SPEAK OUT NOW BEFORE ALL OF PALESTINE BECOMES A CLOSED MILITARY ZONE

Nabi Saleh is a small village of 500 inhabitants, located near Ramallah. It’s an essential component of the Popular Struggle Committee, and one of the most active resistant villages in the West Bank. Since 2009, every Friday, they stage non-violent demonstrations against the Israeli occupation.

On Saturday the IDF declared Nabi Saleh ”closed military zone”, not allowing anyone to get in or out of the village and carrying out violent actions against the residents.

They are now under siege.

The village of Nabi Saleh stays steadfast but calls for NGO’s, human rights organisations/defenders to spread the news, monitor the situation and support them as much as possible.

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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

nabi-saleh-village-under-siege-of-idf

SUPPORTING APARTHEID IS TAX DEDUCTIBLE IN THE USA

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Contrary to its self-styled image as a charitable organization dedicated to planting trees in Israel, the JNF is instrumental in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the ongoing expropriation of land for the exclusive use of Jewish Israelis. The racial discrimination institutionalized by the JNF presents a major challenge to any effort to achieve a just peace in Israel-Palestine. A quasi-governmental organization, the JNF has charitable status in the United States, and consequently enjoys tax exemptions for its institutions and donors. This means, in effect, that the U.S. taxpayer is subsidizing the confiscation of Palestinian land and the establishment of Jewish-only settlements that violate both international law and stated U.S. policy.
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Tax-deductible apartheid: JNF raises $60 million a year for racially-discriminatory land purchases
SusanLandau
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“STOP THE MISINFORMATION, AND THE JNF”

As part of this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week activates, spirited protesters from Philly BDS, Temple Students for Justice in Palestine and local allies greeted attendees as they arrived at the annual Jewish National Fund Fundraiser in Philadelphia, PA.

Within minutes of assembling in the freezing cold outside Del Frisco’s Restaurant in center city Philadelphia on Thursday, February 27th the Regional Director of the JNF, Marina Furman, came outside without a coat to “thank us” for our presence, saying that over the years since we have been protesting JNF fundraisers, the number of people attending the event has increased. Essentially, she explained that we are ‘good for business.’ We reassured her that as long as the JNF continued their role in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, we would continue to protest. A brief conversation ensued in which Marina challenged our claim that her organization was dispossessing the Bedouin in the Negev. She politely assured us that we were misinformed. She directed us to the JNF web site on which we would find photos of the cities the JNF was building for the Bedouin. Marina was almost convincing. She seemed earnest in her desire to believe the JNF was helping the Bedouin.

Contrary to its self-styled image as a charitable organization dedicated to planting trees in Israel, the JNF is instrumental in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the ongoing expropriation of land for the exclusive use of Jewish Israelis. The racial discrimination institutionalized by the JNF presents a major challenge to any effort to achieve a just peace in Israel-Palestine. A quasi-governmental organization, the JNF has charitable status in the United States, and consequently enjoys tax exemptions for its institutions and donors. This means, in effect, that the U.S. taxpayer is subsidizing the confiscation of Palestinian land and the establishment of Jewish-only settlements that violate both international law and stated U.S. policy.

Philly BDS, Temple Students for Justice in Palestine, and their local allies participating in Thursday’s action urge the United States to revoke the charitable status of the JNF. Playing on the fundraiser’s “Madness Poker Tournament” theme, protesters held signs that said “Land Theft is Nor Charity” and chanted slogans such as “BULLDOZING HOMES, STEALING LAND, THESE ARE THE CARDS IN THE JNF’s HAND” to “JUST BEHIND THEIR POKER FACES, WE SEE ALL THE STOLEN PLACES.”

While attendees mostly refused postcards available that described the action, passers-by were eager for information and conversation. Memorable were the few that took the time to thank us for our presence and our action.

Written FOR

ISRAEL’S LATEST HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION CAUGHT ON VIDEO TODAY

IDF stands idly by as settlers throw stones at Palestinians

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New video by human rights organization shows soldiers failing to intervene in standoff between Palestinians and settlers in West Bank.

Video: B’Tselem

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See Report HERE

HATE ON THE SOCIAL MEDIA CONTINUES DESPITE ‘REPRIMANDS’

Perhaps prison is the only solution for these hateful soldiers ….

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Only months after he was supposedly “reprimanded” for his conduct on social media, Israeli army Golani Brigade soldier Osher Maman is again publicly disseminating racist and violent material including outright calls to murder Palestinians.

*The response to the ‘reprimand….
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Showing the “pretty face of the IDF”: An image of himself Osher Maman posted this week. (Instagram)

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“Reprimanded” Israeli soldier still posting violent, racist material on Instagram

Posted to Osher Maman’s Instagram account: flag of the violent anti-Arab group Kach. (Instagram)

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He’s back.

Only months after he was supposedly “reprimanded” for his conduct on social media, Israeli army Golani Brigade soldier Osher Maman is again publicly disseminating racist and violent material including outright calls to murder Palestinians.

This comes as Israel has launched yet another effort to control its soldiers’ often embarrassing online image.

Maman’s latest antics include the posting the above image to his account on the photosharing website Instagram. It shows a man – apparently Maman himself attempting to disguise his identity – holding the flag of the racist anti-Palestinian organization Kach (also known as Kahane Chai).

Kach is banned even in Israel and is considered a “terrorist” organization by the United States, Canada and the European Union. The flag is also used by the Kahanist anti-Arab group the Jewish Defense League (JDL).

In comments accompanying the photo, Maman indicates his awareness and approval of the symbol, identifying it as belonging to the JDL.

Stoned, naked, (and still) armed and dangerous

Last February, in “Stoned, naked, armed and dangerous: more disturbing images from an Israeli soldier’s Instagram,” I exposed Maman – a troubled Florida youth who tried to turn his life around by joining the Israeli army – posting pictures of himself naked, using drugs and misusing weapons.

Maman also expressed deeply racist and even genocidal views towards Palestinians and Arabs, tweeting at one point, “Just took an Arab out… Whataa feeling.”

This led the Israeli army to “reprimand” him. Yet Maman’s recidivism indicates at the very least that despite its efforts to stop soldiers posting embarrassing material revealing their true feelings about the Palestinians they rule by military force, the Israeli army is unable or unwilling to do so.

Call to murder

Incitement to kill Palestinians, even if prison is the consequence. (Facebook)

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On 13 November, Maman also shared the above image on his Facebook page which includes outright incitement to murder Palestinians. In Hebrew it states:

Soldier! Stones and Molotov cocktails can kill you! Do you feel a threat to your life? Raise your weapon and give the murderer a bullet in the head. You may go to prison, but at least you’ll be alive.

In addition to inciting killings of Palestinians, this message gives the false impression that Israeli soldiers are likely to pay a price for murder. There’s little evidence of that, as Israeli soldiers who murder Palestinians enjoy near total impunity.

Maman shared this image from a Facebook group with the Hebrew name “I’m Jewish and proud,” in which other racist and violent material is passed around by people presenting as soldiers, members of the Israeli police, or their supporters.

For example, another item posted in that group (though not shared by Maman) is this photo apparently showing a group of Israeli soldiers burning Palestinian flags. It received almost 4,000 “Likes” and dozens of approving, frequently racist, comments.

Israeli soldiers burn Palestinian flags. (Facebook)

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Failed efforts to control social media use

Last February’s revelations about Maman, as well as a number of other embarrassing incidents exposed by The Electronic Intifada, led the Israeli army to launch a campaign to convince its members to stop posting damaging material to social media accounts.

It included a YouTube video telling soldiers “Always remember: You are the face of the IDF. So improve your appearance – online!”

“The IDF is glad to invite you to get connected, share, love, tweet, respond, and show the pretty face of the IDF,” the video adds.

The message did not get through to Maman and to many other Israeli army members who continue to reveal their true sentiments online.

“Selfie squad”

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This week The Guardian reported that “Having suffered a PR battering from viral video clips showing its soldiers in an unflattering light, the Israel Defence Forces are firing back with a combat camera unit trained to show their version of the story.”

Dubbed the “selfie squad” by the newspaper, the soldiers in this special unit are trained to “film, edit and broadcast from the battlefield.”

It is clear that the purpose is PR and propaganda. “My main mission is to film. I think the job of anyone recording what happens is much more important than any fighter,” one member of the unit told The Guardian.

“There are lots of cameras on the other side. They show us apparently acting in an unfair way to civilians, to our enemies. We are here to explain and to document for the entire world that we don’t use force for bad.”

Welcoming propaganda

Bizarrely Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reportedly “welcomed the new unit.”

“More documentation is a very positive thing,” B’Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli said. “There are a lot of arguments about the facts of various incidents. The problem is that the army doesn’t release this footage and when it does, it releases very heavily edited sequences.”

But as Michaeli surely knows, the problem is rarely a lack of evidence. Even when there is plenty of evidence and documentation of incidents, the problem is systematic impunity and lack of accountability.

Israeli top brass are deluded if they think that they can successfully present their occupation troops as anything other than what they are: foot soldiers in a systematic colonization effort which requires enormous amounts of violence and humiliation in an attempt to suppress Palestinian resistance to land theft for the benefit of Jewish settlers.

Rather than helping Israel’s image, the army’s attempt to co-opt and control its soldiers’ social media use will only generate the suspicion that every artifact created online by army-age Israeli youth is part of an official hasbara – propaganda – war.

While, say, French or American youths can make “selfies” without worrying that their images are going to be taken to represent their nation, young Jewish Israelis will no longer have this option. Their images are now politicized, militarized and instrumentalized by their army.   As for troubled and homicidally inclined Florida youth Osher Maman, he and others like him may be off message, but they are too often the true, and not-so-pretty face of the “IDF.”

A record of online hatred

Some of The Electronic Intifada’s most-read posts documented the torrent of violent hatred spewed online by Maman and his comrades in arms:

Written FOR

SEE ISRAEL’S ‘PEACE PROCESS’ IN ACTION ~~ LIVE FROM GAZA

Are these two jokers whispering about Peace? OR PIECES??
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2010 (Photo: AP)
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The ‘enemies’ were targeted

The body of three-years-old Palestinian girl Hala Bhairi, who medics said was killed by shrapnel during an Israeli air strike on the Bureij facility, lies at a hospital morgue in the central Gaza Strip

The body of three-year-old Palestinian girl Hala Bhairi, who medics said was killed by shrapnel during an Israeli air strike on the Bureij facility, lies at a hospital morgue in the central Gaza Strip December 24, 2013. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
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PALESTIANS-ISRAEL-CONFLICT
The brother of killed three-year-old Palestinian girl Hala Abu Sabikha, lies on a hospital trolley in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, on December 24, 2013. (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
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Can you believe this man? Would you buy a used car from him??
See above to see the Peace he speaks of ….
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The devil does speak with forked tongue
http://lemallah.org/images/netanyahu_bibi_snake.gif

GAZA IS DROWNING AS ISRAEL AND EGYPT WATCH

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

gaza-disaster

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Related Post from In Gaza

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Gaza drowning …and under power and media blackout

Photo

Photos and updates from Gaza paint one of the most dire scenarios the Palestinians locked in the Strip have faced, Israeli bombing campaigns aside.

CANADIAN PM TO HONOUR ‘ARMY OF ISRAELI TREES’

harperandIsrael-4
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“In light of the fact that KKL is active in the Negev we see in JNF’s trees are soldiers in the Zionist army of occupation.”
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Palestinians to protest JNF event: Trees are soldiers in occupation

JNF-KKL event honoring Canadian prime minister expected to attract 1,000 strong Palestinian protest against Bedouin resettlement bill. ‘JNF’s trees are soldiers in Zionist army of occupation’

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Canadian police forces are currently preparing for a Palestinian protest against Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who is expected to participate in a Jewish National Fund of Canada event.

The event is a dinner being held in the prime minister’s honor and the protest is expected to be attract at least 1,000 people. According to the protest’s organizers, the demonstration is being held in wake of the Praver Plan to resettle Bedouins.

“In light of the fact that KKL is active in the Negev we see in JNF’s trees are soldiers in the Zionist army of occupation,” a Palestinian told Ynet.

Harper is considered pro-Israeli and he is a staunch supporter of Israel, despite ongoing pressure from Muslim groups. Harper was one of the first world leaders to express his support of Israel’s campaign against the nuclear deal reached with Iran in Geneva.

“Canada’s foreign policy has embraced Israel during his Harper’s tenure,” Efi Stenzler head of KKL-JNF said, adding that “this is not something that can be taken for granted.”

More than 4,500 Jews and pro-Israeli Christians will take part in the event with some evening paying $100,000 for a place at the table – with all revenues to be donated to Israel.

Harper, it is worth noting, will not only participate in the event but has requested to make a private and personal donation of his own which will go to Hula Valley center. Efi Stenzler will represent the State of Israel at the event and plans to announce that the center will be named for Harper.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to congratulate the Canadian leader in a video message.

Source

‘NEVER AGAIN’ MEANS JUST THAT!

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Six months before I was born, the French government of the time passed laws excluding Jews from the civil service, education, the media and other professions. They repealed the law against anti-Semitism and started a massive anti-Jewish hate campaign. Large numbers of Jews were rounded up and put in concentration camps.
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Solidarity saved me from the Nazis; that’s why I fight Israeli apartheid

Suzanne Weiss*
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Palestinian women shout during a demonstration

“Never again for humankind” means supporting Palestinian resistance to Israel’s Prawer Plan.

(Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

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We hear disturbing reports this year from southern Israel. The Israeli government proposes to relocate some 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their present homes to government-approved townships. This is called the Prawer Plan, and Israel’s parliament approved it by a three-vote majority in June.

The Prawer Plan would destroy 35 Bedouin villages in the Naqab (Negev) region and extinguish Bedouin claims to land seized from them after the foundation of Israel. The government denies basic services to these villages. Right beside them, in many cases, are new, modern, fully serviced communities for Jewish settlers.

Supporters of the Prawer Plan say that it will compensate the Bedouin for their lost lands and improve their economic status. Unconvinced, the European Parliament has condemned the plan and demanded its withdrawal. So has the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN Office for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch.

This plan has not been negotiated with the Bedouins and does not have their agreement. It is to be imposed on them. Many have called it ethnic cleansing.

Ethnic cleansing has been defined by the UN Security Council as the forcible removal by one ethnic or religious group of another such group in a geographic area. When I think of ethnic cleansing, I recall my own experience in France under Nazi occupation during the Second World War.

Slaughter

Six months before I was born, the French government of the time passed laws excluding Jews from the civil service, education, the media and other professions. They repealed the law against anti-Semitism and started a massive anti-Jewish hate campaign. Large numbers of Jews were rounded up and put in concentration camps.

Much of France was then under Nazi occupation, but the Nazis didn’t ask for these measures. The French authorities volunteered and did it on their own. But soon the Nazis got into the act. They had a vast project — to clear 10 million Jews out of all European countries — not to deport but to exterminate them.

Ethnic cleansing on a grand scale.

The French police handed over to the Nazis tens of thousands of Jews and other French people to be sent to Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland, where they were almost all slaughtered. French authorities tore children from the arms of their mothers, and handed over the mothers to be exterminated.

Then, weeks later, the children were packed into a death train and sent to Auschwitz to also to die there. Among the adult victims was my mother, killed in Auschwitz in 1943.

The Nazis’ goal was to round up, deport and massacre all the Jews in France — as was being done across Europe. The Nazis documented the names, date of birth, country and towns of origin. I know the date and number of the convoy that took my mother to Auschwitz and the day she died there. It was as though they collected human trophies.

Wave of revulsion

But amid this terrible slaughter, an inspiring thing happened. There was a wave of revulsion in France against the treatment of the Jews. Both spontaneously and through organizations, French people made arrangements to protect them.

Altogether, three-quarters of the French Jews escaped the Holocaust. Some 10,000 Jewish children left their families and were hidden. I was among them.

In 1943, a resistance organization took charge of my care and placed me with a peasant family in Auvergne, a farming region in south-central France.

Last month I went back to Auvergne to learn how it was that I had been saved.

I spoke to many people who remembered those years. Auvergne at that time was a land of refuge, a poor region, but one where there was food and much work to be done.

It welcomed refugees from Italy, from Spain, from German-occupied regions. It welcomed French young men, who the government was trying to round up and ship to Germany to do forced labor.

Emma, one of my new friends in Auvergne, told me there were a dozen Muslim refugees from the Soviet Union in her village, conscripted into the Nazi army, and sent to France. They had deserted to join the anti-Nazi resistance.

There were the Roma — the French police rounded up and interned thousands of them. And there were thousands of Jewish refugees in Auvergne, old and young, seeking safety from arrest by French and German authorities.

I met a man who led his community in providing refuge. His name is Robert; he is now 91 years old. When he was 20 years old, he helped hide and protect 130 Jewish persons who had come to seek safety in his little town, Malzieu.

He was ready to lay down his life for them. He showed me an immense wooden wardrobe that he had pushed against a door, behind which there were Jews in hiding.

Spirit of solidarity

“How many of the Jews were denounced to the police?” I asked.

“None,” he said.

“So did everyone in Malzieu want the Jews to be there?”

“Not at all,” he said. “Some were anti-Jewish.”

“Why didn’t they denounce the Jews, then?” I asked.

“They may have had resentful thoughts, but they didn’t act on them. They would not act against the feelings of their community.”

So even the anti-Semites, through their silence, aided the resistance.

Recently, the Israeli government offered Robert the medal of the “righteous,” honoring Christians and others who saved many Jewish people. But Robert refused it. “I did nothing special,” he said, “Just the minimum that was my duty. And what we achieved, we did together, as a community.”

Robert exemplifies the tradition of universalism — a spirit of solidarity with all humanity. This is a proud Jewish tradition — the tradition of my family. In terms of Hitler’s Holocaust, its meaning is “never again” — but not just with regard to Jews. It means “never again for humankind.”

After the war, I was an orphan. I left France while still a child and crossed the ocean. Now I am a Canadian, proud of my new life here.

But Canada is now the world’s number one apologist for the Israeli government and its oppression of the Palestinians. What does the Holocaust tell me about the status of Palestine today — and the Prawer Plan?

Pattern of dispossession

The sinister Prawer Plan to extinguish Bedouin land rights fits into a pattern of Palestinian dispossession over the last century. It is only the latest step in a process of land theft that has been grinding on for seven decades.

When my parents were born, Palestine was a successful, diverse and tolerant society of Muslims, Christians and Jews. Meanwhile, eastern Europe — tsarist Russia in particular — was wracked by violence against Jews. Many fled the region, and some moved to Palestine.

Among them were my father, when he was a young boy, and his family. But guided by the Zionist movement, these refugees came not as immigrants, to enrich Palestinian society, but as colonial settlers, to displace it: a colonial project of ethnic cleansing.

This was not to my father’s liking, and he moved as a young man to France. Both he and my mother, and most of their Jewish generation in Europe, were skeptical of the Palestine settler project, and sought safety for Jews through social progress in Europe itself.

Step by step, the Zionist project took Palestinian lands, evicting and dispossessing the residents. Then Hitler’s war and Holocaust destroyed forever the Jewish homeland in Poland and neighboring countries. The Jewish survivors searched for a new homeland.

The Canadian government, with the support of many well-intentioned people, thought it proper to grant them a state in Palestine. It seemed only fair, given what the Jews had suffered.

Callously brushed aside

As for the Palestinians, they were callously brushed aside. Indeed the lie was spread that they did not even exist — Palestine was called “a land without people.”

Dispossessing and persecuting Palestinians became a way to atone for Hitler’s crimes. And so we had the Nakba, in 1948, when 750,000 indigenous Palestinians were expelled from their homeland, victims of a new and terrible ethnic cleansing.

The process continues even today. Jewish settlements are imposed on the remaining fragments of Palestinian lands on the West Bank.

The Gaza Strip is cruelly blockaded. Palestinians in Israel suffer legal discrimination.

Palestinian refugees continue to endure forced exile. Israel wages repeated aggressive wars.

And the Prawer Plan targets remaining Bedouin lands.

Monstrosity

And still, today, Israeli oppression of the Palestinians is often justified as necessary to prevent a “second Holocaust” against the Jews. What a lie! The very idea is a monstrosity.

It is the Palestinians who suffer mistreatment, often reminiscent of what Hitler imposed on the Jews. The real threat to Israel’s Jewish population comes from their own government’s cruelty, its apartheid policies, its land grabs, its theft of resources, its long-term drive for ethnic cleansing.

If we have learned one thing from Hitler’s crimes against the Jews, it is that ethnic cleansing, ethnic slaughter and genocide must be opposed today wherever it occurs — and above all in Palestine. To be true to the memory of the victims of the Jewish Holocaust and of all Hitler’s victims, we must defend the Palestinians.

Make Israel accountable

We are building a united world campaign to get out the truth about Palestine. Palestinians must have the right to speak up. The media, manipulated by the elite who control Canada, pervasively confront us with a wall of silence. We face continual challenges to the rights granted to us by Canada’s Charter of Rights, free speech and assembly.

Defending the right to speak, discuss and voice an opinion is central to our efforts to defend the Palestinians.

During my trip to Auvergne last month, I was struck by the magical power of human solidarity, expressed in a varied and resourceful resistance movement that saved the lives of 10,000 Jewish children, including me. Let that same spirit of solidarity inspire us today in supporting victims of oppression here and worldwide, beginning in Palestine.

As a Jew, I say the Israeli government’s actions are not in my name. As Canadians, we must now tell the government of Stephen Harper that his support for Israeli apartheid is not in our name.

Stand up for the Palestinians. Demand that their right to return to their homelands is upheld; demand that they have equal rights in Israel; demand an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.

Join the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel — BDS. It is a nonviolent and democratic way to unite and make Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinians.

Let us call for an end to the Prawer campaign and the dispossession of the Palestinians. Palestine will be free!

*Suzanne Weiss is a Holocaust survivor and a Palestinian solidarity activist based in Toronto. This article is an excerpt from a talk given to a student meeting in London, Ontario, on 20 November.

 

Written FOR

WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE IF ALL PALESTINIANS EXERCISED THEIR RIGHT OF RETURN? ~~ VIDEO

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

right-of-return

 

As Amal Obeidi, a young woman from the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of Lifta says, “borders are sometimes psychological, imposed on us by the occupation as if we will never return.”

The first step on the road is to shatter those psychological borders. This thought-provoking video helps to do just that.

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Turning the Palestinian right of return into a practical reality – video

 Ali Abunimah
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Palestinians have fiercely defended their right to return to the lands and villages they were forced to leave between 1947 and 1949 as Israel was created.

This video by refugee rights group BadilIntroduction to Practicalities of Return features interviews with refugees and experts and scenes of the lands from which Palestinians are exiled.

In the video, Eitan Bronstein of Zochrot – an Israeli group that supports the right of return for Palestinians – observes that expulsion was only one part of the Nakba – the ongoing violent dispossession of the Palestinians. The other key element has been Israel’s prevention of return.

Therefore ending the Nakba requires creative and practical thinking and planning for return.

Attempts to return

In the early years after their expulsion Palestinian refugees made many attempts to return home, often just to recover personal property. Many were shot and killed by Israeli forces.

In May 2011, thousands of Palestinian refugees marched toward the borders of their homeland from Lebanon and Syria in a dramatic reassertion of their commitment to return. Then, too, they were met with lethal Israeli fire.

Today, Palestinian refugees and their descendants number 7 million. Israel continues to deny their right to go home solely on the racist basis that these Palestinians are not Jews and thus constitute a “demographic threat” to Jewish political and numerical domination of the country.

But the right of return is recognized by international law.

New movement

Palestinian youths within present-day Israel are leading a renewed movement for return to their parents’ and grandparents’ villages in the Galilee, including Iqrit and Kufr Birim.

A number of Palestinians have now set up permanent camps in the villages.

In the video Nahida Zahra talks about the history of this movement and explains, “The idea was supported by all the families of Kufr Birim, many of us believed in it.

“The idea was that we would return to our village and we didn’t need to wait for a legal decision or political agreement.”

Israel has reacted to this action, handing a demolition order to the return camp.

“This time we are not leaving here,” Zahra says, recalling earlier temporary attempts to come back to the village.

Make return real

To make return a reality for many more people, there’s a need to create and disseminate practical ideas. Part of this process is joint planning between refugees and architects to imagine what rebuilt communities towns would look like.

This is already happening, says BADIL’s Terry Rempel, and it is vital to challenge the idea that return is impossible because homes have been destroyed.

Rempel points to the double standards of international organizations and governments that have actively promoted the right of return for refugees from other countries such as Bosnia, while arguing that it is impractical only in the case of Palestinians.

Yet the approaches taken in Bosnia can also offer practical solutions for restoring Palestinian refugee rights while protecting all stakeholders, Rempel says.

Thinking about return, several speakers argue, must go hand in hand with a process decolonization and de-Zionization.

This, they say, lays the ground for a just and inclusive political solution based on equality and nondiscrimination for all who live in historic Palestine.

As Amal Obeidi, a young woman from the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of Lifta says, “borders are sometimes psychological, imposed on us by the occupation as if we will never return.”

The first step on the road is to shatter those psychological borders. This thought-provoking video helps to do just that.

For more information from Badil, visit their website: badil.org

Written FOR

AN ODE TO COLUMBUS DAY ~~ THE REAL MEANING

columbus genocide
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COLUMBUS DAY
By Tom Karlson
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Financed by Iberian Jewry

the Admiral, Christian or Jew, Spaniard or Italian

leads 120 men in the

Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria

sailing south and west  

India bound

crewed by:

Milton Freedman and his Chicago University goons

     in charge of propaganda, interrogation, discipline,

     race and class consciousness  

Prescott Bush and George Armstrong Custer

     compose the voyage manifesto and mission

below deck are the sun-dried souls of

Rasputin, the Popes, Sylvester the Second and Benedict the Ninth 

     in charge of rape, incest, and family values

Pinkerton and J Edgar Hoover

     spying, pimping, and procuring stool pigeons

Kenneth Lay  

     finance, mergers, and loans

Edward Teller   

     munitions

Robert E Lee’s horse Traveler

will show the way home

where Ferdinand and Isabella’s bishops

find Jews to murder and maim, books to burn, Moors to exterminate

Columbus will trade

measles, diphtheria, small pox, and malaria

for gold and land

as he works out the science of genocide on Hispaniola

never forgetting the University’s tools of slavery   colonization

religious fanaticism   and free market capitalism                                       

 

WHAT ELSE HAS ELIE WIESEL BEEN LYING ABOUT?

 

Richard Goldstone and his team personally confirmed the deaths of 47 children in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.

But Wiesel says he doesn’t know anything about the killing of children in Gaza. How seriously can we take his pronouncements on Israeli policy or international affairs if he’s not aware of these basic facts?

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‘Tour Guide’ of one holocaust …
U.S. President Obama listens to Holocaust survivor Wiesel during visit  to former Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp
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Denier of another one …
gaza-holocaust
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In his own words …
elie wiesel
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YET …
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Elie Wiesel claims he doesn’t ‘know anything’ about Operation Cast Lead

Alex Kane
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Elie Wiesel’s statements about Israel’s 2008-09 attack on Gaza don’t add up.

On September 29, Wiesel appeared alongside Sheldon Adelson, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Shmuley Boteach to talk genocide and about how the “strong” can protect the “weak” in the context of the chemical weapons attack in Syria in August. “Israel is part of our lives. It is truly part of mine,” Wiesel said on stage.

At the conclusion of the bizarre event, Max Blumenthal and I asked the world’s most famous Holocaust survivor an obvious, though unasked, question: who would protect the people of Gaza from Israel?

His first answer (minute 6:20 in the video above) was that “all human beings should be protected everywhere.” When I pressed him about the 300 children killed in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead and whether he supported the assault, his response was: “I don’t know anything about it.” Blumenthal and I each tried one more time, and Wiesel again said he didn’t know anything about Cast Lead.

But Wiesel knows about Israel’s 2008-09 attack on Gaza. In September 2009, Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz, Elliott Abrams and others signed an NGO Monitor letterthat criticized Human Rights Watch’s reporting on the “recent Gaza conflict.” In February 2010, Wiesel told Haaretz that the Goldstone report, which documented human rights violations committed by the Israeli army during its assault on Gaza, was “a crime against the Jewish people.”

Richard Goldstone and his team personally confirmed the deaths of 47 children in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.

But Wiesel says he doesn’t know anything about the killing of children in Gaza. How seriously can we take his pronouncements on Israeli policy or international affairs if he’s not aware of these basic facts?

(H/T Max Blumenthal.)

Written FOR

HOLIDAYS IN ISRAEL ~~ A TIME TO LOVE OR TO HATE

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Preparations are underway to usher in a week long holiday in Israel. It is called Succot, or The Feast of the Tabernacles. We eat all of our meals in little booths and the ceilings are usually made of tree branches, allowing the sky to be visible. It is a reminder of the 40 years we roamed in the desert and dwelled in such structures. It is actually quite a fun holiday and a very community oriented one, it is one of my favourites.
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A non Jewish visitor to Jerusalem this week might get the impression that the entire city stands in solidarity with the homeless Palestinians illegally evicted from their homes by settlers. Nothing could be further from the truth.
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Tents have appeared (actually booths) in preparation of the Festival
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Family homes were STOLEN, many families have been living in makeshift tents for over three years…. and neither the Municipality of Jerusalem nor the Palestinian Authority gives a damn. As winter approaches, a new meaning is given to the term ‘settlement freeze’ as these homeless literally freeze in their abodes.
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I had some flashbacks this morning to my Succot celebrations in Brooklyn as a child, they were much different than here. Here there is a Jewish community and an Arab community. In the neighbourhood I grew up in, there was a Eastern European Jewish Community (Ashkenazi) and a community made up of Spanish Jews and Jews from Northern Africa (Sephardi). Both communities had their own traditions and practices, but basically both were members of the same religion. One of the major differences between the two communities at the time were language, the Ashkenazi Jews spoke Yiddish; a language with Germanic roots, while the Sephardi Jews spoke a language called Ladino; a mixture of Hebrew and Spanish.
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What I remembered this morning was the following;The Synagogue of the Sephardi community was situated very close to the home of my grandparents. They used to build a large enough booth to accommodate their entire congregation. As a child, I used to help them with the preparations. I remembered my grandmother screaming at me from her window to get away from them, not to play with their kids…. I could never understand why. It seemed that part of her ghetto mentality was to distrust anyone that was in any way different. These people were different than we were, as mentioned; they spoke a different language and, for the most part, had darker skins than the Ashkenazi Jews. The younger generation, like myself did not see these differences as our common language was English and skin colour was never an issue with me or my immediate family. I therefore could never understand my grandmother’s logic, or lack of…. So I secretly maintained my friendships with the kids there.
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Today, I started thinking about prejudice, why it exists, how to overcome it…. It seems to exist because of ignorance and fear, two very real factors. How to overcome it? Learn about each other and the fear factor will be eliminated. Very simple! It worked in my case.Things are different today, in Israel at least. The Jewish community celebrates together. We have a common language, Hebrew. There are still some remnants of the old world prejudice, but for the most part it’s gone. Now to overcome the prejudices between the Jewish and Arab communities here. My way is to open my booth, as well as my home, to ALL members of the community, both Arab and Jew.  It’s the only way to guarantee an end to the hatred… live together! So, instead of fearing the differences of the others, my philosophy is to say
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VIVA LA DIFFERENCE!
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Let us all live together as neighbours and brothers.Shalom-Salaam!

THE KOSHER KLANSMEN OF ISRAEL

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They seem to have forgotten what they were ‘never to forget’
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“If we blur this message and say this is a country for all its citizens,” he warned, “and the other automatically becomes a citizen with equal rights, and you don’t have any special privileges just because you are a Jew, unfortunately, in moral terms, that’s like scoring a goal against your own team.”
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Rabbi patrols Israeli town to drive away Africans: video

 Ali Abunimah
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When Senator Barack Obama visited the Israeli town of Sderot, as part of his presidential election campaign in June 2008, he received an enthusiastic welcome despite the fact that his father was from Kenya.

But migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers from African countries arriving in the town today receive a very different welcome, as local rabbi Ariel Bareli works to drive them away.

Journalist and videographer David Sheen caught Bareli on video explaining his tactics “to convince people to not rent them apartments.”

Proud to have shut down church, community center

“We pressured people in various ways, talking to people in the community,” Bareli said, “and we patrolled to try to make things hard for them.”

“We had a battle here when they began to create communal institutions, and especially a church and a community center,” Bareli added. “We fought against it, and eventually the Sderot city council shut the place down.”

“It’s very important to me that in Sderot the people in my community won’t have to deal with Sudanese people who pray in churches, because that’s how Sderot begins to change.”

Bareli, who said he has lived in Sderot for 15 years, identified himself as the rabbi of a synagogue called “Demanding Good.”

Bareli’s anti-African campaign is reminiscent of a call by hundreds of Israel’s state-financed rabbis urging landlords in cities across the country to refuse to rent homes to Palestinian citizens of Israel.

It also comes amid an intensified atmosphere of racism and incitement against Africansencouraged by top Israeli government officials and politicians.

Defending Jewish supremacy

Bareli defended the idea of Israel being a “Jewish state” in which one group has superior rights.

“If we blur this message and say this is a country for all its citizens,” he warned, “and the other automatically becomes a citizen with equal rights, and you don’t have any special privileges just because you are a Jew, unfortunately, in moral terms, that’s like scoring a goal against your own team.”

“Why bother fighting … killing people?” asks the Israeli rabbi, in defense of inferior rights for non-Jews.

Bareli accused Sudanese people in particular of causing a “demographic problem” and urged the government to pay them to leave the country.

Following the success of his anti-African campaign in Sderot, Bareli is now moving to Tel Aviv to set up a similar effort there, which was inaugurated by Israel’s deputy minister for religious affairs.

Background: Sderot in Israeli propaganda

Sderot is a small town in present-day Israel located a few miles from Gaza. It has featured prominently in Israeli propaganda in recent years, due to the frequency with which it was hit by rockets, fired at Israel by resistance groups in Gaza, resulting in several deaths and injuries of Israeli noncombatants as well as property damage over the years.

Palestinian resistance groups have said that the rocket fire was aimed at deterring frequent Israeli attacks on the civilian population in Gaza.

However, the 2009 UN-commissioned Goldstone report found that because the rockets are “uncontrolled and uncontrollable,” their firing amounts to “the commission of an indiscriminate attack on the civilian population … a war crime, and may amount to crimes against humanity.”

Obama’s 2008 visit came as Sderot became an obligatory stop for politicians to declare limitless sympathy and support for Israel, while ignoring the utter devastation and mass killing regularly wrought by Israel in Gaza just a few short miles away, usually when Israel breached an effective ceasefire.

 

Written FOR

 

PALESTINIAN YOUTH TAKE BACK THE NIGHT

After watching their land being raped for over 65 years, Palestinian youth are attempting to take back the night …
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The new wave of movements which have gained prominence this summer can be traced back partly to a group of third generation, internally displaced youth from the village of Iqrit, who in August 2012 decided that they would take matters into their own hands and return to their ancestral village.
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Palestinian youth assert right of return with direct action

Nadim Nashef*
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Summer camps aim to reconnect Palestinian youth to their ancestral villages. (Photograph courtesy of Baladna)

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During the summer of 2013 a new grassroots movement burst onto the scene and announced itself as a major development in the long struggle for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Activities occurring throughout the Galilee region of present-day Israel have been held which reaffirm the connection of the younger generation of internally displaced Palestinians to their ancestral villages. Events and projects simultaneously take practical steps to realize this long-denied, fundamental right.

The right of return is one of the most evocative and central issues for Palestinians ever since the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948, which saw the destruction of more than 530 Arab villages and the displacement of approximately 800,000 Palestinians. The majority of them ended up as refugees in neighboring Arab states, or in those parts of Palestine which initially remained outside of Israeli control, namely the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 managed to remain inside the new state of Israel, however, finding refuge in nearby towns which had survived the ethnic cleansing of the majority of Palestine’s villages.

Brutal Israel

Attempts by the original inhabitants to return to their villages in the immediate aftermath of the Nakba were fought against by the new state, which used all the means at its disposal, often brutally.

Dispersed villagers attempting to return from outside the borders of the new state were often shot dead on sight by the Israeli army. Meanwhile, villagers attempting to return who had managed to remain within the borders of the new state were routinely rounded up and deported as “infiltrators.” Legislation such as the Absentees Property Law enabled the confiscation of property of those Palestinians who had been made into internally displaced persons, while denying their rights to live there or even to enter the site of their ancestral lands.

Between 1948 and 1955, the majority of these villages were destroyed by the Israeli army and covered either with pine forests or new Jewish-only settlements. In many cases, a cemetery, mosque or church was the only remaining evidence of a village’s existence.

The new wave of movements which have gained prominence this summer can be traced back partly to a group of third generation, internally displaced youth from the village of Iqrit, who in August 2012 decided that they would take matters into their own hands and return to their ancestral village.

Iqrit’s residents were originally ordered out of their village for two weeks shortly after the Nakba for so-called security reasons. Exceptionally, three years later they obtained Israeli high court approval to return, and received information that they would be able to return on Christmas Day, especially symbolic for the Christian community.

On that day in 1951, as the villagers waited to return, the Israeli army razed the village to the ground.

Potent symbol

Now living in two small rooms built as extensions of the still-standing church, Iqrit’s youth activists today sleep in the village in shifts in order to maintain a permanent presence there. This summer a small football stadium was also built, a potent symbol of the will and permanence of their return.

Iqrit’s community has been organizing summer camps for its younger members annually since 1996; this year approximately 200 youth between the ages of 8 and 16 attended. The aim of the camp was to help the youth develop their identity by teaching them about their own history, and connecting this to the wider Palestinian history before 1948.

In addition to the summer camp and the newly permanent presence, villagers hold religious celebrations during Easter and Christmas in the local church. The village’s cemetery is also still in use.

The youth-led, grassroots approach of Iqrit is very much indicative of the movement as a whole. Youth took the lead in 2013’s “Summer of Return,” ensuring that demands for the right of return find a renewed voice among the latest generation of the dispossessed.

One village which has adopted Iqrit’s strategy of youth-based return is Kufr Birim. Located close to the boundary between Israel and Lebanon — not far from Iqrit — for the past few years Kufir Birim has played host to summer camps for children.

This summer, people with family connections to Kufir Birim have also decided to maintain a permanent presence in the village, centered around the old community’s surviving church. However, their initiative has not been without obstacles.

Refusing to leave

In August, the Israel Lands Authority told the camp’s members that they had to leave within a week or they would be removed by force (“Authorities threaten displaced community’s return to village,” +972 Magazine, 22 August 2013).

On 28 August, Iqrit also received a visit by inspectors from the Israel Lands Authority, accompanied by border policemen. They came during the morning and confiscated tents and beds, uprooted the small garden, removed signs and destroyed property, including the new football stadium.

However, as in Kufr Birim, the youth are not willing to leave their ancestral land.

This summer has also witnessed a very successful summer camp in the village of Ghabisiya, while Baladna (the Assocation for Arab Youth) and a number of other groups initiated the Udna (Our Return) project with the participation of five ethnically cleansed villages: Saffuriyya, Miar, Maalul, Lajjun and Iqrit, with one youth group in each village.

The project aims to educate the new generation with family connections to these villages of their history and rights, with film screenings and storytelling featuring residents who survived the expulsion. Practical approaches to the issue of return such as town planning and logistics were also explored, while musical events by local artists added a cultural feature.

Iqrit, Kufr Birim, Ghabisiya, Saffuriyya, Miar, Malul, Lajjun. These are just seven of the Palestinians towns and villages which were destroyed and whose inhabitants were displaced during the Nakba.

Yet the combined activities of these villages during the summer of 2013 represent the most significant movement in the struggle for return since the years following the Nakba. Far from forgetting their roots and historical injustices, the latest generation of Palestinians inside Israel are showing their dedication to their right of return.

This, combined with the youth’s energy, enthusiasm and innovative approaches, has resulted in a grassroots, youth-led movement unprecedented in the history of activism for the right to return. Whatever the immediate reaction of Israeli authorities to the return of villagers in Iqrit and Kufr Birim, these movements have captured the imagination of people across historic Palestine, young and old.

And while the future of the movement is full of uncertainty, the determination and energy of our youth alone is reason for optimism.

*Nadim Nashef is is the director of the Haifa-based Association for Arab Youth-Baladna.

 

 

Written FOR

THOSE INVISIBLE PALESTINIAN CHILDREN IN A DISAPPEARING LAND

What zion hides from the world ….. and what they get upset about …..
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Murder of innocent children
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Abir was ten years old, walking home from school, a block away from the Israeli soldiers who were angry at adolescent boys throwing stones at their armored vehicle. They were just outside East Jerusalem in the village of Anata in the West Bank. Abir had stopped at a store to buy candy to bring home to her sister.

The rubber bullet hit her at the base of her skull. The operations to save her were performed at an Israeli hospital in West Jerusalem. They were unsuccessful.

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Found in the rubble of the Gaza aftermath

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The above horrors went unnoticed in the Western press …

BUT …

The following is headline news in Vancouver, Canada, as zion gets upset with the truth;

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‘Disappearing Palestine’ Transit Ads Anger Jewish Federation in Vancouver

Show Palestinian Territories Gradually Shrinking Into Israel

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Bus Boycott: Ads paid for by the Palestine Awareness Coalition show the Palestinian territories shrinking into Israel over six decades.
COURTESY MITCHELL GROPPER
Bus Boycott: Ads paid for by the Palestine Awareness Coalition show the Palestinian territories shrinking into Israel over six decades.

The head of the Jewish federation in Vancouver and the Canadian city’s transit agency are at odds over the legality of an anti-Israel ad campaign on buses there.

The ads, which went up Tuesday, purport to show the “disappearance of Palestine due to Israeli occupation over the past 65 years.” The ads — 15 bus posters and one large “mural” in a station — consist of four maps spanning from 1946 to 2012 and illustrate “Palestine” shrinking over the years.

“This is of grave concern to our community at large because the ads make the use of the buses unwelcome and unsafe,” Mitchell Gropper, chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, told The Province newspaper.

TransLink, the transit agency, said in a written statement that it was advised by its lawyers that it was legally obligated to run the ads. But Gropper, an attorney, disagrees with TransLink’s legal determination and said the federation has retained a lawyer to consider its options.

“TransLink has said the law required them to publish these ads,” he said, “but that is certainly not the case.”

The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center in Toronto said it was “disturbed to learn about TransLink’s agreement to run historically distorted anti-Israel advertisements,” and said the ads were “provocative and incite hatred and contempt.”

Marty Roth, a member of the Palestine Awareness Coalition that is behind the $15,000, four-month campaign, told The Province that the battle over the ads had already been won.

“This will be controversial with a number of traditional Jewish organizations that have tried to suppress the ads,” Roth said. “But TransLink has refused to agree with them.”

Source

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And from MONDOWEISS

BEGGING FOR FORGIVENESS WHILE CONTINUING TO SIN

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The Hebrew month of Elul is the time when the observant literally beat their chests begging their Creator to forgive them for the sins they might have committed over the past year.
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But, for many of those, as soon as their chest beating ends, they leave their houses of worship and beat on Palestinians, including children ….
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The links below are just a few of the latest examples;
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Photo essay: Israeli forces shoot teargas into mosque, suffocating hundreds before start of Kafr Qaddum demonstration

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WHY IS ZIONISM SO AFRAID OF THE TRUTH?

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There are scores of sites on the Web that ‘police’ pro Palestinian Blogs and periodicals searching desperately for any criticism or condemnations of zionism. Instead of looking into the matters at hand, they merely label all such sites as anti-Semitic. If they were truly interested in the survival of Israel they would do their utmost to correct the wrongs that are taking place there.
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But no, it’s much easier to condemn
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Three score and five years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. That was just the beginning of the myth of the century. This has definitely NOT been the case. It has NOT been dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, not even if they are Jews. It has survived all these years by perpetuating the myth that this is a land given by a higher Body to the ‘Chosen People’. For all those years it has collected a whole deck of victim cards that it pulls out one by one to garner world sympathy and yet more support.
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That has been the answer to the criticisms and condemnations of the evils taking place.
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Today we see a situation of the ‘reawakening’ of the so-called Peace Process, brought to light with the help of the US State Department. A ‘reawakening’ that could be the end of the Palestinian nightmare. But NO ….. that would create even more problems for Israel. Peace could mean the end of the 30 Billion Dollar a year handout from US Taxpayers’ pockets. Israel finds itself today with a threat more deadly than war itself, PEACE.
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So what to do?
Sabotage the process before it even starts.
Build more settlements.
Expand the existing ones.
Arrest more innocent Palestinian children.
ANYTHING to maintain the status quo.
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And, if what I say is construed as anti-Semitism by zion, SO BE IT!
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THE TRUTH WILL EVENTUALLY SET PALESTINE FREE!!

CALLING FOR MURDER ON THE ISRAELI BLOGESPHERE

“I am pissed off that he’s being arrested by soldiers in the middle of the night for the umpteenth time. Because he should have been shot and killed already.
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Blog linked to Israeli army calls for murder of Palestinian children

 Ali Abunimah 
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“Brian of London,” (center) with the Israeli army spokesperson Barak Raz (right) and the Jewish Agency’s Avi Mayer. (Source)

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“I am pissed off that he’s being arrested by soldiers in the middle of the night for the umpteenth time. Because he should have been shot and killed already.

This incitement to murder Muhammad Abu Hashem, a 17-year-old from the occupied West Bank village of Beit Ommar, appeared today on a prominent blog which has close ties to the Israeli army and functions as an outlet for its anti-Palestinian propaganda.

The incitement came in response to a New York Times article by Jodi Rudoren, which profiled boys in the village who throw stones at Israeli occupation forces and settlers who have forcibly taken much of the village’s land (the facts about Israel’s massive expropriations of Beit Ommar’s land are omitted from the article, which represents stone-throwing as a sort of Palestinian pathology).

The village of Beit Ommar and its people – especially children – are under constant violent assault from the Israeli army and settlers, as Mousa Abu Maria of the Palestine Solidarity Project told The Electronic Intifada in April.

Yet, Brian of London, who also uses the alias Brian John Thomas, added, “This kind of writing, humanising these damn savages with their rock throwing as if its some kind of noble endeavour, sickens me. The only reason they do this with rocks is they know we’d shoot them if they had guns.”

Brian of London had also posted similar incitement on Rudoren’s Facebook page, prompting Rudoren to comment publicly: “I asked Brian John Thomas to refrain from violent, threatening messages.”

Ties to Israeli army and “security” establishment

Brian of London wrote his demand that indigenous children living under occupation be killed in cold blood for the benefit of illegal colonial settlers on the blog Israellycool, whose publisher David Lange is invited to special briefings with Israeli “security sources.”

Lange, a settler from Australia, goes by the pen name “Aussie Dave.”

Among the propaganda services the Israellycool blog has provided to the occupation isadvancing the baseless theory, fed to Lange by the army, that the 2010 death of Jawaher Abu Rahmeh, in the West Bank village of Bilin was due to a so-called “honor killing.” Abu Rahmeh, 36, died, according to witnesses, as a result of exposure to teargas that occupation forces fired at villagers protesting land confiscations.

Brian of London can be seen in the photo above, posted on Twitter by Israeli army spokesperson Barak Raz on 31 July, standing between Raz, who is on the right, and theJewish Agency’s social media propagandist Avi Mayer. Thomas also tweeted a photo of himself with Raz and Mayer on the same day.

This appears to be more than just a fleeting meeting, as Mayer, himself a former Israeli army spokesperson, had tweeted about meeting with Brian of London in February as well.

Brian of London/Brian Thomas also writes for the Times of Israel website and has helped to promote the Israeli electric car company Better Place, an occupation profiteer which is illegally building infrastructure in the occupied West Bank.

According to his Times of Israel profile, Brian of London became a settler from the UK in 2009, and as recently as today, according to a check-in, traveled to the colony of Alon Shvut in the occupied West Bank.

With thanks to Benjamin Doherty and Andrew Kadi for additional research.

Written FOR

A LONG BUT MUST READ, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE JEWISH

Why no-one asked why the Arabs said No
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The Original “NO’: Why the Arabs rejected zionism, and why it matters
Natasha Gill*

Everybody sees a difficulty in the question of relations between Arabs and Jews. But not everybody sees that there is no solution to this question. No solution! There is a gulf, and nothing can fill that gulf … I do not know what Arab will agree that Palestine should belong to the Jews — even if the Jews learn Arabic … And we must recognize this situation. If we do not acknowledge this and try to come up with “remedies,” then we risk demoralization … We, as a nation, want this country to be ours; the Arabs, as a nation, want this country to be theirs. The decision has been referred to the Peace Conference.

                                         — Ben Gurion, Speech to Vaad Zmani, June 1919
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A viable peace process does not require either party to embrace or even recognize the legitimacy of the other’s narrative. It requires that both have an informed and non-reductionist understanding of what this narrative consists of, come to terms with the fact that it cannot be wished away, and recognize that elements of it will make their way to the negotiating table and have to be addressed.


In his March 2013 Jerusalem speech, President Obama offered the Israelis an astonishing bargain: history for peace. In return for his personal endorsement of each detail of the standard Jewish/Zionist narrative, the Israelis were asked to acknowledge the Palestinians as human beings with some human rights. They were then called upon to reconsider the occupation and do the right thing so as to help renew the peace process.

Obama’s speech was in many ways a reflection of, and a response to, the prevailing view of the conflict in Israel today, a view supported by many of Israel’s friends in the United States of America. The events of the past few years have fuelled Israeli suspicions of the Arabs, and furthered their doubts over whether there is a partner for peace. One concomitant of this has been the reassertion of ideological and narrative-driven policies, including a demand that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state by its Palestinian interlocutors.

It appears the president hoped that by addressing and appeasing these fears, he might gain the trust of the Israelis and create a space within which a genuine peace process could be launched. However, rather than validate one side’s view of history — “the story of Israel,” as the President called it — he might have suggested that if the Israelis hope to achieve any part of their dream of peace and security, they need to accept that their enemies have their own story to tell: one that is not merely about human rights’ abuses in the West Bank, and one that is not going away anytime soon.

The purpose of such a presidential injunction would not have been to encourage the parties to get mired in debates about the past, or “recognize the others’ narrative.” The battle over history is raging more bitterly than ever and will never be settled at the negotiating table. But while it is neither necessary nor possible for parties to accept each other’s version of the causes of the conflict, it is necessary for all parties to have a minimal understanding of how their adversaries’ historical perspective influences their approach to the negotiations in the present: their willingness to come to the table, the kind of peace process they can trust and embrace, the conditions or preconditions they can or cannot accept, and, perhaps most importantly, the deals and trade-offs they can or cannot sell to their people. Without this understanding on the part of both the public and policy makers pushing for a renewed peace process, the president’s hopes, and Secretary Kerry’s tireless effort, will likely go the way of Camp David 2000.

When it comes to the pro-Israel camp, the key issue that needs to be addressed is the blind spot regarding the pre-1948 origins of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

A remarkable number of Israel’s supporters from across the political spectrum share a common and unshakable article of faith: that the Israel/Palestine conflict was avoidable and unnecessary. If the Arabs of Palestine had accepted Zionism 130 years ago, there would never have been, and would not now be, any cause for bloodshed.

Arab rejectionism has thus served as the equivalent of a cosmological argument: “In the Beginning There Was the No.” The pro-Israel camp often traces the history of the conflict to 1947, when the Arabs said No to the UN partition plan, or to 1948, when the Arab countries said No by launching a war against the recently declared Jewish state. The underlying assumption is that the Arabs had no good reason to reject Zionism or the idea of Jewish self-determination in Palestine: rather, their rejection is interpreted as a consequence of their inherent anti-Semitism, natural tendency toward violence, or self-destructive intransigence. Recently this credo was succinctly articulated by Prime Minister Netanyahu: “The Palestinians’ lack of will to recognise the state of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people is the root of the conflict.”1

In one sense, Netanyahu is absolutely correct: the fact that the Palestinians have refused to recognize themoral right of the Jews to a state in Palestine is a source of conflict, even though the Palestinians may be ready to accept Israel’s de facto right to exist today. What is problematic about this view is that it mistakes the response for the cause. Palestinian rejection did not sprout Athena-like, fully formed from the head of Zeus, without reason or basis; and it is not the root cause of the conflict.

For over 70 years this credo has endured in the face of new thinking, new evidence and new circumstances. It has been sustained by a stunning lack of inquisitiveness about what caused the Original Arab No, and thus about the very nature of the conflict itself. It remains a mystery how otherwise critically-minded Jews and influential policymakers have repeated statements like Netanyahu’s for generations without asking why the Arabs refused to recognize the legitimacy of Zionism — engaging in a form of culpable ignorance that diminishes the quality of their arguments, weakens the credibility of their case, and creates a chasm between the public view of the conflict and the understanding needed in order to prepare the ground for a genuine peace process.

Admittedly, for loyal supporters of Israel, this journey into the origins of the origins — the period between the 1880s and late 1930 — is likely to be difficult. Even more than the thorny issue of the 1948 nakba and the refugee crisis, this early period poses elemental questions about the conflict that cannot be sidestepped via pre-prepared talking points on Palestinian rejectionism. These questions are not of merely historical interest; they expose the underlying patterns, mechanisms and impasses that define the conflict today, almost all of which were already in place by the late 1930s.

But while difficult, this kind of exploration into the core issues is unavoidable. Israel’s supporters can debate about the 1947 partition plan and the 1948 war ad nauseam, but without an understanding of the preceding 60 years they are barely talking about the conflict at all. By avoiding the early period they have denied themselves the knowledge and insight that would allow them to properly assess the positions of the Palestinians, effectively pursue their own people’s interests and recognize the opportunities for de-escalating the conflict if or when they arise. They have also ensured that the history and current state of the conflict will be increasingly articulated, and with greater persuasiveness, by Israel’s enemies.

In order to overcome these barriers and begin to build a space where genuine peacemaking might take place, the Jewish community and its allies must begin asking questions about the Original No: Why, in the period between the 1880s and 1948, did the Arabs of Palestine and the surrounding areas say No to Zionism? To what exactly did they say No? And how did they say No?

THE ARABS OF PALESTINE SAID NO TO THE JEWISH RIGHT OF RETURN

What confusion would ensue all the world over if this principle on which the Jews base their “legitimate” claim were carried out in other parts of the world! What migrations of nations must follow! The Spaniards in Spain would have to make room for the Arabs and Moors who conquered and ruled their country for over 700 years…

                                        — Palestine Arab Delegation, Observations on the High Commissioner’s Interim Report on
the Civil Administration of Palestine during the period 1st July 1920 – 30th June 1921

The Palestinian Arabs said No to the idea that in the 20th century a people who last lived in Palestine in large numbers over 2000 years ago could claim, on the basis of a religious text, rights to the land where the current inhabitants had been living for a millennium and a half.

They did not base their rejection on a denial of Jewish historical and religious ties to the Holy Land. Rather, they said No to the idea that highly secularized Jews arriving from Europe, who seemed to abjure religious life, manners and practices, could use the Bible to support a political project of a Jewish state in an already populated and settled land.

Nor did they deny the suffering of the Jews, or the pogroms and persecution they were experiencing in Western and Eastern Europe at the time. On the contrary, many of the most vocal critics of Zionism were extremely aware of Jewish suffering, as they were unsettled by the impact it was having on the British support for the project of the Jewish National Home. What they said no to was the idea that the Jews’humanitarian plight granted them special political and national rights in Palestine, and that those Jewish rights should trump Arab rights. The Arabs said No to the idea that they should pay the price for longstanding Christian persecution of the Jews, and they expressed deep resentment at the hypocrisy of the Europeans, who were promoting a home for the Jews in Palestine as they closed their own doors to the victims of Christian/European anti-Semitism.

There is nothing shocking or strange about Arabs considering Zionist Jews coming from Europe an “alien implant” in Palestine, and resenting that.2 The logic of most national and proto-national movements — with Zionism hardly an exception — is that outsiders are a threat, and the definition of both “outsiders” and “threat” are influenced by the shifting needs and interests of each movement in its defining moments. In response to Zionism, the Arabs pointed out that the laws of territorial possession were accepted worldwide: had they not been, the Arabs could reconquer and reclaim Spain, a country they reigned over for longer and more recently than the Jews did Palestine. In the view of the Palestinian Arabs, regardless of whether Jews were genuinely attached to or had a history in Palestine, the appeal to the Bible was not strong enough to overturn the rules of a modern, secular world order.

The Arabs and Palestinians still today are taken to task for not having shown enough compassion for Jewish suffering and welcomed them to take refuge in Palestine. But while many Jews can make an intuitive connection between the predicament they faced between the turn of the century and the 1940s and their need for a state, there is no reason that for other parties compassion for Jewish suffering would naturally translate this into an acceptance of Zionism, either then or now. This is especially so in the case of the Arabs in the early years of the conflict, who knew that Zionism would negatively affect their lives in the future.

It is also difficult to sustain the view that opposition to Zionism in the early 20th century was by definition a form of anti-Semitism, given that the virtues of the movement were not always self-evident to the Jews themselves: not to Orthodox Jews, who considered it heretical and sacrilegious, arguing that a return toEretz Israel could only be hastened by divine rather than human will; not to many Diaspora Jews, a good number of whom remained “non-Zionists” until the 1940s; not to Marxist Jews, who considered it to be a retrograde move away from internationalism; and not to the local Palestinian Jews, many of whom felt alienated from the incoming Ashkenazim from Europe, and initially pinned their hopes for communal well-being onto the Ottoman government. And while it is true that Hajj Amin al Husayni — the Mufti of Jerusalem — and some of his followers’ anti-Jewish rhetoric and support for the Axis powers before and during World War II are legitimate targets of criticism, this does not change the fact that the Palestinian National Movement itself was not fundamentally driven by anti-Semitism. It was driven by a series of responses to the concept, implementation and long-term implications of the Zionist movement for the lives and identities of Palestinian Arabs.  

This is not to deny that there were Arab anti-Semites in the early period, or that there are many in the Arab world today: there are good reasons for Jews to fear that the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism may be dangerously blurred. But it is in the Jews’ own interest to disentangle anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, and find a way to address rather than circumvent legitimate critiques of Israel. Because so few have grappled with the primary reasons why the Arabs of Palestine opposed Zionism, they only have access to one interpretative framework, applicable to both past and present: the critique of Zionism has no reasonable basis but was then — and still is today — propelled primarily by anti-Semitism. This reductive formula does little to help supporters of Israel understand what truly motivates the Palestinians today, or determine how best to negotiate with them in pursuit of Israel’s interests.

THE PALESTINIAN ARABS SAID NO TO EQUATING NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS WITH LAND RIGHTS

There is not a single Arab who has not been hurt by the entry of Jews into Palestine: there is not a single Arab who does not see himself as part of the Arab race… In his eyes, Palestine is an independent unit.

                                        — Moshe Shertok, Speech MAPAI Central Committee, June 9th 1936

Whether there was such a thing as a “Palestinian” is one of the most common yet irrelevant debates regarding the origins of the conflict. It does not matter if the Arabs living in Palestine in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries considered themselves to be a part of Palestine, southern Syria, a greater Arab federation, or Ottomans, Jerusalemites, members of a tribe or clan, or Muslims. Whether they were “a” people or just “people,” they lived in and had profound religious, historical, cultural and sentimental ties to a particular area of land known variously and for centuries as “Palestine” and the Holy Land. The Arabs said No then, and continue to say No today, to being represented as people who were accidentally living on Jewish land, rather than human beings — in their vast majority Arabic speaking and Muslim by faith — who inhabited Palestine and the surrounding areas long before the Zionists arrived.

The reluctance on the part of many Israel supporters to accept that a large majority of Arabs lived and thrived in Palestine before Zionism affects their whole approach to the conflict today. For example, Israeli offers to the Palestinians are often presented as painful but magnanimous concessions in recognition of the fact that there are currently (and rather inconveniently) some people who live nearby and whose needs must be attended to. Witness Prime Minster Netanyahu’s 2009 Bar Ilan speech, carefully crafted to imply that the Palestinian “population” “now” lives on the land, as though they somehow magically appeared recently. [emphasis added]

But, friends, we must state the whole truth here. The truth is that in the area of our homeland, in the heart of our Jewish Homeland, now lives a large population of Palestinians… These two facts — our link to the Land of Israel, and the Palestinian population who live here, have created deep disagreements within Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more unity than disagreement.3

This view aligns well with the growing tendency on the Israeli side to argue for a pragmatic approach to peacemaking, one that eschews “harping on the past” — a view implied in the bargain that President Obama offered the Israelis: I accept that you can continue to deny that other people lived here in the past, if you take into account the feelings of those who live here in the present.” But a peace process where only one party has had their history acknowledged, and thus has the luxury of “letting go” of the past, is not likely to come to fruition; and demands or conditions wrapped in a package that reduces or denies the dignity of the party sitting at the other end of the table are not likely to bear fruit. Unless elements of the Palestinians’ narrative are present in public perceptions and at the negotiating table, they will have no reason to trust the premise of renewed talks, or risk making concessions. And if the Jewish community continues to insist on seeing all Palestinian assertions of their existence as a manifestation of anti-Semitism, they will be unable to find ways to articulate their needs in a manner that allows for compromise rather than demands submission.

THEY SAID NO TO THE NOTION THAT PALESTINE WAS DESOLATE AND EMPTY

In our lovely country there exists an entire people who have held it for centuries and to whom it would never occur to leave…The time has come to dispel the misconception among Zionists that land in Palestine lies uncultivated for lack of working hands or the laziness of the local residents. There are no deserted fields.

                                        — Yitzhak Epstein, “The Hidden Question,” 1907

The Palestinian Arabs rejected the concept that their land was uncultivated and uncared for, and that rights should be conferred on the Jews based on the latter’s superior technology agricultural methods. They said No to the idea that people do not love their land or have a special intimate connection with it because they do not cultivate it in the most modern ways. And they said No to the idea that newly-arrived Zionist Jews from Europe and elsewhere, for all their zeal and dedication, cared for the land more than the natives did. 

Because of the power, persistence and harmful repercussions of the “desolate Palestine” refrain, the most disturbing (and utterly unnecessary) phrase of President Obama’s speech was his lauding the Israelis for making the “desert bloom.”

President Obama could have found many ways to express his appreciation for Israel’s many impressive achievements without recourse to that toxic phrase, laden with so many connotations. In conflict-speak it means that that the Arabs of Palestine did not exist in this wilderness when the Zionists began to arrive in the 1880s. Even if a small number of Arabs did exist, they lacked any real love for their land and thus did not deserve to keep it. And if either of these propositions were true, then the Jews deserved the land and should feel no remorse about taking it over then, or appropriating more of it now.

But most crucially, the desert-blooming imagery validates the notion that there is a moral link between means of cultivation and rights to ownership. In other words, the reason that the Israelis have a superiorright to the land is that at the time they were, and still are today, more modern and technically advanced than the Palestinians.

This concept has for decades been uncritically embraced by a large number of otherwise liberal, socially and environmentally conscious Jews, people who in most other contexts would contest the idea that advanced technology imported from the West into a colonized land is naturally superior to local, indigenous means of cultivation; or that aggressive agricultural development is always positive as an end in itself. It is perfectly possible for the Israelis to be proud of their achievements while recognizing that these achievements are not relevant as a justification for Zionism from the point of view of those who previously lived in and were attached to this land. And it is long past time for U.S. policy makers to recognize that mindlessly repeating old tropes will only serve to widen the gap between parties, rather than build a foundation upon which a peace process can be launched.

THEY SAID NO TO THE EXCHANGE OF POLITICAL FOR ECONOMIC RIGHTS 

You say my house has been enriched by the strangers who have entered it. But it is my house, and I did not invite the strangers in, or ask them to enrich it, and I do not care how poor or bare it is if only I am master in it.

                                         —1937 Royal Commission Report, paraphrasing the remarks of an Arab witness

The Palestinian Arabs said No to the idea that they should welcome Zionism because of the economic prosperity that the Jews were bringing to Palestine. They argued that economic benefits were not distributed equally among those residing in Palestine, and included policies that threatened the livelihood and undermined the rights of Arab peasants and workers. Even if benefits had been distributed more equally, as far as the Arabs were concerned economic prosperity would not have served as a compelling argument in favor of creating the Jewish National Home, or as the means to buy off their political rights.

It was for this reason also that Netanyahu’s 2009 vision of “Economic Peace” fell on deaf ears, as it was not matched with proposals that address Palestinians’ national and political aspirations. And the current U.S. attempt to pump money into the West Bank will be rebuffed if seen by Palestinians to be part of the Grand Bargain — your narrative for jobs, your political rights for economic prosperity. This bargain is likely to be seen as a re-packaged version of the original rationale for Zionism — that the project would be embraced by the Arabs because it would bring material prosperity to Palestine — which as far back as 1923 Vladimir Jabotinsky recognized as fallacious:

To think that the Arabs will voluntarily consent to the realization of Zionism in return for the cultural and economic benefits we can bestow on them is infantile. This childish fantasy of our “Arabo-philes” comes from some kind of contempt for the Arab people, of some kind of unfounded view of this race as a rabble ready to be bribed in order to sell out their homeland for a railroad network.4

Economic well-being in the West Bank and Gaza is of course desirable, but only widespread ignorance of the Original No can lead Israelis and third parties to repeat the same mistake time and again expecting different results. It would be more productive to learn why the Grand Bargain did not work in the first place, what it meant to the other side, why it is unlikely to work today and which alternative frameworks can be proposed that address the political and national aspirations of all sides, and search for realistic options for peacemaking.

THE ARABS SAID NO TO THE JEWISH SETTLEMENT ENTERPRISE

Land is the most necessary thing for our establishing roots in Palestine. Since there are hardly any more arable unsettled lands in Palestine, we are bound in each case of the purchase of land and its settlements to remove the peasants who cultivated the land so far, both owners of the land and tenants.5

                                         —Arthur Ruppin, 1930

Would the fellahin (Arab peasantry) have embraced Zionism because of the economic benefits the Jews were bringing to Palestine had they not been incited to the contrary by the educated and political classes? One cannot know this for sure, but this often-repeated claim is by and large another avoidance-argument that fails to pass the test of common sense. The fellahin might not have articulated their rejection of Zionism as did the elites, or expressed a clear sense of national consciousness. But they had many good reasons to say No to Zionist policy once it dispossessed tenant farmers of lands they had been cultivating, or after the institution of “Hebrew Labor” policies that refused jobs to local Arabs in difficult economic times.

Long before illegal outposts or settlement expansion in the West Bank, the Arabs said No to the idea that land in Palestine should be transferred from Arabs to Jews, whether by force, partition schemes, or sales by local or absentee landlords. The Arabs’ own complicity in land sales raises important questions that they have yet to address fully. But Arab land sales were only one part of a broader process whereby land and population transfers were implemented or supported by the Zionists and the British. Arabs who recognized the historical and religious links of Jews to Palestine nevertheless said No to the “Judaization” of a land that had been overwhelmingly Arab and Muslim for a millennium and a half.

Today, although so many liberal (and even not-so-liberal) Jews oppose settlements and settlement expansion, few appear to grasp the reasons behind the depth of international rage against settlements. One reason might be that they perceive settlement activities as an unfortunate wrong turn taken after 1967, one that can be remedied through peace talks. But for the Palestinians, modern day settlements represent tendencies that they argue were central to Zionism from its inception — in their experience, Zionism was and is expansionist, encroaching on Palestinian soil against the will of the local population and in contradiction with the partition or two-state compromises that Zionist and Israeli leaders publicly embraced. 

Without knowing how some of the early mechanisms of Zionism manifested themselves on the ground, it is difficult for Israel’s supporters to understand the extent of visceral opposition to settlements. But while they don’t have to buy into the vision put forward by anti-Zionists — that Zionist immigration to and settlement in Palestine was unjustifiable in any form — they must understand why from the Palestinian perspective settlement expansion was always considered to be the driving force of the Zionist movement, and experienced as a form of aggression.

THEY SAID NO TO THE RENEGING ON PROMISESAND THEY SAID NO TO THE INCONGRUITY ENSHRINED IN THE 1917 BALFOUR DECLARATION

There is not one nation in the world that would accept voluntarily and of its own desire that its position should be changed in a manner which will have an effect on its rights and prejudice its interests … We as a nation are human beings with our own culture and civilization and we feel as any other nation would feel. It will have to be imposed on us by force.

                                         — Awni Abd al-Hadi, Testimony to Royal Peel Commission, 1937

After World War I, the Arabs of Palestine argued that they had been offered independence by the British as a reward for rising up against the Turks by dint of the McMahon–Husayn correspondence of 1915-1916 — a position contested by many Zionists then and now.

In the Arab view, these promises of independence were consistent with the spirit of their time, in particular President Woodrow Wilson’s principle of self-determination as later enshrined by the League of Nations. They said No to the idea that, in the wake of World War I, independence and self-determination would be applied around the world and to their neighboring Arab brethren, but that they would be uniquely denied in Palestine because of a conflicting British commitment to a Homeland for the Jews as articulated in the 1917 Balfour Declaration. And they said No to the idea that the fate of Palestine would or could be decided without the majority people who lived in the area being consulted.

Although the Balfour Declaration is seen by many Jews as the magna carta of the Zionist movement, few have actually read it carefully today or reflected on how it would have been perceived by the people who lived on the very land that the British were pledging to the Jews. For the Arabs, it was not only this pledge that was problematic: in 67 short words, the document set the terms by which Jews and Arabs were identified and perceived by third parties and each other, in ways that have remained seared in the public consciousness to this day. The Declaration identified the approximately 58,728 Jews living in Palestine at the time as a “people” and recognized their rights to a National Home, while granting only civil and religious (but not political or national) rights to the majority, the approximately 688,800 Arabs. The latter were referred to almost incidentally in the Declaration, as the “non-Jewish communities” in Palestine. Moreover, in the text of the Mandate itself, which refers to the Jewish people, the Jewish population in Palestine, the Jewish national home and Jewish institutions, the word “Arab” is avoided, replaced with a variety of terms such as “inhabitants of Palestine,” “other sections of the population,” “natives” and “respective communities.”6

The conviction, held by so many of Israel’s supporters, that the Arabs always resisted compromise, must be seen in the light of the terms set in this document and others that followed, and questions about what compromise was offered, by whom, and under which conditions. One of the reasons that the Arabs said No to most British and Zionist “compromise” proposals was that these included the demand that the they should accept the terms of the Balfour Declaration (and the Mandate in which they were incorporated) as a precondition, thus acceding to the idea that their land would be bequeathed to another people, and to the view of themselves as people defined by their negative status as “non-Jews” rather than their positive status as Arabs.

This interpretation of the past is not intended to suggest that the Arab response was determined — that they could under no circumstances have taken a different approach, or that there were not some individuals who, at various times, considered arrangements based on the terms that had been set. But if there is any serious revisionism to be done on this issue, it will be the business of the Palestinians in due course. What it does mean is that from the perspective of the Arabs compromise never appeared to be what it was for the Zionists then, or in the form it has been portrayed in the standard Jewish version of history since the founding of Israel; and there were always multiple and comprehensible reasons for the Palestinian Arabs to reject the underlying preconditions that defined the compromises that had been put forward.

A similar situation is replicated today, where the Palestinians are being asked not merely to accept Israel’s “right to exist in peace and security” — something they have already consented to — but to validate the Jewish character of the land (“Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people”), either as precondition for any renewed negotiations or as a condition for peace. One does not have to deny that the Palestinian approach to peacemaking can be, and often is, uncompromising and obstructive also to recognize that this demand will be perceived as a modern day reiteration of the British approach during the mandate: in order to be considered a partner for peace, the Palestinians must first abdicate their view of history, and also embrace the narrative of their enemies.

Whether intentional or not, this message was embedded in President Obama’s Jerusalem speech. But if his man on the ground, John Kerry, adopts this approach, he will be repeating the failed pattern whereby Palestinians are asked to convert to Zionism before being considered as peace partners — something that is by definition impossible and thus counterproductive. Secretary Kerry would do better to shape a renewed process around proposals that can be perceived as compromises by both parties.

FINALLY, THE PALESTINIAN ARABS SAID NO TO THE “GENEROUS OFFERS” OF PARTITION, MADE BY THE ROYAL PALESTINE (PEEL) COMMISSION IN 1937 AND THE UN IN 1947.

This opposition [to partition] is based upon the unwavering conviction of unshakeable rights and a conviction of the injustice of forcing a long-settled population to accept immigrants without its consent being asked and against its known and expressed will; the injustice of turning a majority into a minority in its own country; the injustice of withholding self-government until the Zionists are in the majority and able to profit by it.

                                         — Albert Hourani, Statement to the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry, 1946

The most entrenched orthodoxy in the pro-Israel camp is that the Arabs said No to two perfectly legitimate partition plans — plans that could have secured a long lasting peace between two states living side by side. The origins of the conflict are often traced to these Nos, which are interpreted as signs of Arab intransigence, self-destruction, and disregard for international law.

This analysis is in great part based on an ignorance of what the partition plans looked like, an assumption that “compromise” solutions are always fair, desirable, and sustainable, and a retrospective analysis based on the view that the Arabs rejected much more land than they are bargaining for today.  

But the very idea of truncating the land was anathema to the majority of Palestinian Arabs, the partition proposals were devised without their consent, and both had been drawn with little concern for the incongruities in land distribution and demographics. In 1937, the Jews owned no more than 6 percent of the land, but were offered 20 percent of Palestine; and, in 1947, Jews owned approximately 7 percent of the land and were offered 55 percent of the country. In 1937, the new Jewish state was to contain 396,000 Jews and 225,000 Arabs, with a proposition that those Arabs would be transferred, forcibly if necessary, to the new Arab state. In 1947, almost half of the Arab population was to come under Jewish sovereignty, so that 400,000 Palestinian Arabs would be forced to live in a Jewish state with a Jewish population of just over 500,000. And all this was to take place in the absence of any trusted mechanism of implementation, and with some prominent Zionists — who were well organized and had a superior military capacity — verbalizing their intention to move beyond the borders of partition in the future.

It is understandably difficult for anyone who considers Israel to be the homeland of the Jewish people to grasp the Arab rejection of the principle of partition. Given the urgent situation the Jews were facing at the time, their historical and religious ties to the land, the genuine passion with which they pursued their mission, and the relatively small amount of territory that the various partition plans offered them, it appears unreasonable at best, malicious at worst, for the Arabs to have refused the very concept of sharing the land. 

However, it is quite incomprehensible that despite the importance attributed to the partition plans in justifying Israel’s perspective, an examination of both plans is so often neglected in favor of a simple reduction of the Arab response to an irrational No. One does not have to accept the Arab view (that the Zionists did not have the right to self-determination in Palestine) in order to recognize why they believed this at the time, and why the problem cannot be reduced simply to one of cartography — a map that in retrospect and from a purely visual point of view looks like a good deal for the Palestinians. The Israeli party line on this issue is repeated time and again by advocates, diplomats, academics, and policy makers — people who have an influence on how a peace process would be launched and run, and who are directly responsible for helping create parameters for a peace process today.7

Consider a statement from long-time presidential adviser to the Middle East, Dennis Ross, a person who still today is one of the key voices influencing the president’s approach to the conflict. In critiquing some revisionist histories, Ross offers the following understanding of the roots of the conflict:

Drawing from some of the revisionist histories on the origins of the Palestinian refugee problem, (Jerome) Slater basically ascribed full responsibility to Israel for the root of the conflict. That the Arabs and Palestinians simply rejected all possible compromises prior to the establishment of the state of Israel, including the Peel Commission Report of 1937, the Morrison-Grady proposal in 1946, and the UN partition plan in 1947 is basically immaterial to Slater.8

In response to critiques of Israel, Ross beats a swift retreat into the unexamined safety zone: Israelis might have made mistakes, but before these mistakes, there was The No. The idea is so universally absorbed and accepted by his audience that in order to defend this view Ross does not even feel the need offer any explanation beyond the mere mention that the Arabs “simply” said No to “all possible compromises.” One wonders if he knows which compromises were offered, what they included or why they were rejected. As one of the policy makers most devoted to the modern version of partition — the two-state solution — Ross and other influential U.S. advisers might learn more about why the Arabs rejected the plans then, and consider more carefully what conditions might be necessary for them to accept partition today.

Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat. We are very far from having any moral qualms as far as our national war goes. We have before us the command of the Torah, whose morality surpasses that of any other body of laws in the world: “Ye shall blot them out to the last man.”…But first and foremost, terrorism is for us a part of the political battle being conducted under the present circumstances, and it has a great part to play: speaking in a clear voice to the whole world, as well as to our wretched brethren outside this land, it proclaims our war against the occupier.9

                                         — Yitzak Shamir, 1943

While the first pillar of the pro-Israel view is that the Arab No was the cause of the conflict, the second pillar is that this No was expressed from the beginning through acts of unprovoked and unjustified violence. This is a crucial component sustaining the narrative, for all Israeli acts of violence are excused with recourse to Arab violence as the first action — “we would never have had to do this had they not started it, had we not been defending ourselves.”

That there was periodic brutal Arab violence against Jews in the early decades of the conflict is without doubt. Most took the form of spontaneous resistance to, and attacks on, Jewish settlers. Other more organized riots and assaults — especially the Hebron massacre in 1929 — randomly and ferociously targeted the old Jewish and non-Zionist community, reinforcing Jews’ fear that Arabs were new incarnations of previous oppressors, and shattering their belief that any non-violent solution to the conflict in Palestine was possible.

The Jews’ long experience of brutal and unprovoked persecution had taught them that these kinds of “causeless” acts of aggression against them were not only likely but possibly ubiquitous. This lesson was only reinforced by the betrayal of European nationalism, which rebranded Jews as outsiders at the very moment they believed their status as equal citizens would be validated. Thus, it is not surprising that many Jews in the 1920s and the 1930s, haunted by their experience of violent pogroms in Eastern Europe and escalating persecution in Western Europe, did not feel the need to interpret the behavior of the Arabs in Palestine, perceiving their words and actions to be an extension of the same type of causeless anti-Semitism: they hate us for who we are, not what we do.

But it would be false to claim that the Arabs said No through violent action without cause, in lieu of arguments and persuasion, or that violence was their predominant form of expression. The early Arab response to the Zionist challenge was largely characterized by a futile and repetitive attempt to appeal to Western conscience, law, and values. Between the late 1890s and the mid-1930s, this response was expressed in words rather than deeds: delegations were sent to Britain and Europe and hundreds of memoranda, petitions, articles and speeches attempted to explain the Arab case to the British, Americans and Europeans. Not unlike today, the Arabs believed that if the international powers truly fathomed what was happening on the ground, they would put a stop to it. These documents are often shocking to those who peruse them, as accustomed as they are to their inherited views that the Palestinian Arabs had no case to make, never made it to anyone, and were simply mindlessly and mechanically rejecting anything Jewish in their path.

Whether violence can be justified as a means to achieve a national struggle is a legitimate topic of debate, and one can condemn the Arabs’ response to Zionism then and to Israel after 1948 on many grounds. But understanding the multiplicity of Arab reactions to Zionism in the pre-1947/48 period should not be interpreted — and thus dismissed — simply as an attempt to justify whatever violence they did wage. Without an understanding of the context of both Arab and Jewish violence in Mandatory Palestine, or the other nonviolent means the Palestinian Arabs pursued in an attempt to achieve their aims, there is little in the way of a fruitful discussion that can be had about the origin of the conflict or its possible solution.

Nor is it helpful to place a universal ban on explaining what lies behind Palestinian violence today. Neither the Zionists in the early period, nor Israelis or Jews today, deny violence as a legitimate tool in the service of a national movement. They have used and glorified violence when it has suited their purposes, as in the early period when Jabotinsky’s Betar youth drew inspiration from quasi-fascist tropes of extreme nationalism about the purifying and liberating role of violence; or in the 1940s when terrorism against the British was considered a legitimate means to attain their goal of national self-determination. A puritanical approach to any violence that comes from “the other side” cannot substitute for real engagement with the reasons they pursue violence, the nature of their goals or demands, and a sober analysis of which of these are necessary to address if peace and security is the desired end.

Everybody sees a difficulty in the question of relations between Arabs and Jews. But not everybody sees that there is no solution to this question. No solution! There is a gulf, and nothing can fill that gulf … I do not know what Arab will agree that Palestine should belong to the Jews — even if the Jews learn Arabic … And we must recognize this situation. If we do not acknowledge this and try to come up with “remedies,” then we risk demoralization … We, as a nation, want this country to be ours; the Arabs, as a nation, want this country to be theirs. The decision has been referred to the Peace Conference.

                                         — Ben Gurion, Speech to Vaad Zmani, June 1919

What is missing in the logic of the pro-Israel view of the Palestinian No is the disturbing prospect, articulated by Zionist luminaries such as Vladimir Jabotinsky and David Ben Gurion in the 1920s, that a nonviolent or satisfactory solution to the Arab-Jewish confrontation in Palestine might not have been possible.

This poignant and chillingly lucid appraisal was proposed by many Jews and Arabs in the early years of the conflict and has been acknowledged by many more since, but it is still largely absent from the current mainstream debates about the conflict or peacemaking. And yet accepting the Israel/Palestine conflict as an elemental clash grounded in overlapping and irreconcilable aspirations, rather than a chimera that could have been avoided had one party acceded to the wishes of the other, is necessary for understanding both the limitations of and prospects for peacemaking today. For if the Zionists perceived Jewish self-determination as a natural response to their predicament, the implementation of this mission in Palestine, a land where an Arab majority lived, was almost certain to provoke hostility from the native population.

Given the urgency of their situation, it is understandable that the Jews were not concerned with the response of the Palestinian Arabs to their project. After a tragically failed attempt to identify spiritually, emotionally or intellectually with the cultures and nations within which they resided, the Jews learned the hard way that the modern world was increasingly defining self-determination in exclusionist, not liberal, terms. The pogroms and persecution of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries did even more to shape the tenor and nature of the Zionist movement than the brutality of the Holocaust; it was that predicament which gave birth to what might be called “The Original Never Again” — the determination on the part of the Jews never again to be supplicants, dependent on the kindness of strangers, or feeble bystanders to their own persecution, waiting pitifully for the world to evolve beyond prejudice. Influenced by the character and tenor of nationalism as it evolved in Europe, where blood and soil were the hallmarks of legitimate belonging, the Zionists had concluded that they could only overcome their outsider status by settling in Palestine — a land where their “insider” status could be unearthed, and their physical and spiritual links with the past revealed.

But while Zionism was more multidimensional than the reductive formulas provided by today’s anti-Zionists, it is neither surprising nor strange that the Arabs in the early part of the twentieth century would reject the reasoning and rationale behind Jewish nationalism. They were engaged in their own pursuit of national self-determination, inspired by Woodrow Wilson’s proclamations, their own cultural, linguistic and religious revival, and the trends toward territorial independence taking hold in neighboring countries. Despite the fact that the Arab response is incessantly represented as aberrant, it is unlikely that any people anywhere would have said Yes to the prospect of becoming a minority in their own home, or to their land being offered to those they considered foreigners, even if they recognized that the latter had a historical presence and religious ties to the area, or that they faced mortal danger in their countries of residence. It is even more unlikely that any people would say Yes to the manner in which the policy of the Jewish national home was implemented — without their consent, enforced by foreign powers, and in contradiction to what they believe they deserved and were promised.

Finally, although there is controversy over the extent to which the leaders of the Palestinian national movement represented the views of the masses, or whether the “opposition” parties considered taking another course, even if a minority of Arabs was ready to accept some form of Jewish national rights in Palestine, this should not be reason to impugn the majority Arab feeling that the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine was unjust and unacceptable. Jews should resist the temptation to parade Arab “super-moderates” in triumph as vindication of their cause; the Arabs will not accept this any more than Jews accept Palestinians justifying their own positions by appealing to the views of a minority of Israeli or Jewish anti-Zionists.

Politically speaking it is a national movement…The Arab must not and cannot be a Zionist. He could never wish the Jews to become a majority. This is the true antagonism between us and the Arabs. We both want to be the majority.

                                         — David Ben-Gurion, after the 1929 riots in Palestine

The appraisal of the early years of the conflict, advanced above, clashes fundamentally with the traditional pro-Israel view, which relies on the belief that the Arab opposition to Zionism was both immoral and unnecessary, and that the Jews had an absolute and incontestable right to create a Jewish state in Palestine: in other words, that Zionism was blameless in the creation of the Palestine problem and the Palestinians brought their nakba upon themselves.

To challenge this view is not to condemn the entire Zionist project as inherently sinful, but to recognize that it will always be seen as such from the Arab side, because from their perspective, Jewish Israel could only have come about at the expense of Arab Palestine. This common-sense view was the driving force behind Vladimir Jabotinsky’s rationale for the Iron Wall — a position grounded in the avowal that the Jews aimed to appropriate the land that the Arabs lived on, loved and believed was theirs. Jabotinsky maintained that it was only natural that the Arabs would resist Zionism, for “any native people — it is all the same whether they are civilized or savage — views their country as their national home, of which they will be always the complete masters.”10

Today, those who would be Jabotinsky’s heirs appropriate the Iron Wall as implicit policy, while abjuring Jabotinsky’s own rationale for that policy: his belief that Palestine was not an empty desert but that there were native inhabitants there who were deeply attached to their land, and therefore it was both reasonable and inevitable that they would resist Zionism, and resist violently. In contrast, today’s revisionists rally support for an Iron Wall policy while burying Jabotinsky’s interpretation under a now familiar if still peculiar specter: a people that did not exist on a land they never had and whose loss they resisted for no particular reason.

Despite its notable incoherence, this kind of reasoning still drives the standard pro-Israeli view of the conflict. The result is that those who wish to show their support for Israel have no tools to formulate their own response to Palestinian grievances or demands, or to properly interpret the growing opposition to Israel on the international scene. Thus, they risk marching blindly down a path that only aggravates their own dilemma and puts Israel itself in further jeopardy.

There can be no settlement, no final settlement, until the Zionists realize that they can never hope to obtain in London or Washington what is denied them in Jerusalem.

                                         — Albert Hourani, Testimony to Anglo-American Committee, 1946

The paradox of any potential peacemaking between Israelis and Palestinians is that neither side is likely to be satisfied with the possibility of attaining the tangible dividends of peace, even in the unlikely event that these were attainable. Each side continues to demand ideological conversion from the other, despite the fact that neither can recognize (in the sense of validate or embrace) the other’s narrative without by definition repudiating its own. This is not only the case for the Palestinians, who are being asked to deny their history and experience for the sake of being validated as partners for peace. The Israelis too cannot and will not embrace the anti-Israel camp’s notion that their national movement was born in sin. And notwithstanding the power of the United States of America or President Obama’s recent pronouncements in Jerusalem, no third party can, or has the right to, issue a verdict on history. But while neither side should be asked to recognize the legitimacy of their adversary’s view of the conflict, they will have to find a way to accept that this view cannot simply be wished away, and that it will manifest itself in various ways at the negotiating table and in any peace deal. 

Thus, although supporters of Israel need not embrace the Palestinian view of the causes of the conflict, they should recognize that the Arab’s rejection of Zionism was not irrational and cannot be reduced to anti-Semitism: and they need to move beyond the long-obsolete mantras about the origins of the conflict that prevent them from identifying genuine points of impasse or making the best of opportunities. This does not mean Israel is the sole responsible party — Israelis are justified in questioning whether the Palestinians are able or willing to fulfill their own side of a negotiated bargain, prepare their public for a compromised settlement or recognize that the Jewish narrative cannot be eradicated by an act of will. But the Jewish community should not hide its own rejectionism behind the Palestinians’ No, or behind rabid circular debates that all slam into the STOP sign of 1947.

For while many Palestinians have (in various agreements and public commitments) been saying Yes to Israel’s de facto existence since 1988, they will continue to say No to Zionism itself.  Condoning it would require Palestinians swallow whole the major tenets of the Jewish “narrative” and sign on the dotted line affirming that the creation of a Jewish state on land they considered as their own was a legitimate enterprise; that their own rejection of that enterprise was irrational or morally wrong; and that the Arab’s 1400-year history in Palestine should be seen as a brief and inconsequential interregnum between two more important eras of Jewish sovereignty.

This will never happen. The sooner the pro-Israel camp accepts this and stops trying to change the unchangeable, the sooner they can determine what steps might be taken in the interests of their own peace and security. Schoolyard choruses — “they started it” and “they are worse than us” — cannot serve as an interpretive framework for a 130-year-old conflict, or form the basis of national policy. The Jewish community must breach the blockade that currently stands between moribund talking points and the actual origins of the conflict. An encounter with the Original No might release them from their dependence on the interpretations provided by the salesmen of the Jewish world, who for decades have been pitching an obsolete product to hapless customers in search of certainty — the very opposite of what is required in order to “prepare the public for peace.” And it might provide supporters of Israel with the tools they need to construct their own interpretation of what took place In The Beginning, and formulate their own vision of what, if anything, can be done to address the fallout today.

1 “Netanyahu: Root of Palestinian Conflict Is Not Territory,” Daily Monitor, May 2, 2013.http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/World/Netanyahu–Root-of-Palestinian-conflict-is-not-territory/-/688340/1799320/-/itkl53/-/index.html.

2 Benny Morris, “Israel under Siege,” Daily Beast, July 31, 2012,http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/31/israel-under-siege.html.

3 ‘Full text of Netanyahu’s foreign policy speech at Bar-Ilan’, Haaretz, June 14, 2009,http://www.haaretz.com/news/full-text-of-netanyahu-s-foreign-policy-speech-at-bar-ilan-1.277922. (emphasis added).

4 Vladimir Jabotinsky, ‘The Iron Wall: We and the Arabs,”http://www.marxists.de/middleast/ironwall/ironwall.htm.

5 Rashid Khalidi, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (New York, 1997), 102.

6 In Article 22, the word “Arabic” appears in the context of a clause relating to the official languages of Palestine.

7 See, for example, Hillary Clinton’s 2012 statement: “The Palestinians could have had a state as old as I am if they had made the right decision in 1947.” http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/driving-in-neutral-hillary-clinton-explains-the-israel-palestinian-conflict/2012/12/05/

8 Dennis Ross and David Makovsky, Myths, Illusions and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East(New York, 2009), 116.

9 Ian S. Lustik, “Terrorism in the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Targets and Audiences,” ed. Martha Crenshaw in Terrorism in Context (Pennsylvania, 1995), 527.

10 Vladimir Jabotinsky, op. cit.

*Dr. Gill is a research associate at Barnard College and a former professor of conflict studies at The New School University. She is the founder and director of TRACK4, which runs negotiation simulations for diplomats, mediators, journalists, policy makers, students and community leaders

Source

ISRAEL TEACHES SRI LANKA THE ART OF ETHNIC CLEANSING

Israel has been a major arms supplier to Sri Lanka’s government, as well as providing it with strategic military advice. With permission from the United States, Israel has sold Sri Lanka consignments of Kfir jets and drones.
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Israel advises Sri Lanka on slow-motion genocide

Krisna Saravanamuttu 
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Women wearing mock blood lie on ground surrounded by other seated women

Tamil protesters outside the Sri Lankan consulate in Toronto, May 2009. (Richard Lautens / The Toronto Star)

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Towards the end of 2008, I joined thousands in Toronto to protest Israel’s attack on Gaza. Like people all over the world, we called for an immediate end to the war. At York University, where I was a student, we mobilized the campus to defend Palestinian rights.

A few months later, bombs were falling on my own people — in the Vanni region of northern Sri Lanka. And once again, we hit Toronto’s streets in protest.

I realized then that even though our homelands are oceans apart, Palestinians and Tamils have much in common.

Through the “war on terror,” the Israeli and Sri Lankan armies have waged war on civilian populations.

The Rome-based Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal has commissioned an independent report that finds the Sri Lankan state guilty of bombing hospitals, humanitarian operations and even government-declared “safe zones,” in clear violation of international humanitarian law (“Preliminary report,” January 2010 [PDF]).

A United Nations report estimates that from January to May 2009, between 40,000 and 75,000 persons were killed (“Report of the secretary-general’s panel of experts on accountability in Sri Lanka,” 31 March 2011).

The Sri Lankan government’s own statistical data reveal that almost 147,000 persons remain unaccounted for: no one knows if they are held in prison, injured, or dead (“146,679 Vanni people missing within a year of war: Bishop of Mannaar,” TamilNet, 12 January 2011).

Major arms supplier

But there are more direct connections.

Israel has been a major arms supplier to Sri Lanka’s government, as well as providing it with strategic military advice. With permission from the United States, Israel has sold Sri Lanka consignments of Kfir jets and drones.

Israel has also supplied the Dvora patrol boats to Sri Lanka, which have been used extensively against Tamils (“Sri Lanka learns to counter Sea Tigers’ swarm tactics,” Jane’s Navy International, March 2009 [PDF]).

And Israel has also provided training to the Special Task Force, a brutal commando unit in the Sri Lanka police.

The similarities don’t end there. Both Palestinians and Tamils have been subjected to a process of settler-based colonialism.

In the 1980s, Israel offered advice to Sri Lanka as it built Sinhala-only armed settlements in the eastern province, which aimed to create buffer zones around Tamil-majority populations (the Sinhalese are the ethnic majority of Sri Lanka) (“Sinhala academic blames US-UK axis for genocide in Tamil homeland,” TamilNet, 15 April 2012).

The strategy employed was the same as Israel’s in the West Bank: to destroy the local population’s claim to national existence and render invalid any political solution based on popular sovereignty.

Just like in Palestine, land seizures and settlement programs in Sri Lanka are fragmenting the Tamil people’s national and social coherence throughout their historic homeland in the north and east of the island. As exiled journalist and human rights worker Nirmanusan Balasundaram wrote earlier this year, the effect is to undermine any possibility of creating a contiguous national homeland (“Sri Lanka: The intentions behind the land-grabbing process,” Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, 30 April 2013).

Sham dialogue

Within the occupied West Bank, this process takes place against the backdrop of “dialogue,” which more and more Palestinians see as a sham as Israeli settlementsspread across their land. After the 2009 war, the Sri Lankan government used the rhetoric of “reconstruction” and “redevelopment” to obscure its process of rapid colonization.

For Tamils, “post-war development” has become another form of counter-insurgency warfare, whereby Sinhala settlements, state-led militarization and the open gerrymandering of constituencies all threaten the Tamils’ historic relationship to their homeland.

The Palestinian experience — in particular, the Oslo accords signed by Israel and thePalestine Liberation Organization in 1993 — has been instructive for Tamils.

An international agreement with India foresees Sri Lanka holding elections this September for a Northern Provincial Council, supposedly another gesture of reconciliation. The US is backing the election, despite serious reservations within Tamil civil society and the diaspora.

The council, if elected, would provide Tamils with only the perception of self-determination — similar to the experience of the Palestinian Authority — while the military occupation continues to dominate every aspect of civilian life. The council’s powers would remain under the control of the Sinhalese-dominated government in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, and its governor would be a direct appointment of the Sri Lankan president (see “Much ado about nothing,” Colombo Telegraph, 21 April 2013).

Regardless of the façade of self-government, the crime of apartheid remains a fact of life for Tamils in Sri Lanka, as it does for Palestinians under Israeli rule.

Sri Lanka’s treatment of the Tamils in the north and east of the island meets the definition of apartheid contained in the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.

Apartheid involves the domination of one racial or ethnic group over another. The convention is not restricted to the particular manifestation of apartheid in South Africa or to majorities being oppressed by minorities. Instead, it condemns practices that resemble apartheid — of which there is more than one version.

Without a doubt, there are critical differences between the oppression faced by Palestinians and the oppression faced by Tamils (and by black South Africans, for that matter). Nevertheless, both Israel and Sri Lanka are characterized by discrimination, repression and territorial fragmentation through stolen land.

The unitary Sri Lankan state structure constitutionally places all power of the state exclusively in the hands of the Sinhalese people, while denying Tamils equal access to education, their own language, their land, and self-determination.

Common experience

In light of this common experience, the Palestinian and Tamil peoples are enduring a slow — but relentless — genocide. The massacres in Gaza and the Vanni were carried out to kill civilians, cause serious bodily and mental harm, and impose conditions of life that produce partial and gradual physical destruction — all with little meaningful opposition from global capitals. Both can be considered cases of genocide, as it is defined by the United Nations.

In the case of Sri Lanka, as long as it uses the language of “reconciliation,” it will continue to pursue the same strategy and enjoy praise from major powers.

But the realization of our peoples’ aspirations does not depend on the whims of foreign governments. It rests with the Tamil people — as the aspirations for a liberated Palestine rest with the Palestinians — and the support of a mobilized and engaged international solidarity movement. By supporting each other’s struggles, and by learning from each other’s histories, we can get one step closer to a more just world.

For both Palestinians and Tamils, the attacks of 2008 and 2009 were part of a broader history of dispossession, occupation and genocide. Our people have a lot in common in the struggle for peace and justice. In fact, our oppressors appear to have lots in common too.

*Krisna Saravanamuttu is an activist based in Toronto, Canada. He is a member of the steering committee of the Canadian Peace Alliance, and is the spokesperson of the National Council of Canadian Tamils.

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