two-state solution. This “solution,” deriving from Oslo, envisions the two respective states as ethno-nationalist entities. Taken to its ultimate conclusion, this “vision”/“solution” is fundamentally threatening to Palestinian citizens of Israel. Senator Mitchell, the American “peace” envoy was sent for the purpose of reviving the “peace process” and to insist on a two-state “solution” -- that is mostly Israeli-dictated and is most probably going to be stillborn. Granted, the definition of the “state” is highly dubious. As Likud Information Minister, David Bar-Illan said (1996), “let them call it fried chicken…” This deformed and meaningless “state” may come, but only after all Arab states establish normal relations with Israel.

Even with all these pre-conditions and qualifications, the current Israeli government, whose interests are best served by it, is on-and-off rejecting it and trying to revive the so-called “Jordanian Option.”

Far from seeing this insistence on a “state” as a “rift” with Israel, it is in reality an act by the hegemon to reign in the potentially self-destructive behavior of its client state. And it is probably little more than a public relations response to unrealistic Israeli demands that had been presented as a decoy. Any retreat from these maximalist demands may then be presented to it’s enemies as a “concession” when in reality, it is a further infringement on and usurpation of fundamental Palestinian rights.

Proof of this is that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Middle East Special Envoy George Mitchell as well as member of Congress are leading the charge and demanding an end to the boycott of Israel, open trade relations, visas for Israelis, and invitations to academic, professional, and sporting events. Recent statements by ‘Amr Mousa, head of the Arab League, demanding that Israel stop settlements in return for normalization, is indicative that Arab “states” are listening and obeying. Such a “demand” is in fact a huge retrogressive concession from previous Arab demands (and international UN resolutions) for Israeli withdrawal from Occupied Territories. Like the PA, in effect, the Arab League has been transformed from an institution of support for the Palestinian cause to an instrument of normalization with Zionism.

Moreover, the increasingly strident tone of Israeli demands – given expression by extremist far-right members of the Netanyahu government – may have been threatening to American designs and projects aimed at quashing Palestinian resistance. For instance, such statements put in jeopardy relations with Jordan, and the current quadrilateral arrangement overseen by Dayton whereby Jordan “trains” Palestinian forces, whose sole aim is to restore “security”, aka eliminate the resistance.

In the larger picture, it also threatened – at least rhetorically – the presentation of the Obama administration as more understanding towards regional issues. This posture of support for the forces of “moderation” as they are pitted against “extremists” was suddenly thrown a monkey wrench when “extremist” – or at least, not-said-in-polite-company – rhetoric started emerging from it key ally, the relationship with whom is “unshakable.”

Oslo’s putative aim, the two-state solution is also expiring for an ironic and counter-intuitive reason. Its creation, the PA and the attempts made to strengthen it, have actually weakened it. International funding has been used to build this policing/governing sulta, often the expense of building the bases of the emerging Palestinian state and economy. Much of this funding either ended up as salaries and pensions for redundant civil servants and “security” forces or was used for corrupt and clientelist purposes by those in power. Furthermore, this support that often derived from the enablers of the Occupation as well as from the Occupiers themselves, thus leading to loss of legitimacy. To add insult to injury, the sulta has been unable to attain a single political achievement after almost twenty years of “negotiations’.

And in a note of cognitive dissonance (or, perhaps the arrogance of power) Tel Aviv University’s War and Peace Index (May 2009, Profs. Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann) indicates that while the majority (67%) of Israelis do not envision peace except within the two state solution formula, 52% of them oppose this solution if it entails “substantial” territorial concessions. The definition of what is “substantial” is pivotal. Considering that most Israelis oppose giving up any part of Jerusalem or dismantling settlements, especially “non-isolated” ones, i.e. the huge settlements in the West Bank, a “solution” that will be acceptable to the Palestinians is dead in the water.


The expired and expiring issues of representation, legitimacy and the two-state solution affect the future and viability of another term that is frequently repeated: democracy. Here is another concept that is so mutated when applied to the Middle East that it bears little resemblance to its origins in ancient Greece. When mentioned, it ought to be accompanied by a massive caveat emptor or parentheses to flag the “uniqueness” of its application in this context.

Critics of Zionism and its creation, Israel, have long objected not just to the usurpation and denial of the rights of Palestinians, but also to its inherent racism. Recently, this racism has been magnified.

The Israel Democracy Institute has come out with its annual Israeli Democracy Index Report on August 3, 2009. The focus of this year’s poll was on the attitudes and integration of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Israel. Its findings revealed that newcomers were even more racist, a fact that does not bode well for those hoping for “peace” through “negotiations.” (3)

Apparently unaware of the irony, former Soviet Union immigrants (FSUI) overwhelmingly support, by 77%, promoting Arab emigration from Israel. Not that native Jewish Israelis are much more accepting of the Palestinian citizens in Israel: 47% support their emigration. (p. 65) Only 23% of them versus 33% of native Jews support Arab political parties in the Knesset. Furthermore, 73% of Israelis support the statement that a Jewish majority is necessary for making fateful decisions for the country. (This statement is indicative of support for stripping political rights from the Palestinian minority.) Considering that almost 20% of Israelis are Palestinian, that leaves only 7% of Jewish citizens who oppose this statement. In 2003, those who supported this statement were less, 62%. Thus, it is safe to say that most Jewish citizens do not support the participation of Palestinians in government or its decision-making. Also noteworthy is that 61% of those polled said they were dissatisfied with Israeli democracy.

One result that is indicative of cognitive dissonance and that has collective implications for citizens of Israel is that 74% of Israelis supported freedom of speech for everyone regardless of status while, at the same time, 58% of them also support that “a political speaker must be prohibited from voicing harsh criticism against the state of Israel. In 2003, only 48% of respondents agreed with that last statement.

And in what will have significant implications for the prospects of negotiations and “peace” going forward, 48% of the Jewish public is unwilling to evacuate the settlements (and 64% of FSUI). On the issue of Jerusalem there is hardly any difference in attitude between the left and the right among FSUI. Both are equally hawkish. (p 85) It is also interesting (and inauspicious) that when the Jewish respondents were broken down by political orientation into right , center, and left, that negative attitudes towards “Arabs” are high almost across the board, with one exception. (Among native Jews, the numbers with negative views of “Arabs” were 72%, 55%, and 32% respectively; and among FSUI, the numbers were 78%, 58%, and 59% respectively.) (p. 84)

Is it reasonable to assume that the prognosis for the condition of democracy is not good? Especially because Israel is a state that is built on ethnocentric and religious exclusivity and privilege? Is it really fair to blame the increase in racism on the influx of FSUI and on “Russian media” as the authors of the report say (p.65), given that the deterioration in the statistics has also occurred in the wider Jewish Israeli population?

Some might argue that the “threat” of the “demographic time bomb” that Israel is confronting might be the reason for rise in anti-Arab sentiment. But that argument is a tautology. It is racist in its very formulation. And it has pre-existed and persists after the large-scale arrival of FSUI that started in the 1990s.

Another popular “explanation” is the “existential” one frequently presented by Zionists regarding the “threats” and “attacks” that Israel confronts from “violent” “terrorist” Palestinians. But even here, one could counter with straightforward facts. For one, Palestinian attacks against Israel have actually decreased over the last few years, while Israeli attacks have increased. The facts are that multiples more Palestinians were killed and injured between the outbreak of the Second Intifada in September of 2000 until the end of 2008 than Israelis. According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, 33,639 Palestinians were injured and 5,365 were killed during that time. And according to the Israeli Foreign Office, 8,341 Israelis were injured (these numbers include non-Israelis injured in the conflict, and also Israelis that were injured by non-Palestinians) while according to B’Tselem, 1,062 Israeli soldiers were killed.

Is the rise of racist attitudes attributable to a generational transition? Are present-day Israelis so used to tolerant and permissive American support that they feel no need to temper their language and their demands (let alone their assaults)? Or is it that the Arab states are now so detached from any semblance of responsibility for Palestinians, that they feel that there will be no repercussions?

Or is this rise in racism with all its pernicious and deadly effects on “democracy” the testimonial “fruit” from the separatist development policies and the segregated housing that the Israeli state has pursued vis-à-vis its Palestinian citizens?

Or can one argue that Israel’s inability to attain any of its goals in the Lebanon war of 2006 or its goals in its attack on Gaza in 2008-2009 have led to increased chest thumping on the part of the Israeli military establishment and political leaders, endless military “exercises,” and so forth, thereby feeding patriotic chauvinism?

These are only a few speculations about what may be behind the changes in attitudes as shown in the poll results. But the basis for racism remains the same. The ethnocentricity and exclusivity of Israel as it is currently constituted.

The above examples highlight the implosion of central concepts and institutions in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Many are either expired or expiring but are re-vivified in Frankenstein- form for the purposes of controlling Palestinians. It is time to ask if resuscitation is possible or even desirable…

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


(1) According to, from 1967 to July 2008, 33,000 Palestinian homes were demolished since 1967. This form of collective punishment was originally used by the British mandate to quell resistance and was later pursued vigorously by the emerging Zionist state and then the state of Israel.

(2) See Washington Post. According to Dayton, the results of this partnership has “exceeded the most optimistic expectations.”

(3) The authors of the annual report attribute the immigrants’ anti-Arab attitudes to four factors. One, they argue that when they arrive, they learn that prejudice against Arabs is acceptable because “Arabs are a hostile group” and that being anti-Arab makes one a “true Israeli Jew.” Two, they argue that post-Soviet literature and culture feature an “enemy image” that splits a complex world into good versus bad. Third, that this is a displacement by the FSUI of responsibility and blame on the “other.” And fourth, that this reflects the “influence of Russian media” in Israel which shapes negative attitudes toward the Arab public. P. 65. In this writer’s opinion, the annual report itself displaces responsibility and blame from the Israeli state and its hardly benevolent views and treatment of its Palestinian citizens.

bandeira branca

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Israeli soldiers unlawfully shot and killed 11 Palestinian civilians, including four children, who were in groups waving white flags during the Gaza war, a report prepared by the US-based Human Rights Watch says. Civilians Killed Holding White Flags in Gaza, published on Thursday (August 13), is HRW's third publication in five months condemning Israel's actions during the Gaza conflict, following allegations over white phosphorous and drones. For its part, the Israeli government appears to have launched a campaign to discredit human-rights groups in an attempt to staunch the flow of damaging evidence of war crimes committed during the Gaza conflict. It has begun by targeting HRW, as well as a local group of dissident army veterans, Breaking the Silence, which last month, published the testimonies of 26 Israeli soldiers who served in Gaza. The "white flags" report published by HRW examines seven incidents during Israel's military offensive in Gaza in January in which soldiers shot and killed 11 Palestinians, most of them women and children, and wounded others. "The Israeli military should conduct thorough, credible investigations into these deaths to tackle the prevailing culture of impunity," it said. The HRW said the 11 people were only small fraction of the total number of civilians and combatants killed in the December-January Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. (References for text: Aljazeera English, Agencies. Photo: AP/file)

o movimento do boicote mantenha-se em sindicatos ingleses


Boycott movement takes hold in British unions
Asa Winstanley, The Electronic Intifada, 14 August 2009

The international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel has won several important victories in recent months. At this summer's trade union conferences in Britain, BDS activists have made significant progress.

While the campaign has been building momentum in unions globally since the 2005 Palestinian call for BDS, Israel's winter invasion of Gaza has spurned several trade unions and union federations in Britain and Ireland to pass motions more explicitly in favor of BDS. Several are calling for BDS for the first time.

Tom Hickey, a member of the University and College Union's (UCU) national executive committee, said, "The question of the moral rightness or wrongness [of BDS against Israel] has effectively already been decided."

Although the Trade Union Congress (the British union federation) has not yet passed a BDS motion, affiliated unions have begun taking up the Palestinian call themselves. So far this summer, the public sector union PCS, the UCU and the Fire Brigades Union have all passed strong motions explicitly calling for a general policy of boycott of Israeli goods, divestment from Israeli companies and government sanctions against the state.

Unions such as public sector union UNISON, the National Union of Teachers, USDAW and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have this summer passed softer motions calling for elements of BDS. These are usually calls for a boycott of settlement goods, or for the government to suspend arms sales to Israel. The CWU and others have condemned the infamous 13 January 2008 statement of the Israeli trade union federation in support of Israel's invasion of Gaza, which read: "The Histadrut recognizes the urgent need for the State of Israel to operate against the command and control centers of the organizational terror network ..."

In addition, a report has been circulating on the Internet that the rail workers' union, the RMT, has reversed an earlier policy of "solidarity not boycott" and passed a motion in favor of some sort of BDS policy at their July Annual General Meeting. The official AGM report has yet to be released to the general public, but the RMT's media office confirmed the report was probably accurate. However, they did not return calls for official confirmation in time for publication.

In April, the independent Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) for the first time voted to endorse a report recommending "boycott and disinvest from Israeli companies" and a "call for sanctions against Israel" at their annual delegates' congress.

This decision was not arrived at overnight. STUC Assistant Secretary Mary Senior said, "it was very important we carefully considered the issue." A motion passed at the 2007 congress called on the leadership to "explore the merits of the calls" for BDS. In February-March of this year, Senior participated in an official STUC delegation to Palestine. It was this visit that formed the basis of the report recommending BDS.

The delegation met with Israeli and Palestinian officials, trade unionists and civil society groups in the occupied West Bank and in Israel. Almost all of the representatives were asked their opinion on BDS.

The report criticized the Israeli trade union federation, stating "At no time did Histadrut acknowledge that the West Bank is occupied" -- an occupation that delegation members witnessed first hand.

The report ultimately concluded "there was strong support for BDS amongst Palestinian trade unions and civic society."

Senior believes this report was vital, and that if the vote had been held two years earlier, it might not have passed. "It was important to have ... the consultation and the delegation. That helped to bring all of our affiliates on board," she said.

At their May congress, the UCU's most recent motion demanding support "for the Palestinian call for a boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign" was passed. This victory occurred despite the general secretary's statement that on legal advice this amendment would be "void and of no effect."

News reports at the time focused on the leadership's negation of the vote. However, most reports failed to mention that several other Palestine motions were carried at the congress. This included a motion that urged "branches to discuss prior to Congress 2010 the Palestinian call for a boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign." The specific wording was used to accommodate the legal advice, and prevent the motion from being voided.

UCU activist Sue Blackwell explained that in previous congresses, "people thought the union could be taken to court." But this year, lawyers advised the union leadership to say the new BDS motion "would not be binding" in advance. Yet, it was "very clear there was an overwhelming majority for the principle of boycott and it is only the legal threats preventing the union from implementing it," she explained. "It gave the lie to all the Zionists who say that only a minority in UCU support this." Judging from the tactical wording of similar motions passed by other unions this summer, it seems trade unionists are learning the lessons of the UCU's BDS experience.

This success has certainly not gone unchallenged. In late June, after several unions had passed BDS motions, opposition was voiced from the highest levels of government. In an unprecedented statement, Foreign Secretary David Miliband issued a press release on 23 June that stated "The Government is dismayed that motions calling for boycotts of Israel are being discussed at trade union congresses and conferences this summer." The staunchly pro-Israel Jewish Chronicle offered this headline on the statement: "Stop boycotting, Miliband tells unions."

Miliband said he would dispatch Ivan Lewis to dissuade union leaders from the boycott. Lewis is the new foreign office minister for the Middle East, and is also a member and former vice-chair of the lobbying group, Labor Friends of Israel. According to The Independent, his appointment "raised eyebrows in the Foreign Office" as he had been one "one of the most outspoken political supporters of Israel's military assault on Gaza. Critics can't help but wonder how objective Lewis is likely to be in his new post."

Union activists have been less than impressed. UCU's Blackwell stated that the British government "should do more to enforce human rights and to put pressure on Israel to comply with international law." The STUC replied the following day with its own statement, rejecting Miliband's remarks: "The UK Government is out of step with the views of workers on this matter." STUC's Senior added that the organization was "very surprised he would say that."

Martial Kurtz, Campaigns and Events Officer of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said, "We are not all that worried about Lewis or Miliband going around trying to stop this ... BDS is well on its way and their response smacks of desperation."

STUC representatives, including Senior, met with Lewis in early July. "This was the first time we've met with a foreign office minister for a good number of years," she recalled.

"Ivan Lewis is fairly new but he was very well briefed," Senior said. "He didn't agree with the boycott ... He indicated a desire to maintain contact with us, [but] he was regretting the position we have."

Senior recounted that during the meeting, Lewis argued that "when President Bush was at the helm in the US, he could understand how the BDS movement had sort of grown at frustration" with Bush's foreign policies but now "he was positive about recent developments in Palestine and Israel" since Barack Obama took office.

A spokesperson for the minister at the Foreign Office confirmed Senior's account that he regretted the STUC's position on boycott, as well as the point about frustration over Bush's polices.

Lewis's implication was apparently that BDS needs to stop so Obama can work his magic. However, the delegation was not convinced and stated that "We've got our position at the STUC, and it's a very strong position because it's debated and considered and voted upon: a unanimous decision taken at our congress. For us it was important to convey that to the minister."

The British TUC's negative policy on BDS could be reversed at this September's congress. There, the Fire Brigades Union is planning to put forward a motion that calls for "trade unionists to boycott Israeli goods, especially agricultural products that have been produced in the illegal settlements."

Whether or not the motion passes at this year's TUC, something does seem to have changed in the unions and the discussion is now moving on to more practical questions. In the fall and winter, the UCU and STUC will be hosting BDS conferences. According to the STUC's Senior, the conference will be for trade unionists "to discuss practical questions and learn lessons from apartheid South Africa."

Asa Winstanley is a freelance journalist who has lived in and reported from occupied Ramallah, working for the Palestine Times and the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre. His website is

através do buraco do coelho


Down the rabbit hole
Yavar Hameed writing from Ottowa, Canada, Live from Palestine, 14 August 2009

The Muslim quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. (Maureen Clare Murphy)

There are stairs, which descend from Jaffa Gate to another world. When I first saw these stairs, I thought them to be a meeting point -- something like the stairs that descend from the main road to Damascus Gate. But these stairs give onto a promenade of stores and cafes and commercial outlets of all sorts. In such stark contrast is this promenade to the Old City, which it leaves behind, that it literally feels surreal. But the Alice in Wonderland phenomenon only intensifies as one proceeds further down the rabbit hole.

Tired and aching from a day of walking through the Old City, I stumbled through the pedestrian mall, like a weary traveler, estranged from the very same commercial outlets that I see every day back in my own country. Rolex, coffee shops, clothing stores, Crocs shoe store -- all of these things should embrace me with a kind of familiarity that the nurturing hand of commercial culture does all around the world. And yet, it is strangely eerie because I cannot fathom how I have made the jump from Jerusalem to Europe in a matter of seconds. Nothing seems the same, but I was only moments ago in the throes of oldness and twisting markets of the Old City.

As I emerge from the other side of the underpass, the New World opens up. Billboards, busy streets, a hot dog shop called Doggy Style. I lose track of the fact that now signs are routinely in English. I start to feel more at home in a sense, but strangely disassociated. People mill about animatedly like they would in any large European city -- waiting to go to the hot night spots and dressed to the nines, or just waiting to sit on a patio and have some drinks with friends. The unmistakable obnoxious voice of an American tourist pipes up as he is in the middle of recounting a story or a joke -- I don't know which. The scene is so familiar and yet with every moment I become more and more on edge.

And then it hits me as I return back through the same rabbit hole, I am constantly judging the face and hair and clothes of every person I meet. I am looking for the on his head. I am wondering what he would say about the occupation. I am asked in Hebrew to sit down and have a drink at an open-air pub. I decline, but then wonder at the man who asked me in perfect Hebrew then in American-accented English, "No Hebrew, eh? Why don't you come sit down and have a drink?" What does he think about where he is -- why does he hate Palestinians so much?

And a young woman passes me by wearing a kuffiyeh (the traditional Palestinian checkered scarf) around her neck. I am naively worried for her safety here. And we see no police or army anywhere. Where did they all go? -- as rampant as they were in the Old City, they are completely absent here, except for an unarmed young woman in army greens walking with her friend in the mall. In the Old City I constantly apologize for not speaking a word of Arabic. People search for their English, but by and large they need to drag a friend over to translate or provide one or two words that could be of assistance. The Muslim quarter of the Old City is not my home and yet it is much more my home than this.

Or maybe I am just wary that given enough time, given the time to normalize into this looking glass world, I will transform myself. Much like the settler colony where we live in Canada, I will invent a rationale to explain the light rail transit tracks leading from the settlements on the outskirts to the city center of Jerusalem. Everything would have an explanation and the palliative of conscience, the soothing hand of convenience would reassure me that all these people are not so bad. That they are just waiting for their friends, hanging in the mall, going on a family outing or just relaxing on a Saturday night. To be sure, they are doing all of these things, but knowing what they know -- knowing that their army and police are patrolling the city only blocks away, what do they think about the very foundation of their world?

All new world foundations are fucked up in a way, but this disjuncture between the base and the superstructure, the building blocks of society is so glaringly obvious. You have to be willfully blind not to see it. Not to see that there is an obvious asymmetry that keeps people down and disenfranchised. I am reminded of the invisible exclusions that permeate Canadian society and wonder at my disdain for this society. Perhaps it is possible to be allied with the cause of struggle in every society -- there just as here. But to the extent that we knowingly or unknowingly participate in the economy of the oppressors, does make us complicit in a sense. I think of Mohammed Khatib's words, from the popular resistance movement against Israel's wall in the Palestinian village of Bilin, and try to take the good from the bad.

But I wonder where the good resides, when it seems that there is neither good nor bad, but merely indifference here.

Yavar Hameed is a human rights lawyer based in Ottawa, Canada and sessional lecturer at Carleton University. He visited Israel/Palestine for a week in late July 2009.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Mais de um S na Resistência

fonte:Agence Global

More than One S in Resistance

by Nadia HijabReleased: 10 Aug 2009

The American administration is hoping that this week’s Fatah conference will strengthen their peace partner, but Palestinian reactions have been mixed. Some have expressed anger that the conference is being held under Israeli occupation and hence control. Others are disinterested, having long ago lost faith in the leadership on all sides. And a third group is hopeful that a Fatah phoenix will arise from the ashes of incompetence to lead the struggle for freedom and nationhood.

Much has been made of the fact that both the opening statement by Mahmoud Abbas – who heads the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinian Authority and Fatah – and the new Fatah political program do not relinquish the armed struggle but favor popular, non-violent resistance.

As I have argued before, the armed struggle is the least effective source of power available to the Palestinians. Yes, it is legitimate under international law for people living under military occupation to take up armed resistance, so long as the tactics chosen do not violate those laws. But the Palestinian situation is very different to that of other guerrilla struggles that succeeded against superior forces. This does not mean that Palestinians should give up their arms. They do provide a deterrent, however modest, and an irritant to the established order.

Yet the question of whether the struggle is armed or not is a distraction from the real issues. There is more than one S in resistance, and any party that wants to lead the Palestinian national movement needs to recognize that resistance must be strategic, solidly based, and sustained towards a clear set of goals.

Popular resistance is potentially strategic, as was demonstrated during the first Intifada. But to fulfil its potential, it cannot be limited to parts of Palestinian society, such as villagers directly threatened by Israel’s separation wall, while others go about their business as usual. The entire people must be mobilized, and the leadership needs to be visible in -- indeed lead -- such demonstrations and protests.

To take just one recent example, many Palestinians wondered why their leaders did not act more forcefully to prevent Israel’s cruel eviction of families from their homes in Arab East Jerusalem last week. Had senior Palestinian officials sat with the families, would Israel have dragged them out along with over 50 people, 19 of them children? The unprotected families were forced into homelessness, and heart-breaking images were transmitted around the world -- like that of the middle-aged man seated on the ground surrounded by his belongings and wiping his tears with the back of his hand.

And another thing: If popular resistance is to succeed, the role of the American-trained Palestinian security would need to be revisited. At a minimum, they cannot be used to cow or crush such resistance, as happened during protests by West Bank Palestinians when Israel assaulted Gaza this winter.

Another strategic form of resistance is economic resistance, and in fact Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has tried his hand at this. In 2008, he called on the European Union not to upgrade relations with Israel unless it agreed to a settlement freeze. This was ultimately unsuccessful: The European Union decided to go ahead with the upgrade, although it suspended it after Israel’s attack on Gaza.

Palestinian civil society and the international solidarity movement have shown that boycott and divestment are powerful non-violent, economic tools in the struggle for freedom and justice. How much more powerful such tools would be if a Palestinian leadership also called for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) so that the entire people spoke with one voice and reinforced each other’s efforts.

To be successful, a Palestinian resistance movement would also need to be grounded in a solid base. An effective leadership would address and overcome not only the fragmentation of the Palestinian body politic into Fatah and Hamas, but would also reach beyond the occupied territories and mobilize Palestinian refugees and exiles.

And, while it could not and should not represent the Palestinian citizens of Israel, a smart leadership would actively support their struggle for equal rights, holding this banner aloft for the Palestinian movement itself and explaining why, although it does recognize Israel, it could never recognize it as a Jewish state.

In addition, a resistance movement must be sustained -- it cannot be switched on and off like a tap. It takes a long time to mobilize people: The first Intifada was the culmination of over a decade of grassroots activism and popular mobilization. The international movement of solidarity was also built up over many years. Both were allowed to dissipate after the Oslo Accords. National and international grassroots activism is now being rebuilt, and a wise leadership would nourish and reinforce it.

Finally, the years of attempted deal-making behind closed doors have left the Palestinians and their supporters unsure about what they are fighting for. Palestinian civil society addressed this gap by setting out a compelling statement of goals in its July 2005 Call for BDS. The new Fatah political program has also restated its goals. If it wants to be effective, it must clearly and repeatedly articulate its goals -- and back them by a realistic strategy, a solid base, and sustained action. Otherwise, the Palestinian phoenix will arise elsewhere.

Nadia Hijab is an independent analyst and a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies.

Copyright © 2009 Nadia Hijab – distributed by Agence Global

famílias de Jerusalém à espera de acção do E.U.


Jerusalem families waiting for US action
Marcey Gayer, The Electronic Intifada, 14 August 2009

A banner hanging outside of homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. (Tess Scheflan/Activestills)

In the early morning hours of Sunday, 2 August, a force of hundreds of police and border guards invaded the quiet East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and systematically evicted the sleeping Hanoun and Gawi families from their homes. The sun dawned upon a new reality: chaos in the streets, children crying and elders in anguish. The police blocked every entrance to the area, preventing friends from coming to the aid of the distressed families or even helping them to remove their belongings from their homes. Revealing prior coordination with the authorities, the homes were quickly occupied by ultra-orthodox Jewish settlers.

The Hanoun and Gawi families, consisting of 16 and 38 members, respectively, lived in their homes for 53 years. Built in 1956 by the UN and the Jordanian government (who had sovereignty over East Jerusalem at the time) as part of a temporary housing complex for refugees of the 1948 war, these were homes for those who already knew eviction and ethnic cleansing. However, this time the dispossession was accomplished "legally."

Since the 1967 conquest of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel has been building settlements along the eastern flank of Jerusalem to prevent expansion of its Arab neighborhoods. Moreover, within the past 20 years, the Israeli settlement project has begun encroaching upon the Arab neighborhoods themselves, installing nationalist Jewish families within their perimeters by force. Slowly but relentlessly, Israel is attempting to Judaize these neighborhoods in a manner designed not to attract international scrutiny and criticism.

Thus Maher Hanoun, the head of the Hanoun family, was ordered by Israeli courts to hand over the keys to his home to the Association of Sephardic Jewry on 19 July. Rather than comply with the court order, he held a press conference outside his house accompanied by several top officials, including Nils Eliasson of the Swedish Consulate representing the European Union, Robert Serry representing the UN, and Dr. Rafik Husseini of the Palestinian Authority. They all condemned the proposed eviction, calling it an affront to norms of international justice. In spite of US President Barack Obama's call to freeze Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, no representative from the US was present.

Hanoun, a 51-year-old salesman for the Nestle Corporation whose sales territory includes Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank, and Tel Aviv, is fluent in Arabic, Hebrew and English. He is a man of culture and conscience, a believer in peaceful co-existence. He is soft-spoken, dignified and humorous, a devoted husband and the father of three wonderful children. He is the global everyman -- simple, honest, hard-working -- hardly deserving to be evicted from his home. But he and his family were evicted, simply because they are Palestinian.

Where does this all leave us? Maher Hanoun, his two brothers and their wives and children and the Gawis, 54 persons all together, are now sleeping under trees 50 feet from their former homes. Menacing armored vehicles are parked in front of each house and the neighborhood is overrun with police, border guards and stone-throwing settlers.

The dispossession of the Hanoun and Gawi families is a clear act of defiance directed at the Obama administration's call to freeze settlements. If it succeeds, this will be a green light for Israel to continue with its ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Already five additional Sheikh Jarrah families have received court summonses and they are fated to join the Hanouns and the Gawis in the street if this supposedly "legal" land grab isn't stopped. If the new US president is to have any credibility on the international stage, he must keep faith with Maher Hanoun. Outside his home, Hanoun hung a big banner bearing President Obama's picture and the slogan "OBAMA,YES YOU CAN stop housing evictions in Sheikh Jarrah." He and the world are still waiting.

Marcey Gayer is an Israeli-American activist residing in Tel Aviv.

Human Rights Watch report:exército israelita matou 11 civis com bandeiras brancas


HRW: 'Army killed 11 civilians carrying white flags'

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported Wednesday that Israeli soldiers shot and killed during the war against the Gaza Strip eleven Palestinian civilians, including five women and four children, and wounded eight others in seven separate attacks, although they were carrying white flags.

File - Image HRW
File - Image HRW

HRW added that the Palestinians were in groups and that they waved white shirts and white flags while no Palestinian fighters were present, but the army opened fire at them.

THRW called on the Israeli military to probe the attacks adding that the civilians were not used as human shields by Hamas fighters and were not killed during clashes between the soldiers and the fighters.

It stated that the soldiers refrained from taking the needed precautions and failed to distinguish between fighters and civilians.

“In the worst case scenario, the soldiers deliberately targeted the civilians”, HRW added, “If so, they must they held accountable for war crimes.

The new HRW report is the sixth report on Israeli violations during the war on Gaza. The group accused Israel of violating the International Law which obliges the combatants to distinguish between civilian and military targets.

It also stated that the homemade shells fired by Hamas against Israeli civilians also constitute a war crime.

At least 1450 Palestinains were killed during the war, more than 950 of them were civlians, including children. The number of slain Palestinains is now more than 1600 as dozens of residents died of their wounds.

Convenção do Fatah: Rejuvenescimento ou Divisão


Fatah’s Convention: Rejuvenation or Division

Fatah convention had succeeded in weakening the once patriotic liberating movement.

By Dr. Elias Akleh

Finally, after 20 years since its last meeting in 1989 in Tunis, the Fatah congress convened last week, Tuesday August 4th, in the city of Bethlehem to, ostensibly, rejuvenate itself with younger blood. At the end of the convention, which was extended from three days to a week, it appeared clearly that the whole convention, from beginning to end, was tailored for the sole benefit of Mahmoud Abbas, whose presidency was expired since January 2009, and for his hired gang. Most of the alleged new rejuvenating blood seems to be as tainted and as corrupt as the old one.

Since Oslo Agreement and their return to the West Bank some of the Fatah top leaders had, gradually, turned into docile and corrupt leaders. They had hijacked the movement and turned it from a national liberating movement to a political party oppressing the same people they wanted to liberate through the Palestinian Authority. To maintain their power positions and their control over the Palestinian economy and the donor’s money they sabotaged every attempt to convene the congress for the last 20 years.

Israel would not have kept any of the Palestinian leaders alive except those who call for “futile” peace negotiations and are ready to give political concessions to Israel. Those honorable leaders, who wanted to continue the liberating struggle, such as Mustafa Alhaj the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was assassinated by the Israeli forces in his house in Ramallah in August of 2001. Other leaders such as Marwan Barghouthi, an Intifada leader, was kidnapped and dumped in Israeli dungeons. Even Arafat, himself, was poisoned when he could not give any more concessions to Israel.

Following previous successive American administrations Obama’s administration is about to come out with its own flavor of “peace plan” for the Arab (Palestinian)/Israeli conflict. Such a plan requires a new Palestinian leadership seemingly more honest and more respected than the previous known corrupt leadership, who would turn the Palestinian Authority into a huge security apparatus to ensure the Palestinian people’s submission to such a plan. Fatah’s Congress convention was called for to produce such seemingly more honest leadership.

To guarantee the victory of the so-called “moderate” Abbas, the salesman of most generous concessions to Israel, the convention was carefully planned and manipulated by the Israelis, Americans, and some Arab leaders. After Jordan and Egypt had refused to host the convention it was decided, despite many objections, to have the convention in Bethlehem under the watchful eyes of Israel.

Israel had refused entry to many Fatah delegates, especially from the refugee camps in Lebanon. Many other delegates from North African countries and from Gulf States refused to enter the occupied territories. 400 Delegates from Gaza Strip were refused entry by Hamas led government. This worked out for the benefit of Abbas, who filled the vacant seats with his men and enlisted some more. Originally 2000 delegates were supposed to convene, yet later on the number totaled to 2300 with 700 delegates added by Abbas.

Many Fatah leaders outside of the occupied West Bank, especially in the Gulf States and in Lebanon, had published a declaration criticizing and questioning the legitimacy of the convention. They accused Mahmoud Abbas, an expired president, and his Ramallah-based Fatah leaders as illegitimate group trying to hijack Fatah. They considered the Bethlehem convention illegitimate and sponsored by the American Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, the security coordinator for the Palestinian Authority, and the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. They declared that they would not recognize any outcome of this convention. They announced that they recognize only Fatah in Diaspora led by Farouq Qaddoumi, the Secretary General of Fatah, and they called on Qaddoumi to arrange for their own convention in the Diaspora to elect new and separate Fatah Central Committee and a Revolutionary Council.

Qaddoumi, who is also the head of the political department of the Palestine Liberation Organization, had accused Abbas of despotic tactics within Fatah. In a news conference in Amman, Jordan, in July 12th and on Al-Jazeera television Qaddoumi had accused Mahmoud Abbas and Muhammad Dahlan, former Chief of PA Security Forces, of conspiring with the Israelis and Americans to assassinate Arafat and all Palestinian military and political leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, so that they would control the Palestinian Authority, and manipulate the negotiations with Israel. As a proof of his accusations Qaddoumi produced the minutes of a meeting in March of 2004 between Abbas, Dahlan, Israeli Prime Minister at the time Ariel Sharon, and William Burns, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. The minutes were sent to Qaddoumi by Arafat for safe keeping.

The Ramallah-based Fatah leaders questioned Qaddoumi’s motives for such accusations, and accused him of trying to sabotage and manipulate the outcome of the convention for his own interests.

Despite Qaddoumi’s accusations the Bethlehem meeting took place as scheduled. It had witnessed a huge presence of Abbas security forces, which had aggressively controlled the progress and the quality of the convention. The security forces had harassed and physically beaten some delegates, some of whom had to be sent to the hospital for treatment. Speakers, who attempted to question or criticize Abbas’ leadership, were violently shut up and/or taken down from the podium.

The convention did not follow the conventional protocols for such political meetings. No reports about Fatah’s accomplishments for the last 20 years were given. There was no financial report explaining the income and expenditure of the movement. Most importantly, and most dangerously, there was no political policy or agenda for future actions of the movement. When some delegates demanded such reports and planning they were told that they have to consider Abbas’ opening speech as the official reports and political policy.

Abbas’ opening speech is considered the most dangerous for the Palestinians, and the best gift for the Israelis. After the usual cheap clichés of struggle for liberation and building an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, Abbas proceeded to deliver a skewed history of the PLO beating his own drum as an active co-leader of it.

He praised the past Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation then he turned around and labeled it as terrorism when he stated that Fatah had renounced terrorism and is seeking the path of peaceful negotiation. He acknowledged that for the last 15 years “… these negotiations are in vain” but insisted “but still, there is a glimpse of hope and we have to continue this way for the interest of the people.”

Abbas insisted that the only way to achieve statehood is by peace negotiations and adopting the Road Map starting with the elimination of all “Palestinian terrorism” against Israelis. Basically this meant safeguarding Israeli security by fighting all the Palestinian resistance groups. That means turning the Palestinian Security Forces against the same people they are supposed to serve and protect in order to protect their worst enemy; the Israelis.

Although insisting on hopeless negotiations with Palestinians worst enemy, Israelis, and giving them more free concessions, Abbas made it clear that he is not ready to negotiate with Palestinian brothers in Gaza, Hamas, whom he called “the princes of the darkness and coup makers, who are dividing the homeland and the people and harming democracy by preventing Fatah members from joining the conference.”

To exonerate himself and Dahlan from the capital crime of assassinating Arafat, Abbas accused Israel of causing Arafat’s death, and assigned a committee to investigate how Arafat died not who assassinated him.

Abbas claimed that the Oslo Agreement had allowed thousands of Palestinians to return to their home land; West Bank and Gaza Strip. He made it clear that the right of return means the return to the West Bank and Gaza Strip only, and not to Palestine proper.

At the end of the conference Abbas, as expected, was nominated, not elected, as the supreme leader of Fatah. The election of the Central Committee and the Revolutionary Council had resulted in the election of many of Abbas’ hired men, many of whom could be considered traitors than patriotic. Fatah delegates from Gaza, backed by others from West Bank, called it pre-arranged fraudulent election, and resigned from the movement as a protest.

Fatah convention had succeeded only in weakening and dividing the once patriotic liberating movement into a docile ready to negotiate only Ramallah-based Fatah, an orphaned Gaza-based Fatah, and a confused Diaspora-Fatah.

Financed by pro-Zionist American administration and virtually led by American general Keith Dayton, the Ramallah-based Fatah, in the form of Palestinian Authority, would be internationally recognized as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and would be groomed to accept whatever peace plan the American administration imposes on it through what is called peace negotiations.

It was said that a nation who negotiates with its occupier over its own independence is signing, at the same time, its own enslavement contract.

- Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer of Palestinian descent, born in the town of Beit-Jala. Currently he lives in the US. He contributed this article to

a família expulsa de Jerusalem recusa-se a desistir


Evicted Jerusalem family refuses to give up
Jody McIntyre writing from occupied East Jerusalem, Live from Palestine, 12 August 2009

A poster hanging in the Hanoun family home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, March 2009. (Anne Paq/ActiveStills)

At 5:15am on Sunday, 2 August, I woke up to the sound of the Hanoun family's front room windows being smashed in. I had just laid down to rest only 20 minutes earlier.

The Hanoun family is one of 27 families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem facing eviction from their homes as part of a plan to implant a new Jewish settlement in the area. They are refugees from 1948, after being displaced from their home in Haifa during the Nakba, or catastrophe. The family includes 18 members, six of whom are children. They have lived in Sheikh Jarrah since 1956 when the Jordanian government and the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) gave them their houses as part of a project to house Palestinians forced to flee their homes.

We knew that the threat of eviction was imminent ever since the first order of this year was served on 19 February. The family had already been kicked out of their home once, in 2002, but it was still hard to imagine that the day would ever come.

By the time I'd got to my feet, scores of soldiers were rushing into the house and had surrounded me. Due to my disability -- I have cerebral palsy -- I cannot walk at a fast pace, which they used as an excuse to increase their level of aggression, kicking me as I fell to the ground and pushing me out the front door. As I tumbled down the stairs outside, I pointed at my wheelchair:

"That's my wheelchair," I said. "I need it because I can't walk."

"No! No!" the armed Israeli forces replied, continuing to shove me away.

Just outside the house, the police gathered everyone at a nearby wall. Within a matter of seconds they had confiscated everyone's camera and mobile phone, meaning that no footage could be taken and no media could be called. Media would have been able to reach the house anyway as a team of 500 police officers had closed off the entire area. The few journalists that did finally manage to enter the area by climbing through neighboring gardens were manhandled and harassed by Israeli forces.

The police promptly proceeded to arrest all of the international activists present who had been staying with the families in Sheikh Jarrah to show their support. As they forced the internationals away from the house, a police barrier was hastily set up, imprisoning them on the road facing the house. I was the only international left with the family. All around me I could see tears falling from eyes, and faces falling into hands. Children distraught. A family broken.

"For the second time, I have been kicked out of my home," sobbed Jana Hanoun, 16. "How can I ever forget?"

As one of the grandmothers stood cursing the gathered soldiers for their crimes, one of them took offense and attempted to strike her in the face. Her son tore down part of the barrier, launching himself at the soldiers until he was brutally beaten and crushed to the ground. Other Palestinians were also injured as they desperately tried to prevent his arrest.

It was only a couple of hours before a van of Jewish settlers drove up and began moving in to the Hanoun family's house. I watched as soldiers ushered the settlers through to the house they had just stolen. A distraught Jana had to be held back from scaling the fence, for fear that she would be the next to be beaten.

This is occupation. This is apartheid.

By 5pm, the police finally took down the fence and reopened the roads outside the house. We all immediately crossed the road, put our banners back up and sat on the steps outside the Hanoun home. Soldiers forced us across the road once more and erected a new fence.

In the evening, individuals from across the country gathered outside the house to protest, and we chanted as loud as our voices would allow. The Israeli police responded to the peaceful protest by brutally beating participants -- punching people in the head and throwing a woman with a baby in her arms to the ground. Thirteen more arrests were made.

I had been staying with the Hanoun family for weeks before the eviction took place, and vowed to continue to do so. I felt a portion of their pain that morning -- I was also kicked and dragged from the house in which I was living. My belongings were also left behind as I sat shoeless on the street.

We slept the night on the pavement opposite the home.

The next day I was struck by the beaming smile still on the face of Sherri-Ann, a 20-year-old member of the Hanoun family and psychology student. She had an exam to take only a few days later.

"They want Arabs to be stupid, so that when we shout, no one will hear us," she told me. "But I will continue to study and achieve good marks. I will never give up." I watched with admiration as Sherri-Ann sat under the olive tree opposite her home, where she had lived her whole life, and told the story of the eviction to interested visitors.

It's difficult to keep hope as we spend the days sitting on the pavement in the blazing heat, watching as the settlers walk in and out of the Hanoun family's front door, laughing and gloating with the Israeli police on 24-hour duty. But the family is the strongest I have ever met, and Maher Hanoun, the 51-year-old head of the family, remains defiant.

"We have been made refugees again," he told reporters. "This is a slow genocide they are conducting against the Palestinians of East Jerusalem."

He added that "For the last 37 years we were fighting to keep our homes, and now begins the fight to get them back."

Jody McIntyre is a journalist from the UK. He writes a blog for Ctrl.Alt.Shift, entitled "Life on Wheels," which can be found at He can be reached at jody.mcintyre A T gmail D O T com.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Fatah: um novo começo ou um iminente fim ?

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Fatah: A New Beginning or an Imminent End?

Mahmoud Abbas presiding over the opening session of Fatah's general conference. (AP)

By Ramzy Baroud

This is hardly the rational order of things. An overpowering military occupation was meant to be resisted by an equally determined, focused and unyielding national movement, hell-bent on liberation at any cost and by any means. This is the unwritten law that has governed and shielded successful national liberation projects throughout history. The Fatah movement, under Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, however, wants to alter that order, meeting Israeli colonialism with ill-defined ‘pragmatism’, extreme violence with press statements laden with endless clichés that mostly go unreported, and a determined Israeli attempt at squashing Palestinian aspirations with political tribalism, factional decay and internal divisions.

Indeed, the long delayed Fatah Congress, held in Bethlehem on August 4 has underscored the obvious: the all-encompassing movement which was meant to exact and safeguard Palestinian national rights has grown into a liability that, if anything, will continue to derail the Palestinian national project. This comes at a time when the Palestinian people are in urgent need of a collective response that is strong enough to withstand Israeli military pressure and coercion at home, eloquent enough to communicate the Palestinian message to a global audience, and astute enough to galvanize international support and sympathy to the benefit of Palestinian freedom and independence.

But what we witnessed in Bethlehem was a bizarre manifestation of the discord of self-seeking and self-imposed elites vying for empty titles, worthless positions and hollow prestige. The mockery started when hundreds of additional delegates were invited to join in the already bloated number of Fatah members with the hopes that their presence would bolster the position of this factional leader or that. Oddly, the meeting place was occupied Bethlehem. The delegates of the ‘resistance’ movement must’ve passed through Israeli checkpoints and metal detectors to reach their meeting place and talk of hypothetical revolutions and imaginary resistance. Excluded were Fatah members who didn’t pass Israeli screening. Perhaps, they were not ‘revolutionary’ enough for Israeli taste.

Then the show started. One would hope to take an iota of pride in the fact that the delegates were not participants in a typical meet of conformists as is the case in ruling party conferences throughout the region. But this would be self-deceiving. The heated discussions which evolved into screaming matches, were of little relevance to the struggles and challenges facing the Palestinian people at home and abroad. It was not the plight of Gaza, nor the cause of the refugees, nor the best method of garnering international solidarity that invited the ire of most respected members. The disputes were most personal. A so-called younger generation trying to exact greater representation in the movement’s 21-strong Central Committee and the 120-member Revolutionary Council from the so-called Old Guard.

Many news reports reduced the ongoing turmoil in Fatah to sound bites and half-truths. The old recycled gibberish of ‘moderate’ Fatah was once more juxtaposed to ‘extremist’ Hamas; the latter’s violence with the former’s investment in a pretend ‘peace process’, those who want to live in peace, ‘side-by-side’ with Israel and those who want to ‘annihilate’ the Jewish State.

“Now the Palestinians – like the Israelis and the international backers of Fatah – are waiting to see the results,” reported the New York Times. True, but Palestinians were waiting for entirely different reasons.

Fatah has changed over the years. It started as a resistance movement of well-intended members, mostly students and young professionals in the 1950’s and 60’s. The young leadership was motivated by various factors, chief amongst them were the plight of the refugees, the lack of a truly independent Palestinian leadership and the failure of Arab governments to deliver on their promises to liberate Palestine. Resistance was in fact the core of Fatah’s liberation program.

One of the movement’s founders once wrote: “It was not only the experiences and the errors of our predecessors which helped guide our first steps. The guerrilla war in Algeria, launched five years before the creation of Fatah, had a profound influence on us. We were impressed by the Algerian nationalists’ ability to form a solid front, wage war against an army a thousand times superior to their own, obtain many forms of aid from various Arab governments, and at the same time avoid becoming dependent on any of them.”

Over the years, whether out of political of military necessity, internal divisions or any other factors, Fatah grew into a melting pot encompassing romantic revolutionaries and poets, wealthy elites and shifty politicians. It was a strange balance, but a balance nonetheless, which kept suspicious Palestinians hopeful that the revolutionary elements in Fatah would eventually prevail. But following Yasser Arafat’s signing of the Oslo Accord with Israel, in 1993, the millionaires and their dubious politician allies won, turning Fatah into a giant company, feeding on the empty rhetoric of ‘peace’, financed by international donors, and operated by the movement’s ‘pragmatic’ elements, who allied themselves with Israel to preserve their gains, however insignificant.

That is why “Palestinians (were) waiting”, perhaps with the hope that Fatah would once more revert to its founding principles, with a coherent national project, stipulating unity of purpose and clarity of aim. It was not that Palestinians were hungry for violent resistance and eager to blow things up, but they longed for a Fatah that would once more institute resistance as an idea, as a culture, with all of its manifestations, infused as necessary. They wanted Fatah to go back to the basics, own up to the struggle of its people, as opposed to the quisling rhetoric that turned Palestine into a collection of political tribes, each armed with NGO’s, newsletters and bloated bank accounts in various European capitals.

One wants to decry this shameful episode in the history of the Palestinian struggle, but one ought to remember that history has a way of repeating itself. The faltering Fatah that was once established to represent the aspirations of the downtrodden Palestinian refugees is now facing the same historical imperative that other failed movements have faced in the past. If Fatah fails to reclaim itself as a true national liberation movement, an umbrella that unites every facet of Palestinian society, then it will soon splinter and eventually dissolve, if not entirely disappear. But true challenge will remain; whether those who will carry the torch will learn from the “experiences and the errors of (their) predecessors.” Time will tell.

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

a história desconhecida da comissão King-Crane

fonte:Palestine chronicle

Untold Story of The King-Crane Commission

King and Crane also took into consideration the status of holy sites in Palestine.

By Tammy Obeidallah

'Down with American Imperialists.' This sign, or one of its variations, can be seen at protests and demonstratons throughout the world. U.S. policies have given credence to it, fueling legitimate hatred in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and others victimized by America’s lust for oil and support of the Israeli military juggernaut. Yet less than 100 years ago, the United States was admired in the global arena as a bastion of justice and freedom. Furthermore, Zionism—the belief that all Jews are entitled to a “homeland” in Palestine—was condemned in an official document.

The King-Crane Commission is relatively unknown, buried under a century of Zionist propaganda and attempts to discredit Dr. Henry Churchill King and Charles R. Crane as Nazi sympathizers. On the contrary, Dr. King was one of the best known educators of his time and served as the director of religious work for the YMCA in France. Mr. Crane was selected as part of a special diplomatic mission to Russia and was U.S. Ambassador to Chinafrom 1920-1921. In 1919, after World War I and the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, President Woodrow Wilson apppointed King and Crane to head the Inter-Allied Commission on Mandates in Turkey.

King and Crane’s mission was to record the wishes of the people in the former Ottoman territories regarding their desired form of government and the degree to which outside intervention would be accepted. President Woodrow Wilson’s July 4, 1918 address provided the backdrop for their objective:

“The settlement of every question, whether of territory, of sovereignty, of economic arrangement, or of political relationship upon the basis of the free acceptance of that settlement by the people immediately concerned and not upon the basis of the material interest or advantage of any other nation or people which may desire a different settlement for the sake of its own exterior influence or mastery.”

It was in this spirit that King and Crane had embarked on their 42-day tour of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Asia Minor. The commission conducted conferences throughout the region, gathering opinions on such topics as territorial limits, independence, form of government, choice of mandate and Zionism.

The King and Crane Commission examined responses from religious, political and social/economic organizations and found overwhelming support among the Muslim population in Syria for an American mandate, as opposed to Britain or France, should it be determined that the fledgling government needed external assistance. The reasoning behind this preference was summarized in the final report as “…the nearly universal recognition of the fact that America sought no additional territory…” Article 4 of the General Syrian Congress, convened that same summer in Damascus, supported their finding:

“…And desiring that our country should not fall a prey to colonization and believing that the American Nation is farthest from any thought of colonization and has no political ambition in our country, we will seek the technical and economic assistance from the United States of America…”

While there was some disagreement in the territories as to the choice of mandate, there was nearly universal opposition to Zionism. The General Syrian Congress unanimously passed articles opposing partitioning Palestine from the rest of Syria. Leaders at that time grasped all too well the strategy of “divide and conquer”; they also understood the Zionist ambitions of setting aside Palestine as future Jewish state.

Prior to their journey, King and Crane had been lobbied by pro-Zionist groups and were, by their own admission, “pre-disposed in its favor.” However, during conferences with local Jewish representatives, it became apparent that their goal was the “practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine by various forms of purchase.”

Further investigation revealed something far more sinister than acquiring the land by mere “purchase.” Statements made by British officials increased the commissioners’ misgivings about the entire Zionist project. In their final recommendations, King and Crane wrote:

“No British officer, consulted by the Commissioners, believed that the Zionist program could be carried out except by force of arms. The officers generally thought that a force of not less than 50,000 soldiers would be required even to initiate the program … Decisions requiring armies to carry out, are sometimes necessary. But they are surely not gratuitously to be taken in the interest of a serious injustice.”

King and Crane also took into consideration the status of holy sites in Palestine: “The places which are most sacred to Christians—those having to do with Jesus—and which are also sacred to Moslems, are not only not sacred to Jews, but abhorrent to them.” The Commissioners went on to reason that it was neither logical nor prudent to place these most holy sites in the control of a Jewish authority.

Finally, King and Crane concluded that the implementation of the Zionist plan would be contrary to the aforementioned principle outlined by President Wilson, whereby nations have a right to self-determination free from external pressure. Nine-tenths of the population surveyed, including Muslim and Christian groups, were against Zionism. Their final recommendation read “…This would have to mean that Jewish immigration should be definitely limited, and that the project for making Palestine distinctly a Jewish commonwealth should be given up.”

It is nothing short of tragic that in the 90 years since the King-Crane Commission, subsequent American leaders have abandoned the principles which led President Wilson to embark on that diplomatic effort in the first place. The common sense and mutually beneficial policy of non-intervention was rejected in favor of big oil and strategic interests. The opportunity to forge an allegiance with emerging governments eager for freedom and self-determination was squandered in favor of the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing and genocide, from Deir Yassin to Lebanon to Gaza. And America will continue to pay the price.

(The entire King-Crane Commission Report can be read here.)

- Tammy Obeidallah contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.c

caricatura da Al Jazeera

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

as dificuldades para os artistas de teatro em Gaza


Gaza play highlights difficulties for artists under siege
Eva Bartlett, The Electronic Intifada, 12 August 2009

Gaza actors Inas al-Saqha and Ali Abu Yassin in the play Film Cinema. (Emad Badwan)

"Don't people in Gaza love to see films like people anywhere?" aspiring filmmaker Hossam Abdel Latif asks. His wife, the more practical Souad, retorts, "Someone who can't afford to eat is going to go to the cinema?"

The question of the arts in times of siege and occupation is one of the main themes in Gaza's newest theatre production, Film Cinema, which opened on 4 August in Gaza City. A stage buried in film negatives, and adorned with a lone plump teddy bear, sets the scene of the three-person play.

"I'm Hossam Abdel Latif, and I want to make a film," the would-be film director repeatedly begins, facing his running video camera, only to be repeatedly interrupted.

"Tomatoes, get your tomatoes! Ten shekels, come on and get them!" calls the tomato vendor on the street from offstage, the sound breaking into Hossam's apartment-studio. Undeterred, Hossam begins filming anew until Souad rushes into the room: "Tomatoes, we must buy tomatoes. They're just 10 shekels." Souad's interruptions continue: on the messy state of the apartment, her desire to have a baby, her loneliness.

The plot is simple -- a filmmaker and the challenges he faces -- but is embroiled with all that is life in occupied Palestine, making an amusing, and at times soberingly real, hour of theatre. Film Cinema recalls the last Israeli massacre in Gaza -- but without reference to a specific time, it could be any of Israel's military invasions of Gaza -- and addresses the dreams and pressures Palestinians experience under the oppressive siege of Gaza. At the same time, the play shares the universal realities of marital spats and individual desires.

Souad, whose name ironically means "a happy woman," anything but. She longs for a child of her own, misses her family who live outside of Palestine and desires more adoration and attention from a preoccupied husband.

Hossam has left his work to follow his dream. His pursuit continues to be interrupted by his wife's lamentations, and the challenges of life in Gaza; nowhere is there tranquility, repose. It's a constant struggle to find the quiet to think, plan, breathe or make a film.

But like the main character of Film Cinema, actors and artists in Gaza persist despite it all, including the destruction of one of Gaza's finer theaters during last winter's attacks. Film Cinema is the second theatre event this summer in Gaza, and more are in the making.

Theater-goers also seek relief in the arts or a semblance of "normality" in Gaza. The packed audience and its enthusiastic participation demonstrate how thirsty Palestinians in Gaza are for the arts, for a cathartic outlet.

While dealing with the serious themes facing Palestinians in Gaza, the play is on the whole a mischievous poke at life in the Strip, and many of the issues are equally applicable to life under the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Souad has left her family in exile to live in Palestine with her husband, Hossam. She and Hossam both downplay the severity of the siege to her relatives outside. "War, what war?" asks Hossam to Souad's mother, sending cheeky kisses over the phone like any wary son-in-law a safe distance away from his mother-in-law's embrace or scorn might do.

Much comic relief comes with the third character, Hammad, a colleague and friend from whom Hossam has borrowed the video camera to make his film. During the war, he rushes out to film while Hossam and Souad struggle to survive, ears glued to the radio for the latest news, trying to cook food over the old kerosene stoves and living without power, gas, water, or any safe place to go.

The play also addresses questions that many in Gaza are facing now: to leave Gaza, work outside, escape the oppression of life under siege and war.

"Man, go outside of Gaza and work," says Hammad to Hossam. But Hossam asserts, "I'm not like you, I can't leave my country. I like this country, despite all the problems."

Directed by Hussein al-Asmar, the play stars veteran actor Ali Abu Yassin, who shed his own director's suit to play Hossam Abdel Latif; Inas al-Saqha, who plays the role of distressed Souad; and Akram Ahbeyd, playing a manic Hammad.

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

Fundamentalismo religioso em Israel

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Religious Fundamentalism in Israel
Israel Shahak was leading Israeli human rights activist and Holocaust survivor.

By Stephen Lendman – Chicago

Israel Shahak's (1933-2001) 'Jewish History, Jewish Religion' argued that while Islamic fundamentalism is vilified in the West, comparable Jewish extremism is largely ignored. In the book's forward, Edward Said wrote:

"....Shahak's mode of telling the truth has always been rigorous and uncompromising. There is nothing seductive about it, no attempt made to put it 'nicely,' no effort expended on making the truth palatable....For Shahak killing is murder is killing is murder: his manner is to repeat. (He) shows that the obscure, narrowly chauvinist prescriptions against various undesirable Others are to be found in Judaism (as in other monotheistic religions) but he always goes on to show the continuity between those and the way Israel treats Palestinians, Christians and other non-Jews. A devastating portrait of prejudice, hypocrisy and religious intolerance emerges."

Shahak's "Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel" picked up on the theme in explaining its pervasive, destructive influence in Israeli politics, the military and society. He noted that substituting German or Aryan for Jewish and non-Jews for Jews makes it easy to see how a superiority doctrine made an earlier genocide possible and is letting another happen now.

Shahak called all forms of bigotry morally reprehensible and said:

"Any form of racism, discrimination and xenophobia becomes more potent and politically influential if it is taken for granted by the society which indulges in it." For Israeli Jews, he believed, "The support of democracy and human rights is....meaningless or even harmful and deceitful when it does not begin with self-critique and with support of human rights when they are violated by one's own group. Any support of human rights for non-Jews whose rights are being violated by the 'Jewish state' is as deceitful as the support of human rights by a Stalinist...."

As a leading Israeli human rights activist and Holocaust survivor, Shakah reviewed Jewish fundamentalist history, examined its strains, and explained the dangers of extremist messianic ones. They oppose equality of Jews and non-Jews and destroy democratic values by espousing dogma calling Jews superior to all others.

The earlier influence of fundamentalist Rabbi Abraham Kook (1865-1935), or Kuk, was significant. He preached Jewish supremacy and said: "The difference between a Jewish soul and souls of non-Jews - all of them in all different levels - is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle." His teachings helped create the settler movement, and his son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, founded the extremist Gush Emunim (GE) under the slogan: "The Land of Israel, for the people of Israel, according to the Torah of Israel."

Like the elder Kook, GE sees state power as a way forward to a new messianic era. It believes that God created the world for Jews. Others are lesser beings. Greater Israel belongs to Jews alone, and holy wars are acceptable to attain it.

Kook was Israel's first chief rabbi. In his honor and to continue his teachings, the extremist Merkaz Harav (the Rabbi's Center) was founded in 1924 as a yeshiva or fundamentalist religious college. It teaches that "non-Jews living under Jewish law in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) must either be enslaved as water carriers and wood hewers, or banished, or exterminated." It gets no more extremist than that and highlights the dangers for Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Territories. Their lives and welfare are being sacrificed for a Greater Israel for Jews alone.

Gush Emunim adherents and other Israeli religious zealots plan it. They're active in politics, hold seats in the Knesset, are Netanyahu government coalition partners (including Shas, United Torah and Yisrael Beiteinu), and are prominently represented in Israel's military throughout the ranks and rabbinate. Chief military rabbi, Brigadier General Avichai Rontzki, called Operation Cast Lead a "religious war" in which it was "immoral" to show mercy to an enemy of "murderers."

Many others feel the same way, prominently among them graduates of Hesder Yeshivat schools that combine extremist religious indoctrination with military service to defend the Jewish State.

In 1981, Rabbi Harav Lichtenstein's article, "The Ideology of Hesder: The View from Yeshivat Har Etzion," explained that:

"Hesder....seeks to attract and develop bnei torah (religious individuals) who are profoundly motivated by the desire to become serious talmidei machamim (religiously knowledgeable) but who concurrently feel morally and religiously bound to help defend their people and their country; who....regard this dual commitment as both a privilege and a thus enables them to maintain an integrated Jewish experience."

Nearly all Hesder graduates perform combat service for up to six years. Today 41 schools operate throughout Israel. In 1991, Hesder was awarded the Israel Prize (the state's highest honor) for its exceptional service to the nation.

One commander expressed how many feel in explaining the military's mission:

"We are the Jewish people. We came to this land by a miracle. God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the Gentiles who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land."

Extremist Israeli rabbis teach this ideology, and in 2003 Rabbi Saadya Grama's book, "Romemut Yisrael Ufarashat Hagalut (The Majesty of Israel and the Question of the Diaspora), argued that non-Jews are "completely evil" while Jews are genetically superior. Reform and conservative rabbis condemned it. Extremist orthodox ones endorsed it. Some more moderate ones also saying Grama advocates separating Jews from an intrinsically hostile anti-Semetic world. Rabbi Yosef Blau called the book "a call for a superior people to withdraw from the world and live in isolation while submitting to its enemies and placing trust in God."

Others in Israel teach the extremist notion that the ten commandments don't apply to non-Jews. So killing them in defending the homeland is acceptable, and according to Rabbi Dov Lior, chairman of the Jewish Rabbinic Council:

"There is no such thing as enemy civilians in war time. The law of our Torah is to have mercy on our soldiers and to save them....A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew's fingernail."

Rabbi David Batsri called Arabs "a blight, a devil, a disaster....donkeys, and we have to ask ourselves why God didn't create them to walk on all fours. Well, the answer is that they are needed to build and clean." Extremist zealots want them for no other purpose in Jewish society.

In 2007, Israel's former chief rabbi, Mordechai Elyahu, called for the Israeli army to mass-murder Palestinians. In fanatical language he said:

"If they don't stop after we kill 100, then we must kill 1000. And if they don't stop after 1000, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don't stop we must kill 100,000. Even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop."

In March 2009, Safed's chief rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu called for "state-sponsored revenge" to restore "Israel's deterrence....It's time to call the child by its name: Revenge, revenge, revenge. We mustn't forget. We have to take horrible revenge for the terrorist attack at Mercaz Harav yeshiva," referring to an earlier incident in which eight students died.

"I am not talking about individual people in particular. I'm talking about the state. (It) has to pain them where they scream 'Enough,' to the point where they fall flat on their face and scream 'help.' "

In June 2009, US Hasidic Rabbi Manis Friedman voiced a similar sentiment in calling on Israel to kill Palestinian "men, women and children."

"I don't believe in western morality, i.e. don't kill civilians or children, don't destroy holy sites, don't fight during the holiday seasons, don't bomb cemeteries, don't shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral. The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle)."

Views like these aren't exceptions. Though a minority, they proliferate throughout Israeli society, and are common enough to incite violence against Palestinians, even when they rightfully defend themselves as international law allows.

Religious Extremism Threatens Any Chance for an Equitable Solution

Israeli extremists are a minority but influential enough to make policy, and therein lies the threat to peace and likelihood of a sovereign Palestinian state. In his book, "A Little Too Close to God," David Horovitz recalled that before Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, he attended a Netanyahu-sponsored anti-Rabin rally he described as follows:

"I felt as if I were among wild animals, vicious, angry predators craving flesh and scenting blood. There was elation in the anger, elation bred of the certainty of eventual success."

In his book, "Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence," Professor Mark Juergensmeyer compared the similarities among religious-motivated extremists, whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or others.

He related a conversation with Yoel Lerner who was imprisoned for trying to blow up the Dome of the Rock, the Muslim holy site, because he believed that an ancient Jewish temple stood there before it was destroyed.

He expressed messianic Zionism in saying the "Messiah will come to earth only after the temple is rebuilt and made ready for him," so Jews must assure it's done. These views are prominent in high places and throughout Israeli society; that is, religious fervor for a Greater Israel for Jews only, a Jewish state excluding all Arabs with violence an acceptable tool to remove them, and conflict will continue until they're gone.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency's (JTA) Report on Jewish Extremists

On June 24, JTA wrote a special report on Jewish extremists in which it described "the face of radical Jewish nationalism in Israel....a movement of settler youths, rabbis, leaders and supporters determined to hold onto the West Bank at any cost." They represent a minority, but are a "vocal and increasingly violent constituency of the Jewish settler movement" rampaging against Palestinians and Israelis, confident that God is on their side, and one day a "Torah-based theocracy (will) triumph over the State of Israel."

Rabbi Yisrael Iriel is one of its adherents in preaching Jewish superiority and unwillingness to cede any part of biblical Israel to non-Jews. He's one of a "small group of (extremist) rabbis who provide the theological and ideological underpinnings for radical settlers."

The Israeli human rights group Yesh Din believes they number about 1000 but exert considerable influence nonetheless. They're an extremist fringe element, determined to use violence to achieve their goals, and are supported by other West Bank settlers. One young adherent expressed their agenda by saying "I think God chose a good and beautiful land for us," and we'll fight to keep it. If so, it makes peaceful resolution harder than ever to achieve, especially with political hard-liners in charge and most Israelis supporting them.

Hate Literature Distributed to Israeli Soldiers

Until discontinued on July 20, a booklet published by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, in cooperation with Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, titled, "On Either Side of the Border" was given to IDF soldiers containing hateful fiction purported to be true. It suggested that the Pope and Vatican cardinals sympathized with Hezbollah's struggle and conspired with the organization to kill Jews. It claimed that the Vatican organized Auschwitz tours to teach its members how to do it, and that its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, was invited to join a delegation to tour France, Poland, Italy and the Vatican.

It also accused European politicians and journalists of conspiring against Israel. Rabbi Eliahu's aide, David Menahemov, claimed booklet material was true even though the account portrayed was preposterous. Yet one Israeli soldier said everyone in the ranks reads and believes it. Many soldiers told him, "Read this and you'll understand who the Arabs are" and why the Israeli cause is just.

During Operation Cast Lead, 10,000 mp3s were also distributed to Israeli forces with recorded extremist sermons. Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger urged soldiers to "trust in God and know that war is being waged for the sanctification of His name....and not to fear. (Soldiers) should not think of (their) wi(ves) or children or (their) mother(s) and father(s)."

Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar called the Gaza conflict "a holy mission that is being waged in the name of the entire Jewish people."

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu said "Our intention is to uplift soldiers' spirits" in battle against Hamas terrorists. The IDF Rabbinate division, Jewish Consciousness Field (JCF), also distributed a pamphlet titled "Jewish Consciousness Emphases for Cast Lead" calling military rabbis "Anointed Priests of War."

A JCF officer, Shmuel Yurman, explained the pamphlet's purpose as follows:

"This is the hour to strengthen our fighters in this heavenly commanded war that they have the merit to wage. Each (rabbi) has the knowledge and skills needed to contribute to the IDF battle spirit. Nevertheless, in order to enlighten and focus the spiritual message, JCF learned and prepared itself for this war before the operation began and as it was being fought. In meetings with soldiers and officers on the southern front we listened to the spiritual needs."

JCF's head, Rabbi Tzadok Ben-Artzi, justified the war saying:

"We, the people who contributed to the world the book of books, who want to build a society based on creativity and peace, love of mankind and faith in good, find ourselves chased by blind hatred that is motivated by 'religious' terminology and aspires to bloodshed and cruelty."

He advised IDF rabbis to say that the war's aim is "to save the Jewish people from its enemies" and eradicate evil in the world. Other extremist rabbis voiced the same sentiment, and, under Brigadier General Avichai Ronzki's command, the IDF's rabbinate theologized military missions and fed messianic dogma to young minds. Many in the ranks are already zealots enough to make spreading this gospel all the easier.

Ronzki explains it by saying that "as military rabbis, (we're) supposed to deal with helping soldiers to internalize Jewish values, spirit and consciousness as presented in Jewish sources. This is our main function as rabbis....(to) teach....what Judaism is."

Different Sides of Israel's Religious Community

Ronzki and other zealots represent one side of Israel's religious community, comprised of two major groups - religious Zionists and Charedim. Governed by their ideology, the former believe in the special relationship between God and Jews and see Israeli governance from that perspective. They comprise about two-thirds of the religious community and 8% of the population.

Representing the other third and about 4.5% of the population, the Charedim see Israel as a secular state like most others in the country.

Ethnicity also defines religious segments. Sephardic Jews originated from the Middle East, North Africa and Spain. Ashkenazi ones are from Eastern Europe and differ in religious and cultural traditions. Both communities attend separate synagogues in different neighborhoods, yet are represented in religious Zionist and Charedim camps. Israel has two chief rabbis, one Ashkenazi, the other Sephardic.

Though a minority, Israel's religious community wields considerable influence politically, in the military and society overall. Moreover, synagogues and yeshivas are popular places where people gather to discuss issues of common interest and hear the views of their rabbinical leaders.

The most extreme believe in Jewish sovereignty over all biblical Israel, so foregoing any of it is unthinkable. Thirteenth century Rabbi Moses Ben Nachman was their spiritual godfather. He wrote that Jews "should settle in the land and inherit it, because He gave it to them, and they should not reject God's inheritance." Our rabbis say it's "a mitzvah (commandment) to settle in the land and it is forbidden to leave it."

Similar dogma today holds that reclaiming Israel for Jews will foreshadow the coming of the messiah. Rabbi Avraham Kook preached it. Today's most extreme zealots believe that conceding any biblical land will delay or subvert messianic redemption, so it can't be tolerated. Palestinians are called enemies for wanting land of their own. Yielding any violates Jewish law they believe.

In contrast, secular Charedim accept land concessions for peace and want the government to make policy, not religious Zionists based on biblical law. They believe Israel should serve the interests of all Jews, not one segment over another, and feel no part of Israel is too sacred to concede (except Jerusalem) if it best serves the Jewish people overall.

They believe that the Torah promotes peaceful co-existence and, except for defense, conflict is counterproductive. Like religious Zionists, they feel all biblical Israel belongs to the Jews, yet they're willing to concede some in the interest of peace.

Most religious Israelis fall somewhere between these groups. They believe that biblical Israel was promised to Jews, yet accept compromise to one degree or another to preserve life and serve the best interests of all Jews.

How the future balance of power shifts from one side to the other will greatly influence the makeup of future Israeli governments and determine whether peaceful co-existance can replace over six decades of conflict and repression. So far it hasn't, and nothing suggests it will any time soon, not while extremist Zionists run the government, serve prominently in the IDF, and, according to critics, are gaining more power incrementally.

- Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He contributed this article to Contact him at: (Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues.)

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