Peace in our Time?

December 23, 2006

AMNESTY INTNL: Israel & the Occupied Territories — Road to Nowhere

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 11:29 pm

ROAD TO NOWHERE

1. Introduction

Six years since the outbreak of the latest intifada and the effective collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, the human rights situation in the Occupied Territories – the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem – has deteriorated to an unprecedented level. Prospects for a just and durable resolution of the conflict appear to be remote.

The undercurrent of violence, abuses of fundamental human rights and disregard for international law, which have marked the 40-year Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, have become firmly entrenched and relentless. Civilians in both Israel and the Occupied Territories have borne the brunt of the confrontations.

Some 4,000 Palestinians, most of them unarmed civilians and including some 800 children, have been killed by Israeli forces in disproportionate and reckless bombardments as well as shelling and shooting by Israeli forces into densely populated residential areas and refugee camps throughout the Occupied Territories in the past six years. In the same period some 1,100 Israelis, 700 of them civilians and including 120 children, have been killed by Palestinian armed groups in shooting attacks, suicide bombings in civilian areas and indiscriminate rocket attacks. Tens of thousands of Palestinians and thousands of Israelis have been injured, many maimed for life.

In addition to the loss of life on both sides, Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories have suffered a plethora of other human rights abuses. Israeli forces have destroyed thousands of Palestinian homes, vast areas of cultivated land and much crucial civilian infrastructure, including electricity power plants, roads, bridges and water, sewage and telephone networks. Ever increasing restrictions imposed on the movements of Palestinians and of goods, within as well as in and out of the Occupied Territories, have made any semblance of normal life impossible.

Hundreds of military checkpoints and blockades, and a fence/wall being built by Israel throughout the West Bank despite being declared unlawful by the International Court of Justice, increasingly hinder or prevent Palestinian access to their land, places of work, schools, hospitals and other medical facilities. The route of the fence/wall, the location of the military checkpoints, and closures – all of which impede the movement of Palestinians – are determined by the presence and location of Israeli settlements. These settlements were built for the exclusive use of Israeli settlers on seized Palestinian land throughout the West Bank and illegal under international law. In the Gaza Strip, the one area from which Israeli settlers have been removed, the closure imposed by Israeli forces keeps the 1.4 million inhabitants cut off and isolated from other parts of the Occupied Territories and from the rest of the world for most of the time.

These measures and restrictions, which the international community has acknowledged constitute the prime cause for the virtual collapse of the Palestinian economy in recent years, have been compounded in 2006 by the Israeli government’s decision to withhold the customs duties it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and by the decision of the international community to cut aid to the PA following the formation of a Hamas-led administration in March 2006. The consequence, as predicted, has been a sharp increase in poverty, unemployment and health problems among Palestinians, and an overall deterioration of the humanitarian situation to an unprecedented level.1 Despair and lack of hope about the foreseeable future fuel violence and the radicalization of a predominantly young Palestinian population whose prospects for employment and a normal life are virtually nil.

For full report: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engmde150932006

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Chris Hedges: Worse than Apartheid

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 10:44 pm

Israel has spent the last five months unleashing missiles, attack helicopters and jet fighters over the densely packed concrete hovels in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army has made numerous deadly incursions, and some 500 people, nearly all civilians, have been killed and 1,600 more wounded. Israel has rounded up hundreds of Palestinians, destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure, including its electrical power system and key roads and bridges, carried out huge land confiscations, demolished homes and plunged families into a crisis that has caused widespread poverty and malnutrition.

Civil society itself—and this appears to be part of the Israeli plan—is unraveling. Hamas and Fatah factions battle in the streets, despite a tenuous cease-fire, threatening civil war. And the governing Palestinian movement, Hamas, has said it will boycott early elections called by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, done with the blessing of the West in a bid to toss Hamas out of power. (Remember that Hamas, despite its repugnant politics, was democratically elected.) In recent days armed groups loyal to Abbas have seized Hamas-run ministries in what looks like a coup.

The stark reality of Gaza, however, has failed to penetrate the consciousness of most Americans, who, when they notice the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, prefer to debate the merits of the word “apartheid” in former President Jimmy Carter’s new book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” It is a sad commentary on the gutlessness of the U.S. press and the timidity of the Democratic opposition that most Americans are not aware of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis they bear so much responsibility in creating. Palestinians are not only dying, their olive trees uprooted, their farmland and homes destroyed and their aquifers taken away from them, but on many days they can’t move because of Israeli “closures” that make basic tasks, like buying food and going to the hospital, nearly impossible. These Palestinians, after decades of repression, cannot return to land from which they were expelled. The 140-plus U.N. votes to censure Israel and two Security Council resolutions—both vetoed by the United States—are blithly ignored. Is it any wonder that the Palestinians, gasping for air, rebel as the walls close in around them, as their children go hungry and as the Israelis turn up the violence?

Palestinians in Gaza live encased in a squalid, overcrowded ghetto, surrounded by the Israeli military and a massive electric fence, unable to leave or enter the strip and under daily assault. The word “apartheid,” given the wanton violence employed against the Palestinians, is tepid. This is more than apartheid. The concerted Israeli attempts to orchestrate a breakdown in law and order, to foster chaos and rampant deprivation, are on public display in the streets of Gaza City, where Palestinians walk past the rubble of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Economy, the office of the Palestinian prime minister and a number of educational institutions that have been bombed by Israeli jets. The electricity generation plant, providing 45 percent of the electricity of the Gaza Strip, has been wiped out, and even the primitive electricity networks and transmitters that remain have been repeatedly bombed. Six bridges linking Gaza City with the central Gaza Strip have been blown up and main arteries cratered into obliteration. And the West Bank is rapidly descending into a crisis of Gaza proportions. The juxtaposition of what is happening in Gaza and what is being debated on the U.S. airwaves about a book that is little more than a basic primer on the conflict reinforces the impression most outside our gates have of Americans living in a distorted, bizarre reality of our own creation.

What do Israel and Washington believe they will gain by turning Gaza and the West Bank into a miniature version of Iraq? How do they think people who are desperate, deprived of hope, dignity and a way to make a living, under attack from one of the most technologically advanced armies on the planet, will respond? Do they believe that creating a Hobbesian nightmare for the Palestinians will blunt terrorism, curb suicide attacks and foster peace? Do they not see that the rest of the Middle East watches the slaughter in horror and rage—its angry, disenfranchised young men and women determined to overcome feelings of impotence and humiliation, even at the cost of their own lives?

And perhaps they do see and understand all this. Israel and Washington probably do get the recruiting value of this repression for Islamic militants. But these Israeli attacks, despite the rage and violence they breed against Israelis and against us, also create conditions so intolerable that Palestinians can no longer reside on their land. More than 160,000 civil servants have not received full salaries for almost nine months. These government employees support families that number more than a million Palestinians. And a United Nations report states that more than two-thirds of Palestinians are now living below the poverty line. The unemployment rate is more than 50 percent. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry says 10,000 Palestinians have emigrated in the last four months and almost 50,000 others have applied to leave.

Israel, with no restraints from Washington, despite the Iraq Study Group report recommendations that the peace process be resurrected from the dead, has been given the moral license by the Bush administration to carry out what is euphemistically in Israel called “transfer” and what in other parts of the world is called ethnic cleansing. Faced with a demographic time bomb, knowing that by 2020 Jews will make up only 40 to 46 percent of the overall population of Israel, the architects of transfer, who once held the equivalent status in Israeli society of the Ku Klux Klan, have wormed their way into positions of power in the Israeli government.

Washington and Israel, I suspect, know the cost of this repression. But it is beginning to appear as though they accept it—as the price for ridding themselves of the Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has installed in his Cabinet a politician who openly calls for the expulsion of the some 1.3 million Israeli Arabs who live inside Israel. Avigdor Lieberman’s “Israel Is Our Home” Party, part of Olmert’s governing coalition, proposes involuntary transfer in a region populated mostly by Arab citizens of Israel, shifting those people to a future Palestinian state that would include Gaza, parts of the West Bank and a small slice of northern Israel. All Israeli Arabs who continued to reside in the territory of transfer would automatically lose their Israeli citizenship unless they took a loyalty oath to the state and its Jewish symbols. The inclusion of Lieberman, the David Duke of Israel, into the Cabinet is an indication to most Palestinians that the worst is yet to come.

The debate over Jimmy Carter’s book, one that dishes up a fair number of Israeli myths about itself and states a reality that is acknowledged even by most Israelis, misses the point. The question is not whether Israel practices apartheid. Apartheid is a fond dream for most Palestinians. The awful question is rather will Israel be able to unleash a policy so draconian and cruel that it will obliterate a community that has lived on this land for centuries. There are other, far more loaded words for what is happening to the Palestinians. One shudders to repeat them. But unchecked, unstopped, the current wave of violence and abuse meted out to the Palestinians will echo down the corridors of history as one of the greatest moral and tactical blunders of the early part of this century, one that will boomerang on Israel and on us, bringing to our own doorsteps the evil we have allowed to be delivered to the narrow alleys and refugee camps in Gaza. When it was only apartheid, we had some hope.

Letter from ICAHD to diplomatic corps re. increased home demolitions

Filed under: Palestine — angelajerusalem @ 10:06 pm

December 18, 2006

Dear Colleague:

On December 15, we sent you a notice about the significant increase in the number of Jerusalem Municipality demolitions in East Jerusalem. This is a particularly dangerous period because the Municipality must use up its outstanding 4 million shekel budget for home demolitions before the fiscal year-end. We know of scores of homes under threat of demolition before year end; indeed, we are witnessing a daily toll of home demolitions (already 8 this month and some 130 this year).

Now equally worrying is the fact that the municipality has published a warning (see attached), signed by Yossi Havilio, Municipal Legal Advisor and Osnat Post, Municipal Engineer, in which it has decided to tighten the enforcement of the laws of planning and construction in the city, to fight against illegal construction that “has become a plague and destroyed the quality of life in the city.” The Municipality has announced that as of today it will strengthen enforcement, use aerial photos to track infractions, confiscate tools used in illegal construction (e.g., tractors, cement mixers, generators), put court appeals on the fast track, and bring offenders to trial to the fullest extent of the law, including imprisonment. It states that it will immediately demolish illegal construction and prohibit the inhabiting of houses that have not received building permits. In serious cases, the Municipality is going to reject people’s ability to receive retroactive permission. These measures are “for the well being of the entire community, to guard the aesthetic of the city, and to respect the law.”

We understand by this warning that the Municipality is planning in the coming years a level of home demolitions, targeted almost exclusively against the Palestinian community, unknown until now. This is the first time the Municipality has published such a warning and is indicative that the coming year will be terrible for residents of East Jerusalem. Demolition of Palestinian homes has become an obsession on the part of the Israeli authorities, not only in the Occupied Territories but within Israel itself. Interior Ministry officials have recently declared their intention to carry out massive demolitions of Bedouin homes in the Negev, homes of Israeli citizens. In the past two weeks at least one entire village has been demolished. More are threatened. Interior Minister Ronny Bar-On has even stated in the Knesset that there are not enough demolitions in the Negev, although Bedouin citizens losing their homes have no legal alternative provided by the State.

Unfortunately, so many homes have been demolished by Israeli authorities in the past 40 years of Occupation (more than 18,000!) that this issue is barely newsworthy anymore. Nevertheless, for the many families who will lose their homes, this is a shattering experience. We know from experience that diplomatic pressure has been one of the few effective ways of preventing demolitions. We call on you to bring up this urgently before your governments, as well as to make overtures to the municipal and governmental authorities.

Sincerely,
Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, Action Advocacy Officer
Dr. Meir Margalit, Coordinator of Field Activities
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)

Other Victims of Denial (A Letter to the President of Iran)

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 9:39 pm

The following is courtesy of Tikkun Magazine:

Other Victims of Denial
by Mahmoud Al-Safadi
A Letter to the President of Iran

Mr. President, I write to you following the announcement of your intention
to organize a conference on the Holocaust in Teheran on 11-12 December, and
I sincerely hope that this letter will be brought to your attention.

First of all, allow me to introduce myself: Mahmoud Al-Safadi, a former
prisoner from occupied Jerusalem. I was released less than three months ago
from the Israeli prison where I had been locked up for eighteen years for
having been a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
and having taken an active part in resistance to the occupation during the
first Intifada. Since you were elected president, I have followed your
declarations with great interest — in particular those relating to the
Holocaust. I respect your opposition to the American and Western
injunctions concerning the Iranian nuclear program and believe it legitimate
that you complain of the double standard that the world has with regard to
the nuclear development of certain regimes.

But I am furious about your insistence on claiming that the Holocaust never
took place and about your doubts about the number of Jews who were murdered in the extermination and concentration camps, organized massacres, and gas chambers, consequently denying the universal historical significance of the Nazi period.

Allow me to say, Mr. President, with all due respect to you, that you made
these statements without really knowing the Nazi industry of death. To have
read the works of some deniers seems to be enough for you — a little like
a man who shouts above a well and hears only the echo of his own voice. I
believe that a man in your position should not make such an enormous error,
because it could be turned against him and, worse still, his people.

Like you and millions of people in the world — among whom, alas, are
innumerable Palestinians and Arabs — I was also convinced that the Jews
exaggerated and lied about the Holocaust, etc., even apart from the fact
that the Zionist movement and Israel use the Holocaust to justify their
policy, first of all against my own people.

My long imprisonment provided me with the occasion to read books and
articles that our ideology and social norms made inaccessible to us outside
the prison. These documents gave me a thorough knowledge of the history of
the Nazi regime and genocide that it perpetrated. At the beginning of the
1990s, by reading articles written by the Palestinian intellectuals Edward
Said and Azmi Bishara, I discovered facts and positions which contradicted
mine and those of many Palestinians. Their writings having piqued my
curiosity and given birth inside me to the need to know more, I set about
reading accounts of survivors of the Holocaust and the Nazi occupation.
These testimonies were written by people of various nationalities, Jews or
non-Jews.

The more I learned, the more I realized that the Holocaust was indeed a
historical fact and the more I became aware of the monumental dimension of
the crime committed by Nazi Germany against the Jews, other social and
national groups, and humanity in general. I discovered that Nazi Germany
aspired to found a “new world order” dominated by the “pure Aryan race”
thanks to the physical annihilation of “impure races” and the enslavement of
other nations. I discovered that various “normal” official institutions —
bureaucracies, judicial systems, medical and educational authorities,
municipalities, railroad companies, and others — had taken part and
collaborated in the implementation of this new world order. From a
theoretical point of view, this objective, just like the victories won at
the time by the Nazi armies of occupation, threatened the existence of the
Arabs and Muslims as well.

Whatever the number of victims — Jewish and non-Jewish — the crime is
monumental. Any attempt to deny it deprives the denier of his own humanity
and sends him immediately to the side of torturers. Whoever denies the fact
that this human disaster really took place should not be astonished that
others deny the sufferings and persecutions inflicted on his own people by
tyrannical leaders or foreign occupiers. Ask yourself, I beg you, the
following question: were hundreds of thousands of testimonies written about
death camps, gas chambers, ghettos, and mass murders committed by the German army, tens of thousands of works of research based on German documents, numerous filmed sequences, some of which were shot by German soldiers — were all these masses of evidence completely fabricated?

Can all that be summed up simply as an imperialist-Zionist plot? Are the
confessions of high-ranking Nazis officials about their personal role in the
project of extermination of whole nations only the fruit of the imagination
of some disturbed spirit?

And all these heroic deeds of the people subjected to the German occupation
— the first among whom were Russians, Polish, and Yugoslavs — only lies
and gross exaggerations? Could the struggle of the Soviets against Nazi
Germany be only a phantasm? The Russians continue to celebrate their
victory over Nazi Germany and remember millions of their civilian and
military compatriots who lost their lives in this struggle. Are they lying,
too?

I invite you to read historical studies and serious testimonies before
making your public statements. You divide the world in two camps: the
imperialists-Zionists, who manufactured the myth of the Holocaust, and the
adversaries of imperialism, who know the truth and uncover the plot.
Perhaps you think that the act of denying the Holocaust places you at the
vanguard of the Muslim world and that this refusal constitutes a useful tool
in the combat against American imperialism and Western hegemony. By doing
so, you actually do great disservice to popular struggles the world over.

At best, you cover your people and yourself with ridicule in the eyes of
political forces who reject imperialism but cannot take your ideas and
arguments seriously, due to the fact that you obsessively deny the existence
of an abundantly documented and studied historical period whose consequences are still felt and discussed today.

At worst, you discourage and weaken the political, social, and intellectual
forces who, in Europe and in the United States, reject the policy of
confrontation and war carried out by George Bush, but are forced to conclude
that you, too, jeopardize the world by your declarations denying the
genocide and by your nuclear program.

Concerning the struggle of my people for their independence and their
freedom: perhaps do you regard the negation of the Holocaust as an
expression of support for the Palestinians? There, again, you are mistaken.
We fight for our existence and our rights and against the historical
injustice which was inflicted on us in 1948. We will not win our victory
and our independence by denying the genocide perpetrated against the Jewish people, even though the forces who occupy our country today and dispossess us are part of the Jewish people.

——————————————————————————–
Mahmoud Al-Safadi is a former Palestinian militant, He was imprisoned in
Israel for eighteen years and freed in 2006. The French text, a translation
from English by Gilles Berton, was published in Le Monde on 4 December 2006.
The English original was unavailable on the Net, so the English text
is a translation from the French text published in Le Monde.
English translation by Yoshie Furuhashi.

Al Gore to MoveOn members

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 9:11 pm

Dear MoveOn member,

I want to thank you for being a part of the See the Truth movie parties this past Saturday and for helping make them such a huge success. Tens of thousands of us came together to start mobilizing to take on the climate crisis.

I know from personal experience that the only thing which will move Washington to action is the sight of millions of people coming together and pushing for change—and we can’t afford to wait any longer. That’s why I’m asking you to sign this online petition to your representative, demanding immediate action to stop global warming. If you sign it, I’ll personally deliver your comments to Congress in the new year.

“The new Congress must take real action to solve the climate crisis immediately.”

After you’ve signed on, please take a moment to pass this on to your friends and family and ask them to sign on. We’ve bought the DVD, seen the movie and spread the word about global warming. Now we have to organize to stop it. I’m ready to push for real solutions, but I need your help.

MoveOn members have been an incredible force for good in the last few years, and you should be very proud of what you’ve accomplished. The challenges we face are enormous, and we know that we can’t trust Washington to do the right thing without intense pressure from good folks around the country. But you’ve shown everyone that political will truly is a renewable resource.

I look forward to working together.

For more information on the petition, please click below:

http://pol.moveon.org/climatecrisis/?id=9637-6825852-kjNkU8Qu8tbDdGjN9Jj4OQ&t=2

Thanks for all you do,

Al Gore,
Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, http://pol.moveon.org/
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

December 18, 2006

When There’s No One Left to Blame — What Are You Going to do Now, Israel?

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 8:27 am

December 15, 2006

By VIRGINIA TILLEY
Johannesburg, South Africa

What are you going to do now, Israel?

Now that three small boys have been killed by assassins’ bullets, and a Hamas judge dragged from his car and murdered, perhaps you are pleased. The Palestinians are finally succumbing to your plots, you think. The long-planned bottle has finally been sealed, in which the “drunken cockroaches” can only crawl around, shooting each other.

Maybe you are sitting back in your national chair, rubbing your hands together in triumph, watching the Palestinians finally turn on each other, slowly becoming what you always claimed they were. Maybe you are repelled, secure in your sense of superiority.

But have you thought about what you are you going to do, if Palestinian leadership you despise finally disintegrates?

You have brought them to this pass, of course. You worked for decades to achieve exactly this. You bribed, terrorized, expelled, maimed or killed their leadership, banned or killed their visionaries and philosophers, fanned and funded Hamas against Fatah or Fatah against Hamas, trashed their democracy, stole their money, walled them in, put them on a “diet”, derided their claims, and lied about their history to the world and to yourself.

But what are you going to do, Israel, if five million Palestinians are finally living leaderless under your sovereignty? What will you do, when they lose their capacity to negotiate with you? Have you thought that, within the territory you control, they are as many as you? And that now you are destroying their unified voice? Have you thought about what will happen to you if they truly lose that voice?

Maybe you really believe that, if you only feed Fatah money and guns, Fatah will reclaim power from the Hamas and restore the craven puppet Palestinian government of your dreams. Maybe you actually believe that Fatah can revive the wreck of Oslo, step out of the rubble of PA offices, and reclaim the driver’s seat of the Palestinian nation as before. Maybe you are telling yourself that, with just a few more inter-factional scuffles and assassinations and little more starvation, the entire Palestinian people will turn on Hamas and eject it from power in favor of grinning Mr. Abbas.

But why would you believe all this, when the only other test-case, Iraq, is in ruins and the US and UK are desperately trying to flee?

Do you really still live so deeply in your own fantasies that you believe Palestinian resistance is just the product of bad or obdurate leadership? That no collective memory of expulsion and dispossession sustains the spirit of collective resistance that will always and inevitably transcend that leadership? Do you really believe that, if only you can crush or co-opt Hamas and Fatah, five million people will simply disappear forever from your world–trail off across the Jordanian or Egyptian borders into the endless desert, clutching clothes, kids, and tarnished mementos, in some great reprise of 1948?

Do you actually think that, if the international community finally lets you off the hook of negotiating with the people you have dispossessed and discredited, you will somehow walk free at last, your crimes against them forgotten?

We know you are still pursuing the old, fatal, futile fantasy: finally to redeem the Zionist dream by demolishing Palestinian nationalism. To break Palestinian national unity on the rocks of occupation. To reduce the Palestinians to Indians on reservations who decline into despair, alcoholism and emigration. To make them irrelevant to you.

But here is news for you, Israel. The Native Americans haven’t given up to this day. Damaged and reduced as they are, they know their history and remember their grievances. They are marginal only because they are one percent of the US population. The Palestinians are five-million strong, equal to you in numbers. And they live within your borders. When their leadership ruins itself, bashing each other like rams fighting to the death, they will finally turn their five million pairs of burning eyes on you, for you will be the only power left over them. And you will be defenseless, because your paper shelter – your Fatah or PA quislings – will be damaged goods, cracked vessels, discredited, gone. And it will then be you and those you have disenfranchised – you and the Palestinians, in one state, with no Oslo or Road Map myth to protect you. And by then, they will truly hate you.

Then perhaps it will dawn on you what you have done, when the disintegration of Palestinian national unity spreads out like a tsunami through the Middle East, meeting up with the tsunami spreading out from Iraq, to lay the region waste and rebound on you.

Watching you create this catastrophe for yourself, we think you are simply suicidal. We could just watch, but your road to ruin promises too much suffering to too many people. Still, to avert your unilateral suicide pact with the Palestinians, to whom can we turn?

We could appeal to Hamas at last to mobilize the rank and file, who alone have the capacity to launch civil disobedience on the mass scale necessary to paralyse Israel’s iron fist, but Hamas has no experience with this method, and now its statesmen are cornered by the guns you gave to Fatah thugs.

We could appeal to the leader of the Fatah thugs, Mr. Abbas, shuffling at the feet of Israeli power, to find some spine. Or to the ubiquitous Mr. Erekat, who never had a political vision in his life, to develop one overnight.

We could appeal to the Fatah thugs to reject Mr. Abbas and Mr. Erekat and the fat cement contracts you gave them to build the Wall that imprisons them, and seek a high road they have never glimpsed.

We could appeal to the microscopic PFLP and DFLP, clutching their old programs too stale to chew and consumed by their acrid, decades-old bitterness and rivalry with Fatah, to lift their heads at long last beyond the old and new grievances.

We could appeal to the US, but no one bothers to do that.

We could appeal to the EU, but no one bothers to do that, either.

We could appeal to the world, but it only stands aghast.

We could appeal to the world media, but it is frozen with its ass in the air.

We can only appeal to you, Israel. To think what you are doing, if not to care.

For you are crafting your own destruction.

You have been so effective in this great national project because you work from experience. Even the most courageous, principled, and sensible people, as you learned, cannot withstand a concentration camp indefinitely. At some point, as the Holocaust historians have tracked with such pathos, humanity breaks down. Individual heroism may survive as memoirs, but order, humanity, and finally human feeling decays into factional squabbles and man’s inhumanity to man. You learned all too well and bitterly how this cauldron can melt down the very fabric of a society and shatter people. The lesson is burned, literally, into your national memory. And you are bringing those lessons to bear, attempting to purge Zionism’s tragedy by bringing Gaza to ruin.

But if you actually reap the chaos you are crafting for the Palestinians, you will find that no one else is responsible for these five million civilians except you.

So what will you do, Israel, with five million people living under your rule, when you can no longer pretend to the world that you intend to negotiate with them? What will you do with people you detest, and who finally utterly detest you, when visions of coexistence have finally failed? You will be the only sovereign power over them. You will be able neither to digest them nor to vomit them out. And they will stare at you.

And we will stare at you, too.

Because there will be no one left to blame, and no one to take care of them, except you.

* Virginia Tilley is a professor of political science, a US citizen working in South Africa, and author of The One-State Solution: A Breakthrough for Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock (University of Michigan Press and Manchester University Press, 2005). She can be reached at tilley@hws.edu.

Call for Cultural Boycott – John Berger, Brian Eno, Arundhati Roy et al

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 8:07 am

Press release, with added personal remarks by John Berger
Ramallah December 15, 2006
http://www.pacbi.org/announcements_more.php?id=415_0_5_0_M
[Original title: John Berger and 93 other authors, film-makers, musicians and performers call for a cultural boycott of Israel]

[see also http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,1972654,00.html

PACBI is pleased to announce that in a letter that appears in today’s Guardian, the 94, including the renowned author John Berger; UK musicians and song-writers Brian Eno and Leon Rosselson; filmmakers Sophie Fiennes, Elia Suleiman and Haim Bresheeth; documentary maker Jenny Morgan; singer Reem Kelani; writers Arundhati Roy, Ahdaf Soueif, and Eduardo Galeano, call on their colleagues not to visit, exhibit or perform in Israel.

The letter comes after the August 2006 statement issued by Palestinian filmmakers, artists, writers, and other cultural workers calling for a cultural boycott of Israel. The statement can be viewed at:
http://www.pacbi.org/boycott_news_more.php?id=315_0_1_0_C

Full list of signatures as of 13th December:

Aguirre, Carmen, (dramatist)
Al Bayati, Hana (film-maker)
Alcalay, Ammiel, (poet)
Alkadhi, Rheim (artist)
Aziz, Sylvat (artist)
Benner, Ron (artist)
Berger, John (writer and artist)
Beverley, John (writer)
Bove, Paul (editor and writer)
Bresheeth, Haim (film-maker)
Brittain, Victoria (writer)
Budney, Jen (curator)
Cameron, Lindsley (author)
Carew, Keggie (artist)
Casana, Manuel Molins (dramatist)
Chanan, Michael (writer and film-maker)
Chirot, David-Baptiste (artist/writer)
Chrysakis,. Thanos (composer)
Courtney, Andrew (artist)
Cox, Molly Hankwitz (artist and writer)
Creativity commons collective
D’Agostino, Ornella (choreographer)
Davis, Matt (musician)
Deane, Raymond (musician)
Deutsch, Stephen (composer)
Dibb, Mike (film maker)
Donoghue, Ben (film maker)
Eno, Brian (musician)
Erfanian, Eshrat (artist)
Fiennes, Sophie (film-maker)
Fisher, Jean (writer)
Frere, Jane (video artist)
Fried, Klaus (film maker)
Galeano, Eduardo (writer)
Ghaibah, Anas (TV director)
Ghossein, Mirene (writer and editor)
Gill, Rajdeep Singh (curator)
Gordon, Avery (writer)
Greyson, John (film-maker)
Guillen, Maria Munoz (dancer)
Halama, Henry (artist)
Hamka, Nada (artist)
Hashemi, Gita (artist)
Hassan, Jamelie (artist)
Huleileh, Serene (dancer/choreographer)
Humm, Maggie (writer)
Hussien, Reham (translator)
James, Rob (writer)
Jenik, Adriene (media artist)
Jimeno, Dolores (writer)
Joly, Magdalene (dancer and musician)
Kelani, Reem (singer)
Karabelia, Vassia (art historian)
Kauff, Tarak (writer)
Kaya, Mircan (musician)
Knupp, Rainer (movement artist)
Kukovec, Dunja (art historian)
Kumar, Vinod (writer)
Lane, Joel (poet)
Levidow, Les (writer and musician)
Loshitzky, Yosefa (writer)
Lozano, Rian (curator)
Malinowitz, Harriet (writer)
Marlat, Daphne (writer)
Masri, Hala (theatre coordinator)
Matelli, Federica (curator)
McCaughey, Peter (artist)
Metcalfe, Rohelia Hamilton (Film-maker)
Miyoshi, Masao (writer)
Montagnino, Carlo (artist)
Morgan, Jenny (film-maker)
Muntadas, Antoni (artist0
Naguib, Fabiola Nabil (curator)
Neufeldt, Brigitte (artist)
Nunez, Alejandra Perez (sound artist)
Ostrow, Saul (critic/curator)
Pangbourne, Annabelle (composer)
Parker, Cornelia (artist)
Pennell, Miranda (film-maker)
Radhakrishnan, R (writer)
Rosselson, Leon (song writer and author)
Roy, Arundhati (novelist)
Rubin, Andrew (writer)
Salloum, Jayce (artist)
Sampaio, Miriam (artist)
Samuel, Julian (novelist)
Sances, Jos (artist)
Saraste, Leena (photographer)
Sarlin, Paige (film-maker)
Scordìa, Cinzia (performer0
Serra, Toni /Abu Ali (videomaker)
Shammas, Anton (novelist and film-maker)
Shibli, Ahlam (artist)
Shiri, Keith (curator)
Simons, Patrick (composer)
Smith, John (artist-film-maker)
Solt, John (poet)
Somes-Charlton, Chris (director)
Soueif, Ahdaf (novelist)
Staikou, Evi (artist)
Suleiman, Elia (film maker)
Sureda, Joseph Ramis (dancer)
Szpakowski, Michael (composer)
Tres (artist)
Tudela, Ana Navarrete (artist)
Valldosera, Eulalia (artist)
Van Zwanenberg, Roger (publisher)
Walkley, Ron (architect)
Ward, David (composer)
Younghusband, Gene (media theorist)
Zangana, Haifa (novelist)

From John Berger:

I would like to make a few personal remarks about this world-wide appeal to teachers, intellectuals and artists to join the cultural boycott of the state of Israel, as called for by over a hundred Palestinian academics and artists, and – very importantly – also by a number of Israeli public figures, who outspokenly oppose their country’s illegal occupation of the Palestine territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Their call is attached, together with my After Guernica drawing. I hope you will feel able to add your signature, to the attached letter, which we intend to publish in national newspapers.

The boycott is an active protest against two forms of exclusion which have persisted, despite many other forms of protestations, for over sixty years – for almost three generations.

During this period the state of Israel has consistently excluded itself from any international obligation to heed UN resolutions or the judgement of any international court. To date, it has defied 246 Security Council Resolutions!

As a direct consequence seven million Palestinians have been excluded from the right to live as they wish on land internationally acknowledged to be theirs; and now increasingly, with every week that passes, they are being excluded from their right to any future at all as a nation.

As Nelson Mandela has pointed out, boycott is not a principle, it is a tactic depending upon circumstances. A tactic which allows people, as distinct from their elected but often craven governments, to apply a certain pressure on those wielding power in what they, the boycotters, consider to be an unjust or immoral way. (In white South Africa yesterday and in Israel today, the immorality was, or is being, coded into a form of racist apartheid).

Boycott is not a principle. When it becomes one, it itself risks to become exclusive and racist. No boycott, in our sense of the term, should be directed against an individual, a people, or a nation as such. A boycott is directed against a policy and the institutions which support that policy either actively or tacitly. Its aim is not to reject, but to bring about change.

How to apply a cultural boycott? A boycott of goods is a simpler proposition, but in this case it would probably be less effective, and speed is of the essence, because the situation is deteriorating every month (which is precisely why some of the most powerful world political leaders, hoping for the worst, keep silent.).

How to apply a boycott? For academics it’s perhaps a little clearer – a question of declining invitations from state institutions and explaining why. For invited actors, musicians, jugglers or poets it can be more complicated. I’m convinced, in any case, that its application should not be systematised; it has to come from a personal choice based on a personal assessment.

For instance. An important mainstream Israeli publisher today is asking to publish three of my books. I intend to apply the boycott with an explanation. There exist, however, a few small, marginal Israeli publishers who expressly work to encourage exchanges and bridges between Arabs and Israelis, and if one of them should ask to publish something of mine, I would unhesitatingly agree and furthermore waive aside any question of author’s royalties. I don’t ask other writers supporting the boycott to come necessarily to exactly the same conclusion. I simply offer an example.

What is important is that we make our chosen protests together, and that we speak out, thus breaking the silence of connivance maintained by those who claim to represent us, and thus ourselves representing, briefly by our common action, the incalculable number of people who have been appalled by recent events but lack the opportunity of making their sense of outrage effective.

December 11, 2006

Happy Christmas from the Holy Land

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 10:15 pm

xmascard2006outside.jpg

December 5, 2006

Israeli Wall Separates Palestinian Farmers from Land

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 11:35 pm

_18609_palestinian_farmer.jpg2006-12-04
Israeli wall separates Palestinian farmers from land
Farmers cannot easily hire labourers or bring in agriculture specialists to check on their greenhouses.


JAYYOUS, West Bank – Jayyous’s farmers are used to surveying their land from their commanding hilltop village in the northern West Bank. But for many, gazing is now all they can do. Israel’s West Bank barrier has separated the village of Jayyous from 9,500 of its 13,600 dunums (a dunum is 1,000 square metres) of land, and the Israeli authorities have denied them permits to access it. “In the beginning, they gave permits to pass through gates in the barrier to 90 per cent of the people here, including children,” said Mustafa Samha, 27, a psychologist whose father has been barred from his land. “But after six months they began reducing the number of people they gave permits to.” Samha says about three-quarters of Jayyous’s 3,000 inhabitants depend on farming, but the number of permits issued has declined. “Now they have stopped giving them to farmers’ sons. If a farmer has 50 dunums of land he needs help to work it all. On his own he can only work about 10 to 15 dunums of land. This is stealing.”

Israel says it must have the barrier to prevent suicide attacks on Israelis by Palestinian militants. But the price paid for the wall by Palestinian farmers is high: more than 60 per cent of farming families do not have access to their land west of the barrier, according to a survey carried out by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Jerusalem in early November. Human rights campaigners say that complex land ownership legislation – some dating back to the Ottoman Empire that ended with the First World War – makes it difficult for Palestinians to prove to the Israeli authorities that they own their land, and then obtain a permit to go to it.

“At places like Jayyous, people are increasingly being denied access to their land, and the reason given is increasingly a lack of ties to the land rather than security,” said Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, an advocacy officer at the Israeli Commission Against House Demolitions, a campaigning group.  

Risk of land confiscation

Palestinian farmers who do not cultivate their land risk having it confiscated because, under Ottoman law, landowners who do not cultivate their land for three consecutive years, forfeit it to the authorities. “We’re seeing some farmers preferring to farm at a loss rather than risking losing their land,” said Godfrey-Goldstein. Jayyous’s produce of olives and citrus fruits has plummeted from 9 million kilos a year, to less than 5 million kilos since the barrier was completed in 2002, farmers say.

The barrier’s impact goes beyond simply barring farmers from their land, according to Abdellatif Khaled, whose family owns 70 dunums of land and who has a permit to get to it. He told IRIN that thousands of olive trees south of Jayyous remain unharvested because traditional routes have been blocked by the barrier, turning a 100 metre walk, into a trek of more than 10km to get through the nearest gate. “There is now no road to get to the trees so farmers have to carry all the olives on their shoulders,” Khaled said. In addition, because access through the gates near Jayyous is restricted to village residents only, farmers cannot easily hire labourers or bring in agriculture specialists to check on their greenhouses, he said. As a result, those labourers who do have permission, can ask for a greater share in the profits. “Traditionally, farmers could employ labourers to harvest their land and pay them a third of the crop. These days, it is the labourer who takes the majority of the crop,” said Khaled.

Little point in working the land

“As a result, there is now little point in working the land and many people who could have a permit don’t bother. Although the number of people who are refused permits fluctuates around 60 per cent, in reality 99.9 per cent of Palestinians do not get to the land.”

A number of West Bank communities openly oppose the barrier. Bil’in, to the north-west of Ramallah, has become internationally known for its Friday demonstrations, which involve Palestinians and activists from Israel and abroad, and almost always end in clashes with the Israeli military. “We have a strong legal case against the Israelis and the media exposure helps,” said Ashraf, a 22-year-old Palestinian demonstrator who refused to give his name. In a statement to IRIN, the Israeli military said landowners whose land is along the route of the barrier itself would remain the owners, and would receive a one-off compensation payment from the Israeli government as well as an annual rental fee from them as they would not be able to use their land. In its statement, the Israeli military said those unhappy with the barrier’s route, could launch legal challenges. Legal petitions have been submitted to Israel’s Supreme Court, some of which have led to changes in the route. However, the municipality of al-Khader – a village of about 10,000 inhabitants near Bethlehem – lost its case after receiving a letter from the Israeli authorities informing it that the barrier would separate it from 77 percent of its land. “All we got from the court was a pedestrian tunnel under the wall to be controlled by soldiers,” said Adnan Sbeih, the mayor of al-Khader. His own family’s land will be covered with concrete after being chosen as a site for a new Israeli military base. “Everyone in al-Khader works on the grape vines,” he said. “What will we do now?”

Israel began building an eight-metre high, 703km-long concrete barrier through the
West Bank in the occupied Palestinian territories in 2002. To date, some 670km of it has been completed.
When the barrier is completed, about 10 per cent of the West Bank will be inside Israel. In July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague ruled that the barrier’s route, which weaves around the western border of the majority occupied territory was illegal under international humanitarian and human rights law, because it ‘gravely’ infringes on a number of rights of Palestinians living in the West Bank.

© IRIN 
 

December 4, 2006

AIC’s Appeal re. Ahmad Abu Hannya’s Extended detention

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 7:31 am

An Israeli military court approved the extension of Ahmad Abu Hannya’s administration detention until 14 May 2007, by which time Ahmad, an Alternative Information Center (AIC) staff member, will have been imprisoned for two years.

Ahmad, coordinator of the AIC youth group in Bethlehem, was detained at a checkpoint on his way to work on 18 May 2005 and placed in administrative detention, which is imprisonment without trial or charges. As with all of the approximately 600 Palestinian administrative detainees currently being held by Israel, Ahmad and his attorney are not even permitted to know the evidence against him. As Ahmad stated before the military court, “They tell me that I am a danger to the security of the region. Yet for years I have worked with Israelis. I have Israeli friends. I always emphasise the fact that on this land it is possible to live in peace. How am I dangerous exactly?”

Ahmad has been adopted as an appeal case by Amnesty International, and is supported by the American National Lawyers Guild. The continuing detention of Ahmad and so many other Palestinians blatantly violates international law, which permits administrative detention only as an exceptional and highly regulated measure.  Administrative detention violates the fundamental right to liberty and due process, and is used by Israel as a tool to oppress political activists in Palestine who struggle non-violently against the Israeli occupation and for a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

We do not know the secret evidence that Israel claims to have against Ahmad. We do know, however, that Ahmad has worked with progressive Israelis and Palestinians since 1998 on behalf of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all peoples in the area. Ahmad has a demonstrated commitment to a just peace and joint life for Palestinians and Israelis in the region.

We urge you to continue advocating with the Israeli authorities and join us in demanding Ahmad’s unconditional release from administrative detention! The Israeli authorities must release Ahmad or charge him with a recognisable criminal offence and in accordance with internationally accepted standards for a fair trial. Despite these difficult circumstances, Ahmad has not given up hope for a just peace in the region and neither has the AIC.

Please join us in working for this better future.

ADDRESSES

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Kiryat Ben Gurion Jerusalem 91919 Israel
Fax: +972 2 670 5475 or +972 2 566 4838
Email: pm_eng@pmo.gov.il

Menahem Mazuz Attorney General
Ministry of Justice 29 Salah Adin Street Jerusalem
Fax: +972 2 628 5438 or +972 2 627 4481

Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit Judge Advocate General
6 David Elazar Street Tel Aviv
Fax: 972 3 569 4370
Email: arbel@mail.idf.il

As Ahmad begins his nineteenth month in prison, we further urge you to write him letters of solidarity: Ahmad Abu Hannya ID 917755720
Prisoner number 3186/05
Ktziot Detention Camp 01771 Military Post

Letters may also be sent by email to: connie@alt-info.org . Please write “For Ahmad Abu Hannya” in the subject line. Additional information about Ahmad may be found on the website of the Alternative Information Center: www.alternativenews.org.

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