ethnic cleansing


RAMALLAH: The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said on Monday that a new Israeli military order that allows the country’s government to expel thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank is “a new Nakba for Palestinian people.”

Nakba means “catastrophe” in Arabic and is a term used by Palestinians to describe the creation of the Israeli state in 1948. “(It is) a new form of racism and part of the forced displacement Israel has committed against the Palestinian people,” a PLO statement said of the Israeli order.

The decision, in its earliest phase, would target Palestinians whose ID cards had been issued in the Gaza Strip. Foreign women married to Palestinians would also be deported later, according to Haaretz.

The order also allows Israeli authorities to deal with those affected as infiltrators, who then might face a detention sentence of up to seven years. “(The order aims to) torpedo the geographic and democratic continuity of the Palestinian people and to create the independent Palestinian state on isolated islands,” the PLO statement said.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said: “These military orders belong in an apartheid state. They make it infinitely easier for Israel to imprison and expel Palestinians from the West Bank.”

Human rights activists said on Sunday the new orders could make almost any Palestinian liable for expulsion from the occupied West Bank.

Ten Israeli rights groups condemned the orders, saying in a statement that the vast majority of Palestinians in the West Bank have never been required to hold an Israeli-issued residency permit. “The military will be able to prosecute and deport any Palestinian defined as an infiltrator in stark contradiction to the Geneva Convention,” the statement said. The groups said they feared the broad wording of the orders could enable the military to expel tens of thousands of Palestinians.

Syrian President Bashar Assad urged the international community to adopt “a clear stance on Israeli attempts to adopt a policy of ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and to expel Palestinians from their homeland.”

Arab League chief Amr Moussa said: “For as long as this lasts, things will get worse and it will be more difficult to bring true peace” to the region, adding that the Arab League council would hold an “urgent meeting” on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

Arab News

Turkey’s fallout with Israel deals blow to settlers
Ottoman archives show land deeds forged

by Jonathan Cook

Global Research, March 25, 2009

A legal battle being waged by Palestinian families to stop the takeover of their neighbourhood in East Jerusalem by Jewish settlers has received a major fillip from the recent souring of relations between Israel and Turkey.

After the Israeli army’s assault on the Gaza Strip in January, lawyers for the families were given access to Ottoman land registry archives in Ankara for the first time, providing what they say is proof that title deeds produced by the settlers are forged.

On Monday, Palestinian lawyers presented the Ottoman documents to an Israeli court, which is expected to assess their validity over the next few weeks. The lawyers hope that proceedings to evict about 500 residents from Sheikh Jarrah will be halted.

The families’ unprecedented access to the Turkish archives may mark a watershed, paving the way for successful appeals by other Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank caught in legal disputes with settlers and the Israeli government over land ownership.

Interest in the plight of Sheikh Jarrah’s residents peaked in November when one couple, Fawziya and Mohammed Khurd, were evicted from their home by an Israeli judge. Mr Khurd, who was chronically ill, died days later.

Meanwhile, Mrs Khurd, 63, has staged a protest by living in a tent on waste ground close to her former home. Israeli police have torn down the tent six times and she is facing a series of fines from the Jerusalem municipality.

The problems facing Mrs Khurd and the other residents derive from legal claims by the Sephardi Jewry Association that it purchased Sheikh Jarrah’s land in the 19th century. Settler groups hope to evict all the residents, demolish their homes and build 200 apartments in their place.

The location is considered strategic by settler organisations because it is close to the Old City and its Palestinian holy places.

Unusually, foreign diplomats, including from the United States, have protested, saying eviction of the Palestinian families would undermine the basis of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The help of the Turkish government has been crucial, however, because Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire when the land transactions supposedly took place.

Israel and Turkey have been close military and political allies for decades and traditionally Ankara has avoided straining ties by becoming involved in land disputes in the occupied territories. But there appears to have been an about-turn in Turkish government policy since a diplomatic falling-out between the two countries over Israel’s recent Gaza operation.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, accused his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Olmert, of “lying” and “back-stabbing”, reportedly furious that Israel launched its military operation without warning him. At the time of the attack, Turkey was mediating peace negotiations between Israel and Syria.

Days after the fighting ended in Gaza, Mr Erdogan stormed out of a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, having accused Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, of “knowing very well how to kill”.

According to lawyers acting for the Sheikh Jarrah families, the crisis in relations has translated into a greater openness from Ankara in helping them in their legal battle.

“We have noticed a dramatic change in the atmosphere now when we approach Turkish officials,” said Hatem Abu Ahmad, one of Mrs Khurd’s lawyers. “Before they did not dare upset Israel and put us off with excuses about why they could not help.”

He said the families’ lawyers were finally invited to the archives in Ankara in January, after they submitted requests over several months to the Turkish consulate in Jerusalem and the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Officials in Turkey traced the documents the lawyers requested and provided affidavits that the settlers’ land claims were forged. The search of the Ottoman archives, Mr Abu Ahmad said, had failed to locate any title deeds belonging to a Jewish group for the land in Sheikh Jarrah.

“Turkish officials have also told us that in future they will assist us whenever we need help and that they are ready to trace similar documents relating to other cases,” Mr Abu Ahmad said. “They even asked us if there were other documents we were looking for.”

That could prove significant as the Jerusalem municipality threatens a new campaign of house demolitions against Palestinians. Last week, Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called the recent issuing of dozens of demolition orders in Jerusalem “ethnic cleansing”.

Palestinian legal groups regularly argue that settlers forge documents in a bid to grab land from private Palestinian owners but have great difficulty proving their case.

Late last year the Associated Press news agency exposed a scam by settlers regarding land on which they have built the Migron outpost, near Ramallah, home to more than 40 Jewish families. The settlers’ documents were supposedly signed by the Palestinian owner, Abdel Latif Sumarin, in California in 2004, even though he died in 1961.

The families in Sheikh Jarrah ended up living in their current homes after they were forced to flee from territory that became Israel during the 1948 war. Jordan, which controlled East Jerusalem until Israel’s occupation in 1967, and the United Nations gave the refugees plots on which to build homes.

Mrs Khurd said she would stay in her tent until she received justice.

“My family is originally from Talbiyeh,” she said, referring to what has become today one of the wealthiest districts of West Jerusalem. “I am not allowed to go back to the property that is rightfully mine, but these settlers are given my home, which never belonged to them.”

In 1948, 750 000 Palestinians were expelled from their homeland. One hundred thousand of them fled to Lebanon. They live there now, in crowded refugee camps where disease runs rife. This documentary visits the camps. Survivors of Ariel Sharon’s Sabra and Shatilla camp massacre tell their story.

SABRA AND SHATILA

By Robert Fisk
Counter Currents

What we found inside the Palestinian camp at ten o’clock on the morning of September 1982 did not quite beggar description, although it would have been easier to re-tell in the cold prose of a medical examination. There had been medical examinations before in Lebanon, but rarely on this scale and never overlooked by a regular, supposedly disciplined army. In the panic and hatred of battle, tens of thousands had been killed in this country. But these people, hundreds of them had been shot down unarmed. This was a mass killing, an incident – how easily we used the word “incident” in Lebanon – that was also an atrocity. It went beyond even what the Israelis would have in other circumstances called a terrorist activity. It was a war crime.

Jenkins and Tveit were so overwhelmed by what we found in Chatila that at first we were unable to register our own shock. Bill Foley of AP had come with us. All he could say as he walked round was “Jesus Christ” over and over again. We might have accepted evidence of a few murders; even dozens of bodies, killed in the heat of combat. But there were women lying in houses with their skirts torn up to their waists and their legs wide apart, children with their throats cut, rows of young men shot in the back after being lined up at an execution wall. There were babies – blackened babies because they had been slaughtered more than 24-hours earlier and their small bodies were already in a state of decomposition – tossed into rubbish heaps alongside discarded US army ration tins, Israeli army equipment and empty bottles of whiskey.

Where were the murderers? Or to use the Israelis’ vocabulary, where were the “terrorists”? When we drove down to Chatila, we had seen the Israelis on the top of the apartments in the Avenue Camille Chamoun but they made no attempt to stop us. In fact, we had first been driven to the Bourj al-Barajneh camp because someone told us that there was a massacre there. All we saw was a Lebanese soldier chasing a car thief down a street. It was only when we were driving back past the entrance to Chatila that Jenkins decided to stop the car. “I don’t like this”, he said. “Where is everyone? What the f**k is that smell?”

Just inside the the southern entrance to the camp, there used to be a number of single-story, concrete walled houses. I had conducted many interviews in these hovels in the late 1970’s. When we walked across the muddy entrance to Chatila, we found that these buildings had been dynamited to the ground. There were cartridge cases across the main road. I saw several Israeli flare canisters, still attached to their tiny parachutes. Clouds of flies moved across the rubble, raiding parties with a nose for victory.

Down a laneway to our right, no more than 50 yards from the entrance, there lay a pile of corpses. There were more than a dozen of them, young men whose arms and legs had been wrapped around each other in the agony of death. All had been shot point-blank range through the cheek, the bullet tearing away a line of flesh up to the ear and entering the brain. Some had vivid crimson or black scars down the left side of their throats. One had been castrated, his trousers torn open and a settlement of flies throbbing over his torn intestines.

The eyes of these young men were all open. The youngest was only 12 or 13 years old. They were dressed in jeans and coloured shirts, the material absurdly tight over their flesh now that their bodies had begun to bloat in the heat. They had not been robbed. On one blackened wrist a Swiss watch recorded the correct time, the second hand still ticking round uselessly, expending the last energies of its dead owner.

On the other side of the main road, up a track through the debris, we found the bodies of five women and several children. The women were middle-aged and their corpses lay draped over a pile of rubble. One lay on her back, her dress torn open and the head of a little girl emerging from behind her. The girl had short dark curly hair, her eyes were staring at us and there was a frown on her face. She was dead.

Another child lay on the roadway like a discarded doll, her white dress stained with mud and dust. She could have been no more than three years old. The back of her head had been blown away by a bullet fired into her brain. One of the women also held a tiny baby to her body. The bullet that had passed into her breast had killed the baby too. Someone had slit open the woman’s stomach, cutting sideways and then upwards, perhaps trying to kill her unborn child. Her eyes were wide open, her dark face frozen in horror.

“…As we stood there, we heard a shout in Arabic from across the ruins. “They are coming back,” a man was screaming, So we ran in fear towards the road. I think, in retrospect, that it was probably anger that stopped us from leaving, for we now waited near the entrance to the camp to glimpse the faces of the men who were responsible for all of this. They must have been sent in here with Israeli permission. They must have been armed by the Israelis. Their handiwork had clearly been watched – closely observed – by the Israelis who were still watching us through their field-glasses.

When does a killing become an outrage? When does an atrocity become a massacre? Or, put another way, how many killings make a massacre? Thirty? A hundred? Three hundred? When is a massacre not a massacre? When the figures are too low? Or when the massacre is carried out by Israel’s friends rather than Israel’s enemies?

That, I suspected, was what this argument was about. If Syrian troops had crossed into Israel, surrounded a Kibbutz and allowed their Palestinian allies to slaughter the Jewish inhabitants, no Western news agency would waste its time afterwards arguing about whether or not it should be called a massacre.

But in Beirut, the victims were Palestinians. The guilty were certainly Christian militiamen – from which particular unit we were still unsure – but the Israelis were also guilty. If the Israelis had not taken part in the killings, they had certainly sent militia into the camp. They had trained them, given them uniforms, handed them US army rations and Israeli medical equipment. Then they had watched the murderers in the camps, they had given them military assistance – the Israeli airforce had dropped all those flares to help the men who were murdering the inhabitants of Sabra and Chatila – and they had established military liason with the murderers in the camps.

Rwandans jump to faith they view as tolerant

Chicago Tribune
By Laurie Goering

August 5, 2002

Source: islamawareness.net

KIGALI, Rwanda — Long before the call to prayer begins each Friday at noon, Rwanda’s Muslim faithful jam the main mosque in Kigali’s Nyamirambo neighborhood, the overflow crowd spreading prayer rugs on the mosque steps, over the red earth parking lot and out the front gate.

Almost a decade after a horrific genocide left 800,000 Rwandans dead and shook the faith of this predominantly Christian nation, Islam, once seen as a fringe religion, has surged in popularity.

Women in bright tangerine, scarlet and blue headscarves stroll the bustling streets of the capital beside men in long white tunics and embroidered caps. Mosques and Islamic schools are overflowing with students. Today about 14 percent of Rwandans consider themselves Muslim, up from about 7 percent before the genocide.

“We’re everywhere,” says Sheik Saleh Habimana, the leader of Rwanda’s burgeoning Muslim community, which has mosques in nearly all of the country’s cities and towns.

Countries around Rwanda–Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda–have large Muslim communities. But the religion never was particularly popular in Rwanda until the 1994 genocide, which spurred a rush of conversions.

From April to June 1994, militias and mobs from the country’s ethnic Hutu majority hunted and murdered hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsis at the government’s urging. Within a few months, three of four Tutsis in the country had been hacked to death, often with machetes or hoes. More than 100,000 suspected killers eventually were jailed.

The genocide stunned Rwanda’s Christian community. While clergy in many communities struggled to protect their congregations and died with them, some prominent Catholic and Protestant leaders joined in the killing spree and are facing prosecution.

Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, the head of Rwanda’s Seventh-day Adventist Church, is on trial, charged with luring Tutsi parishioners to his church in western Kibuye province, then turning them over to Hutu militias that slaughtered 2,000 to 6,000 in a single day.

The day before the massacre, Tutsi Adventist clergy inside the church sent Ntakirutimana a now-famous letter, informing him that “tomorrow we will be killed with our families” and seeking his help. Survivors report that he replied: “You must be eliminated. God doesn’t want you anymore.”

Muslims offered haven

At the same time, Rwanda’s Muslims–many of them intermarried Tutsi-Hutu couples–were opening their homes to thousands of desperate Tutsis. Muslim families for the most part succeeded in hiding Tutsis from the Hutu mobs, who feared entering the country’s insular Muslim communities.

Yahya Kayiranga, a young Tutsi who fled Kigali with his mother at the start of the genocide, was taken into the home of a Muslim family in the central city of Gitarama, where he hid until the killing was over.
His father and uncle who stayed behind in Kigali were murdered.

“We were helped by people we didn’t even know,” the 27-year-old remembers, still impressed.

Unable to return to what he considered a sullied Roman Catholic Church, he converted to Islam in 1996. Today he is studying Arabic and the Koran at a local madrassa and most mornings awakens for the dawn
prayer, the first of five each day.

His job as a money changer in downtown Kigali conflicts with Islam’s prohibitions on profiting from financial transactions, but he thinks he has mostly adapted well to his new faith.

“I thought at first Islam would be hard, but that fear went away,” he said. “It’s not easy at the beginning, but as you practice it becomes better, normal.”

Rwanda’s Muslim leaders have struggled to impart the importance of unity and tolerance to their converts, who number as many Hutus as Tutsis.

Reconciliation at mosques

Habimana is one of the leaders of the country’s new interfaith commission, created to promote acceptance, and in a country still seething with barely masked anger and fear after the mass killings, Rwanda’s mosques are one of the few places where reconciliation
appears to have genuinely taken hold.

“In the Islamic faith, Hutu and Tutsi are the same,” Kayiranga said. “Islam teaches us about brotherhood.”

While Rwanda’s ethnic Tutsis mostly have come to Islam seeking protection from purges and to honor and emulate the people who saved them, Hutus also have come, seeking to leave behind their violent past.

“They all felt the blood on their hands and they embraced Islam to purify themselves,” Habimana said.

Becoming Muslim has not been an easy process for many Rwandans, who chafe at the religion’s dress and lifestyle restrictions. Despite Islam’s new status, Rwandan Muslims traditionally have been second-class citizens, working as taxi drivers and traders in a society that reveres farmers.

“Because we were Muslim we weren’t considered Rwandanese,” Habimana said. Now, as the religion’s popularity grows, that is changing.

Today “we see Muslims as very kind people,” said Salamah Ingabire, 20, who converted to Islam in 1995 after losing two brothers in the killing spree. “What we saw in the genocide changed our minds.”

America’s Shame
By Paul Craig Roberts 

January 11, 2009
Source: vdare.com

Why does Israel have a right to exist, but Palestine doesn’t?

This is the question of our time.

For sixty years Israelis have been stealing Palestine from Palestinians. There are maps available on the Internet and in Israeli publications showing the shrinkage over time of what was once Palestine into what Palestine is today–a small number of unconnected ghettos or bantustans.

Palestine became “the occupied territory” from which Palestinians were ejected and Israeli settlements built for “settlers.” Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are full of refugee camps in which Palestinians driven off their lands by Israeli force have been living for decades.

Driving people off their land is strictly illegal under international law, but Israel has been getting away with it for decades.

Gaza is a concentration camp of 1.5 million Palestinians who were driven from their homes and villages and collected in the Gaza Ghetto.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency was created 60 years ago in 1949 to administer refugee camps for Palestinians driven from their lands by Israel. As of 2002, the registered Palestinian refugee population was 3.9 million.

Caterpillar Tractor makes a special bulldozer for Israel that is designed to knock down Palestinian homes and to uproot their orchards. In 2003 an American protester, Rachel Corrie, stood in front of one of these Caterpillars and was run over and crushed.

Nothing happened. The Israelis can kill whomever they want whenever they want.

They have been doing so for 60 years, and they show no sign of stopping.

Currently they are murdering women and children in the ghetto that they have created for Palestinians in Gaza. The entire world knows this. The Red Cross protests it. But the Israelis brazenly claim that they are killing “Hamas terrorists who are a threat to Israel’s existence.”

The American media knows that this is a lie, but does not say so.

Israel has been able to slowly exterminate a people for sixty years without provoking sufficient outrage to stop it.

The United States, “Christian America,” has been Israel’s greatest enabler in its long-term murder of the Palestinian people. Millions of “evangelical Christians” endorse Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The rest of the world condemns the Israeli military attack on the Gaza Ghetto. Last week the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution requiring a ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Israeli SS from Gaza.

The United States abstained.

While the rest of the world condemns Israel’s inhumanity, the US Congress–I should say the US Knesset–rushed to endorse the Israeli slaughter of the Palestinians in Gaza.

The US Senate endorsed Israel’s massacre of Palestinians with a vote of 100-0.

The US House of Representatives voted 430-5 to endorse Israel’s massacre of Palestinians.

The resolutions endorsed by 100% of the US Senate and 99% of the House were written by AIPAC, as were the speeches praising Israel for its inhumanity.

The US Congress was proud to show that it is Israel’s puppet even when it comes to murdering women and children.

The President of the United States was proud to block effective action by the UN Security Council by ordering the Secretary of State to abstain.

Be a Proud American. Swagger and strut. Pretend that you are not besmirched by the shame that your government has heaped upon you. Take refuge in your ignorance, fostered by 60 years of Israeli lies, that the murder of Palestinians and the theft of their lands is “Israel’s right of self-defense.”

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term.  He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.  He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

MIDEAST: Peace Recedes as Israeli Settlements Expand
By Daniel Luban

WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (IPS) – Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank increased sharply in 2008, despite Israel’s pledge at the beginning of the year to freeze all construction, according to a new report by an Israeli non-governmental organisation.

The report, released Wednesday by the group Peace Now, found that settlement construction in 2008 increased by almost 60 percent, including new construction both inside and outside of the security barrier and within illegal settlement outposts.

The Peace Now study was released on the same day that newly appointed U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell – a longtime critic of settlement construction – arrived in Israel. The increase in construction is expected to be a source of friction in Mitchell’s negotiations with Israeli leaders.

Critics warned that the increase in construction is likely to damage the already fragile prospects for a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine.

“Every structure built in a settlement makes the two-state solution more difficult to achieve and further jeopardises Israel’s future as a Jewish democratic country,” said Debra DeLee, president of Peace Now’s sister organisation Americans for Peace Now.

The report found that at least 1,257 new structures were built in West Bank settlements in 2008, up sharply from 800 in 2007. This figure did not include the 261 new structures built in illegal outposts in the West Bank.

Nearly 40 percent of the new structures were built east of the security barrier, many of them extending deep into the West Bank.

And despite the Israeli government’s pledge to crack down on the illegal outposts, the study found that “not a single real outpost was evacuated”.

Additionally, the report found evidence that land confiscations were continuing to take place, contradicting the government’s stated policy.

Following the Annapolis peace conference in late 2007, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged to freeze settlement construction and remove some existing settlements.

In November 2008, he announced that the government would cut off funding for illegal outposts – thereby admitting that it had continued to fund them up to that point.

The Peace Now report found that the Israeli government had encouraged the increase in settlement construction both through active aid and through non-enforcement of its stated policies.

Also on Wednesday, U.S. envoy Mitchell arrived in Jerusalem and met with leaders including Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Defence Minister Ehud Barak. He is scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salaam Fayad in Ramallah, and Likud party chief Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday.

Although preliminary reports indicated that the aftermath of the war in Gaza was the primary topic under discussion at Wednesday’s meetings, the settlements are expected to be a continued sticking point going forward.

Mitchell served an earlier stint as Middle East peace envoy in 2001, after which his committee released a report that was harshly critical of Israeli settlement policies.

The 2001 Mitchell report called on Israel to “freeze all settlement activity, including the ‘natural growth’ of existing settlements”. This call was taken up in the George W. Bush administration’s “road map” for the peace process, which formed the basis of the 2007 Annapolis conference.

Mitchell’s insistence on a settlement freeze as a precondition for the peace process led many right-leaning pro-Israel groups in the U.S. to oppose his recent selection as peace envoy. Abraham Foxman, the influential head of the Anti-Defamation League, stated that he was “concerned” about Mitchell’s “meticulously even-handed” approach to the region.

Nevertheless, in the eight years since Mitchell’s initial report, his calls for a halt to the settlement project have become a mainstream consensus view.

Olmert and his predecessor Ariel Sharon – who had been an original architect of the settlement project – both came to believe that it was likely to doom Israel if left unchecked.

Given the basic demographic trends, an Israeli state encompassing the West Bank and Gaza would soon have an Arab majority. This would force Israel to choose between becoming a secular and binational state with full political rights for all citizens, or an undemocratic state that denied full political rights to Arab residents.

It was partially this logic led Sharon to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and remove Israeli settlements there in 2005.

However, the challenge in the West Bank is much greater. There are now estimated to be over 285,000 settlers in the West Bank, many of them militantly opposed to a two-state solution. The Israeli government has generally paid lip service to the goal of curbing the West Bank settlers, but has been reluctant to crack down on them.

If Netanyahu becomes the next Israeli prime minister, as currently seems likely, he and Mitchell could be set to clash on the settlements issue.

Netanyahu has recently tacked to the centre on the issue, telling Quartet envoy Tony Blair on Sunday that a Likud-led government would build no new settlements.

However, Netanyahu said that he would continue to permit “natural growth” of existing settlements – a qualification that strips his promise of much of its meaning.

Israel has not officially created any new settlements in over a decade, instead ascribing all settlement construction to “natural growth”. It was this consideration that led both Mitchell’s 2001 report and Bush’s road map to explicitly forbid construction under the auspices of “natural growth”.

Gershom Gorenberg, author of “The Accidental Empire”, a 2007 history of the settlements, urged Mitchell to stand firm against Netanyahu in an open letter published Wednesday in The American Prospect.

Netanyahu’s position is a “con”, Gorenberg wrote. “You need to insist on [a full settlement freeze] publicly in the months ahead”.

At the moment, however, none of the leading candidates for prime minister appears to have much appetite to confront the settlers. How much pressure Mitchell and the Obama administration are willing to exert on the Israeli government to do so will be one of the first tests of the U.S.-Israel relationship in the months ahead.

By Ilan Pappe
ilanpappe.com
January 17th, 2009

In 2004, the Israeli army began building a dummy Arab city in the Negev desert. It’s the size of a real city, with streets (all of them given names), mosques, public buildings and cars. Built at a cost of $45 million, this phantom city became a dummy Gaza in the winter of 2006, after Hizbullah fought Israel to a draw in the north, so that the IDF could prepare to fight a ‘better war’ against Hamas in the south.

When the Israeli Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz visited the site after the Lebanon war, he told the press that soldiers ‘were preparing for the scenario that will unfold in the dense neighbourhood of Gaza City’. A week into the bombardment of Gaza, Ehud Barak attended a rehearsal for the ground war. Foreign television crews filmed him as he watched ground troops conquer the dummy city, storming the empty houses and no doubt killing the ‘terrorists’ hiding in them.

‘Gaza is the problem,’ Levy Eshkol, then prime minister of Israel, said in June 1967. ‘I was there in 1956 and saw venomous snakes walking in the street. We should settle some of them in the Sinai, and hopefully the others will immigrate.’ Eshkol was discussing the fate of the newly occupied territories: he and his cabinet wanted the Gaza Strip, but not the people living in it.

Israelis often refer to Gaza as ‘Me’arat Nachashim’, a snake pit. Before the first intifada, when the Strip provided Tel Aviv with people to wash their dishes and clean their streets, Gazans were depicted more humanely. The ‘honeymoon’ ended during their first intifada, after a series of incidents in which a few of these employees stabbed their employers. The religious fervour that was said to have inspired these isolated attacks generated a wave of Islamophobic feeling in Israel, which led to the first enclosure of Gaza and the construction of an electric fence around it. Even after the 1993 Oslo Accords, Gaza remained sealed off from Israel, and was used merely as a pool of cheap labour; throughout the 1990s, ‘peace’ for Gaza meant its gradual transformation into a ghetto.

In 2000, Doron Almog, then the chief of the southern command, began policing the boundaries of Gaza: ‘We established observation points equipped with the best technology and our troops were allowed to fire at anyone reaching the fence at a distance of six kilometres,’ he boasted, suggesting that a similar policy be adopted for the West Bank. In the last two years alone, a hundred Palestinians have been killed by soldiers merely for getting too close to the fences. From 2000 until the current war broke out, Israeli forces killed three thousand Palestinians (634 children among them) in Gaza.

Between 1967 and 2005, Gaza’s land and water were plundered by Jewish settlers in Gush Katif at the expense of the local population. The price of peace and security for the Palestinians there was to give themselves up to imprisonment and colonisation. Since 2000, Gazans have chosen instead to resist in greater numbers and with greater force. It was not the kind of resistance the West approves of: it was Islamic and military. Its hallmark was the use of primitive Qassam rockets, which at first were fired mainly at the settlers in Katif. The presence of the settlers, however, made it hard for the Israeli army to retaliate with the brutality it uses against purely Palestinian targets. So the settlers were removed, not as part of a unilateral peace process as many argued at the time (to the point of suggesting that Ariel Sharon be awarded the Nobel peace prize), but rather to facilitate any subsequent military action against the Gaza Strip and to consolidate control of the West Bank.

After the disengagement from Gaza, Hamas took over, first in democratic elections, then in a pre-emptive coup staged to avert an American-backed takeover by Fatah. Meanwhile, Israeli border guards continued to kill anyone who came too close, and an economic blockade was imposed on the Strip. Hamas retaliated by firing missiles at Sderot, giving Israel a pretext to use its air force, artillery and gunships. Israel claimed to be shooting at ‘the launching areas of the missiles’, but in practice this meant anywhere and everywhere in Gaza. The casualties were high: in 2007 alone three hundred people were killed in Gaza, dozens of them children.

Israel justifies its conduct in Gaza as a part of the fight against terrorism, although it has itself violated every international law of war. Palestinians, it seems, can have no place inside historical Palestine unless they are willing to live without basic civil and human rights. They can be either second-class citizens inside the state of Israel, or inmates in the mega-prisons of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. If they resist they are likely to be imprisoned without trial, or killed. This is Israel’s message.

Resistance in Palestine has always been based in villages and towns; where else could it come from? That is why Palestinian cities, towns and villages, dummy or real, have been depicted ever since the 1936 Arab revolt as ‘enemy bases’ in military plans and orders. Any retaliation or punitive action is bound to target civilians, among whom there may be a handful of people who are involved in active resistance against Israel. Haifa was treated as an enemy base in 1948, as was Jenin in 2002; now Beit Hanoun, Rafah and Gaza are regarded that way. When you have the firepower, and no moral inhibitions against massacring civilians, you get the situation we are now witnessing in Gaza.

But it is not only in military discourse that Palestinians are dehumanised. A similar process is at work in Jewish civil society in Israel, and it explains the massive support there for the carnage in Gaza. Palestinians have been so dehumanised by Israeli Jews – whether politicians, soldiers or ordinary citizens – that killing them comes naturally, as did expelling them in 1948, or imprisoning them in the Occupied Territories. The current Western response indicates that its political leaders fail to see the direct connection between the Zionist dehumanisation of the Palestinians and Israel’s barbarous policies in Gaza. There is a grave danger that, at the conclusion of ‘Operation Cast Lead’, Gaza itself will resemble the ghost town in the Negev.

Ilan Pappe is chair of the history department at the University of Exeter and co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine came out in 2007.

George Galloway, UK MP, speaking on “double standards so brazen that people are boiling”.

“This didn’t start on 27 December. It didn’t even start on 1967 when Sderot and other places were cleared. This started in this building… We are the authors of this tragedy.”

Sderot Built on Ashes of Ethnically Cleansed and Defaced Najd
Sderot was settled by Jews in 1951. According to Walid Khalidi in All That Remains, it along with the settlement of Or ha-Ner, founded in 1957, were established on the village lands of Najd, which means “elevated plain” in Arabic.

Najd’s Palestinian villagers, approximately 620 in 1945, were expelled on 13 May 1948, before Israel was declared a state and before any Arab armies entered Palestine. According to UN Resolution 194 and also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13, Section 2, the villagers of Najd have a right to return home to their personal property and to their native village.

Today, according to Khalidi, “some old trees grow” on the site of the village. It is “overgrown with cactuses and Christ’s thorn and sycamore trees and contans the crumbled walls of unidentified buildings….”

There were 82 houses in Najd. Children went to school in Simsim, two kilometers away. According to Palestine Remembered the village has been completely “defaced.”

In 1596 Najd’s population was 215.

In 1838, Edward Robinson, an American biblical scholar “observed the villagers winnowing barley by throwing it into the air against the wind with wooden forks” [Robinson (1841) III: 260 as quoted in Khalidi 128].

Najd’s villagers were mainly farmers and engaged in animal husbandry. “Fields of grain and fruit trees surrounded Najd on all sides.”

Najd is fourteen kilometers from Gaza. Palestinian Arabs own 12,669 dunums in Najd although Israel refuses to honor their rights to their personal property, and refuses them their inalienable right to return home. In 1945 Jews owned 495 dunums of land in Najd and public lands consisted of 412 dunums.

Najd is one of 418 ethnically cleansed villages by Zionist Jews that Dr. Khalidi includes in his seminal work. Khalidi dedicates his book:

To all those for whom these villages were home and to their descendants.

Khalidi, Walid, ed. All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated By Israel in 1948. Institute for Palestine Studies: Washington, D.C., 1992.

Umkahlil

The plot against Gaza

By Jonathan Cook

Przekroj Magazine (Warsaw)

16 January 2009

Israel has justified its assault on Gaza as entirely defensive, intended only to stop Hamas firing rockets on Israel’s southern communities. Although that line has been repeated unwaveringly by officials since Israel launched its attack on 27 December, it bears no basis to reality. Rather, this is a war against the Palestinians of Gaza, and less directly those in the West Bank, designed primarily to crush their political rights and their hopes of statehood.

The most glaring evidence contradicting the Israeli casus belli is the six-month ceasefire between Hamas and Israel that preceded the invasion. True, Hamas began firing its rockets as soon as the truce came to an end on 19 December, but Israel had offered plenty of provocation. Not least it broke the ceasefire by staging a raid into Gaza on 4 November that killed six Hamas members. Even more significantly, it maintained and tightened a blockade during the ceasefire period that was starving Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants of food, medicine and fuel. Hamas had expected the blockade lifted in return for an end to the rockets.

A few days before Israel’s attack on Gaza, Yuval Diskin, the head of Israel’s domestic security service, the Shin Bet, noted Hamas’ commitment to the ceasefire and its motives in restarting the rocket fire. “Make no mistake, Hamas is interested in maintaining the truce,” he told the cabinet. “It seeks to improve its conditions – a removal of the blockade, receiving a commitment from Israel that it won’t attack and extending the lull to the Judea and Samaria area [the West Bank].” In other words, had Israel wanted calm, it could have avoided invading Gaza simply by renegotiating the truce on more reasonable terms.

Israel, however, had little interest in avoiding a confrontation with Hamas, as events since the Islamic group’s takeover of Gaza in early 2006 show.

It is widely agreed among the Israeli leadership that Hamas represents a severe threat to Israel’s ambition to crush the Palestinians’ long-standing demands for a state in the West Bank and Gaza. Unike Fatah, its chief Palestinian political rival, Hamas has refused to collude with the Israeli occupation and has instead continued its resistance operations. Although Hamas officially wants the return of all the lands the Palestinians were dispossessed of in 1948, at the establishment of Israel, it has shown signs of increasing pragmatism since its election victory, as Diskin’s comments above highlight. Hamas leaders have repeatedly suggested that a long-term, possibly indefinite, truce with Israel is possible. Such a truce would amount to recognition of Israel and remove most of the obstacles to the partition of historic Palestine into two states: a Jewish state and a Palestinian one.

Rather than engaging with Hamas and cultivating its moderate wing, Israel has been preparing for an “all-out war”, as Ehud Barak, the defence minister, has referred to the current offensive. In fact, Barak began preparing the attack on Gaza at least six months ago, as he has admitted, and probably much earlier.

Barak and the military stayed their hand in Gaza chiefly while other strategies were tested. The most significant was an approach espoused in the immediate wake of Hamas’ victory in 2006. Dov Weisglass, former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s fixer in Washington, gave it clearest expression. Israel’s policy, he said, would be “like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won’t die.”

John Wolfensohn, envoy to the Quartet of the United States, the United Nations, Europe and Russia through most of 2005, has pointed out that the US and Israel reneged on understandings controlling the border crossings into Gaza from the moment of Israel’s disengagement in summer 2005. In an interview with the Israeli media, he attributed the rapid destruction of the Gazan economy to this policy. However, while the blockade began when Fatah was still in charge of the tiny enclave, Weisglass’ “diet” was designed to intensify the suffering of Gaza’s civilians. The rationale was that, by starving them, they could be both reduced to abject poverty and encouraged to rise up and overthrow Hamas.

But it seems the Israeli army was far from convinced a “diet” would produce the desired result and started devising a more aggressive strategy. It was voiced last year by Israel’s deputy defence minister, Matan Vilnai. He observed that, if Hamas continued firing rockets into Israel (in an attempt, though he failed to mention it, to break the blockade), the Palestinians “will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.” The Hebrew word “Shoah” has come to refer exclusively to the Holocaust.

Though his disturbing comment was quickly disowned, Vilnai is no maverick. He is a former major general in the army who maintains close ties to the senior command. He is also a friend of his boss, Ehud Barak, the Labor leader and Israel’s most decorated soldier. The reference to the “shoah” offered a brief clue to the reasoning behind a series of policies he and Barak began unveiling from summer 2007.

It was then that hopes of engineering an uprising against Hamas faded. The diet regime had patently failed, as had a Fatah coup attempt underwritten by the United States. Hamas struck a pre-emptive blow against Fatah, forcing its leaders to flee to the West Bank. In retaliation the Israeli government declared Gaza a “hostile entity”. Barak and Vilnai used Gaza’s new status as the pretext for expanding the blockade of food and medicines to include electricity, a policy that was progressively tightened. At the same time they argued that Israel should consider cutting off “all responsibility” for Gaza. The intenton of Barak’s blockade, however, was different from the Weisglass version. It was designed to soften up Gazan society, including Hamas fighters, for Israel’s coming invasion.

Far from being threatened by the intensifying blockade, Hamas turned it to its advantage. Although Israel controls two of the land borders and patrols the coast, there is fourth short land border shared with Egypt, close by the town of Rafah. There Gaza’s entrepreneurs developed a network of smuggling tunnels that were soon commandeered by Hamas. The tunnels ensured both that basic supplies continued to get through, and that Hamas armed itself for the attack it expected from Israel.

From March 2008 Barak and Vilnai began pushing their military strategy harder. New political formulations agreed by the government suggested the whole population of Gaza were to be considered complicit in Hamas actions, and therefore liable for retaliatory military action. In the words of the daily Jerusalem Post newspaper, Israeli policymakers took the view that “it would be pointless for Israel to topple Hamas because the population [of Gaza] is Hamas”.

At this point, Barak and Vilnai announced they were working on a way to justify in law the army directing artillery fire and air strikes at civilian neighbourhoods of Gaza, as has been occurring throughout the current Gaza campaign. Vilnai, meanwhile, proposed declaring areas of the tiny enclave “combat zones” in which the army would have free rein and from which civilians would be expected to flee – again a tactic that has been implemented over the past two weeks.

Although Israel is determined to crush Hamas politically and militarily, so far it has been loathe to topple it. Israel withdrew from Gaza precisely because the demographic, military and economic costs of directly policing its refugee camps were considered too high. It will not be easily dragged back in.

Other options are either unpalatable or unfeasible. A Fatah government riding in on the back of Israeli tanks would lack legitimacy, and no regime at all – anarchy – risks loosing forces more implacably opposed to a Jewish state than Hamas, including al-Qaeda. Placing Gaza under a peacekeeping force faces other hurdles: not least, the question of which countries would be prepared to take on such a dangerous burden.

Instead Israel is planning to resort to its favourite diplomatic manoeuvre: unilateralism. It wants a solution that passes over the heads of Hamas and the Palestinians. Or as Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister, put it: “There is no intention here of creating a diplomatic agreement with Hamas. We need diplomatic agreements against Hamas.” The formula being sought for a ceasefire will face stiff opposition from Israel unless it helps achieve several goals.

Israel’s first is to seal off Gaza properly this time. Egypt, although profoundly uncomfortable at having an Islamic group ruling next door, is under too much domestic pressure to crack down on the tunnelling. Israel therefore wants to bring in American and European experts to do the job. They will ensure that the blockade cannot be broken and that Hamas cannot rearm. At best, Hamas can hope to limp on as nominal ruler of Gaza, on Israeli sufferance.

The second goal has been well articulated by the Harvard scholar Sara Roy, who has been arguing for some time that Israel is, in her words, “de-developing” Gaza. The blockade has been integral to achieving that objective, and is the reason Israel wants it strengthened. In the longer term, she believes, Gazans will come to be “seen merely as a humanitarian problem, beggars who have no political identity and therefore can have no political claims.”

In addition, Gazans living close to the enclave’s northern and southern borders may be progressively “herded” into central Gaza – as envisioned in Vilnai’s plan last year. That process may already be under way, with recent Israeli leafletting campaigns warning inhabitants of these areas to flee. Israel wants to empty both the Rafah area, so that it can monitor more easily any attempts at tunnelling, and the northern part because this is the location of the rocket launches that are hitting major Israeli cities such as Ashkelon and Ashdod and may one day reach Tel Aviv.

The third and related goal is, as Barak and Vilnai proposed more than a year ago, to cut off all Israeli responsibility for Gaza — though not oversight of what is allowed in. Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian analyst, believes that in this scenario Israel will insist that humanitarian supplies into Gaza pass only through the Egyptian crossing, thereby also undercutting Hamas’ role. Already Israel is preparing to hand over responsibility for supplying Gaza’s electricity to Egypt – a special plant is under construction close by in the Sinai.

Slowly, the hope is, Gaza’s physical and political separation from the West Bank will be cemented, with the enclave effectively being seen as a province of Egypt. Its inhabitants will lose their connection to the wider Palestinian people and eventually Cairo may grow bold enough to crack down on Hamas as brutally as it does its own Islamists.

The regime of Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, meanwhile, will be further isolated and weakened, improving Israel’s chances of forcing it to sign a deal annexing East Jerusalem and large swaths of the West Bank on which the Jewish settlements sit.

The fourth goal relates to wider regional issues. The chief obstacle to the implementation of Israel’s plan is the growing power of Iran and its possible pursuit of nuclear weapons. Israel’s official concern – that Tehran wants to attack Israel – is simple mischief-making. Rather Israel is worried that, if Iran becomes a regional superpower, Israeli diktats in the Middle East and in Washington will not go unchallenged.

In particular, a strong Iran will be able to aid Hizbullah and Hamas, and further fan the flames of popular Arab sentiment in favour of a just settlement for the Palestinians. That could threaten Israel’s plans for the annexation of much of the West Bank, and possibly win the Palestinians statehood. None of this can be allowed to pass by Israel.

It is therefore seeking to isolate Tehran, severing all ties between it and Hamas, just as it earlier tried – and failed – to do the same between Iran and Hizbullah. It wants the Palestinians beholden instead to the “moderate” block in the Arab world, meaning the Sunni dictatorships like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia that in turn depend on Washington for their security.

The prospects of Israel achieving all or even some of these goals seems improbable. Too often Israeli meddling in its neighbours affairs has ended in unintended consequences, or “blowback”. It is a lesson Israel has been all too slow to learn.

Jonathan Cook lives in Nazareth, Israel. His latest book is “Disappearing Palestine” (Zed, 2008).

A brilliant article by Francis Clark-Lowes on why Israel should cease to exist.

 Palestine Think Tank, Jan 16th, 2009

What is happening in Gaza today is the tip of an iceberg. That iceberg is the genocide of the Palestinian people. It is a slow genocide, just slow enough for the world to look the other way most of the time. Occasionally, as at present, it speeds up and we see its tip.

Such genocides are a common accompaniment of exclusive colonial projects. The Spanish committed genocide against the Incas, the British committed genocide against the Aboriginal and Maori people, the Americans committed genocide against the Native Americans, the Belgians killed 10 million Congolese. Now the Jews are trying to wipe out the Palestinians.

You may say that I should moderate my language and say only that we are witness to an unfortunate war in which people are getting killed. But this is part of an intentional war on the part of Israel, and, moreover, it clearly coincides with the international legal definition of genocide. Let us not, therefore mince our words.

Perhaps you will also say that only some Jews are involved in this crime, that I should hold ‘Israel’ or ‘the Zionists’ responsible. But do you ask me to say that only some Spanish, or some British, or some Americans, or some Belgians committed genocides?

Perhaps you will now ask me to do this, but if I hadn’t said that ‘the Jews’ were trying to wipe out the Palestinians you would probably have been quite happy with my generalisations.

For we recognise that although not even a fraction of British people, for instance, were directly involved in the genocides of the nineteenth century, and clearly those who were born after those atrocities could not have been directly involved, yet we admit that this is a stain on our national consciousness which affects all of us, in so far as we identify as being British.

Do we not say that all Germans must accept responsibility for what was done by the Nazis? If not, then why does the international community continue to insist that Germany pay reparations to Jews – with German taxpayers’ money – for what happened in the time of their parents and grandparents.

You may protest that Jews are not a nation or state like the Spanish, or the British, or the Americans or the Belgians. But who says that we cannot hold a group, however it may have constituted itself, responsible for crimes? Marxists, for example, hold ‘the capitalist class’ responsible for crimes against the working class, yet ‘the capitalist class’ is not incorporated.

And of course people have no difficulty in holding Muslims responsible for ‘extremism’ although since the abolition of the caliphate there has been no world-wide Muslim organisation. I don’t agree with this particular representation, by the way, but I mention it to show how inconsistent our thinking is.

There is little evidence that Al-Qaeda really exists in a corporate sense. It is probably more the notion of resistance to Western imperialism in the Muslim world than an identifiable organisation. And yet it is constantly held responsible for ‘terrorist’ actions.

I am well aware that to say anything against Jews, as a group, is to cross a red line. I am doing so deliberately. The present conflict in Israel-Palestine may well lead us to Armageddon. I believe plain speaking could save us and our children, not to mention the Palestinians and the Jews.

If I thought it could be done otherwise, as many of my colleagues in the solidarity movement believe, then I would not take this course. There are, however, a number or actions by Jews which, if they were to take place on a sufficient scale, could make me change my mind:

  • A recognition that Jewish identity has become inextricably linked with Zionism.
  • An acceptance that Jews are collectively responsible for what is happening in Israel/Palestine, just as we, as a nation, accept our responsibility for the empire and slavery.
  • A renunciation of the right of return and the right to Israeli nationality.
  • An acceptance that ‘the Holocaust’ (in inverted commas and with a capital H) has become a kind of religion, an instrument of propaganda, an abusive mythology.
  • A recognition that accusing people of hating Jews is usually a way of stopping them speaking.
  • A recognition that the Zionist project is incompatible with respect for the human rights of Palestinians. Israel has got to go.
  • A recognition that Jews, as a collective, exercise immense, and quite disproportionate, power in the world, and that this power is being abused.

I acknowledge that a small number of Jews have done some or all of the above. For example, Gerald Kaufman, MP, said in Parliament on 12th January 2009: “Olmert, Livni and Barak are mass murderers, war criminals and bring shame on the Jewish people whose Star of David they use as a badge in Gaza.” In doing so, however much he might disagree with other points above, he clearly acknowledged that this is a Jewish, not just an Israeli responsibility.

But until a majority turn against the supremacist culture which supports Israel’s actions I will continue to hold Jews collectively responsible for what is happening in the Middle East. This is a very uncomfortable position. I really do have many Jewish friends, and I know that what I have said today will shock some of them. I hope that our friendship is strong enough to withstand it. But I believe Jews, above all, need to be shocked into a recognition of their own complicity in this crime against humanity.

All of which is not to forget our own (British) national complicity, starting with the Balfour Declaration. In so far as we (Westerners) have been persuaded to accept the dangerous current mainstream Jewish view of the world, we also are responsible for what is happening in Gaza. And this makes us ‘the enemy’ in terms of those who identify with the Muslim victims of Jewish power.

1-12-10

Courtesy of Rock the Truth.

Our Palestinian Future in Israel: How Long Can We Be Dehumanised in a Racist State?
By Khalil Nakhleh

Every month or so I drive for three hours from Ramallah to my native village in Upper Galilee to hike in the olive orchards engulfing my village and to reminisce about my childhood. My village, which was perched alone on that hill under the cold drift from Mount Hermon, as I remember it, now is forced to share the surrounding hills with Jewish-only colonies. One morning, one of those Saturday hiking mornings, two Jewish colonists from a nearby colony passed me on their dirt bikes on their way to promenade in our olive orchards and hurled at me a soft and humane “boker tov” (good morning), to which I responded, equally softly and humanely. They continued their ride, and I was forcefully left with my unanswered questions about the nature of our “living together.”

On the face of it, the “boker tov” greeting was natural and expected. But why did it upset me? Something did not settle well with me. By itself, it was a natural human greeting, but in an unnatural context and environment: these two men were there, on my land, only because they happened to be Jews (and, most likely, Zionists). Thus, they were rendered privileged to live in a subsidised house that was built for them on stolen Arab land, while people in my village are not even permitted to build or expand their houses on their very own land in order to meet the need of their extended families, only because they happened to be Palestinian Arabs. This is what did not settle well with me. Because, as they passed me on that October Saturday morning, we were not equal under this Zionist-Jewish system, nor did we have access to the same resources – economic, legal, political, etc. – in a place where I should have been “more equal” and more privileged, having been born on this very land. My narrative has been undermined by force and mythology.

How do I interpret what I might call our expropriated narrative? And how can we, as a people – individuals and collectives – repossess this narrative?

I begin by posing two interrelated questions: What does it mean to be a Palestinian Arab living in Israel? And what does it mean to be part of an indigenous minority that is a remaining fragment of the Palestinian people, living in a country that is directly responsible for this historical evil?

To heighten our Palestinian narrative, I propose to look at three interconnected events in our very recent history, threaded by the same historical sequence, and underpinned by the same racist ideology. The focus on these events will shape the answer to the above two questions. The three events are Yawm al-Ard (Land Day) of March 1976, Habbet October (the October uprising) of October 2000, and the Zionist-Jewish attack on Palestinian Arab Citizens in Akka of October 2008.

Yawm al-Ard, 1976

Yawm al-Ard refers to the day of the general strike that was held on 30 March 1976 among the Palestinian communities in Israel to protest the new wave of government-approved expropriation of Arab-owned lands, hitting at the heart of Arab villages in Central Galilee. The decision to strike was an exercise of the Palestinian community’s right to protest and civil disobedience, as a means of affirming the indigenous Palestinian struggle against the gradual dispossession of their patrimony, the “Judaisation” (tahweed) of historical Palestine, and the “de-indigenisation” of their native place. Through protest and public strike, the Palestinians in Israel sought to halt the vicious and determined process aiming toward their ethnic cleansing. The Israeli security apparatus made a conscious attempt to forcefully put down the strike by deploying police, “border guards,” and army units in the heart of Palestinian communities. As a result, 6 Palestinian civilians were killed, about 50 injured, and about 300 arrested.

Israel’s colonisation plans for the Galilee were explicitly expressed in 1976 in what became known as the “Koenig Memorandum,” which was submitted to and approved by the Israeli government. The Memorandum detailed the “Judaisation of the Galilee Project,” whose objective was to expropriate Arab lands in the Galilee and develop 58 additional Jewish colonies by the end of the decade, increasing the Jewish population of the Galilee by 60 percent. The explicit purpose of this “development” was to break up the concentration of the Palestinian Arab population in large contiguous areas by infusing them with new Jewish colonies.

Since the breakup of the indigenous demographic contiguity of the Galilee and al-Naqab and their transformation from Arab majority areas have not yet been completed, the Israeli government created in 2005 a new portfolio for its deputy prime minister at the time (Shimon Peres) to “develop” al-Naqab and the Galilee. In a follow-up speech, Peres stated, “The development of al-Naqab and the Galilee is the most important Zionist project of the coming years.” Thus, the responsible ministerial committee allocated US$ 450 million “to building Jewish majorities in the Galilee and al-Naqab over the coming 5 years.”

Habbet October, 2000

Habbet October (or the October uprising) refers to the subsequent events that occurred during the general strike and protest marches of the Palestinian community in Israel on 1 October 2000, heeding the call of the “Higher Follow-up Committee of the Arab Masses” a week after Sharon’s insistent entry to al-Haram al-Sharif, which resulted in the killing of 80 Palestinians and the injuring of hundreds in the West Bank and Gaza during the week following Sharon’s visit.

As for the protest marches during the day of the general strike of the Palestinian communities inside Israel, the police were instructed by Ehud Barak, the minister of internal security at the time, to use all means possible to quell the protest. As a result, the police used live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets, and snipers, which resulted in the killing of 13 Palestinian civilian citizens. According to documented testimonies, the police used violent means to “inflict the maximum damage possible.” To avert severe protests from all quarters, and with the approach of elections for the prime minister, the government appointed an official commission of inquiry headed by a judge of the Supreme Court (Theodore Orr) eleven months later.

The Orr Commission laid the blame for what happened on the Palestinian community in Israel and its political leadership, on the basis that the protest marches were illegal and unjustified and that they were only intended to disrupt the public order; on the other hand, the Commission maintained that the response of the police was equally illegal and unjustified. Thus, in their “balanced” response, the Commission blamed the victim.

The allusions in the Commission’s conclusions are very telling. I shall focus only on two: the first has to do with the relationship of the police with the Palestinian community in Israel, and the second has to do with what is referred to as “Arab-Jewish relations.”

Regarding the first: the Commission emphasised the need for “conceptual transformation” in how the police deal with the “Arab sector.” The police are viewed in the Arab sector not as an agent of support, or assistance provider, but as an “enemy agent that serves an enemy authority.” The Commission emphasised the need for re-training and re-indoctrination among the police, stressing that the Arab communities in the state are not an enemy and that they should not be treated as such.

As for the conclusion regarding “Jewish-Arab relations,” the Commission stated, as summarised two years later by the academic member of the Commission (Shamir’s lecture, Tel Aviv University, 19 September 2005, p. 6):

  • The Arab minority population of Israel is an indigenous population which perceives itself subject to the hegemony of a society that is largely not indigenous.
  • The Arab minority in Israel is a majority transformed; it bears a heritage of several centuries of belonging to the majority, and views with disapproval its minority status, forced upon it with the establishment of the state.
  • This reversal was the result of a harsh defeat suffered by the Arabs which, in their historical memory, is tied to the Nakba – the most severe collective trauma in their history.
  • There was a continuous dynamic aspect to the decisive outcome gained by the Zionist movement in the struggle over the establishment of the State, reflected primarily in the takeover of extensive lands, clearing space for the masses of new immigrants. This fact fostered a feeling among the Arabs that the Israeli democracy is not as democratic toward the Arabs as it is toward the Jews.

Regarding the two events above, it is worth remembering that in all previous violent confrontations with Jewish protest movements in Israel, e.g., Black Panthers, the Rabbi Uzi Meshulem Movement, etc., never before was live ammunition used to quell a protest by Israeli Jews; and never was a Jew killed by the agents of the state.

The Zionist-Jewish attack on Palestinian Arab citizens in Akka, October 2008

This refers to the events that happened in Akka (Acre) on the eve of the Jewish Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). The sequence of events went this way (based on a meticulously documented report by the Akka Residents Coalition):

A 48-year-old Arab citizen of Israel from Akka rides in his car to the house of relatives … who live in the eastern part of the city (with a Jewish majority), to pick up his daughter … He drove slowly and quietly with no radio or speakers turned on (to respect the solemn Jewish holiday). Jewish youth attacked the car with stones.… After Yom Kippur ended (9 October,) a large group of Jewish residents, estimated at 1,500, gathered around the train station in the eastern and northern parts of the city (where a small minority of Palestinian Arabs live in Jewish-majority neighbourhoods) … The Jewish rioters threw stones, clashed with the police, and attacked Arab passersby. In these areas of the city, there is a Jewish majority; about twenty Arab families live there in total. The Jewish rioters gathered in the streets and cried “death to the Arabs.” They attacked Arab family homes trying to make their inhabitants flee; they damaged the homes and set them on fire … A text message distributed to Jewish residents called for a boycott of Arab tradesmen and shopkeepers.

Violent harassment by Jewish-Zionist extremists against Arab residents of the city of Akka did not start on Yom Kippur 2008; it started at least since 2002 when slogans such as “death to Arabs” started appearing on walls, elevators of apartment buildings, etc. This is not accidental vandalism; it is part of a trend to establish Jewish “purity” in the so-called Arab-Jewish mixed cities such as Akka, Lod, Ramleh, and Yaffa, which Jewish-Zionists consider areas of “demographic risk.” This trend is being pushed by the national right-wing party called “the seeds of the settlements” in recent years, by transplanting Jewish “yeshivas” and settlers into the Arab areas, brought in generally from the most extreme racist Jewish colonies in the West Bank. Today there are around 200 yeshivas in Akka, in addition to approximately 1,000 settler-extremists. The clear and overt purpose is to “Judaise” these cities.

In an interview (on Channel 7), the head of the Hesder Yeshiva in Akka, Rabbi Yosi Stern, stated:

“Akka is a national test. Akka today is Israel in ten years’ time. What happens in Akka today is what will happen in Israel.…

“Co-existence is a slogan. Ultimately Akka is a town like Raanana, Kfar Saba, or Haifa, and must safeguard its Jewish identity. I think everyone would agree that Akka is the capital city of Galilee, of thousands of years of Jewish history. We are here to preserve that Jewish identity and to reinforce that spirit, to stand for our nation’s honour.”

Concluding remarks

How are these three events that happened over the last thirty-some years interconnected? And how do they shape the answer to the two questions I posed earlier?

The ideological underpinnings of the three events are the same and focus on two levels with overt objectives: one is the Judaisation of the entire country through the Jewish colonisation of the land and the prevention of the existence of any Arab majority concentration (hence, the targeting of Galilee, al-Naqab and the Triangle, etc.). The second is the forced disconnection in identity and shared future between the Palestinian minority in Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and in the shatat (diaspora).

The only future for us, as an indigenous national minority that can exercise our inherited basic human rights on our land and that can achieve true justice and equality, is to reclaim and re-assert our narrative. We should seek to regain our status as part of our national Palestinian majority, in historical Palestine, as we struggle for the dismemberment and dissolution of the Zionist racist system and its transformation into a “normal” democratic system, responsive to the needs of all its citizens. Our future, as a national minority in and on our land, and as part of the Arab nation, is organically connected to the future of the Arab nation and to the entire Palestinian people – the communities in the West Bank and Gaza, the refugees, and all those dispersed throughout the world; and it has to be realised in a democratic society in historical Palestine, where we would be ready to co-exist with non-Zionist Jews. Our repossessed narrative cannot be a reinterpretation of our history as a dull shadow of Jewish-Zionist narrative. Our repossessed narrative must be based on the deconstruction of the racist Zionist-Ashkenazi system, which itself is a precondition for such a just solution. The existing Israeli system is, by definition, racist and exclusivist, and it is inherently and structurally incapable of providing justice and genuine equality to my Palestinian people.

Dr. Khalil Nakhleh is a Palestinian anthropologist, writer, and independent development and educational consultant from Galilee who resides in Ramallah. He is the editor of The Future of the Palestinian Minority in Israel (Ramallah: Madar Center, 2008).

Source: Our Palestinian Future in Israel: How Long Can We Be Dehumanised in a Racist State?

Israel accused of Gaza ‘genocide’
Al Jazeera, 14 January 2009

The president of the UN General Assembly has condemned Israel’s killings of Palestinians in its Gaza offensive as “genocide”.

Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann also told Al Jazeera he had never believed that the UN Security Council would be able to stop the violence in Gaza and that Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, had practically told the UN to “mind their own business” by continuing the offensive.

“The number of victims in Gaza is increasing by the day… The situation is untenable. It’s genocide,” d’Escoto said at the UN in New York.

About 970 Palestinians have been killed and 4,300 injured since Israel began its Gaza offensive on December 27, which it says is to stop Palestinian fighters attacking Israel with rockets.

Emergency session

The UN General Assembly said on Tuesday that it was set to hold an emergency session on Thursday to discuss the crisis after a previous session was postponed last week ahead of a UN Security Council vote on the issue.

The Security Council adopted a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, but Israel has escalated its offensive and Palestinian rocket fire has also continued.

“There have been some who were under the illusion that the Security Council would do something that could help the situation,” d’Escoto said. “I never thought so.

“Now we’re faced with not only with a lack of compliance but with a prime minister of Israel who has practically responded to the Security Council by saying ‘mind your own business’.

“It’s unbelievable that a country that owes its existence to a general assembly resolution could be so disdainful of the resolutions that emanate from the UN.”

D’Escoto, a former Roman Catholic priest and Nicaragua foreign minister, is known for his outspoken criticism of Israel and last year likened Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the racist apartheid system previously used in South Africa.

Gabriela Shalev, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, called d’Escoto an “Israel hater” for having hugged Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president and a vocal critic of Israel.

D’Escoto also said the UN had to bear some responsibility for the long-standing conflict in the Middle East as it had allowed the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, leaving the Palestinians stateless.

“You have to attack problems at their root cause and the Palestinian people have been subjected to subhuman treatment for decades and this [the Israeli offensive] is going to make matters worse.”

Courtesy of: peaceRebelgirl

Rabbis: ‘Gazans Aren’t Innocent, Don’t Risk Soldiers’

“With operation Cast Lead ongoing, rabbis and legal scholars have taken the position that the Arabs who democratically elected Hamas are not innocent bystanders in the conflict. As seen on Arutz Sheva.”
IsraelNN.com

Rabbi David Bar-Chayim says in this news bulletin:

“We’re talking about a society that is dedicated to murder and savagery and barbarism.”

“It is against the Torah, and for that matter against common sense and basic universal human morality that we should endanger even one of our soldiers when fighting such evil, the sole purpose of which is to destroy us.”

“‘When the evil are destroyed, there is rejoicing.’ … These people are evil. When such people are destroyed, we have no tears to shed.”

“I don’t believe that there are any innocent civilians.”

This is what the Israeli people are watching, night after night, on their TV sets…

When Israel expelled Palestinians
The Washington Times, Jan 14, 2009
By Randall Kuhn

In the wake of Israel’s invasion of Gaza, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak made this analogy: “Think about what would happen if for seven years rockets had been fired at San Diego, California from Tijuana, Mexico.” Within hours scores of American pundits and politicians had mimicked Barak’s comparisons almost verbatim. In fact, in this very paper on January 9 House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor ended an opinion piece by saying “America would never sit still if terrorists were lobbing missiles across our border into Texas or Montana.” But let’s see if our political and pundit class can parrot this analogy.

Think about what would happen if San Diego expelled most of its Hispanic, African American, Asian American, and Native American population, about 48 percent of the total, and forcibly relocated them to Tijuana? Not just immigrants, but even those who have lived in this country for many generations. Not just the unemployed or the criminals or the America haters, but the school teachers, the small business owners, the soldiers, even the baseball players.

What if we established government and faith-based agencies to help move white people into their former homes? And what if we razed hundreds of their homes in rural areas and, with the aid of charitable donations from people in the United States and abroad, planted forests on their former towns, creating nature preserves for whites to enjoy? Sounds pretty awful, huh? I may be called anti-Semitic for speaking this truth. Well, I’m Jewish and the scenario above is what many prominent Israeli scholars say happened when Israel expelled Palestinians from southern Israel and forced them into Gaza. But this analogy is just getting started.

What if the United Nations kept San Diego’s discarded minorities in crowded, festering camps in Tijuana for 19 years? Then, the United States invaded Mexico, occupied Tijuana and began to build large housing developments in Tijuana where only whites could live.

And what if the United States built a network of highways connecting American citizens of Tijuana to the United States? And checkpoints, not just between Mexico and the United States but also around every neighborhood of Tijuana? What if we required every Tijuana resident, refugee or native, to show an ID card to the U.S. military on demand? What if thousands of Tijuana residents lost their homes, their jobs, their businesses, their children, their sense of self worth to this occupation? Would you be surprised to hear of a protest movement in Tijuana that sometimes became violent and hateful? Okay, now for the unbelievable part.

Think about what would happen if, after expelling all of the minorities from San Diego to Tijuana and subjecting them to 40 years of brutal military occupation, we just left Tijuana, removing all the white settlers and the soldiers? Only instead of giving them their freedom, we built a 20-foot tall electrified wall around Tijuana? Not just on the sides bordering San Diego, but on all the Mexico crossings as well. What if we set up 50-foot high watchtowers with machine gun batteries, and told them that if they stood within 100 yards of this wall we would shoot them dead on sight? And four out of every five days we kept every single one of those border crossings closed, not even allowing food, clothing, or medicine to arrive. And we patrolled their air space with our state-of-the-art fighter jets but didn’t allow them so much as a crop duster. And we patrolled their waters with destroyers and submarines, but didn’t even allow them to fish.

Would you be at all surprised to hear that these resistance groups in Tijuana, even after having been “freed” from their occupation but starved half to death, kept on firing rockets at the United States? Probably not. But you may be surprised to learn that the majority of people in Tijuana never picked up a rocket, or a gun, or a weapon of any kind.

The majority, instead, supported against all hope negotiations toward a peaceful solution that would provide security, freedom and equal rights to both people in two independent states living side by side as neighbors. This is the sound analogy to Israel’s military onslaught in Gaza today. Maybe some day soon, common sense will prevail and no corpus of misleading analogies abut Tijuana or the crazy guy across the hall who wants to murder your daughter will be able to obscure the truth. And at that moment, in a country whose people shouted We Shall Overcome, Ich bin ein Berliner, End Apartheid, Free Tibet and Save Darfur, we will all join together and shout “Free Gaza. Free Palestine.” And because we are Americans, the world will take notice and they will be free, and perhaps peace will prevail for all the residents of the Holy Land.

Randall Kuhn is an assistant professor and Director of the Global Health Affairs Program at the University of Denver Josef Korbel School of International Studies. He just returned from a trip to Israel and the West Bank.

Avigdor Lieberman, a right-wing Israeli politician suggested on Tuesday at Tel Aviv’s Bar Ilan University that extreme measures were needed against Hamas. “We must continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II,” Lieberman said.

The Israeli media quoted him as saying that the US nuclear strikes on Japan had rendered an “occupation of the country unnecessary.”

Read the entire article at The Electronic Intifada:
Anger begins to knock at Israel’s borders, by Mel Frykberg, 14 January 2009

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