Saturday, 19 September 2009
Boycott movement derails Jerusalem's transit system
Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 18 September 2009
An ill-fated light railway under construction in Jerusalem was originally heralded by Israeli officials as a way to cement the city's "unification" four decades after the city's Palestinian half was illegally annexed to Israel.
But the only unity generated among Jewish and Palestinian residents after four years of disruptions to the city's traffic and businesses is general agreement that the project is rapidly becoming a white elephant.
After engineering problems, rows between the contractors and the municipality and delays caused by archaeological discoveries along the route, completion of the first 14 kilometers section of track is not expected until the end of next year at the earliest -- more than 18 months behind schedule. The budget overspend is estimated at more than $500 million.
This week, in an indication of the deepening crisis, Israel's Dan bus company was forced to step in to buy the five percent stake of Veolia, a French company that is supposed to operate the line for the next 30 years. Dan, which is waiting for the Israeli government to approve its bid, has no prior experience of running a rail system.
Shmuel Elgrably, a spokesman for the transit system, told the Haaretz newspaper last week that the loss of Veolia had "screwed" the project.
Veolia's unexpected withdrawal from City Pass, a French-Israeli private consortium backed in part by public finances, is being claimed as a victory by Palestinian officials and activists whose boycott and lobbying efforts appear to have forced the company to quit the project.
They have accused Veolia and another French firm, Alstom, which is laying the tracks and providing the rail cars, of violating international law by working on a project designed to benefit Jewish settlements in the occupied part of Jerusalem.
Since East Jerusalem's annexation, Israel has moved some 200,000 Jews into illegal colonies surrounding more than a quarter of a million Palestinian residents.
Despite pressure from Washington for a settlement freeze in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared this week: "Jerusalem is not a settlement and construction [of homes] will go on as planned."
Officials announced this month that 500 new apartments are to be built in Pisgat Zeev -- a settlement of more than 40,000 Jews that will be connected to West Jerusalem in the first phase of the rail system's construction.
The line, which is supposed to serve 150,000 passengers a day and ease congestion on Jerusalem's roads, will also pass by the famous Damascus and Jaffa Gates of the Old City.
Future sections of track are supposed to link up other Jewish settlements, including Neve Yaacov, Atarot and Gilo.
When the transit system contract was signed in 2005, Ariel Sharon, the prime minister at the time, said it would "sustain Jerusalem for eternity as the capital of the Jewish people."
Omar Barghouti, a founder of the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which has been targeting Veolia and Alstom over their involvement, wrote this month in the Jerusalem Quarterly magazine that the railway was part of "a comprehensive, long-term strategy ... to cement the integration of those [settlement] blocs into an ever sprawling 'Greater Jerusalem.'"
Barghouti claimed that the transit system is part of a secret Israeli plan, the outlines of which were revealed by the Haaretz newspaper in May, to create large infrastructure projects to prevent the future division of Jerusalem and thereby thwart any hope of a peace agreement.
The Palestinians demand East Jerusalem as the capital of their hoped-for state.
The project's supporters, however, point out that five of the 23 stations along the first line will be located in Palestinian neighborhoods, including the deprived Shuafat refugee camp.
To be profitable, says City Pass, the light rail must cater to the city's large communities of ultra-Othodox and Palestinians, both of whom are heavy users of public transport but currently use different bus routes.
Yet there are few indications that either group is keen to be brought on-board the transit system.
Palestinians are likely to be wary of using a railway dominated by settlers, and there may be severe limitations to their access to the service.
Shir Hever, a Jerusalem-based economist, said many Israeli Jews would be unwilling to share trains with the city's Palestinian inhabitants, particularly after a series of attacks last summer in East Jerusalem, mostly using bulldozers.
"The real questions," he said, "are how many Palestinian areas in East Jerusalem will be left out of the loop of the rail system and, even where there are stops, what security requirements will be imposed on Palestinians, compared to Israeli Jews, before they can board the train?"
Some observers suspect that, after the first attack following the railway's opening, it will be closed to Palestinian travelers.
The ultra-Orthodox appear equally distrustful. Their rabbis have condemned the transit system because it will encourage men and women to mingle and replace the community's own segregated "modesty" buses. Last year, seven rabbis wrote to the municipality to complain that their followers would have to pass through secular neighborhoods "where a God-fearing person would not set foot."
Planners too, it seems, are preparing for trouble. The 42 rail cars -- each costing more than $3 million -- are designed to withstand stones and firebombs.
But the very survival of the project is now in question after the BDS movement's successful lobbying. A Dutch bank, ASN, pulled its investments from Veolia in 2006, and the company lost a large contract in Sweden this year.
Alstom is also under great pressure. The Swedish national pension fund, AP7, excluded the French firm from its investment portfolio this year and activists are now seeking to force its withdrawal from a consortium awarded a $1.8 billion contract in Saudi Arabia to build the Haramain Express between Mecca and Medina.
In addition, both Veolia and Alstom are battling the Palestine Liberation Organization through the French courts over their involvement in City Pass.
The consortium's woes have only increased with the election last year as Jerusalem mayor of Nir Barkat, a right-wing businessman who is a vocal opponent of the venture. Costs have already exceeded $1.1 billion, twice the original projections, with the Israeli government sinking in $200 million itself.
Earlier this year Barkat threatened to terminate City Pass' contract after the completion of the first line. He believes other routes can be served by a fleet of buses that would be five times cheaper to run.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.
A version of this article originally appeared in The National, published in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Wael's farm
Marryam Haleem writing from Beit Hanoun, occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 18 September 2009
|Abu Wael's garden. (Marryam Haleem)|
Abu Wael, my white-haired host in Beit Hanoun, so gentle and soft-spoken, sat and graciously urged his guests to eat more of food that he grew with his own hands on his northern Gaza farm, while he spoke of his grief.
The farm used to be planted with olive trees. During the olive harvest in October 2004, Abu Wael went with some workers and relatives to begin the harvest. However, Beit Hanoun came under attack by the Israeli army. That day, as they reached the farm, they received news that a cousin, Luay, was hit by a helicopter rocket and seriously wounded. So they left the farm out of concern for Luay and the family.
The third day after the attack, with Luay dying in the hospital and nothing else to be done, Abu Wael returned with the workers and relatives to harvest the trees. When they reached the farm, however, they were met by Israeli bulldozers that began to chase them. As they fled the fields, the Israeli army razed the land, crushing beneath their machines and metal blades the trees and their just-ripened olives.
That same day, 7 October, Luay passed away. Abu Wael fell ill, because of the land and because of Luay. But that would not be the last of his grief that year.
Three days later, Abu Wael and his son Ahmad stood on their balcony at 5am. An attack had just taken place and they were trying to figure out what had happened. Another cousin (also named Ahmad) decided to go the hospital to see what was going on. Ahmad was in the street, only 15 meters away from Abu Wael's house, when he was hit during a missile strike fired from an Apache helicopter.
Abu Wael's own son Ahmad went down running and found his cousin badly injured and also wounded in the leg, so he carried him and took him to the hospital. But there was no chance. He died that same day.
It was 15 days of attacks in Beit Hanoun. Five persons were killed. Each three days a new martyr. And the green all round crushed into rubble and dirt. It was a terrible time. Each day brought something worse than the last. Abu Wael did not recover from his illness for two months.
The beginning of 2005 brought a new year and new determination and Abu Wael came back to plant his fields. He planted the farm with orange trees. It was hard work; first they had to clear the farm of the rubble of the last destruction and build a new irrigation system. Within six months the trees were growing and growing fast.
However, the tanks came to raze the orchards once again.
But Abu Wael never gave up. He fought for his land with each seed he planted that next year. In 2006 he planted watermelon. He cared for the plants and they grew well. It was time to harvest again.
Once again, there would be no harvest. Over the border came the bulldozers and they destroyed in a few violent moments what took so much effort and time to grow.
Each invasion of the tanks meant a loss of money and time and work, and more sickness and heartbreak for Abu Wael.
But still he worked, and in 2008 he planted his land with many types of vegetables. This time the Israeli tanks bulldozed the farm a few weeks before harvest.
And they never stopped. During last winter's massacres in Gaza the Israeli army destroyed Abu Wael's land again. It was planted with cabbage and other vegetables. They destroyed the whole land as well as the irrigation system. So now the farm is nothing. Abu Wael cannot plant because there is no water to irrigate the fields with.
That's how it is in Beit Hanoun. The farmers sow the seeds of wholesome provision, for themselves and their families and their people, and the Israeli forces destroy it. So the farmers come back to plant. And the tanks and bulldozers come back to destroy it again. And the farmers come back to plant.
They'll always come back to plant.
I could tell from Abu Wael's story that he felt more connected to his farm than to anything else in life. The kind of person who hates to be separated from it even for a day, Abu Wael goes there, even though he is old and even though he does not have the same strength he used to have.
It was not mere sentiment only, of course. He is a father of seven determined to see his children through college and the farm was their main source of provision.
That is why Abu Wael plans now to go to his municipality and ask for some irrigation equipment as some trees still stand in his devastated farm and he needs to bring them water. Even though he's tired and even though he's sick, it's his way to fight and his way to survive.
Marryam Haleem is a senior at the University of Wisconsin studying philosophy and comparative literature and spent this summer in Gaza doing research for her senior thesis.
Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon: From Deprivation to Violence
Lebanon's refugee camps lack sewage systems, garbage collection, electricity and water.
By Dalal Mawad
In 1948, one hundred thousand Palestinians fled from Palestine to find refuge in Lebanon. Provisional camps were built at that time to provide them with shelter. Their number has increased over the years to more than 400 000 refugees, 53% of them living in one of twelve camps throughout the country.
Today, more than half a century later, they continue to be refugees, awaiting their return while living in the most degrading and demeaning human conditions. Their appalling socio-economic conditions are not only a violation of human rights but are also a danger to Lebanon’s security and stability.
Chronic health failure is reported by 19 percent of refugees in Lebanon, a rate higher than in Syria and Jordan. Palestinians rely more widely on UNRWA and NGOs for medical assistance than refugees elsewhere. But, UNRWA, the only safety net available to many refugees for baisc health care, is beset by a lack of funds and available doctors.It is estimated, that among refugees aged 15 to 24 years, more than 40 percent are unemployed.
Lebanese law forbids Palestinians from working in 72 professions. These include private sector “free professions” like engineering, medicine, law and all public sector jobs. Even very low skilled jobs like garbage cleaning and guarding buildings have been added to the list of prohibitions. As for the remaining unskilled jobs, Palestinians need to obtain a work permit and very few permits have been issued.
Add to that, a law ratified by the Lebanese government that forbids Palestinians from buying and owning a property. Lebanese women married to a Palestinian are also banned from giving their children any property as an inheritance.As for the degradation of the conditions of the camps, the Lebanese law impedes any renovation work by prohibiting the entry of any building equipments, like cement for example. Camps lack sewage systems, garbage collection, electricity and water.
The Lebanese argument to these legal exclusions is explained by the right of return and the fear of naturalization. The Lebanese believe that the refugees are temporarily in the camps and any normalization of the situation of the Palestinians can hinder their right of return and pave the way to permanent settlement. The other fear is a confessional one, any settlement of Palestinians threatens the demographic balance of the different confessions in the country since Palestinians are in their majority Sunnis and represent up to 10% of the total Lebanese population.In addition, the Lebanese collective historical memory with the Palestinians is still marked by the wounds left from the civil war.
UN resolution 194 calls for the Right of Return to of Palestinian refugees and their right to compensation but Israel continues to violate this as well as 67 other resolutions.
In light of the recent political developments in the region and the new policies of Netanyahu’s’ right wing government in Israel, the right of return seems to be impossible any time soon. Lebanon cannot keep neglecting the refugees’ conditions for that long.
Isn’t a starving Palestinian, fighting for food and basic necessities, more likely to give up greater causes like his right of return and resort to violence? Shouldn’t the state fear social unrest in the camps as a result of deteriorating socio-economic conditions?
Lebanon has so far dealt with the Palestinian refugees exclusively from a narrow security angle ignoring the fact that Security also encompasses Economic Security. A large number of the Palestinians in the camps are armed and young unemployed Palestinians are encouraged to enroll in military factions that might engage in violence as a result of poverty and deprivation. This was already manifested in the violent clashes of the Nahr el Bared Camp in the summer of 2007, when hundreds of Lebanese soldiers died and thousands of refugees were displaced. Every week, new violence erupts in the camps around Lebanon threatening to destabilize the security of the camps and its surroundings.
UN Security Council 1559 called for a disbanding of all arms outside the Lebanese state’s authority, Lebanese political parties agreed on the National Dialogue table to disarm Palestinians outside the camps and manage the weapons the camps.
But, can the Lebanese State succeed in achieving this goal without starting by granting refugees basic rights in return?
- Dalal Mawad is currently working for the United Nations Development Program in Beirut. She previously worked for the National Democratic Institute as Logistics Officer For the Institute's International Observation Mission for Lebanon's Parliamentary Elections in June 2009. She also worked for the Lebanese Permanent Mission at the United Nations in New York. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.
Israel/America: A Rambling Poem
I don't want your sympathy or introspective confessions ..
By Remi Kanazi
Every time I think of 9/11
I see burning flesh dripping off the bones of Iraqi children in Fallujah
I tend to memorialize the forgotten
The collateral damage eclipsing our unpunished crimes
Maybe it's because I'm a numbers guy
Because if I had a dollar for every time an Iraqi died since 2003
I'd be a millionaire
And don't get me wrong
Sometimes I don't know who I hate more
The governments in the West
Or the politicians in the East
Who sell their souls quicker than the oil they export
Straw men who use Palestine as a tool to line their pockets
And don't give a nickel to their people
Who stitch mouths shut for a check from Washington and AIPAC
How can you be their prototypical anti-Semite
If you are signing peace accords to oppress your own people?
And then Orientalists and idiots talk about how
We can't have democracy in the Middle East
Because of what happened in Gaza
A Hamas boogyman wrapped in democratic elections
Rahm Emanuel wants to educate me and my people about democracy gone wrong
Why doesn't try implementing one Israel first?
Instead of bowing down to terrorists like his father and the IDF
Lauding a third rate, racist, European society that's imploding quicker
Than its moral standing in the world
Enlightened like 1950s Afrikaners and slave traders
Just because the house is beautiful
Doesn't mean the bones you built it on have fully decomposed
The Israeli left is about as alive as Ariel Sharon
I'm sick and tired of asking for permission to resist
From antiquated leftists and progressives
Who care more about keeping it Kosher than moving things forward
I put down my pen and waving fist to resist with college kids and
Boycott and divest!
Because who cares about preserving a living when governments are killing
Complicity by silence and reserve units bombing Gaza
Your academics and scholars, theater groups and practitioners, are part of
And if logic doesn't fit into your long term plan of rejecting
My right to return, I'm sorry
Maybe one day you'll return to reality
Where my people have babies quicker
Than Zionists can concoct Jordanian options
I don't want your sympathy or introspective confessions
Won't sit on my hands till they loose oxygen
Like the people of Balata and Rafah
Vote for Barack Obama
And pretend that his 22 day silence was golden
While emaciated children starved to death
Surrounded by their parent's corpses
This can't be America the Beautiful
A criminal with a few positive attributes
Doesn't alleviate genocide
Bombing Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq
Into oblivion doesn't make you historic
It makes you as blind and bloodthirsty
As the white men that came before you
Apathetic hipsters now excited about a president
Who broke history, but not poverty, occupation, or corporate interests
I'd rather proudly walk through the graveyard of peace accords
And failed dialogue sessions
Than see my people just as occupied or third class citizens
We are the gavel that will slam down like a verdict
We are not waiting for Israel or America or the Supreme Court to approve it
We'll boycott Lev Leviev, Caterpillar and your apartheid companies
We're taking back the right of return and the keys to a country
Because we never asked you to go back to Europe or sit in open air prisons
I'm not asking for your advice, I'm explaining the decision
You can stay here, with us, but only as equals
It's not that you're Israeli, it's that you're wrong
That's why I fight for my people!
- Remi Kanazi is the editor of 'Poets For Palestine'. He will be touring the
US and Canada this fall on the Poets For Palestine tour. Contact him at: Remroum@gmail.com. For more information on Poets For Palestine, visit www.PoetsForPalestine.com.
Friday, 18 September 2009
Israel Stuck on Repeat
How many organizations must sound alarm before Israel gets the message?
By James Gundun
How many organizations must sound alarm before Israel gets the message? Ignoring Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International is easy, but B’Tselem and the UN too? Is it possible that all these groups are lying about the Gaza war and that Israel’s version is the truth?
The human rights controversy has become a treadmill - no matter how long Israel runs it can never elude the allegations.
Why doesn’t Israel realize it has more to lose by dodging than confronting the mayhem of Gaza? Why does it overlook the benefits of ending this gruesome story? The questions never end, the doubts never end. Israel can proclaim the IDF is the world’s most moral army as America nods approvingly in the background, but doing so ignores basic principles of counterinsurgency. Nobody is listening.
Fundamentally Israel isn’t battling the UN or human rights groups, but the Palestinian people and Muslims at large. Israel inflicts damage upon itself in the eyes of Palestinians when it criticizes human rights groups for their bias. In fact, Israel has cut itself numerous times in Gaza, another story stuck on repeat. The UN’s investigation is the latest example.
After three weeks of investigating, hundreds of interviews, and thousands of documents, a UN team headed by Richard Goldstone released its findings this week to little fanfare. The 574 page report devoted the majority of space to Israeli violations, immediately prompting condemnation from Israel and America, the only Western state to come to its rescue (another repetitive story.) State Department spokesman Ian Kelly called the report ‘one-sided,’ but what else can be expected from a one-sided war?
The war crimes report is likely to be one-sided as well.
In line with most figures, the UN team concluded roughly 1,300 Palestinians died, several hundred of them civilians. Israel itself admitted that hundreds of civilians were killed along with a majority of Hamas members. But four Palestinians are enough to overcome the three Israeli civilians killed during the conflict. Israel complained that the mission’s mandate, ‘was clearly one-sided and ignored the thousands of Hamas missile attacks on civilians in southern Lebanon that made the Gaza operation necessary.’
Israel, in its own mind, has become a master of comparing a dozen Israeli deaths over a period of years to hundreds of dead Palestinians in a month. Such logic destroys any remaining strands of its credibility in the Middle East. Furthermore, the UN panel said Israel refused to respond to a list of questions, but that Palestinian authorities in both Gaza and the West Bank cooperated. Israel, unwilling to validate the investigation, forfeited all possible influence in the process, guaranteeing the type of report it’s now condemning.
For a country surrounding by insurgencies, Israel seems to be extremely naive at times. The collective eight months of war crimes allegations isn’t an independent entity, but an extension of the Gaza war and a continuation of guerrilla warfare. One battle ends and another begins, while the war never ends. Israel takes damage each time it condemns a human rights report or preaches a proportionate response proven invalid by the raw numbers. Hamas, much to Israel’s fury, isn’t judged by the same standard. But why does Israel insist on being judged like a terrorist organization in the first place? There is no counterinsurgency in this standard.
Bringing up Lebanon is most foolish of all after its reaction to two rockets fired by an al-Qaeda offshoot. Israel cannot expect the UN to do anything in Lebanon when it ignores the UN in Palestine. The truth is plain. Even if Israel successfully evades international courts until the end of time, it will forever be judged as guilty by Palestinians and Muslims. There is nowhere to run or hide, and no legal defense has any impact. Israel is so concerned with staying out of a formal court that it’s drowning in the court of public opinion. As in Lebanon, Israel is unlikely to ever face a real judge and a real court, nor does this really matter. Muslims have already cast their judgments.
Since Israel won’t put an end to its futile flight, the UN urged the world to act in its place. One would assume that America has incentives to pursue allegations of Israeli war crimes. Doing so would give more credibility to prosecuting Hamas members, as charging one side without the other is doomed to fail. And is it possible to sign a two-state solution with Gaza still unresolved? Perhaps, but the process would speed up without this giant pothole in the middle of the road map.
How to fill it then? Palestinians could exchange legal punishment of Israeli officials for an easing of the Gazan blockade. After all, they’ll never be tried anyway and many Palestinians believe the blockade is the true cause of the war. Walls don’t work - if anything, the blockade is the true war crime. The UN report recommended an ICC trial if the UN fails to act, but formalities are unlikely to combat insurgency as effectively as counterinsurgency. In light of Israel’s opposition to a settlement freeze, easing the blockade could be the only strategy to regain the trust of Palestinians, which Israel and America need to successfully negotiate.
Two arguments against the blockade contradict its purpose.
First, the UN’s conclusion that Israeli forces engaged in a deliberate policy of collective punishment and 'an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population' is no surprise. The explicit message of Gaza’s rubble was, ‘don’t vote for Hamas or support Hamas in any way.’ Though Israel claims to have learned from Lebanon, the plans were roughly the same. Punishing a population because of an insurgency contradicts basic counterinsurgency, where securing the population is the ultimate goal.
Second, the blockade isn’t stopping Hamas’s arms flow noticeably enough to impact its capabilities. Israeli officials recently threatened obliteration if Hamas fires its 60 km missiles, a tacit admission that Hamas is still growing stronger. And during a recent visit to Sudan, Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal told President al-Bashir’s party in a pre-recorded speech, ‘Your brothers in Palestine, despite the blockade and the closing of border passages... despite the fleets from east and west, despite all of this, we buy arms, we manage to produce arms and we smuggle arms.’
What is the point of maintaining the blockade if it doesn’t deter Hamas from acquiring arms, doesn’t cause an uprising against Hamas, attracts international scorn, and sabotages a two-state solution? With Hamas and Fatah tentatively agreeing to an Egyptian unity-proposal with elections in 2010, the blockade has also failed to permanently isolate Gaza from the West Bank.
In fact, the blockade seemingly has only one ability - a chance to end the repulsively repetitive story that is Gazan suffering. Israel needs to forget about the legal battle and remember that it’s fighting a counterinsurgency in Gaza.
- James Gundun is a political scientist and counterinsurgency analyst based in Washington D.C. Contact him at: www.hadalzone.blogspot.com.
Marcha internacional de solidariedade para romper o cerco de Gaza
Está em organização uma marcha internacional de apoio ao povo palestino cercado na faixa de Gaza.
Acontecerá no dia 1 de Janeiro de 2010
A iniciativa pauta-se pelos seguintes princípios orientadores:
Coligação Internacional pelo Fim do Cerco Ilegal a Gaza
Declaração de Princípios e Objetivos
A Anistia Internacional referiu-se ao bloqueio a Gaza como "forma de punição coletiva a toda a população de Gaza, uma flagrante violação por Israel das obrigações definidas na Quarta Convenção de Genebra".
O Observatório dos Direitos Humanos descreveu o bloqueio a Gaza como uma "grave violação do Direito Internacional".
Jimmy Carter, antigo presidente dos Estados Unidos, declarou que os habitantes de Gaza têm sido tratados como "animais" e apelou ao "fim do cerco de Gaza" que priva "um milhão e meio de pessoas dos meios necessários à vida".
Sara Roy, da Universidade de Harvard, reconhecida internacionalmente pelo seu trabalho sobre Gaza, afirmou que a consequência do cerco "é sem dúvida um sofrimento em massa, criado em larga medida por Israel, mas com a cumplicidade ativa da comunidade internacional, especialmente dos Estados Unidos e da União Europeia."
A lei é clara. A realidade choca a consciência da humanidade.
E, apesar disso, o cerco de Gaza continua.
O povo de Gaza exortou a comunidade internacional a agir para além da mera condenação.
É tempo para a ação!
A Marcha da Longa Milha pela Liberdade
Como forma de assinalar o aniversário do assalto sangrento de 22 dias a Gaza por Israel, a Coligação pelo Fim do Cerco Ilegal a Gaza enviará a Gaza milhares de pessoas de todo o mundo.
A 1 de Janeiro de 2010, marcharemos ao longo da milha em redor do checkpoint de Erez com o povo de Gaza, numa manifestação não violenta que romperá o bloqueio ilegal.
A marcha é inspirada pelas décadas de resistência não violenta dos palestinos, desde o levantamento popular de massas da primeira Intifada à dos habitantes da Margem Ocidental que continuam a resistir às tentativas de anexação por parte de Israel.
Ela inspira-se nos voluntários internacionais que têm vindo a acompanhar os agricultores palestinos nas suas colheitas, nas tripulações dos barcos que desafiaram por mar o bloqueio a Gaza e nos condutores dos caminhões que transportaram ajuda humanitária a Gaza.
Inspira-se ainda em Mahatma Gandhi, que designou o seu movimento de resistência não violenta satyagraha – a firmeza da verdade. Mantemo-nos firmes na verdade de que o cerco perpetrado por Israel a Gaza é ilegal e desumano.
Gandhi defendia que a não-violência, aimsha, exige mais coragem e é mais eficaz do que a violência. Queremos, através da nossa ação, demonstrar a razão do pensamento de Gandhi.
Nada tememos, não voltaremos atrás, não deixaremos Gaza morrer.
Gandhi disse que o propósito da ação não-violenta é "acelerar" a consciência da humanidade. Queremos fazer com que a humanidade não só condene a violência israelita como, acima de tudo, se mobilize para ativamente acabar com ela.
Aqueles de nós que residem nos Estados Unidos inspiram-se, também, no Movimento dos Direitos Civis.
Se Israel desvaloriza as vidas palestinas, é nosso dever – tal como foi dos brancos do Norte que foram até ao Sul durante o Verão da Liberdade de 1964 – interpor os nossos corpos para defender os palestinianos da brutalidade israelita e testemunhar a desumanidade com que são diariamente confrontados.
Se Israel desafia o Direito Internacional, é nosso dever – da mesma forma que foram enviados agentes federais para assegurar a aplicação da lei contra os xerifes racistas do Sul – enviar agentes não violentos de todo o mundo a Gaza para garantir o cumprimento das leis da Comunidade Internacional.
Não tomamos partido na política interna palestina. Colocamo-nos, tão só, ao lado do Direito Internacional e da dignidade humana.
Concebemos esta marcha como mais um elo da longa cadeia de resistência não violenta ao flagrante desrespeito de Israel pelo Direito Internacional.
O cerco é ilegal.
O muro é ilegal.
Os colonatos e demolições de casas são ilegais.
As barricadas e o recolher obrigatório são ilegais.
Os bloqueios de estradas e checkpoints são ilegais.
As detenções e a tortura são ilegais.
Se o direito internacional fosse cumprido, a ocupação seria na verdade insustentável.
O sucesso da marcha depende da nossa capacidade de despertar a consciência da humanidade.
Se nos juntarmos em massa ao povo de Gaza nesta marcha pela liberdade e se milhões de pessoas além de nós assistirem, por todo o mundo, à marcha pela internet e pela televisão, podemos pôr fim ao cerco sem que uma única gota de sangue seja derramada.
Se o mundo inteiro estiver a testemunhar, Israel não nos poderá deter.
Por favor, juntem-se a nós.
A Marcha pela Liberdade de Gaza é dedicada à memória do Dr. Haidar Abdel-Shafi e ao futuro das crianças da Palestina.
Há informação disponível sobre este evento em:
Sexta-feira, Agosto 21, 2009
Gaza's water supply near collapse
Mel Frykberg, The Electronic Intifada, 17 September 2009
|A pool of untreated sewage water in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya, September 2009. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)|
RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - The International Committee of the Red Cross has warned that Gaza's access to safe supply of drinking water could cease at any time. The World Health Organization (WHO) says outbreaks of disease could be triggered as a consequence.
The warnings follow a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report Monday that "Gaza's underground water system is in danger of collapse after recent conflict compounded by years of overuse and contamination."
"An outbreak of Hepatitis A and parasitic infections could occur at any time," Mahmoed Daher from WHO in Gaza told IPS. "Already the number of people, especially children, suffering from diarrhea has risen dramatically."
"We have noticed an increase in people suffering from kidney diseases from water contaminated with toxins, as well as babies born with an unnatural blue tinge," Munther Shoblak from Gaza's Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) told IPS.
Thursday, 17 September 2009
Veolia still intertwined with Israel's occupation
Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 16 September 2009
After years of campaigning by Palestine solidarity activists to end the French transportation giant Veolia's complicity with Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, it was reported in early June that the company planned to end its involvement in an Israeli light rail project being built on occupied Palestinian land. The light rail will connect Jerusalem with several illegal West Bank settlements; Israeli settlements and the annexation of East Jerusalem are illegal under international law.
Veolia steadfastly refuses to provide information on the company's intention to pull out of the 30-year contract to operate the train and to sell its five percent stake in the City Pass Consortium. The City Pass Consortium holds the contract with the State of Israel for the construction of the light rail project. It consists of four Israeli companies and the French companies Connex (Veolia Transport subsidiary) and Alstom. The European business world has been abuzz with news of a merger between Veolia Transport and Transdev, a French bus transport company. In addition, recent news reports have mentioned the Israeli company Dan Bus Cooperative as a serious candidate to take over Veolia's role as operator of the light rail.
Contrary to Veolia's reported intention to abandon the light rail project, the company seems to be conducting business as usual with Israel. Veolia justified its work on the light rail project at length at the seventh Global Compact Annual Local Networks Forum held from 8-11 June 2009. Veolia, as participant in the UN Global Compact, is bound to the principles that businesses should support and respect the protection of international human rights within their spheres of influence, and make sure they are not complicit in human rights abuses. However, Veolia's participation in the construction and maintenance of the Jerusalem light rail are a violation of both provisions. Also, Veolia continues to advertise for jobs for the light rail's operational center in the Israeli press. Neither its attempts to justify the project at the Global Compact Forum, nor the recruitment of staff indicate the company plans to withdraw from the light rail project.
Lebanon's Palestinians 27 Years after the Massacre
'Our lives, after the Massacre, sometimes become nearly impossible to endure.'
By Franklin Lamb - Martyr's Square, Shatila Camp
'Our lives in Palestinian Refugee camps, now 27 years after the Massacre at Sabra-Shatila, sometimes becomes nearly impossible to endure. Circumstances may change for the worse, our livelihoods diminish, our Zionist occupiers become more cruel and violent, but the work and compassion for our Palestinian brothers and sisters continues. For all people of good will the struggle for justice and the work of Resistance goes on. The cause of Palestine endures, the Right of Return still lives and the dream shall never die.' -- Hiba Hajj, student, Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp, Beirut
Author’s note: Yesterday, this observer, along with British surgeon Dr. Swee Ang Chai and Nurse Marion Looi Pok, true global medical heroines during and following the 1982 Massacre at Sabra-Shatila had the honor to pass the afternoon with our longtime friend, Dr. Bayan al Hout whose husband Shafiq, one of the most respected and loved founders of the Palestine Liberation Organization passed away quite suddenly on August 2, 2009.
Her now classic volume, "Sabra and Shatila: September 1982" by Bayan Nuwayhed Al-Hout, 2004, available from Pluto Press, London, is highly recommended by the Sabra Shatila Foundation for those who seek a deeper understanding of the exact sequence of events during and surrounding the Massacre.
For more than 15 years Bayan painstakingly interviewed survivors and eye witnesses, sometimes furtively and ignoring threats while trying to avoid the swarms of intelligence agents who moved into West Beirut and the Palestinian camps in late 1982,part of whose work was to create the correct narrative and suppress the truth. She succeeded in piecing together the precise events during the 43 hours of slaughter and its aftermath, as well as to present the reader with the Massacre’s political context.
Bayan proved that the massacre was a continuous uninterrupted slaughter lasting a full 43 hours, from 6 pm on Thursday September 16 to 1 pm Saturday September, 18 and that it did not end as the Kahan Commission claims at 8 a.m. on Saturday September 18. As in many instances with its flawed Inquiry, Bayan exposed the Kahan Commissions bias including its failure to challenge Sharon’s comment, delivered with a smirk, to the Kahan Comission on the morning of October 25, 1982:
“I want, in the name and on behalf of the entire Israeli defense establishment, to say that no-one foresaw-nor could they have seen-the atrocities committed in the neighborhood of ‘Sabra and Shatia”…“If I were to be asked, on oath, who committed the crimes, I should have to reply that I don’t know. The Israeli Army wasn’t there. There were two entrances to the camp that we didn’t control. I know who went in and out, but I don’t know exactly who did the killing. It remains a great mystery.”
Bayan’s is the most authoritative book on the Sabra Shatila Massacre. Part of her motivation in researching her book, she explained yesterday, came from frustration with the 1983 Israeli Kahan Commission report, widely considered a whitewash of Israeli responsibility for this Crime against Humanity. The Kahan Report, along with the now completely rejected and disappeared fraudulent Lebanese Government Jermanos Report sought to create a misleading narrative about the who, what, and why of the slaughter. Bayan al Hout questioned, exposed and then demolished the Kahan Report with her detailed investigation and presentation of irrefutable evidence.
The Israeli government has yet to answer the indictment Bayan tabled before the international community or to compensate the hundreds of survivors who lost their loved ones and who today live shattered lives. International humanitarian law, specifically the Geneva Convention (IV) and the Rome Statue, with its universal jurisdiction, and people of good will everywhere, demand that this indescribably horrendous crime, the Massacre at Sabra Shatila, planned and executed 29 years ago this week, is heard in The Hague. -- flamb
Meandering the alleys and ground vapors of the wet fetid stench in Beirut’s Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp, 27 years after the 1982 Sabra Shatila Massacre, one witnesses a Dystopia. This shanty ground, the most squalid of the World’s 59 Palestinian Refugee Camps, including the eight in Gaza, is reminiscent less of Huxley’s horrifying Brave New World than Kafka’s 1914 novel, Penal Colony.
The Camp is an island society of misery characterized by poverty, oppression, tension, nearly 40 percent unemployment, depression, rising domestic violence rising student dropout rates, deep frustration among many youth today because it is time to enroll in University for Fall semester and there is neither tuition money or places for most Palestinians. The camp families are experiencing rising numbers of respiratory disease cases, nonexistent health care for the majority, pollution and the near total abridgement of civil rights. Many see an advancing explosion on the horizon.
Among the many Lebanese laws that straight jacket Palestinians is a 2002 law that forbids people with no recognized state -- Palestinians -- to own property outside the camps. So with no room for expansion laterally, the Camp residents are forced to build upward with cinder blocks and this also is illegal unless one has enough money to bribe a series of government officials. According to Salah M. Sabbagh, a Palestinian-Lebanese lawyer in Beirut. ''If Jesus Christ comes here he cannot own property, because he was born in Bethlehem. He would be better off in that stable.”
Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp, like Lebanon’s other 11, is a place of widespread sorrow, mass suffering and pain. As in Kafka’s short story, it is as if the inhabitants wear their sentences on their foreheads written in script, having run afoul of local or regional Commandants.
The camps fundamental dystrophic feature is the injustice of the refugees having been expelled from their homes in occupied Palestine and forced into Lebanon six decades ago where increasingly, here under siege, or there under brutal occupation, there is little tolerance for Palestinians or even much concern for their survival.
An immediate dystrophic factor is the political reality that the 410,000 UNRWA registered refugees are increasingly becoming sub-human ponds in Lebanon’s and the regions political maneuvers without political, social or human rights. About 25% of Lebanon’s Palestinians have already emigrated from Lebanon which suits the US-Israel project which wants Palestinians anywhere but Palestine and Lebanese parties which want them anywhere by Lebanon. Local sectarian warlords (Zaiim) may eventually accept about 40,000 or rougly10 % to be naturalized (Tawteen) in Lebanon and who after 10 years or longer could theoretically receive citizenship including voting rights. This number would mainly come from those Palestinian women who already have citizenship or those who have at least some civil rights thru marriage with Lebanese men. A recent survey showed that 93% of Lebanon’s Palestinians want no part of naturalization in Lebanon but want to return to their own country. So much for some local politicians gibberish that giving anything to the refugees “runs the risk of making them comfortable so they will try to stay.”
A Lebanese woman can convey no rights by marrying any foreign national including Palestinians, a defect in Lebanese law that has been the object of an intermittent corrective campaign by progressive civil organizations here for the past 12 years. They, along with some international NGO’s are seeking to bring Lebanese domestic relations law into line with most of the rest of the World. Legal experts at La Masion des Avocats in Beirut do not foresee significant near term changes in Lebanon’s law for either woman or Palestinians.
Internationals Express Solidarity with Families of Massacre Victims
Each year, during mid-September a week of events is held in Lebanon to commemorate the approximately 3000-3400 victims of the 1982 Israeli facilitated Sabra-Shatila Massacre. In recent years, more and more people from the international community arrive to participate. This year many have arrived from Italy Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the UK whose solidarity with the cause of Palestine spans nearly half a century. Again, this year, Canadians and Americans and several from Asian countries and south American countries participated including black clergymen from New York City, citizens from Oregon, California, Illinois, Florida, Massachusetts and Washington DC among others.
A Jewish Initiative to Lift the Lebanese Siege of its Refugees
A group of American Jews arrived from Washington DC last Sunday and announced a US based Jewish initiative to break the siege of the Palestinians in the camps of Lebanon. Their initiative was well received on 9/15/09 by the Palestinian and International delegations, NGO’s and camp residents, during a conference at the new PLO Embassy in Beirut. The, group, representing several American Rabbi’s and Synagogues also participated in laying a wreath on the resting place of some of the victims of the Hula Club massacre of June 6, 1982, when Israeli forces killed 51 women and children inside the eastern part of Burj Shemali Palestinian Refugee camp near Tyre at the start of their 75 day bombing of Lebanon. The Hula Club itself was named for the October 24-29 1948 machine gunning by Israeli forces of at least 50 civilians at Hula near the border with Palestine.
Hula experienced yet another massacre by Israel in July 2006 when Israeli forces bombed a civilian shelter killing 29 and destroying approximately 20% of Hula’s housing.
The morning of 9/15/09, members and guests of the Sabra Shatila Foundation, the Palestinian NGO Beit Aftal Assumoud, other NGO’s and international visitors met with relatives of those who perished during the 43 hours of slaughter between 9/15- 9/18, 1982.
The gathering took place in an orphanage along some of the barely three foot wide alleys of Shatila Camp, where the sun has not shined since the camps construction by the International Red Cross in 1949.
'Today I Was Silent'
Umm Ali Edelbi welcomed Stephanie, an Italian woman she met years earlier as the ‘foreigners’ and the Mothers embraced and Umm Jamal kissed a Jewish nurse, Ellen, from Washington DC who was a witness to the 1982 massacre while working in Shatila’s Gaza hospital.
The scene was quite emotional for Antonio, from Rome, who is visiting a Palestinian camp for the first time. He paused, and watching the more than a dozen surviving mothers, several carrying framed photos of their loved ones, dried his eyes and said: "I never imagined that there is a place on earth where people are living like this. My shock is not just due to the nature of life inside this camp, it is because seeing parents who lost their children in such a brutal way is very upsetting."
A few moments later, the official meeting started. Abdel Nasser spoke on behalf of the Shatila families and thanked "the foreigners’ who have come to support us" while criticizing the Arabs "of which I never saw anyone offering support.” Abdel Nasser is gently interrupted by a soft spoken woman from near the back of the crowded room, who explains “I am an Arab, Moroccan, and Muslim. I came from my country to support you." He thanked her for the clarification and continued his talk by explaining the parents' demands that the international community “finally prosecute and punish those who committed these awful crimes.”
The next speaker was the glamorous Sarah Palin look alike, Italian academic Stephanie Lemettie, the Italian delegation's spokesperson. Holding back tears, she told the gathering: "The toughest moments are those of our meeting with you. Words cannot begin to express how much love and solidarity we have for you. We will never forget and we will never cease our work for your return to Palestine."
She was followed by Ms. Stephanie Karnini, sister of the Italian committee's founder Stephano, a legend in Shatila and the other 11 camps in Lebanon for his nine years of solidarity work with the camps before his tragic untimely death two years ago. She told the assembly that she hopes "that God gives us the strength to fight the second ongoing massacre, that of the memory that they are trying to erase."
One man, maybe in his seventies and who did not speak carried a framed photo of his teenage son. He remained behind as the crowd dispersed. He sat slumped quietly against the pale green wall of the classroom of the orphanage and stared at the toddlers ‘cubbies’ with their cute brightly colored tooth brushes and plastic cups. His shirt was saturated in perspiration, and the gentleman looked unwell and very tired and weak from three weeks of daily Ramadan fasting, Beirut’s September heat, and his profound grief.
He softly introduced himself to me: “My name is Kamal Ma'rouf, and this is my son Jamal. We don't know if he's a martyr or just missing. For twenty seven years, I am waiting and talking about my son. Today I was silent. Maybe it is better that way” and be began to sob.
Who Were the Victims of the Sabra Shatila Massacre?
27 years after the massacre we know more about many of those who perished but not all. Only 68% of the bodies were ever identified. Israel’s vaunted game theory would have preferred none were identified, but many of the killers panicked and Israeli bulldozer operators got cold feet and were watched as they left their vehicles and fled, leaving incriminating evidence.
147 families’ lost at least 1 member each while 34 families lost between 2 and eleven members. 51 families had members abducted or who disappeared.
Where are they or their remains? Hauled away from Israel and Lebanese Forces interrogation centers set up in the UNESCO building and Sports Stadium outside the camp and buried somewhere in the East Beirut race track or Pine forest as the late American journalist Janet Stevens theorized? In the sewers of surrounding neighborhoods like Bir Hassan where we now know manhole covers were lifted and bodies stuffed in—yet more bones and remains discovered as recently as this summer?
We also now know that 6 unborn babies killed inside their mothers, 18 less than one year, 13 less than 3 years, 58 less than 12 years old. Roughly 12.24 percent of the refugees emigrated following the massacre.
78% of those killed or abducted have living witnesses from the family. 48% believe the killers were Lebanese Forces (now led by Samir Geagea who continues to deny his militias involvement while calling for peace negotiations with “our enemy” Israel). We now know that within hours of the massacre, Phalange leader Sheik Pierre Gemayel ordered that “under no circumstances should the Lebanese forces admit to any participation.” He apparently wanted to protect his son Amin who he hoped would soon be appointed President of Lebanon by the Reagan administration following his brother Bashir’s assassination (indeed he was).
Pierre did later tell friends privately, but always denied publicly, that “a few of our people were in on the massacre”, describing these as ‘Israeli agents’ not under my orders: “Sharon had a good many Judas Iscariots in our ranks”, Pierre would explained.
52% of the survivors indicated they “could not tell” who the abductors they observed taking camp residents were.
There are no headstones to identify those buried, approximately 1000, in Shatila’s Martyr’s Square but we now know their professions included jockey, doorman, doctor, nurse, tailor, weaver, teachers shoemakers plumbers fish vendors, vegetable venders, electricians, masons, peddlers and homemakers.
Palestinian Refugees as Political Footballs for all Parties in Lebanon
One particularly egregious recent example of Lebanese politicians continuing to pressure the Palestinian refugee community for personal political gain that is building anger, occurred this month, when one self proclaimed ‘defender of the rights of our Palestinian Arab brothers’, the Free Patriotic Movement’s Michel Aoun took an initiative to “help Lebanon.” Political ally of Hezbollah and Syria, Aoun was able to miraculously arrange for Lebanon’s Court of Cassation, which is closed tight for the Judicial vacation with empty courtrooms and offices, to issue a special injunction, freezing any and all rebuilding of the Nahr al Bared Palestinian Refugee Camp near Tripoli.
Nahr al Bared’s nearly 35,000 residents fled to Bedawi Camp seven miles down the road, and to other Camps including Shatila, causing more overcrowding, following the 15 week, May-August 2007 Fatah al Islam-Lebanese army battle which destroyed the camp. Nahr al Bared,where bus loads of international visitors are visiting today, has become a symbol for the condition of Palestinians in Lebanon and is closely watched for tell tale signs of how events are moving. Nahr al Bared has yet to see any reconstruction despite two years of international meetings and pledges. Aoun apparently wants to keep it that way and his lawsuit is anchored in the fact that in part of Narh al Bared there appear to be some relics and artifacts from history which the reconstruction would cover again.
Aoun’s action has sent a chill throughout Lebanon’s Palestinian Camps and currently it is unsure if the Nahr al Bared will be rebuilt. If rebuilt, Palestinian sources indicate the plan is for only 10,000 Palestinians or 25% of the April 2007 population to return to Nahr al Bared and these not until 2020.
This latest use of Lebanon’s Palestinians as fodder in the continuing struggle to form a government is ludicrous on its face. Assuming, that there are some Roman remnants in a small part of the camp, yet unproved but claimed by Aoun in his the lawsuit, this is not grounds for stopping all reconstruction. Every school child in Lebanon knows there are Phoenician, Egyptians, Greek, Roman, Ottoman, and all sorts of others ruins all over Lebanon and construction anywhere is Lebanon is routinely allowed after a survey with a permit issued by the Ministry of Culture. During the Hariri build- a- thon in the early 1990’s, the Hariri family Solidaire Corporation simply used huge US D9 (935 hp), 104 ton Caterpillar (think occupied Palestine) or the Japanese Komatsu D 275A bulldozers to excavate as they pleased and to shove mountains of Lebanon’s antiquities into Beirut Port (the area called Normandy) as a vast landfill for yet more lucrative commercial building projects.
Some political analysts view Aoun’s bizarre efforts to keep Nahr al Bared’s Palestinians homeless is linked to his struggle with the Sunni Muslims and fellow Maronite Christian and his nemesis, the Lebanon First leader Saad Hariri. Aoun is also moving to gain influence with the Sunni middle class in Tripoli by preventing the return of the very competitive Palestinian Nahr al Bared retail markets which drew customers from across North Lebanon and away from Tripoli merchants. Targeting the Palestinians also works politically in Akkar, across the Damascus highway from the Camp, because most of the nearly 250 soldiers killed fighting Fatah al Islam two summers ago are from nearby villages and they still want revenge against Palestinians whether or not they support Fatah al Islam. Aoun’s actions also appeal to right wing elements of the Christian community, some of whom continue to be apologists for the Sabra Shatila Massacre, and view favorably any effort targeting Muslim Palestinians
Aoun also wants to undermine the US ally, Maronite Archbishop Nasrallah Sfeir who yesterday Aoun accused of joining Samir Geagea’s fascist Lebanese Forces. It was the Lebanese Forces militia who Ariel Sharon arranged to lead other killing units into Shatila Camp following the Syrian assassination of their leader Bashir on 9/14/82. Archbishop Sfeir, as political as any in Lebanon despite his claims that the Church should avoid politics, has now come out against Aoun’s nephew being renamed a minister in the new government. Aoun’s Opposition ally Hezbollah, is mute. Some members shrug off Aoun’s antic and claim that that Hezbollah can’t control Aoun. Other Hezbollah members see an advantage for the Shia if Sunni Palestinian numbers decrease in order to maintain the Sunni-Shia roughly one third each balance. They know that 90% of Palestinians support Hezbollah due to its resistance to the occupation of Palestine and will overlook the fact that Hezbollah does not pick a fight with the quite mercurial Aoun.
This picture is further complicated by Druze leader Walid Jumblatt breaking with Washington due to his grave doubts that the US administration will or can deliver on more than three years of unfulfilled promises to him if he will oppose the Opposition and the Lebanese Resistance. Jumblatt has now decided to caste the Druze lot with Hezbollah and Syria candidly telling colleagues that the Resistance represents Lebanon’s future.
No sooner had Jumblatt dumped the US than the US dumped Phalange leader Amin Gemayal and Lebanon First leader Saad Hariri because the State Department needs someone “with bigger balls” according to one staffer.
Thirteen weeks after heralding the June 7 election results as a great victory for Democracy, the State Department views the election as a disaster. Not only did Hezbollah receive more than 100,000 votes that the US team, it has emerged stronger with its 57 seats than the US team with its 71 seats 10 of whom have now split.
This manhood need led US Ambassador Michele Sisson to charm the group who helped conduct the Sabra Shatila massacre, the Lebanese Forces, and its charismatic and very focused and ambitious leader Samir Geagea who intends to push aside his Phalange rivals, the Gemayals, and lead Lebanon into battle (with US and Israeli support) against Syria and if necessary Hezbollah. The US-Israel project for Lebanon now requires either a civil war in Lebanon or another Israeli invasion to recoup Lebanon from Iranian influence and the growing support for the Hezbollah led Resistance. The State Department finally appear to realize that the Lebanese public will no longer accept a forgive and forget, no compensation for six invasions over the past 40 years, peace deal with Israel and that it has entered the Era of Resistance. Senior Shiite Cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, while Shia,has a large following among Christian and Sunni Muslims. Last week he warned against attempts to normalize ties with Israel and submit to its “humiliating” conditions. In a statement to a European delegation, Fadlallah accused Arab leaders of “attempting to fool” Muslims and the Arab world. He said Arab leaders were negotiating the normalization of ties with Israel, “while the Palestinian people are getting exhausted and becoming further subdued.” Days later he issued a Fatwa (religious ruling) forbidding yielding Jerusalem and Palestine to Zionist colonizers.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Sisson has met five times in the past several weeks with Geagea and his supreme spiritual guide, Archbishop Sfeir. They are quickly forming the nucleus of Welch Club II and are trying to make sure they can continue to count on Saudi Arabia for the kind of financial largesse that ran up the price of votes in the June 7th 2009 election, according to Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah, to as high as $ 5,000 per vote in key areas.
Pressure Building in the Camps
Lebanon’s Palestinian leadership is being used by domestic and foreign interests and so far has pretty much kept quiet and out of Lebanese politics. Some of the Camp leaders have been accused of collaborating with the army’s wanton destruction and continuing siege of Nahr al Bared and sealing off more than half of the Camps on orders from Ramallah so as to retain civil relations with their host country.
But the pressure is building this hot summer and fall in Lebanon’s refugee camps with warnings coming from Palestinian, that 27 years after the Sabra Shatila massacre, explosive conditions exist in nearly all of Lebanon’s camps.
After Aoun’s reconstruction injunction succeeded earlier this month, Khalil Mekawi of the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee held an urgent meeting with lame duck prime minister Fouad Siniora and warned that this decision to freeze plans to rebuild Narh al Bared is causing outrage among Lebanon’s estimated 250,000 Palestinian camp residents that could, in his words, spill out across the country, leading to major chaos, at any time. While not claiming Palestinian involvement, he implied that more katyusha rockets might be launched into Palestine.
- Franklin Lamb is Interim Director of the Washington DC-Beirut Lebanon based Sabra Shatila Foundation. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: Sabrashatila.org.
War Crimes in Gaza
A turning point for the US solidarity movement
Nada Elia, The Electronic Intifada, 16 September 2009
|The Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel came from those who have nothing left to lose. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)|
This weekend at the eighth annual US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation national organizers' conference held in Chicago, delegates from the approximately 300 member groups that make up the US Campaign voted in favor of an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. The vote came on the heels of a presentation by Omar Barghouti and myself on behalf of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the US Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
The proposal that "the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation should endorse the principle of cultural and academic boycotts" passed by a landslide with one abstention and not a single objection. The quasi-unanimous vote, and the deep collective breath of relief that followed, will go down in history as the moment US-based Palestine solidarity activists overcame tactical differences that had long hindered us, to finally come together to confront Israeli apartheid.
The history of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, independence and human rights is sadly one of missed opportunities. Historically, Palestinian aspirations have not been achieved due to a corrupt and feckless leadership and petty internal divisions.
But we have also learned that change will not come from above. It will and must come from the grassroots, the people, those who have nothing to lose but their prison walls, the daily humiliation of life as a refugee, a second- or third-class citizen, or a non-citizen. Representing the broadest coalition of Palestinian society, from various parts of historic Palestine as well as the global Diaspora, these Palestinians are the ones who jointly issued the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), modeled off of the same call that helped bring apartheid in South Africa to an end, giving direction to a global movement in support of this boycott call.
Mirroring the limits of the Palestinian leadership, the history of solidarity activism is blemished by opportunities missed because of fragmentation and discord, where there should have been a shared vision for the good of the Palestinian people. However, as the participants of this weekend's conference voted in favor of heeding the Palestinian call to join the global BDS movement, they finally set this country on the path to justice. Citizens, organizations and even government officials the world over, from Bangladesh to South Africa to Norway, have already responded to this Palestinian-led movement.
After resistance to comprehensive BDS measures at previous meetings these organizers with the US Campaign have now responded with an overwhelming "yes," indicating that the tide has shifted in the US. This time around, these activists are not returning to their communities to tell them that the moment to heed the Palestinian boycott call is not yet right. The complicity of silence, of unwarranted self-censorship, has finally ended, and the US can join the global chorus clamoring: "no more!"
Indeed, it is past time for those in the US concerned with justice for Palestine to learn from history and acknowledge and challenge Israeli apartheid. Apartheid in South Africa was abolished through a successful global BDS campaign, and a successful BDS campaign can put an end to Israeli apartheid. Anyone who fears that ending apartheid in Israel would "destroy" that country probably believes, or logically should believe, that South Africa was "destroyed" in 1994.
This struggle will neither be quick nor easy. While the South African call for BDS was issued from a small basement apartment in London by a handful of Black South African students in 1959, apartheid wasn't officially abolished until 1994. As the title of Nelson Mandela's autobiography declared: a long walk to freedom. But history is on our side, as more and more activists are now responding to the Palestinian call.
The precedent is there, we are not reinventing the wheel, we are borrowing a model that led South Africa to freedom. Advisors from the South African BDS movement are working with the activists for Palestinian rights, because they see the similarities in the two struggles. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Bill Fletcher Jr., to name but two prominent members of the South African BDS campaign, are also working with the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).
USACBI's wheels are in motion and there's no stopping us. We are on board the freedom train and we have endorsed the Palestinian call for BDS in all its forms. Last weekend, we bridged the gap in the US solidarity movement and I'm hopeful that the call will be propelled forward by the immense grassroots support the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has garnered over the years in this country.
Our coming together at the conference is galvanizing, as we can now respond in unison to the Palestinian call to end not just the occupation, but Israeli apartheid. It is not one moment too soon. We have nothing to lose but apartheid!
Nada Elia is an organizer with the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (http://www.usacbi.org), and a member of the INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence taskforce on militarism and occupation (www.incite-national.org). She and Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel led two discussion sessions on the academic and cultural boycott at the 2009 organizers' conference of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
In honour of the victims of the Sabra Shatila massacre, we are republishing this piece by Sonja Karkar from 2007. May we never forget this Israeli-enabled Phalangist crime. Warning: the following article depicts the horror of a massacre and should be read by mature readers — details of the atrocity appear over the fold.
Sabra And Shatila by Sonja Karkar
On massacres, atrocities and holocausts
It happened twenty-five years ago – 16 September 1982. A massacre so awful that people who know about it cannot forget it. The photos are gruesome reminders – charred, decapitated, indecently violated corpses, the smell of rotting flesh, still as foul to those who remember it as when they were recoiling from all those years ago. For the victims and the handful of survivors, it was a 36-hour holocaust without mercy. It was deliberate, it was planned and it was overseen. But to this day, the killers have gone unpunished.
Sabra and Shatila – two Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon – were the theatres for this staged slaughter. The former is no longer there and the other is a ghostly and ghastly reminder of man’s inhumanity to men, women and children – more specifically, Israel’s inhumanity, the inhumanity of the people who did Israel’s bidding and the world’s inhumanity for pretending it was of no consequence. There were international witnesses – doctors, nurses, journalists – who saw the macabre scenes and have tried to tell the world in vain ever since.
Each act was barbarous enough on its own to warrant fear and loathing. It was human savagery at its worst and Dr Ang Swee Chai was an eye witness as she worked with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society on the dying and the wounded amongst the dead. What she saw was so unimaginable that the atrocities committed need to be separated from each other to even begin comprehending the viciousness of the crimes. 
People tortured. Blackened bodies smelling of roasted flesh from the power shocks that had convulsed their bodies before their hearts gave out, the electric wires still tied around their lifeless limbs
People with gouged out eye sockets. Faces unrecognisable with the gaping holes that had plunged them into darkness before their lives were thankfully ended.
Women raped. Not once – but two, three, four times – horribly violated, their legs shamelessly ripped apart with not even the cover of clothing to preserve their dignity at the moment of death.
Children dynamited alive. So many body parts ripped from their tiny torsos, so hard to know to whom they belonged – just mounds of bloodied limbs amongst the tousled heads of children in pools of blood.
Families executed. Blood, blood and more blood sprayed on the walls of homes where whole families had been axed to death in a frenzy or lined up for a more orderly execution.
There were also journalists who were there in the aftermath and who had equally gruesome stories to tell, none of which made the sort of screaming front page headlines that should have caused lawmakers to demand immediate answers. What they saw led them to write shell-shocked accounts that have vanished now into the archives, but are no less disturbing now. These accounts too need to be individually absorbed, lest they be lumped together as just the collective dead rather than the systematic torture and killing of individual, innocent human beings.
Women gunned down while cooking in their kitchens.  The headless body of a baby in diapers lying next to two dead women.  An infant, its tiny legs streaked with blood, shot in the back by a single bullet.  Slaughtered babies, their bodies blackened as they decomposed, tossed into rubbish heaps together with Israeli army equipment and empty bottles of whiskey.  An old man castrated, with flies thick upon his torn intestines.  Children with their throats slashed.  Mounds of rotting corpses bloated in the heat – young boys all shot at point-blank range. 
And most numbing of all are the recollections of the survivors whose experiences were so shockingly traumatic that to recall them must have been painful beyond all imaginings. One survivor, Nohad Srour, 35 said:
“I was carrying my one year-old baby sister and she was yelling “Mama! Mama!” then suddenly nothing. I looked at her and her brain had fallen out of her head and down my arm. I looked at the man who shot us. I’ll never forget his face. Then I felt two bullets pierce my shoulder and finger. I fell. I didn’t lose consciousness, but I pretended to be dead.”
The statistics of those killed vary, but even according to the Israeli military, the official count was 700 people killed while Israeli journalist, Amnon Kapeliouk put the figure at 3,500.  The Palestinian Red Crescent Society put the number killed at over 2,000. Regardless of the numbers, they would not and could not mitigate what are clear crimes against humanity.
Fifteen years later, Robert Fisk, the journalist who had been one of the first on the scene, said:
“Had Palestinians massacred 2,000 Israelis 15 years ago, would anyone doubt that the world’s press and television would be remembering so terrible a deed this morning? Yet this week, not a single newspaper in the United States – or Britain for that matter – has even mentioned the anniversary of Sabra and Shatila.”
Twenty-five years later it is no different.
The political developments
What happened must be set against the background of a Lebanon that had been invaded by the Israeli army only months earlier, supposedly in ‘retaliation’ for the attempted assassination of the Israeli Ambassador in London on 4 June 1982. Israel attributed the attempt to Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) then resident in Beirut. In reality, it was a rival militant group headed by Abu Nidal. Israel wanted to oust the PLO from Lebanon altogether and on 6 June 1982, Israel began its devastating assault on the Lebanese and Palestinian civilian population in the southern part of Lebanon. Lebanese government casualty figures numbered the dead at around 19,000 with some 30,000 wounded, but these numbers are hardly accurate because of the mass graves and other bodies lost in the rubble. 
By 1 September, a cease-fire had been mediated by United States envoy Philip Habib, and Arafat and his men surrendered their weapons and were evacuated from Beirut with guarantees by the US that the civilians left behind in the camps would be protected by a multinational peacekeeping force. That guarantee was not kept and the vacuum then created, paved the way for the atrocities that followed.
As soon as the peacekeeping force was withdrawn, the then Israeli Defence Minister Ariel Sharon moved to root out some “2,000 terrorists” he claimed were still hiding in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. After totally surrounding the refugee camps with tanks and soldiers, Sharon ordered the shelling of the camps and the bombardment continued throughout the afternoon and into the evening of 15 September leaving the “mopping-up” of the camps to the Lebanese right-wing Christian militia, known as the Phalangists. The next day, the Phalangists – armed and trained by the Israeli army – entered the camps and proceeded to massacre the unarmed civilians while Sharon and his men watched the entire operations. More grotesquely, the Israeli army ensured there was no lull in the 36 hours of killings and illuminated the area with flares at night and tightened their cordon around the camps to make sure that no civilian could escape the terror that had been unleashed.
Inquiries, charges and off scot-free
Although Israel’s Kahan Commission of Inquiry did not find any Israeli directly responsible, it did find that Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for “not ordering appropriate measures for preventing or reducing the danger of massacre” before sending the Phalangists into the camps. It, therefore, lamely recommended that the Israeli prime minister consider removing him from office.  Sharon resigned but remained as Minister without portfolio and joined two parliamentary commissions on defence and Lebanese affairs. There is no doubt, as Chomsky points out “that the inquiry was not intended for people who have a prejudice in favour of truth and honesty”, but it certainly gained support for Israel in the US Congress and among the public.  It took an International Commission of Inquiry headed by Sean MacBride to find that Israel was “directly responsible” because the camps were under its jurisdiction as an occupying power.  Yet, despite the UN describing the heinous operation as a “criminal massacre” and declaring it an act of genocide , no one was prosecuted.
It was not until 2001 that a law suit was filed in Belgium by the survivors of the massacre and relatives of the victims against Sharon alleging his personal responsibility. However, the court did not allow for “universal jurisdiction” – a principle which was intended to remove safe havens for war criminals and allow their prosecution across states. The case was won on appeal and the trial allowed to proceed, but without Sharon who by then was prime minister of Israel and had immunity. US interference led to the Belgian Parliament gutting the universal jurisdiction law and by the time the International Criminal Court was established in The Hague the following year, the perpetrators of the Sabra and Shatila massacre could no longer be tried because its terms of reference did not allow it to hear cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide pre-dating 1 July 2002. Neither Sharon nor those who carried out the massacres have ever been punished for their horrendous crimes.
The bigger picture
The length of time since these acts were carried out should be no impediment to exposing the truth. More than 60 years after the Nazi atrocities against the Jews in Europe, the world still mourns and remembers and erects monuments and museums to that violent holocaust. How they are done, to whom they are done and to how many does not make the crimes any more or less heinous. They can never be justified even on the strength of one state’s rationale that another people ought to be punished, or worse still, are simply inferior or worthless beings. It should lead all of us to question on whose judgment are such decisions made and how can we possibly justify such crimes at all?
The atrocities committed in the camps of Sabra and Shatila should be put in the context of an ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people. The MacBride report found that these atrocities “were not inconsistent with wider Israeli intentions to destroy Palestinian political will and cultural identity.”  Since Deir Yassin and the other massacres of 1948, those who survived have joined hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing a litany of massacres committed in 1953, 1967 and the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, and the killing is still going on today. Thus were the victims and survivors of the Sabra and Shatila massacre gathered up in the perpetual nakba of the slaughtered, the dispossessed, the displaced and the discarded – a pattern of ethnic cleansing perpetrated under the Zionist plan to finally and forever extinguish Palestinian society and its people.
This is why we must remember Sabra and Shatila, twenty-five years on.
 Dr Ang Swee Chai, From Beirut to Jerusalem, Grafton Books, London, 1989
 James MacManus, Guardian, 20 September 1982
 Loren Jenkins, Washington Post, 20 September 1982
 Elaine Carey, Daily Mail, 20 September 1982
 Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War, London: Oxford University Press, 1990
 Robert Fisk, ibid.
 Robert Fisk, ibid.
 Robert Fisk, ibid.
 Lebanese Daily Star, 16 September 1998
 Amnon Kapeliouk, Sabra & Chatila – Inquiry into a Massacre, November 1982
 Schiff and Ya’ari, Israel’s Lebanon War, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1984,
 Robert Fisk, Fifteen Years After the Bloodbath, The World turns its Back, shaml.org, 1997  Noam Chomsky, “The Fatal Triangle” South End Press, Cambridge MA, p.221
 The Complete Kahan Commission Report, Princeton, Karz Cohl, 1983, p. 125 (Hereafter, the Kahan Commission Report).  Chomsky, ibid. p.406
 The Report of the International Commission to Enquire into Reported Violations of International Law by Israel during Its Invasion of the Lebanon, Sean MacBride, 1983 (referred to as the International Commission of Inquiry or MacBride report)  United Nations General Assembly Resolution, 16 December 1982
 MacBride report, ibid. p.179
How Low Will Israel Stoop in Its Propaganda War?
The manual teaches how to justify the slaughter, the ethnic cleansing, the land-grabbing.
By Stuart Littlewood - London
'The Israel Project', a US media advocacy group, has produced a revised training manual to help the worldwide Zionist movement win the propaganda war, keep their ill-gotten territorial gains and persuade international audiences to accept that their crimes are necessary and conform to 'shared values' between Israel and the civilized West.It’s a Clever Document
The manual teaches how to justify the slaughter, the ethnic cleansing, the land-grabbing, the cruelty and the blatant disregard for international law and UN resolutions, and make it all smell sweeter with a liberal squirt of the aerosol of persuasive language. It is designed to hoodwink us ignorant and gullible Americans and Europeans into believing that we actually share values with the racist regime in Israel and that its abominable behaviour is therefore deserving of our support.
Israel is hoping for a PR massacre. The other side - the Palestinian Authority and the PLO - don’t take communications seriously and have neglected to correct Israeli distortion. They are happy, it seems, for Israel’s one-sided definitions to prevail, which of course makes the task for Israel so much easier. This latest propaganda offensive is potentially the 'coup de grace' to finish off the tormented Palestinians. See it here.
And the manual will no doubt serve as a communications primer for the army of cyber-scribblers that Israel’s Ministry of Dirty Tricks is recruiting to spread Zionism’s poison across the internet.
This quote at the beginning sets the tone: "Remember, it’s not what you say that counts. It’s what people hear."
Top Priority: Demonize Hamas
The manual’s numerous messages are aimed at the mass of “persuadables”, primarily in America but also in the UK. The strategy from the start is to isolate democratically-elected Hamas and to rob the resistance movement and the Palestinian population of their human rights....
“Clearly differentiate between the Palestinian people and Hamas. There is an immediate and clear distinction between the empathy Americans feel for the Palestinians and the scorn they direct at Palestinian leadership. Hamas is a terrorist organization – Americans get that already. But if it sounds like you are attacking the Palestinian people (even though they elected Hamas) rather than their leadership, you will lose public support. Right now, many Americans sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians, and that sympathy will increase if you fail to differentiate the people from their leaders.”
The plight of the Palestinians under Israel’s heel was an international concern long before Hamas appeared on the scene.
But this scorning of leaders is familiar ground. We scorned Bush and Blair and had to differentiate between them and their respective peoples. We now have to do the same with Barack Obama and Gordon Brown. We are tired of having to make that same differentiation between the Israeli people and the dreadful leaders they produce.
"Israel’s right to defensible borders: With more than three years of violent history since Israel’s agreement to withdraw from Gaza and portions of the West Bank, Americans have had time to take stock of the situation and form opinions. The big picture: they believe that Hamas’ leadership of Gaza has made Israel and the region less safe, while some are more receptive to what they perceive as a moderate approach in the West Bank by Mahmoud Abbas. Based on these experiences, they are willing to grant Israel more leeway in resisting calls to give more land for more peace."
Here we clearly see the motive for demonizing Hamas....Israel wants more leeway to continue its land-grabs and other criminal activities.“If… If… If…Then.”: Put the burden on Hamas to make the first move for peace by using If’s (and don’t forget to finish with a hard then to show Israel is a willing peace partner). “If Hamas reforms… If Hamas recognize our right to exist… If Hamas renounces terrorism… If Hamas supports international peace agreements… then we are willing to make peace today.”
How daft can you get? Substitute Israel for Hamas.Words that Work
The manual sets out numerous examples of “words that work” - supposedly.“We know that the Palestinians deserve leaders who will care about the well being of their people, and who do not simply take hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance from America and Europe, put them in Swiss bank accounts, and use them to support terror instead of peace.”
No mention here of the billions of tax dollars Israel takes from the US and spends on munitions to obliterate and vaporize its neighbors.“Peace can only be made with adversaries who want to make peace with you. Terrorist organizations like Iran-backed Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad are, by definition, opposed to peaceful co-existence, and determined to prevent reconciliation. I ask you, how do you negotiate with those who want you dead?”
Hamas and Hezbollah are only regarded as terrorists by the White House and Tel Aviv and by US-Israeli stooges and flag-wavers at Westminster and elsewhere.In Executive Order 13224 – Blocking property and prohibiting transactions with persons who commit, threaten to commit or support terrorism - Bush used this definition: “The term “terrorism” means an activity that — (i) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and (ii) appears to be intended — (A) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (B) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (C) to affect the conduct of a government by mass estruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking.”
It describes the antics of the US and Israel perfectly."There is never any justification for the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children. never.. there is one fundamental principle that all peoples from all parts of the globe will agree on: civilized people do not target innocent women and children for death.”
Fine words, but where does that leave Israel, which recently killed 320 children in Gaza and 773 civilians including 109 women? From the start of the second Intifada (uprising against the Israeli occupation) in 2000 to the end of last year Israel had slaughtered 4,936 Palestinians in their homeland, including 952 children, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. In the same period Palestinians killed 490 Israelis in Israel including only 84 children. So Israel’s kill-rate is at least 10 to 1, and rising since the blitzkrieg on Gaza.
Iran-Backed or US-Backed – Take Your Pick
“Use humility. ‘I know that in trying to defend its children and citizens from terrorists that Israel has accidentally hurt innocent people. I know it, and I’m sorry for it. But what can Israel do to defend itself? If America had given up land for peace – and that land had been used for launching rockets at America, what would America do? Israel was attacked with thousands of rockets from Iran-backed Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. What should Israel have done to protect her children?’”
Palestinians too have a right to defend themselves. Hamas was the popular choice of Palestinians at the last election and is entitled under international law to take up arms against an illegal occupier and invader. If it is supported by Iran, so what? Israel is extravagantly funded and supplied by the US. Here’s part of their begging-bowl “Military Aid Speech”...
“Israel makes the request for military assistance out of self-defense. As a democracy, they have the right and the responsibility to protect our borders. As a democracy, they have the right and the responsibility to protect their citizens. “Israel does not ask for U.S. troops to protect itself. It does not ask for a single American soldier to protect its borders. It only asks for the funds for them to protect themselves. They need the equipment so that their own troops can ensure the safety of their civilian population through this gathering conflict with the enemies of democracy. “They didn’t ask to have our nation built in range of Iranian missiles. They didn’t ask that their nation be a focal point for religious extremists who have declared war on the West and on democracy. “But they are, and they need your help.”
And Here’s the Rationale Behind it....
“Americans fundamentally believe that a democracy has a right to protect its people and its borders. And while Americans don’t want to increase foreign aid in a time of significant budgetary deficits and painful spending cuts, there is one and only one argument that will work for Israel (in four easy steps):
1) As a democracy, Israel has the right and the responsibility to defend its borders and protect its people.
2) Terrorist groups, including Iran-backed Hezbollah and Hamas, continue to pose a direct threat to Israeli security and have repeatedly taken innocent Israeli lives.
3) Israel is America’s one and only true ally in the region. In these particularly unstable and dangerous times, Israel should not be forced to go it alone.
4) With America’s financial assistance, Israel can defend its borders, protect its people, and provide invaluable assistance to the American effort against the war against terrorism.”
It’s evident that Americans don’t believe in democracy enough to allow Palestinian democracy to flourish.
“When the terror ends, Israel will no longer need to have challenging checkpoints to inspect goods and people. When the terror ends we will no longer need a security fence.”
There are no rockets coming out of the West Bank, so why is the security fence still there – and still being built? Why are the occupation troops still there? Why are hundreds of checkpoints still there? Why is Israel still stealing land, demolishing Palestinian homes and building settlements there?"Remind people – again and again – that Israel wants peace. Reason One: If Americans see no hope for peace—if they only see a continuation of a 2,000-year-long episode of “Family Feud”—Americans will not want their government to spend tax dollars or their President’s clout on helping Israel. Reason Two: The speaker that is perceived as being most for peace will win the debate. Every time someone makes the plea for peace, the reaction is positive. If you want to regain the public relations advantage, peace should be at the core of whatever message you wish to convey."
Israel does not want peace. It has never met its peace agreement obligations. Every action is directed at keeping the conflict going until the Israelis have stolen enough land and established enough 'facts on the ground' - Jews-only settlements, highways, disconnected Palestinian bantustans - to enable them to redraw the map to suit their expansionist agenda and make the occupation permanent.
Gaza in a Vice
"Israel made painful sacrifices and took a risk to give peace a chance. They voluntarily removed over 9,000 settlers from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, abandoning homes, schools, businesses, and places of worship in the hopes of renewing the peace process. Despite making an overture for peace by withdrawing from Gaza, Israel continues to face terrorist attacks, including rocket attacks and drive-by shootings of innocent Israelis. Israel knows that for a lasting peace, they must be free from terrorism and live with defensible borders.”
Israel never left. It still occupies Gazan airspace, coastal waters and airwaves, and controls all borders except Rafah where it nevertheless exerts a veto. Israel has Gaza in a vice, which is crushing the tiny enclave’s economy, starving its 1.5 million citizens and creating a huge humanitarian crisis in an attempt to bring the elected government to its knees."Draw direct parallels between Israel and America—including the need to defend against terrorism.... The more you focus on the similarities between Israel and America, the more likely you are to win the support of those who are neutral. Indeed, Israel is an important American ally in the war against terrorism, and faces many of the same challenges as America in protecting their citizens."
Note how Israel’s strategy is almost totally dependent on the false idea that they are victims of terror and western nations need to huddle together with Israel for mutual protection. Fortunately, level-headed people are beginning to realize who the terrorists really are.
It is surely obvious by now that allowing parallels to be drawn between Israel and America only serves to increase the world’s hatred of America. US citizens need to wake up to this, and British citizens should avoid falling into the same trap.
Inject with “Core Values” and Repeat Over and Over Again…
"The language of Israel is the language of America: 'democracy,' 'freedom,' 'security,' and 'peace.' These four words are at the core of the American political, economic, social, and cultural systems, and they should be repeated as often as possible because they resonate with virtually every American."
If so fluent in this language, why won’t Israel acknowledge their neighbours’ rights to democracy, freedom, security and peace and end their military oppression?"A simple rule of thumb is that once you get to the point of repeating the same message over and over again so many times that you think you might get sick—that is just about the time the public will wake up and say 'Hey—this person just might be saying something interesting to me!' But don’t confuse messages with facts.... "
Never let facts get in the way of a good message!“How can the current Palestinian leadership honestly say it will pursue peace when previous leaders rejected an offer to create a Palestinian state just a few short years ago and now refuse to live up to their responsibilities as outlined in the Road Map?”
This must be a reference to Barak's so-called "generous offer”, another of the myths Israelis love to peddle. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip, seized by Israel in 1967 and occupied ever since, comprise just 22% of pre-partition Palestine. When the Palestinians signed the Oslo Agreement in 1993 they agreed to accept the 22% and recognise Israel within 'Green Line’ borders (i.e. the 1949 Armistice Line established after the Arab-Israeli War). Conceding 78% of the land that was originally theirs was an astonishing compromise on the part of the Palestinians.
But it wasn't enough for greedy Barak. His 'generous offer' required the inclusion of 69 Israeli settlements within the 22% remnant. It was plain to see on the map that these settlement blocs created impossible borders and already severely disrupted Palestinian life in the West Bank. Barak also demanded the Palestinian territories be placed under "Temporary Israeli Control", meaning Israeli military and administrative control indefinitely. The 'generous offer' also gave Israel control over all the border crossings of the new Palestinian State. What nation in the world would accept that? The unacceptable reality of Barak’s offer, contained in the map, was hidden by propaganda spin.
Later, at Taba, Barak produced a revised map but withdrew it after his election defeat. Don’t take my word for it – the facts are well documented and explained by organisations such as Gush Shalom.“Why is the world so silent about the written, vocal, stated aims of Hamas?”
Why is the world so silent about the written, stated aims of the racist regime and its political parties? Read their manifestoes.“Successful communications is not about being able to recite every fact from the long history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is about pointing out a few core principles of shared values—such as democracy and freedom—and repeating them over and over again.... You need to start with empathy for both sides, remind your audience that Israel wants peace and then repeat the messages of democracy, freedom, and peace over and over again.... we need to repeat the message, on average, ten times to be effective.”
Is democracy a shared value? Israel is an ethnocracy. Is freedom a shared value? The world is still waiting for Israel to allow the Palestinians their freedom.“The situation in the Middle East may be complicated, but all parties should adopt a simple approach: peace first, political boundaries second.”
Renounce resistance while still under Israel’s jackboot? The correct approach is for the international community to first insist that Israel complies with international law and the many UN resolutions it has contemptuously ignored. The boundaries are already defined. Whatever issues remain to be decided, Palestinians should not have to negotiate under occupation or duress.
Rockets, Bombs and Atrocities: the Language of Peace
"Bottom line: What will happen if we fail to get the world to care about the fact that Israeli parents in southern Israel need to literally dodge rockets when they drive their children to kindergarten in the morning? What will happen if the world allows Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, to get nuclear weapons? What will Israel do if bad press causes American citizens to ask [their] government to turn its back on Israel? Why do I care so much about the success of your communications efforts? I care because I never want our children to live through what my family and yours lived through in the Holocaust."
Only one in 500 makeshift Qassam rockets causes a fatality, small beer compared to the devastation and carnage resulting from Israel’s state-of-the-art rocketry targeted on Gaza. How does it look when Palestinians are forced to pay a heavy price for the Holocaust in Europe? And how much does Israel care about the Palestinian holocaust it has caused?
The manual then gives a long glossary of terms. Here’s a sample....“Deliberately firing rockets into civilian communities”: Combine terrorist motive with civilian visuals and you have the perfect illustration of what Israel faced in Gaza and Lebanon. Especially with regard to rocket attacks but useful for any kind of terrorist attack, deliberate is the right word to use to call out the intent behind the attacks. This is far more powerful than describing the attacks as “random.”
Israelis know all about bombarding civilian targets. And they are careful not to mention that Sderot, until recently the only Israeli township within range of Gazan rockets, is built on the ruins of an ethnically cleansed Palestinian village whose inhabitants were forced from their homes by Jewish terrorists.“Economic Diplomacy”: This is a much more embracing and popular term than the current lexicon of “sanctions.” It has appeal across the political spectrum: the tough economic approach appeals to Republicans, and the diplomacy component satisfies Democrats.
This is a game we can all play. Israel is now beginning to suffer “economic diplomacy” in the form of worldwide boycotts.
“Economic Prosperity”: Whenever Israel talks about the “economic prosperity” of the Palestinians, it puts Israel in the most positive light possible. After all, who can disagree?
What sort of prosperity is it when nothing can be imported or exported without Israel's approval and fisherman can't even put to sea in their own waters without having their boats shot up by the Israeli navy?“Human to Human”: “We know that the average Palestinian and the average Israeli want to come together and make peace. They want to live in peace. Israeli leaders have come together with Arab leaders to make peace in the past. But how do you make peace with Hamas and Hezbollah?”
Simple. You get off their land and stay off. There can be no peace under occupation. You have to be very stupid not to understand that.“Humanize Rockets”: Paint a vivid picture of what life is like in Israeli communities that are vulnerable to attack. Yes, cite the number of rocket attacks that have occurred. But immediately follow that up with what it is like to make the nightly trek to the bomb shelter.
Would Israel care to tell the world how many bombs, rockets and shells (including the illegal and prohibited variety) its F-16s, tanks, armed drones and navy gunboats have poured into the densely-packed humanity that is Gaza?
Still More Advice....
“Living together, side by side”. This is the best way to describe the ultimate vision of a two-state solution without using the phrase.
Sounds cute but is worn out. Who would want to live alongside bigots and extremists who have made your life a misery for 61 years?"When talking about a Palestinian partner, it is essential to distinguish between Hamas and everyone else. Only the most anti-Israel, pro- Palestinian American expects Israel to negotiate with Hamas, so you have to be clear that you are seeking a 'moderate Palestinian partner'."
Where are the moderate Israeli partners?"The fight is over ideology – not land; terror, not territory. Thus, you must avoid using Israel’s religious claims to land as a reason why Israel should not give up land. Such claims only make Israel look extremist to people who are not religious Christians or Jews.”
If the fight isn’t about land, why did Israel steal it at gunpoint? And why won’t they give it back when told to by the UN?
"Think Pro-Palestinian. While I have spoken about Israeli casualties, I want to recognize those Palestinians that have been killed or wounded, because they are suffering as well. I particularly want to reach out to Palestinian mothers who have lost their children. No parent should have to bury their child.”
Israel won’t even allow cement into Gaza to build the graves.
"And so I say to my Palestinian colleagues … you can stop the bloodshed. You can stop the suicide bombings and rocket attacks. If you really want to, you can put an end to this cycle of violence. If you won’t do it for our children, do it for your children.”
This is recommended to activists as “an effective Israeli sound bite”."I want to see a future where the Palestinians govern themselves. Israel does not want to govern a single Palestinian. Not one. We want them to govern themselves. We want them to have complete self-determination."
Israel is desperate to snuff out Palestine's fledgling democracy and destroy the remnants of its government. For decades Israel has dismissed the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
"The big picture approach is this: You must isolate Hamas as:
- A critical cause of the delay in achieving a two-state solution
- The biggest source of harm to the Palestinian people, and
- The reason why Israel must defend its people from living in terror.
At last Israel makes a good point. After 3 years of 'government' Hamas must be mad to persist with its ill-advised charter. They have been severely tested. They have matured. They have earned credibility in many eyes. Israel’s behaviour makes Hamas look good. But all that will count for nothing if they don't re-write their charter as a matter of urgency.
Regev’s Pearls of Wisdom. But How Safe is the Region under the Threat of Israel’s Nukes?
"It’s not just Israel who refuses to speak to Hamas. It’s the whole international community… Most of the democratic world refuses to have a relationship with Hamas because Hamas has refused to meet the most minimal benchmarks of international behavior." - Mark Regev
Isn’t that a little cheeky, Mr Regev, coming from a regime widely condemned for war crimes, piracy and mega-lawlessness."It was the former U.N. secretary general Kofi Anan that put four benchmarks on the table. And he said, speaking for the international community… What if Hamas reforms itself … If Hamas recognizes my country’s right to live in freedom … If Hamas renounces terrorism against innocent civilians … If Hamas supports international agreements that are being signed and agreed to concerning the peace process … then the door is open. But unfortunately – tragically – Hamas has failed to meet even one of those four benchmarks. And that’s why today Hamas is isolated internationally. Even the United Nations refuses to speak to Hamas." – Mark Regev
Which of those benchmarks has Israel met, Mr Regev?"Israel is very concerned about the Iranian nuclear program. And for good reason. Iran’s President openly talks about wiping Israel off the map. We see them racing ahead on nuclear enrichment so they can have enough fissile material to build a bomb. We see them working on their ballistic missiles. We only saw, last week, shooting a rocket to launch a so-called satellite into outer space and so forth. The Iranian nuclear program is a threat, not just to my country, but to the entire region. And it’s incumbent upon us all to do what needs to be done to keep from proliferating." – Mark Regev
Why is Israel the only state in the region not to have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Mr Regev? Are we all supposed to believe that Israel's 200 (or is it 400?) nuclear warheads pose no threat? Would you also like to comment on why Israel hasn’t signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and why it has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, similarly the Chemical Weapons Convention? What proof do you have of Iran's nuclear weapons plans?
And why do you persist in misquoting Mr Ahmadjinadad?
The Holy City is Not Up for Grabs
"The toughest issue to communicate will be the final resolution of Jerusalem. Americans overwhelmingly want Israel to be in charge of the religious holy sites and are frankly afraid of the consequences should Israel turn over control to the Palestinians. Consider:
71% of Americans trust Israel most to protect the holy sites in Jerusalem, compared to 6.1% who trust the Palestinian authority most. 8.5% percent trust neither.
54% of Americans believe that “Jerusalem must remain united under Israeli sovereignty” while just 23.9% believe that ‘Jerusalem should be divided into Israeli controlled and Palestinian controlled areas’.
Given the choice between the two, Americans of all political and demographic stripes trust Israel to protect and have sovereignty over Jerusalem."
Israel is in control right now and prevents Muslims and Christians from outside the City visiting the holy places. No way can Israel be trusted. The UN's partition plan decreed that Jerusalem should become a ‘corpus separatum’ under international management. It is unlikely that the UN would wish to see its resolutions torn up or international law re-written for Israel’s sole benefit, regardless of America’s misinformed opinion.Get the Name-Calling Right
I’ll close with the following extract....
“Many on the left see an “Israel v. Palestinian” crisis where Israel is Goliath and the Palestinians are David. It is critical that they understand that this is an Arab-Israeli crisis and that the force undermining peace is Iran and their proxies Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. You must not call Hamas just Hamas. Call them what they are: Iran-backed Hamas. Indeed, when they know that Iran is behind Hamas and Hezbollah, they are much more supportive of Israel.”
By the same token we must call the racist regime what it is – US-backed Israel.
Iran’s support for Hamas is difficult to quantify and probably less than we think. It is likely that more funding has come from Sunni Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In any case it is peanuts compared to America’s support for Israel.
Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhhod and was founded in 1987 during the first Intifada. Hezbollah came into being in 1982 in response to US-backed Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. So the territorial ambitions of US-backed Israel provoked the rise of both. Israel’s problem is entirely self-inflicted and shouldn’t concern the rest of us.
It’s no surprise that Hamas’s election manifesto in 2006 called for maintaining the armed struggle against US-backed Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories.Our Obligation to Respect and Promote Human Rights
The Israel Project describes itself as “devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel while promoting security, freedom and peace”. It provides journalists, leaders and opinion-formers with “accurate information about Israel”.
However its propaganda manual, which runs to 116 pages, is an unpleasant piece of work which recycles many of the discredited techniques used by the advertising industry before standards of honesty, decency and truthfulness were brought in to protect the public.
And it serves to undermine with clever words the inalienable rights pledged by the UN and the world’s civilized nations to all peoples, including the Palestinians.
When you have to stoop this low you simply don’t have a case.
Everyone should bear in mind the following, written nearly 61 years ago:“Now, Therefore the General Assembly proclaims This Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”
It would seem that Israel has not read or understood the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration, which all nations signed up to. There can be no excuse. Attempts to wipe out the rights of people who happen to be in the way of the bulldozing Zionist vision of a ‘Greater Israel’ deserve no support whatever.
Meanwhile the Palestinian side needs to de-bunk this Zionist handbook and re-frame the Holy Land situation in the language of truth. If the PA and the PLO won’t do it, who will?
Maybe it’s a job for the churches and mosques.
- Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk.