POPE’S VISIT TO HOLY LAND WAS AS REALISTIC AS THIS SOUTH PARK EPISODE

Watch this in full …. there IS a message there.

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Here is the ugly reality just a day after the Pope left …

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Israel okays 50 new settler homes in East Jerusalem

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Settlers uproot 30 olive trees near Nablus

 

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Israeli forces level land, issue confiscation notices in Salfit

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Same old murders, land theft and destruction ….. all in the name of Peace [sic]

It will obviously take more than a Papal visit or the arrival of the Red Heifer to establish a just and lasting peace in this area. 

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THE NAKBA; THEN AND NOW

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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The Ongoing Nakba …

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Related report FROM

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Israelis Slowly Wake up to the Nakba

A Palestinian child holds up a picture of a key, symbolizing the homes Palestinian refugees left behind. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
A Palestinian child holds up a picture of a key, symbolizing the homes Palestinian refugees left behind. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

By Jonathan Cook

Palestinians are due to stage marches in both the occupied territories and Israel Thursday to commemorate the loss of their homeland 66 years ago – an event they call the Nakba, or “Catastrophe” – a little more than a week after Israeli Jews celebrated the anniversary of the Jewish state’s birth.

But for many Israeli Jews, it is becoming ever harder to mark their Independence Day without confronting the fact that Israel’s establishment created a new set of victims, said Eitan Bronstein, founder of Zochrot, or “Remembering”, an organisation dedicated to teaching Israeli Jews about the Nakba.

“Once, the Nakba was a non-issue for Israeli Jews. Many had never heard of it or didn’t know what the term meant. But now it is unavoidable. Israelis have to face it.”

Long excluded from the Israeli national discourse, the Nakba – and the ensuing destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages – is slowly forcing itself into the consciousness of ordinary Israelis. And that is creating new sources of tension and potential conflict.

Last week, as Israeli Jews held street parties celebrating Independence Day according to the Hebrew calendar, some 20,000 of their compatriots – Palestinians citizens of Israel – gathered in a forest half way between Nazareth and Tiberias. In the largest Nakba procession ever staged in Israel, they waved Palestinian flags as they marched to Lubya, one of more than 500 Palestinian villages destroyed in the aftermath of Israel’s creation.

As has become typical in recent years, the march produced a counter-demonstration: hardline Jewish nationalists staged noisy celebrations close by, fervently waving Israeli flags and trying to get as close to the march as police would allow.

‘Fifth Column’

Scenes of the Nakba procession – all over social media, as well as the Israeli news – upset the Israeli right. Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, and Israel is Our Home member, called Palestinian citizens who joined the march “a fifth column whose aim is the destruction of Israel”. He added that their rightful place was not in Israel but “Ramallah”, where the Palestinian Authority is headquartered.

Numbering 1.5 million, the Palestinian minority comprises a fifth of Israel’s population. Able to reach the destroyed villages, unlike most Palestinian refugees, they have increasingly shouldered the struggle to keep alive the memory of what was lost in 1948.

Most Israeli Jews, however, regard efforts to revisit 1948 as a threat to Zionism, said Bronstein. A long-standing consensus in Israel is that any concession to Palestinians on the refugee question could open the door to the right of return, destroying Israel’s Jewish character.

Im Tirtzu, a far-right youth movement opposed to what it sees as growing anti-Zionist influences on Israeli society, organised protests at several Israeli universities this week as Palestinian students tried to hold Nakba commemorations.

Matan Peleg, Im Tirtzu’s director, said: “The left is trying to promote these Nakba events to make Israelis feel guilty about our Independence Day. But Israelis aren’t falling for it. We know who started the war.”

Israel has long insisted that the many Palestinians left of their own accord or that their exodus was possibly even coordinated by Arab leaders. Palestinians in turn have always vehemently denied this narrative and insist that the civilian population was forced out.

Peleg said Israel respected the human rights of its Arab population more than any Arab state in the Middle East. “Israelis are made angry by the hypocrisy. When we see the Palestinian flag being raised, we know that they [those on the march] don’t want Israel to exist.”

Sights like those at Lubya are likely to fuel a “harsh” reaction from Israel, said Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian and expert on the events of 1948. “Unfortunately, we are likely to see more draconian legislation in the future and the possibility of brutal violence,” he said.

The Israeli parliament has already passed a law preventing any publicly-funded institution – such as schools, universities and libraries – from providing a voice to the Palestinian narrative of 1948.

New Assertiveness

Pappe said an announcement last month by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of new legislation to define Israel in exclusively Jewish terms indicated further efforts to eradicate discussion of the Nakba and Israel’s responsibility.

Ziad Awaisi, one of the Nakba march organisers, said such moves were only galvanising the resolution of Palestinians on the refugee issue. “A new, young generation is ready to be more assertive about the Nakba and the rights of the refugees. They are willing to confront the Israeli authorities,” he said.

Estimates are that one in four Palestinian citizens of Israel belongs to a family expelled from its home in 1948, making them a potentially powerful force in Israel for a historical re-evaluation.

The “March of Return” has been held annually since 1998, each year to a different destroyed village. In recent years, the number of participants has swelled dramatically, with young families and youths playing an ever greater part.

The erased village of Lubya is covered by a pine forest known to the Jewish population as Lavi Park and nowadays chiefly visited by walkers, cyclists and families out for a barbecue.

Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Israeli parliament who has emerged in recent years as a stern critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, asked in a commentary last week: “Can the Nakba and Independence coexist in the same space?”

Calling Israelis ”insensitive”, he wrote: “All around the country, cemeteries were desecrated, holy places were turned into storerooms and animal pens, entire villages were wiped off the face of their tilled earth, and one person’s place of mourning and devastation became another’s place of leisure and holiday-making.”

Representing Refugees

At Lubya, refugees spoke longingly of their desire to return to a village that was once home to nearly 3,000 Palestinians. Many were among the 750,000 Palestinians forced out of the new state of Israel in 1948 and into refugee camps across the region.

Awaisi said the large attendance at this year’s march may have reflected in part the fact that a significant proportion of Lubya’s refugees ended up in Yarmouk, a camp in Damascus that is now caught in the midst of Syria’s civil war.

“It is important that we show the refugees that we are active on their behalf, especially when the Palestinian leaders [based in Ramallah] grow ever quieter on the right of return.”

But, he added, local tensions were also driving a renewed interest in the Nakba. “The recent attacks on our communities, including mosques and churches, and the failure of the police to do anything, are a reminder to people that our presence here is under threat. This march was a way to say: We are here and we are not going anywhere.”

Nakba initiatives inside Israel are taking off on various fronts, adding to the tension with Israeli Jews.

Zochrot, or Remembering in Hebrew, is a small but growing organisation of Israelis – Jews and Palestinians – that says its goal is to be “provocative”, said Raneen Jeries, the group’s media director. “We want to make them [Israeli Jews] angry. That is how we raise awareness. They have to take note of the history they were not taught at school.”

Map of Destroyed Villages

Last week Zochrot launched a phone app called iNakba, the first of its kind. In three languages, English, Arabic and Hebrew, it flags up on an interactive map all the Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948, allowing users to locate them and share information.

Jeries said it had been an instant success, gaining thousands of downloads on its first day.

“Colonial regimes like Israel use maps as a political tool, to erase communities, heritage, even nations. But this app puts Palestine back on the map. With the help of users, it will create the most accurate map ever and reconnect the refugees to their villages.”

For the past decade Zochrot has been running regular visits for Israelis to the ruins of different villages, often buried under pine forests and hidden inside gated communities reserved for the Jewish population.

Zochrot has created a “nakba kit” for teachers, though it is barred from use in the classroom by education officials.

The group has also created an archive of filmed interviews with veteran Israeli fighters from the 1948 war, who admit their role in expelling Palestinians and, in some cases, participating in massacres. Most Israeli Jews are still taught a long-discredited narrative that Palestinians fled under orders from Arab leaders.

Last year Zochrot held the first-ever conference on the practical implementation of a right of return, at a time when most Israeli Jews still reject even the principle.

Holy Places Reclaimed

Groups of refugees inside Israel have been trying to reclaim mosques and churches, usually the only buildings still standing in the destroyed villages, defying Israeli orders that have typically declared the ruins “closed military areas”.

In two destroyed Christian villages in the Galilee, Biram and Iqrit, youths have set up encampments next to the surviving churches, daring Israel to force them out.

Such efforts are leading to confrontations.

Last month a refugee family that tried to hold a baptism in a church at al-Bassa, now the industrial zone of the northern Jewish town of Shlomi, was attacked. A group of Jewish residents reportedly called them “stinking Christians” and smashed the camera of the official photographer.

Shlomi’s mayor, Gabi Naaman, told the Haaretz newspaper that refugee families trying to renovate or use the church were “trespassing”. He added that the building was too dilapidated to be safe. “I will act to close the place down because it’s dangerous, and I will block any entry to it in the future.”

At other sites, such as at the historic mosque of Ghabsiyya, east of Acre, Israeli authorities have been trying to prevent refugees from using the building by sealing it off with razor wire and high walls.

According to Pappe, as Israelis are faced with the realities of 1948, there is likely to be an ideological entrenchment. “Israelis may admit the ethnic cleansing [of 1948] but then they say it was justified, or that the Palestinians were the successors of the Nazis, or that Israel was going to be exterminated.”

But Jeries insists that the work of the Nakba groups is only just beginning. “Israeli society now acknowledges the Nakba. But there is much more to be done,” Jeries said. “Israeli Jews don’t yet want to take responsibility for it: to fix historical injustices and take back the refugees. It is going to be a long process.”

‘CELEBRATING’ 66 YEARS OF APARTHEID

There are two peoples here, and one people controls the other people. It controls its freedom of movement, its education, its social and economic development, where it lives and where it doesn’t, what it will do for a living and where. The Jews control the Palestinians and decide what is right and what is wrong for them. There is no other description of the reality of our life here apart from racial segregation.

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Apartheid is 66 years old

Op-ed: There are two peoples here, and one controls the other’s freedom of movement, education and development. What is that if not racial segregation?

Khaled Titi*

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“If I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two-state solution,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said in an effort to minimize the damage caused by his comments leaked from a closed forum, that Israel could become an apartheid state.

In other words, if he had the option, he would have described the reality of racial segregation Israel is approaching, but without irritating the Jewish lobby in the United States.

So why is apartheid so irritating in the Israeli context? First of all, because Israel, which has just celebrated 66 years of independence, is the only country in the world which can still be mentioned in the apartheid context in the 21st century.

Secondly, the connotation of the term “apartheid” focuses on a comparison which will lead to a complete overlap between the reality of life in Israel and the reality of life in South Africa in the 20th century – a regime/policy of racial segregation.

It’s true that there isn’t a complete overlap between Israel today and South Africa of those days, but if we examine the reality of life in Israel in accordance with the racial segregation theory, apartheid is already here, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and no green or purple line can blur it, and neither can artificial definitions of territories and populations.

There are two peoples here, and one people controls the other people. It controls its freedom of movement, its education, its social and economic development, where it lives and where it doesn’t, what it will do for a living and where. The Jews control the Palestinians and decide what is right and what is wrong for them. There is no other description of the reality of our life here apart from racial segregation.

The refusal to accept this argument stems from the disregard towards the slew of examples on the ground which prove the Jewish control over the Palestinians’ lives.

If there is no apartheid here, what should we call a situation in which the civil law applies to the settlers and the military law applies to the Palestinians? What is the political meaning of stripping Palestinians of their land, restricting them with a concrete fence and building multi-story buildings on that land for the Jews? And what is the explanation for the humiliation of a laborer from Hebron at Israeli checkpoints?

The Israeli control alongside the loss of any chance for the existence of a sovereign Palestinian state on the ground will officially turn into apartheid. No other name will change the content. The early stage of this process will be a bi-national state, which is the final institutionalization of the Jewish state as a state of racial segregation.

Don’t get me wrong. The exclusivity of the Jewish control, which will soon enjoy a legal status, is not only relevant to the occupied Palestinians. The “separate development” theory is alive and kicking within the State of Israel too.

The Palestinian citizens of Israel are second-class citizens. They live and “develop” separately from the Jews. It’s true that we vote in the Knesset elections, but the question is whether we have any control on making decisions about our lives? The state controls all the systems of our lives, the education, the culture and the urban and economic development, and without official legislation.

One of the famous laws in South Africa, the Mine and Works Act, fixed the manning of senior positions with white people only. That sounds familiar, right? There is no such law in Israel, but that is what is actually happening.

Jews and Arabs live separately. Arabs cannot live in Jewish cities, because that will of course affect the “Jewish identity.” Moshavim and kibbutzim has special legislation which blocs the entry of Arabs, and now the finance minister even wants to determine that an Arab will pay more for an apartment.

Jews cannot live n Arab villages either. There is nothing for them there – no infrastructures, no new neighborhoods, no education or sports facilities. And we have yet to mention the Prawer Plan for the eradication of the Bedouin settlement in the Negev, and the division of the Palestinians into ethnic groups. When one ethnic group controls another ethnic group and intervenes in shaping its national identity, it is exercising a de-facto apartheid regime.

Apartheid is also a matter of consciousness which creates “acceptable” patterns of behavior between the masters and the subjects and allows the Jewish public to feel like the Palestinians’ master.

The Jewish public has become accustomed to not letting the facts, as harsh as they may be, confuse it. Most people have adopted ready responses like “this is the Jewish state,” “without loyalty there will be no citizenship” or, for example, “Go to Gaza, and say thank you that you’re not living in Syria.”

Thank you, really. And really, just admit it: We are living in an apartheid after all.

*Adv. Khaled Titi is the parliamentary assistant of Knesset Member Dr. Basel Ghattas.

NBC REFUSES TO PULL OUT OF THE OCCUPATION

“NBC seeks to entertain the public with a thriller filmed in Jerusalem, but the situation in Jerusalem is neither entertaining nor thrilling. Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem live under constant fear that their homes will be demolished and that they themselves will lose their right to reside in the city of their birth, while at the same time an estimated 200,000 Israeli Jews have settled in the area. It would be more fitting for NBC to do a documentary of dispossession and expropriation,” said Sydney Levy of JVP.

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NBC refuses to receive petition calling for end to occupied Jerusalem shoot

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Poet Remi Kanazi, Jewish Voice for Peace’s Abe Greenhouse and Pat Connors of Adalah-NY attempted to deliver a petition at NBC’s New York headquarters on 6 May.

 (US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation)

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The following account is provided by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation:

On Monday NBC refused to accept a petition signed by more than 5,000 people calling on the network to end its involvement in the action series DIG, which will be set and shot in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian city of East Jerusalem.

Representatives from Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of IsraelJewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation attempted to deliver the petition addressed to Cory Shields, Executive Vice President Communications of NBC Universal, at NBC’s office at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. An assistant in Shields’ office refused to accept the delivery, telling activists to mail it instead.

In Los Angeles, JVP-LA and Students for Justice in Palestine at California State University, Northridge were able to deliver the petition to Jeff Wachtel, Co-President of USA Network, through an intern at their Universal City Plaza office.

The petition was accompanied by a letter from the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, a network of 25 Palestinian human rights, youth- and cultural centers, and community development organizations, demanding NBC “distinctly and explicitly” make clear that the series “will not be filmed in any place located in occupied East Jerusalem, and that NBC will not cooperate with any official Israeli entities in this project.”

“NBC’s drama series DIG, filmed in occupied Palestinian Jerusalem with the sponsorship of Israeli government and municipal officials notorious for promoting the illegal Israeli settlements and apartheid, violates all standards of corporate ethics and responsibility, is deeply immoral, and adds insult to injury for all Palestinians and conscientious people in the world,” said Zakaria Odeh, Executive Director of the Civic Coalition.

“No amount of Hollywood makeup can cover up occupation, land confiscation, and discriminatory laws. Palestinian society has been clear, and more than 5,000 people on the signature list agree, playing dress up on occupied land will only help to whitewash Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights and further entrench the status quo,” said Palestinian-American poet and Adalah-NY member Remi Kanazi.

USA Network announced the series DIG back in November 2013 and it is currently set to air in the fall of 2014. Nir Barkat, the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, and the Israeli Keshet Media Group declared at the time that most of the filming would take place in the “City of David National Park,” an illegal Israeli settlement located in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan.

More than 20 Palestinian civil society and national institutions immediately called on NBC to terminate the project: “We consider the NBC’s involvement in this project, which aims to captivate, thrill, and influence the perceptions of millions of viewers around the world, to be deeply immoral, shameful, and an act of complicity in the serious violations of international law, including war crimes and human rights abuses, committed by Israel against the Palestinian people.” PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi also called on NBC to halt this production, which “will legitimize the annexation of Jerusalem and the destruction of the authenticity and character of the occupied city.”

In a letter dated 20 December 2013, Shields wrote to the General Delegation of the PLO: “NBC Universal Cable Entertainment reiterates that there are no plans, and there will be no plans, to film ‘DIG’ in the City of David National Park or the village of Silwan.”

But the network has since refused to clarify if the show will be shot in other parts of occupied East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, or if they will be cooperating with Israeli government bodies there on the project, including receiving funding. In FebruaryHaaretz reported that Israel and the Jerusalem municipality are jointly providing up to $6.3 million in grants over the next two years to encourage foreign producers to shoot movies and television series in the city. The first recipient will be NBC for DIG.

“In times when even the best friends of Israel, including Secretary of State [John] Kerry, are warning of Israeli apartheid, NBC would be well-advised to scrap its drama series DIG in occupied East Jerusalem that will promote Israeli apartheid and oppression of the Palestinian people. Going ahead will definitely affect NBC’s image in our region,” Odeh added.

According to countless UN Security Council resolutions and the International Court of Justice in 2004, East Jerusalem is part of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967. Its annexation by Israel is not recognized internationally and has been condemned. For the past 47 years, Israel has committed serious violations of international law and human rights there. According to Human Rights Watch, this includes policies of forced land acquisition and population transfer through home demolitions and revocation of residencymeant to change the composition of this Palestinian city and “Judaize” non-Jewish areas.

“NBC seeks to entertain the public with a thriller filmed in Jerusalem, but the situation in Jerusalem is neither entertaining nor thrilling. Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem live under constant fear that their homes will be demolished and that they themselves will lose their right to reside in the city of their birth, while at the same time an estimated 200,000 Israeli Jews have settled in the area. It would be more fitting for NBC to do a documentary of dispossession and expropriation,” said Sydney Levy of JVP.

ANOTHER ‘POOF’ FROM KERRY ~~ “I DID NOT CALL ISRAEL AN APARTHEID STATE”

‘Israel is a vibrant democracy and I do not believe, not have I ever stated, publicly or privately that Israel is an apartheid state,’ stated Kerry. (File photo: Reuters)

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Whew ….. that’s a relief …. What would poor Israel do if that became official U.S. policy? … Could the U.S. find somewhere else to dump 30 Billion dollars a year??

First he said

The original Report from The Daily Beast can be read HERE

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Kerry: ‘I did not call Israel an apartheid state’

 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry vehemently denied Monday he had ever called Israel “an apartheid state,” amid a row over comments reportedly made during a private meeting.

“Israel is a vibrant democracy and I do not believe, not have I ever stated, publicly or privately that Israel is an apartheid state or that it intends to become one,” the top U.S. diplomat said in a strong statement after calls earlier in the day for him to resign or at least apologize for the alleged comments.

“Anyone who knows anything about me knows that without a shred of doubt.”

But Kerry, who has seen his dogged efforts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians collapse, did suggest that he had used a poor choice of words during his speech Friday to international experts of the Trilateral Commission.

“I have been around long enough to also know the power of words to create a misimpression, even when unintentional, and if I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two-state solution.”

The Daily Beast online news site reported that Kerry had warned that “a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens — or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.” 

The website said it had been given a recording of Kerry’s speech, which sparked a furor in Israel and led one Republican senator to call for his resignation.

Kerry has “repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to countenance a world in which Israel is made a pariah,” said Senator Ted Cruz.

“Before any more harm is done to our national security interests and our critical alliance with the state of Israel,” Kerry should offer his resignation and President Barack Obama should “accept it,” he added.

Veteran Republican Senator John McCain also said Kerry should clarify his comments immediately and apologize, but laughed at the suggestion the top U.S. diplomat should step down.

In his statement, Kerry said: “I will not allow my commitment to Israel to be questioned by anyone, particularly for partisan, political purposes.”

He insisted that “for more than thirty years in the United States Senate, I didn’t just speak words in support of Israel, I walked the walk when it came time to vote and when it came time to fight.”

He also said that in his year in office as secretary of state, he had “spent countless hours” working with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is Israel’s lead negotiator, “because I believe in the kind of future that Israel not only wants, but Israel deserves.

“I want to see a two state solution that results in a secure Jewish state and a prosperous Palestinian state, and I’ve actually worked for it.”

 Source

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Click HERE for a related report and more videos

 

‘POOF’ ~~ ISRAEL TO BECOME AN APARTHEID STATE

Kerry does not seem to realise that it already is one …

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“A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second class citizens, or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.” 

Kerry faces strong political backlash from pro-Israeli factions for his remarks. Using the term ‘apartheid’ in reference to the Jewish State has long been a point of contention which perhaps reached its peak when former US president Jimmy Carter released his book Palestine: Peace or Apartheid.

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Kerry: Israel to become apartheid or non-Jewish 

Recordings document Kerry’s warnings bleak future without peace; Paski: ‘there’s no such thing as a one-state solution’.

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US Secretary of State John Kerry warned foreign leaders in private discussions on Friday that Israel will risk becoming “an apartheid state” or losing its Jewish identity if a peace accord with the Palestinians is not reached in the near future, The Daily Beast reported on Monday.

The Daily Beast acquired recordings of the comments which were made to the Trilateral Commission, a group meant to encourage cooperation between the US, Europe, and Japan.

According to the report, Kerry also noted that the failure of peace talks could lead to a rise in violence from Palestinians against Israeli civilians and condemned Israeli building settlements.

Kerry also hinted at his intentions for the near future to lay out a peace deal that Israelis and Palestinians will have to either, “take it or leave it.”

“A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second class citizens, or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state,” said Kerry in the recordings.

Photo: EPA
Photo: EPA

“Once you put that frame in your mind, that reality, which is the bottom line, you understand how imperative it is to get to the two-state solution, which both leaders, even yesterday, said they remain deeply committed to.”

The Secretary of State also expressed dissapointment is leaders from both sides and said that if, “there is a change of government or a change of heart, something will happen.”

Political Backlash

Kerry faces strong political backlash from pro-Israeli factions for his remarks. Using the term ‘apartheid’ in reference to the Jewish State has long been a point of contention which perhaps reached its peak when former US president Jimmy Carter released his book Palestine: Peace or Apartheid.

During his election campaign in 2008, Barack Obama responded to claims that Israel is an apartheid state saying, “I strongly reject the characterization.”

Israel is a vibrant democracy, the only one in the Middle East, and there’s no doubt that Israel and the Palestinians have tough issues to work out to get to the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security, but injecting a term like apartheid into the discussion doesn’t advance that goal,” said Obama.

“It’s emotionally loaded, historically inaccurate, and it’s not what I believe,” he concluded.

Others defended Kerry’s comments including State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki who spoke to The Daily Beast.

“Secretary Kerry, like Justice Minister Livni, and previous Israeli Prime Ministers Olmert and Barak, was reiterating why there’s no such thing as a one-state solution if you believe, as he does, in the principle of a Jewish State,” Paski said.

“He was talking about the kind of future Israel wants and the kind of future both Israelis and Palestinians would want to envision,” she said.

Click HERE for source and short video

WE LIVED IN PEACE TILL THE WHITE MAN CAME

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On Friday evening I was approached by a local resident in the French Hill area who with anger in his voice he said that “a ‘creature’ threw stones at one of our buses …. we must do something about the situation”. My response was that “I never saw a ‘creature’ throw stones, was it a cat or a dog”? “NO! It was one of YOUR Arabs from Issawyia”! “What can we do about that”??

I answered with,”first we can end the occupation and second people like yourself can start referring to the Arabs as human beings and treat them as such”!

The resident in question is a recent immigrant from the United States. Not too long ago, after ‘coming down’ from a bad ‘trip’ on pot at a beach in Miami, he found God (the opiate of the people) , packed his bags and moved to Israel. Before his (and others of his ilk’s) arrival to the French Hill area we lived in peace with our neighbours in what was truly a  showcase of coexistence …

Co-exist

On the other hand, this short video gives a glimpse of what life is like on the other side of the wall in the neighbouring village of Issawyia …

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Surely this situation will lead to animosity, even hatred, towards the Jewish residents in the area …. but there are ways to deal with the situation. Stone throwing at innocent civilians is definitely NOT the solution and will only lead to a continuation of the growth of hatred on the Israeli side of the wall. Let us come together and prove to the White Man that peace IS possible. Then the wall will come down and hopefully the White Man will return to his true home on the beach in Miami. We definitely do not need or want his ilk destroying the peace process before it even starts.

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ISRAEL’S PERPETUATION OF INJUSTICE IN PALESTINE

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Israeli military courts: Masquerading as justice?

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If night arrests of Palestinian youths go on, it will confirm the military courts are intended to perpetuate injustice.

Israel’s chief military prosecutor for the West Bank, Lieutenant Colonel Maurice Hirsch, declared in February that a new pilot programme would soon be implemented to provide an alternative to arresting Palestinian children from their homes at night. The pilot programme will rely on written summonses demanding Palestinian children appear for questioning at Israeli interrogation centres in the occupied West Bank.

A summons process, if implemented throughout the occupied West Bank, could potentially reduce the number of Palestinian child detainees that experience violence during their arrest, transfer and interrogation. While this could lead to practical improvements to the Israeli military detention system, recent evidence suggests that it may do little to stem violence and abuse of Palestinian child detainees by Israeli forces.

In February 2014, several Palestinian children living near the West Bank city of Nablus were summoned via mobile phone to report for questioning at an Israeli interrogation and detention centre located closeby.

Upon arrival, the teens were taken into Israeli military custody, interrogated without access to a lawyer, bound and blindfolded. Though not arrested during a night raid, they were strip-searched, subjected to physical violence, and verbal abuse during transfer and interrogation. Their parents were not informed where they were being taken.

International juvenile justice standards, which Israel has obliged itself to implement by signing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, demand that children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort. Yet over half of Palestinian children were arrested during night raids in 2013. Once arrested, parents rarely know where their child is taken and pre-trial detention is the norm in Israeli military courts.

Ill-treatment begins during night arrests. Palestinian children describe waking to the sound of heavily armed Israeli soldiers banging on their front door between midnight and 5am. Soldiers enter, often ransacking the home as they conduct a search and demand identification. Children are promptly blindfolded and have their hands painfully tied with plastic cords before being placed in the back of an Israeli military vehicle. Several hours after their arrest, children arrive at an interrogation centre alone, sleep-deprived and often bruised and scared.

Last year, three in four Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank endured physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation, according to documentation collected by Defence for Children International Palestine .

Despite repeated calls to end night arrests and ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention, Israel has persistently failed to implement practical changes to stop violence against child detainees.

Up until now the Israeli military’s resistance to implementing a summons process for Palestinian minors, or other practical changes to address violence and abuse, must be attributed to an inherent conflict within the military court system and not solely to ” operational ” concerns.

Night arrests frighten, threaten and intimidate Palestinian families and communities throughout the occupied West Bank, particularly ones that organise weekly protests or are located near illegal Jewish settlements.

Arresting children from their homes in the middle of the night, ill-treating them during arrest, transfer and interrogation, and prosecuting them in military courts that lack basic fair trial guarantees, works to stifle dissent and control an occupied population.

A summons process, while it presents an alternative to night arrests, undoubtedly falls short in achieving certain “control” objectives. Indeed, eliminating night raids as the default process for arresting Palestinian children can potentially reduce vulnerability to violence, but further operational changes must be implemented and the current regime of impunity for violence against children must be challenged.

Does the military court system exist to administer justice or is it a tool of the occupation that acts to legitimise control of the Palestinian population?

There has never been much of a case for the former, as Israeli military law only applies to the Palestinian population even though Israeli settlers live in the same territory.

The pilot summons process may force Israeli officials to address the competing objectives inherent in this question. If night arrests of Palestinian children continue, it will all but confirm the military courts are intended to plainly masquerade as a justice system that perpetuates injustice.

Brad Parker is a staff attorney and international advocacy officer with Defence for Children International Palestine , an independent child-rights organisation dedicated to defending and promoting the rights of children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. DCI-Palestine provides free legal assistance to children, collects evidence and conducts advocacy targeting various duty bearers.

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

ANTI SEMITISM IS THE FORCE BEHIND BDS

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Life could be so simple if you are stupid!

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“There’s a lot of anti-Semitism out there,” Johansson told Vanity Fair, in an interview for the cover of their May edition.

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Johansson: Anti-Semitism behind criticism of SodaStream endorsement

American Jewish actress came under fire for promotion of Israeli company with factory in West Bank settlement.

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American Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson believes anti-Semitism is to blame for much of the fire she drew earlier this year over her endorsement of Israeli company SodaStream, which operates a factory in the West Bank.

“There’s a lot of anti-Semitism out there,” Johansson told Vanity Fair, in an interview for the cover of their May edition.

Johansson resigned from her position as ambassador for Oxfam in January, after the organization contested the actress’ promotion of SodaStream due to the company’s West Bank factory. She said at the time that she was stepping down from the role because of a “fundamental difference of opinion.”

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Her decision to disconnect from Oxfam won her praise from Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who wrote in a Facebook post: “I would like to express my support for actress Scarlett Johansson, who took a brave stand against immoral hypocrites.” She also received support from the World Jewish Congress.

SodaStream employs Palestinian and Israeli workers at its plant in the Ma’aleh Adumim insdutrial zone. It says the factory offers a model of peaceful cooperation, but Israel’s settlements are deemed illegal under international law and are condemned by Oxfam, which has a large operation in the region.

Source

ZION GONE BONKERS ~~ CALLS DERSHOWITZ AN ANTI SEMITE

The following is almost amusing ….

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“If you don’t want people like me defending Israel,” he told them, “then you’re in serious trouble.”

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In Philly, rightwing Zionists call Dershowitz anti-Semitic for opposing settlements

LAND DAY IN PALESTINE ~~ THE ONGOING PROCESS

Israel continues to steal land from Palestinians and to displace them in every part of historic Palestine from the north, to the occupied West Bank, to the Naqab (Negev) in the south.

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What is Palestine’s Land Day?

Palestinians display a map of historic Palestine during a rally in the northern Gaza Strip to mark Land Day, on 30 March 2014. (Ashraf Amra / APA images)

On this day in 1976, thousands of Palestinians marched in towns and villages across theGalilee region, in the north of present-day Israel, to protest Israel’s expropriation of vast tracts of land as part of its openly declared policy to “Judaize” the area at the expense of the indigenous population.

No Zionism without “evacuation” and “confiscation”

“Following the Zionist tenets, Israel has systematically and callously followed an intricate and continuous process of Arab land expropriation through the promulgation of new laws, the circumvention of existing laws, harassment and duplicity. Recognizing the naked truth, Y. Ben-Porat, a known ‘hawk’ wrote ‘One truth is that there is no Zionism, no settlement, no Jewish state without evacuation of the Arabs and confiscation and enclosure of their land,’” anthropologist Khalil Nakhleh wrote in The Journal of Palestine Studies in 1976.

Frustration and anger at Israel’s land theft from, and discrmination against, Palestinian citizens of Israel had been mounting for years.

Nakhleh adds: “To protest against the essence of this process and orders for new expropriations, the Arab population declared a general strike for 30 March 1976. In an effort to preempt the strike, army and border police, including armored units, were dispatched to the most affected Arab villages. Violent confrontations ensued, and left behind six Arabs killed, tens wounded and hundreds arrested. March 30 was commemorated as Yawm al-Ard or the Day of the Land.”

Israeli violence

“On that day, quiet demonstrations in the villages of Sakhnin, Arabeh and Dir Hanna were confronted by an aggressive police and army presence which later turned on them in violent confrontations,” historian Ilan Pappe writes in his book The Forgotten Palestinians.

Already, on 28 March, “the Minister of Police declared that his forces were ‘ready to break into the Arab villages’ – he used the Hebrew word ‘lifroz,’ which is usually employed to describe assaults on enemy lines and bases,” Pappe explains.

Pappe gives the names of those killed as Khayr Muhammad Yasin from Arabeh, Raja Hussein Abu Riya, Khader Abd Khalil and Khadija Juhayna from Sakhnin, Muhammad Yusuf Taha from Kafr Kana and Rafat Zuhairi from Nur Shams refugee camp, who was shot in Taybeh.

Turning point

The Day of the Land – or Land Day – marked a turning point as the first mass mobilization by Palestinians within Israel against internal colonialism and land theft.

Its commemoration is a reaffirmation that the Palestinians who remained in the areas on which Israel was declared in 1948 are an inseparable part of the Palestinian people and their struggle.

Land Day continues to resonate with Palestinians everywhere because it does not just mark a past historical event, but draws attention to Israel’s ongoing violent, settler-colonial process of “Judaization.”

Israel continues to steal land from Palestinians and to displace them in every part of historic Palestine from the north, to the occupied West Bank, to the Naqab (Negev) in the south.

Resources

To mark Land Day, The Journal of Palestine Studies has made available several articles from past issues, including Khalil Nakhleh’s, quoted above.

These articles recall the history of Land Day, how it was seen in the context of the Palestinian reality in its time and in the decades since.

Written FOR

WHY LAND DAY STILL MATTERS TO ‘A PEOPLE WITHOUT A LAND’

land-day-2011

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Why Land Day still matters

Today, with no resolution in sight to the historic injustices inflicted upon them, Palestinians in Israel and elsewhere use this day to remember and redouble their efforts for emancipation.

By Sam Bahour and Fida Jiryis

Every year since 1976, on March 30, Palestinians around the world have commemorated Land Day. Though it may sound like an environmental celebration, Land Day marks a bloody day in Israel when security forces gunned down six Palestinians as they protested Israeli expropriation of Arab-owned land in the country’s north to build Jewish-only settlements.

The Land Day victims were not Palestinians from the occupied territory but citizens of the state, a group that now numbers over 1.6 million people, or more than 20.5 percent of the population. They are inferior citizens in a state that defines itself as Jewish and democratic, but in reality is neither.

On that dreadful day 38 years ago, in response to Israel’s announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of acres of Palestinian land for “security and settlement purposes,” a general strike and marches were organized in Palestinian towns within Israel, from the Galilee to the Negev. The night before, in a last-ditch attempt to block the planned protests, the government imposed a curfew on the Palestinian villages of Sakhnin, Arraba, Deir Hanna, Tur’an, Tamra and Kabul, in the Western Galilee. The curfew failed; citizens took to the streets. Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as those in the refugee communities across the Middle East, joined in solidarity demonstrations.

Palestinians from the Galilee town of Sakhnin commemorating Land Day, March 30, 2013. (Photo by: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

In the ensuing confrontations with the Israeli army and police, six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed, about 100 wounded and hundreds arrested. The day lives on, fresh in the Palestinian memory, since today, as in 1976, the conflict is not limited to Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip but is ever-present in the country’s treatment of its own Palestinian Arab citizens.

The month following the killings, an internal government paper, written by senior Interior Ministry official Yisrael Koenig, was leaked to the press. The document, which became known as the Koenig Memorandum, offered recommendations intended to “ensure the [country’s] long-term Jewish national interests.” These included, “the possibility of diluting existing Arab population concentrations.”

Israel has been attempting to “dilute” its Palestinian population − both Muslims and Christians − ever since.

Thirty-eight years later, the situation is as dire as ever. Racism and discrimination, in their rawest forms, are rampant in Israel, and are often more insidious than physical violence. Legislation aimed at ethnically cleansing Palestinians from Israel is part of public discourse. Israeli ministers do not shy away from promoting “population transfers” of Palestinian citizens − code for forced displacement.

Israel’s adamant demand that the Palestinians recognize it as a “Jewish state” leaves them in a situation of having to inherently negate their own existence and accept the situation of inferiority in their own land. Recent efforts in the Knesset to link loyalty to citizenship threaten to target organizations and individuals who express dissent and even the revocation of citizenship, a practice unheard of in other countries.

Budgets for health and education allocated by the Israeli government to the Arab sector are, per capita, a fraction of those allocated to Jewish locales. Although hundreds of new Jewish towns and settlements have been approved and built since Israel’s creation, the state continues to prevent Arab towns and villages from expanding, suffocating their inhabitants and forcing new generations to leave in search of homes. Palestinians living in Israel are heavily discriminated against in employment and wages.

The message is clear: Israel has failed, abysmally, in realizing its oft-cried role as “the only democracy in the Middle East” with such discriminatory policies and a culture of antagonism and neglect vis-a-vis a fifth of its citizens. The original Land Day marked a pivotal point in terms of how Palestinians in Israel − living victims of Israel’s violent establishment − viewed their relations with the state. Today, with no resolution in sight to the historic injustices inflicted upon them, Palestinians in Israel and elsewhere use this day to remember and redouble their efforts for emancipation.

Memorial commemorating the deaths during the events of 1976. Annual Land Day commemoration in Sakhnin, March 30th, 2007. (Photo by Activestills.org)

The names of the six victims of Land Day are written on the front of a monument in the cemetery of Sakhnin, accompanied by the words: “They sacrificed themselves for us to live … thus, they are alive − The martyrs of the day of defending the land, 30 March 1976.” On the back of the monument are the names of the two sculptors who created it: one Arab, one Jewish. Maybe it is this joint recognition of the tragedy of Palestinians that is required in Israel to get us beyond the chasm of denial.

For our part, as second-generation Palestinians born and raised outside Palestine who have decided to return to live in this troubled land, we view Land Day as an ongoing wake-up call to Israeli Jews and Jewry worldwide to understand that land, freedom and equality are an inseparable package − the only one that can deliver a lasting peace to all involved.

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian business consultant from the Palestinian city of El Bireh. He blogs at www.epalestine.com. Fida Jiryis is a Palestinian writer from the Arab village of Fassuta in the Galilee. Her website is www.fidajiryis.net. Sam and Fida were both born in the Diaspora and relocated to their family’s hometowns in Palestine and Israel, respectively.

 

 

Written FOR

TWO OF THE LATEST BDS VICTORIES

King’s College students union backs boycott of Israel

Students’ union votes to support BDS campaign against ‘Israeli products, companies or institution’ that ‘profit for the violation of Palestinian rights.’

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King's College, London.

The entrance gate of King’s College in London. Photo by Dreamstime
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The King’s College London Student Union (KCLSU) passed amotion on Tuesday night to back the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli products, companies and institutions “that profit from or are implicated in, the violation of Palestinian rights.”

The motion, which passed by 348-252, says that a call for sanctions “is to ask the global community to recognise Israel’s violations of international law and to act accordingly as they do to other member states of the United Nations.”

The College’s Israel Society, comprising of “Jewish students and/or proud members of the wonderfully diverse King’s College London student community,” had earlier said it was “greatly disturbed by the thought that our university – let alone any university – dedicated to the pursuit of truth and knowledge, could be called on to ban cooperation with the universities and cultural groups of any other country.”

“We appreciate and admire the motion’s proposers desire to see a peaceful outcome to conflict in the Middle East,” they said, “but peace is not achieved by making Israel a pariah state – or destroying the Jewish state altogether.”

The King’s College London administration released a statement after the vote in which it distanced itself from the decision. “King’s College London does not support or engage in boycotts of academic institutions,” it said, adding the KCLSU is “constitutionally separate from, and independent of, King’s College London.”

Meanwhile, an Israel divestment resolution was narrowly passed a second time by the student government of Chicago’s Loyola University on Tuesday, while a similar resolution was defeated at the University of Michigan.

Source

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And the second victory ….

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Divestment wins again at Loyola, goes down fighting in Michigan

INTERNATIONAL BDS UPDATES

FROM ‘THE WALL’ …. WE DON’T NEED NO OCCUPATION

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Collaborative project urging pension giant TIAA-CREF to divest from companies profiting from colonialism and ethnic cleansing by Israel in Palestine. Video by Jihane al Quds. Lyric:

We don’t need no occupation (Divest! Divest!)
We don’t need no swat patrol (Divest! Divest!)
Cat’s bulldozing West Bank classrooms (Divest! Divest!)
That’s not for the greater good
Elbit Systems, Caterpillar, G4S, Hewlett Packard, SodaStream
Hey, T-Cref, leave them kids alone!
All in all we’re gonna tear those bricks from the wall
All in all we’re gonna tear those bricks from the wall

We don’t need no Northrop Grumman (Divest! Divest!)
Death and mayhem from above (Divest! Divest!)
Motorola’s no Solution (Divest! Divest!)
For Palestine let’s show some love
Northrop Grumman, Veolia, Sodastream, Elbit Systems, Caterpillar
Hey, T-Cref, your dollars flatten homes!
All in all we’re gonna tear those bricks from the wall
All in all we’re gonna tear those bricks from the wall

We don’t need Veolia Light Rail (Divest! Divest!)
Seizing East Jerusalem (Divest! Divest!)
Divest from Elbit’s ammunition (Divest! Divest!)
And yes they helped to built the wall
Hewlett Packard, Northrop Grumman, Elbit Systems, Caterpillar, G4S
Hey, T-Cref, look how apartheid’s grown!
All in all we’re gonna tear those bricks from the wall
All in all we’re gonna tear those bricks from the wall

AN AFRO-AMERICAN RELIVES SEGREGATION ON A VISIT TO ISRAEL/PALESTINE

When I first visited Occupied Palestine, in 2011, there was something about the experience that seemed very familiar. It was not only the sense of the racist oppression the Palestinians were experiencing; it was something else. When I returned home I realized what it was.

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Traveling Through Palestine While Black: A Firsthand Look at a Slow-Moving Annexation

Witnessing a brutal occupation, where permanent insecurity and maximum humiliation are the norm.
By Bill Fletcher, Jr.*
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A Palestinian boy and Israeli soldier in front of the Israeli West Bank separation barrier.
Photo Credit: Justin McIntosh/Wikimedia Commons

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In the first several days after returning from Israel and Occupied Palestine, I dreamed of Palestine each night. It was never a pleasant dream. While I cannot remember the details, I was always left with a feeling of anxiety and insecurity. In that sense the dreams matched the realities of the Palestinians, be they citizens of Israel or residents of the Occupied Territories. It also corresponded to the emotions raised in a recent trip in which I participated.

Prison

It has become almost a cliché to speak of Gaza, the Palestinian territories on the Mediterranean controlled by Hamas and blockaded by Israel, as the largest open-air prison on the planet. Yet I am not sure I will any longer agree with the limits of that characterization. The Palestinians are all in prison. While Gaza may be a maximum security facility, the West Bank is nevertheless a prison. So little is actually controlled by Palestinians despite the formal notion of autonomy. Israeli military incursions can and do happen at any time convenient for the Israeli government and its military occupation. Palestinians are prohibited from using certain roads. The ominous and illegal separation wall, better known as the apartheid wall, spreads like a disease across the land, dividing the Palestinians not as much from the Israelis as from their own land.

For all of that, it is the sense of permanent insecurity and maximum humiliation that reinforces the feeling one gets of being in a prison. There are checkpoints at seemingly every turn; one is subjected to being stopped at any time. There is an attitude of arrogance and contempt on the part of most of the Israeli military personnel. With their submachine guns and their insistence on using Hebrew in communicating with the Arabic-speaking Palestinians, they invade the space of the indigenous population, always reminding them that there is no such thing as privacy in the Occupied Territories.

An African-American delegation

Within black America there has for decades been an amorphous constituency that, at a minimum, has been interested in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and in many cases has been supportive of Palestinians and their fight for national self-determination and democracy. Yet the issue of Palestine has rarely been one around which African Americans, in any great numbers, have organized and mobilized, or for that matter even spoken out.

It has nevertheless been the case that since the June 1967 Six Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors, there have been African Americans who have raised questions about the objectives of Israel in its occupation of Palestinian territories and its treatment of its own Palestinian minority. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) offered an historic condemnation of Israel in the aftermath of the June 1967 war, resulting in SNCC losing a significant portion of its white support in the USA. The black radical movement, of which SNCC was part[during the course of the 1970s], frequently linked the cause of the Palestinians with the struggles against colonialism and white minority rule in Africa. And during the 1970s and 1980s, center-left political figures such as Rev. Jesse Jackson began pushing the US mainstream consensus around the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, insisting on the legitimacy of the demands of the Palestinian people.

The small African-American delegation of which I was a part of in many ways reflected this internationalist tradition. Though broadly speaking progressive, most of the members of the delegation were under 45 and had little background in the Palestinian liberation struggle. Comprised largely of artists, the members of the delegation were individuals cognizant of but not immersed in international issues at the level of organizing and mobilizing.

Almost universally, delegation members were unprepared for the in-your-face brutality of the Occupation. While it may seem melodramatic, the visit was potentially life-changing for each member of the delegation. The question is whether the overwhelming sense of the criminality of the Occupation will be suppressed inside each of us over time since such feelings compel one to ask several questions, not the least being, how can the USA be so complicit in this horror?

The Middle East’s One True Democracy?

It is clear that it is more than possible to visit Israel and have no sense of the apartheid system that operates both within its borders as well as in the Occupied Territories. Such visits happen all the time. It is not possible, however, to visit the Occupied Territories and walk away with such ignorance intact unless, perhaps, one goes directly from Jerusalem to a settlement in the dead of night and fails to leave the settlement’s confines.

Israel has been an explicit occupying power—by international standards—since the June 1967 war when it seized the West Bank from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria and the Sinai from Egypt.1 Almost immediately after the commencement of the Occupation, Israel began to construct a system and program of settlements in the Occupied Territories. What too many people in the USA fail to understand—or do not wish to understand—is that settlements on occupied territory represent a violation of international law. Both Israel and Morocco (in the latter’s occupation of the Western Sahara) are explicitly in violation of international law through their respective colonization projects. The United Nations has been quite clear that Israel should stop settlements, but in large part due to the refusal of the United States to take a serious stand against this practice, Israel has snubbed its nose at the UN and at most of the rest of the world.2

The term “settlement” does not properly convey what one sees in the Occupied Territories. What strikes any first-time visitor is that the settlements can better be described as suburban communities, not unlike the communities of stucco-tiled homes that line the hills along the coast of southern California. The word settlements brings to mind tent cities or other impermanent housing arrangements with neither water nor sewer service out in the middle of nowhere. That is not what one sees in the West Bank.

Much as they did within Israel proper, the Israeli authorities have seized lands owned by Palestinians in order to create, in this case, settlements on the West Bank. This land has been seized in the name of security in some instances, and has been seized in other instances because the Palestinians have allegedly abandoned it. In still other cases, land has been seized because Israeli authorities have proclaimed an archeological find located in the territory inhabited by Palestinians, thus justifying land theft and the removal of Palestinians. There are a host of reasons that are offered, with desperate attempts to find justification within an alleged legal framework.

But here is where the trick unfolds. The Israeli authorities make and then enforce respect for the laws that they need in order to advance their own objectives. Even in situations such as Hebron where the Israeli court has agreed that certain territory should be returned to the Palestinians, the Israeli military refuses to comply and nothing has been done about it.3

The “settlements” begin with what look like camps. Indeed, some of them are called outposts if they’re originally built without explicit government approval. They seem innocuous at first, but what is striking is that they are each designed as part of a process of surrounding Palestinian cities. While, for instance, the city of Bethlehem is Palestinian, Israeli settlements have been established around Bethlehem which, in conjunction with the refusal of the Israeli authorities to allow Palestinian expansion, essentially chokes the city itself.

So, for a moment, think about a nice suburban community in the USA. Now, think about several such communities being located on hilltops surrounding a central community inhabited by a different ethnic group that is not allowed to partake in any of the resources of those suburban communities. In fact, residents of that central community are not permitted to use the same roads as the settlers and are not even guaranteed water. It was pointed out that one can tell the difference between Israeli settlements and Palestinian communities by who has water tanks on their roofs. Why? Because the settlers are guaranteed access to water pumped into their homes. Palestinians have to rely on water that is collected over time and stored in water tanks on their roofs.

The West Bank is divided into three zones: A, B and C. “A” are those zones under Palestinian control. “B” is under Palestinian administrative control, but the Israeli military has the final word. “C” is under Israeli military control. Sixty percent of the West Bank is classified as Zone C. These designations, which arose out of the fateful Oslo Peace Accords, have resulted in the interminable squeezing of the Palestinian population. There is no room for their expansion, they control no water and there is the ominous separation wall which disrespects international law by its very existence, cutting through the West Bank and cutting off entire communities from the land that they farm. As one Palestinian explained to me, the Palestinian experience is akin to the legendary Chinese water torture, with the drops of water falling on one’s forehead, slowly driving the person insane. In this case, each drop—each micro- and macro-aggression—is aimed at making the situation so intolerable for the Palestinians that they will abandon their homeland.

You Cannot Run Away From Race

Israel and the Occupied Territories exist within the framework of a particular and peculiar racial hierarchy. During the first three decades of its existence, the world was led to believe that race was not a factor in Israel, discounting, of course, the treatment of the Palestinians. With the appearance of the Israeli Black Panther movement in the early 1970s, all of that changed, and actually introduced complications.

The Israeli Black Panthers originated in the Mizrahi community, that is, Jews from the Middle East and North Africa. They emerged as a militant protest movement challenging an Israeli establishment that was dominated by Ashkenazis (Jews from Europe). Though the movement borrowed the name from the US-based Black Panther Party, in reality the movements had little in common other than addressing, to varying degrees, race. The Israeli Black Panthers were not a particularly left-wing formation and they were not at all sympathetic to the Palestinian people. Instead, they were a movement that challenged racial discrimination and privilege within the Jewish Israeli bloc, but in no way suggested that the very existence of an Israel that marginalized and oppressed Palestinians undermined any intentions or efforts to eradicate racial discrimination.

Thus, the Israeli racial hierarchy exists with the Ashkenazi Jews largely at the top; then the Mizrahi. At that point the hierarchy reformats given that outside of the Jewish Israeli bloc there are three very separate groups: the Palestinians, the Druze (an ethno-religious community), and most recently, African migrants.

There are many people who have been involved with the issue of Palestine who refrain from references to “race” when it comes to describing or analyzing the situation of the Palestinians. Instead, they focus on the “national” aspect of the oppression and the generalized denial of human rights. Yet in walking the streets of Occupied Palestine, and also in walking through Israel-proper, members of our African-American delegation could not escape the feeling that we had seen this before.

The United Nations definition of the “crime of apartheid” from 1973 reads in part: “Inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” This definition is of critical importance for several reasons, not the least being that it is not limited to the South African or even Southern African context. In other words, as far as the international community is concerned, “apartheid,” as a system, is a category of racist oppression that can exist outside of Southern Africa, though the term itself was coined in South Africa.

The stench of race and the racism perpetrated against the Palestinians is evident throughout Israel and the Occupied Territories, manifesting itself in various forms. The most obvious form surrounds the matter of the “right of return.” Jews, regardless of nationality, are guaranteed a home in Israel. Palestinians, irrespective of whether their families inhabited a piece of land for generations, are not guaranteed the right to return to their lands in Israel if the Israeli state has declared that they have abandoned the land. This is once again in contravention to United Nations resolutions and Geneva Conventions.

Palestinians, regardless of their country of residence, are subject to humiliating harassment when they attempt to enter or leave Israel. Palestinian citizens of Israel find themselves subject to full body searches at airports and other exit points, not to mention extensive interrogations.

As noted earlier, there are certain roads on which Palestinians are prohibited. This was a matter that our delegation directly experienced. The van we were using was authorized to travel on settler-only roads, but our Palestinian guide could only travel with special permission. Yet these “settler-only” roads often run under or through Palestinian land. The inability of Palestinians to use these roads means that travel between various points within the West Bank is nothing short of onerous. A trip that would normally take 30 minutes can end up taking 90 minutes or more.

An additional feature to “race” in Israel and the Occupied Territories is something that can perhaps be described as ecological racism. It concerns trees—specifically, pine trees. In the vicinity of many of the Israeli settlements one finds pine trees. They are very beautiful but there is a problem. These pine trees are not native to Israel/Palestine. They have been brought to the region by Europeans. The planting of these pine trees is as ecologically catastrophic as it is offensive to the Palestinians. There are pine trees that are native to the region, but the settlers have decided to ignore that reality and bring in alien vegetation that is harmful to the land and the water table.4 The settlers have made a practice of planting these European pine trees on the locations of Palestinian villages in the Occupied Territories that were destroyed in order to make way for the Israeli settlements.

In order to understand race, one must appreciate the notion of arbitrariness. Anyone who has directly experienced racism realizes that it is the insecurity and the notion that at any moment matters can be taken out of your hands that makes the racist oppression ever-present and very real. In the case of an African American in the USA, the idea that one can be stopped by the police when driving through a white neighborhood, or in a different scenario, shot and killed by a white homeowner if you happen to knock on his door, that emphasizes the perpetual vulnerability that one experiences.

This is very much the same with Palestinians. A former Israeli soldier, offering insight into the workings of the Occupation, noted that Israeli soldiers are trained and encouraged to engage in random, violent acts against the Palestinians, for example, through invading the homes of Palestinians for no apparent reason. The idea behind such psychological warfare is to keep the Palestinian people perpetually unstable and uneasy.

Violence perpetrated against Palestinians, particularly by settlers, is rarely punished by the Israeli state. Yet any violence by Palestinians against settlers earns the wrath of the settlers and the Israeli military. Again, despite the pretense of a system governed by laws, the Israeli domination of the Palestinians—whether in Israel or in the Occupied Territories—is outside the law. To borrow from the Dred Scott decision in the US, the Palestinians have few, if any rights, that Israelis are bound to respect. Though this is frequently covered in religious and semi-religious rhetoric, the basic fact remains that the Palestinians exist as a subordinate species as far as most Israelis are concerned.

This sense of violence surrounded our experience as a delegation. We never feared a terrorist attack or armed assault by Palestinians. Yet every day, it is fair to say, we approached our activities with caution vis-a-vis the Israelis. One never knew, from one moment to the next, whether we would be held and interrogated, or whether our Palestinian guide would at some point be whisked away from us for allegedly breaking any of the myriad restrictions imposed on the Palestinians by the Israeli establishment.

But the sense of violence was concrete in a different manner. At one point, in a tour of the South Hebron Hills, our van stopped and a guide, who happened to be a former Israeli soldier, had us outside while he was explaining the Israeli system of outposts and settlements. Several settlers drove by, slowly, watching us. In one case a settler, who as it turned out had been implicated in physical assaults on Palestinians, drove by twice, the second time stopping his vehicle immediately behind us where he just sat for several minutes, glowering. Although our Israeli guide was not particularly worried, our delegation, keenly aware of African-American history and black experience at the hands of white vigilantes, was less than sanguine about sitting out in the middle of nowhere. At the end of the day, we all knew that there existed scant (no) justice (system) in the Occupied Territories for people like us.

Race has taken on a newer form in Israel with the introduction of African migrants. There are actually two sets of African migrants. First, the Ethiopian Jews (Falasha), many of whom were brought to Israel in a mass retrieval. The Israeli establishment, irrespective of their rhetoric, has never been entirely comfortable with this population, and Israeli right-wing and semi-fascists are even less so. A recent incident whereby a Falasha, who is an elected member of the Knesset, was not allowed to donate blood highlights the point. Nevertheless, this segment of the population is considered, officially at least, to be legitimate. They are found in the Israel Defense Forces and elsewhere.

Separate and apart from the Falasha are the African migrants who have traveled to Israel as political refugees. Described by none other than Prime Minister Netanyahu as “infiltrators”—a term which I only recently learned had originally been coined to describe expelled Palestinians who crossed back into Israel—this population has grown over the last decade. A significant percentage of these migrants are from Eritrea and Sudan. Their likelihood of gaining citizenship or a legal status is slim to none. Yet, as with migrants in so many other parts of the world—including but not limited to the US—the Israeli economy finds such migrants quite useful as a productive and vulnerable workforce, even if the Israeli political Right wishes them expelled.

Walking through the streets of South Tel Aviv on a Saturday afternoon is a surreal experience. Our delegation saw a huge wedding party of East Africans. A park became the home for hundreds of African men, socializing or simply hanging out. This migrant population has become an unstable element in Israel. The political establishment has shown no interest in offering asylum—temporary or permanent—to these migrants, so many of whom have sought freedom from hunger, repression and war. Instead they have been locked up or are living lives in the shadows. In the recent past they have begun to organize and mobilize, insisting upon their human rights. In fact, our delegation spoke with Israeli supporters of the migrants who informed us that the loose organization of migrants wishes to take their case to the United Nations if the Israeli government continues to refuse to recognize their rights as legitimate refugees.

In the case of both the Palestinians and the African undocumented migrants there is a demographic concern that eats away at the Israeli political establishment. They are actually quite open about this concern. Contrary to the international notion of an ethnically pluralist democracy, the Israeli establishment believes that they, and they alone, have the right to an ethnically/religiously pure nation-state. However, they face four problems: the existence of Palestinian citizens of Israel who represent approximately 20% of the state of Israel and are growing; the Palestinians in the West Bank; a Palestinian Diaspora that insists upon its internationally recognized right to return to the land that they believed that they temporarily vacated in 1948, and later in 1967; and the undocumented Africans.

For the Israeli establishment the sum total of these problems is a demographic threat to Israel. Specifically, the Israeli establishment is deeply worried that they will quickly become another apartheid South Africa or white minority Rhodesia, wherein the Jewish population ends up constituting a minority and is swamped by non-Jews.5 Although publicly cast in religious terms, the problem really comes down to cold demographics, in that sense so very similar to the US Southwest in the period after the US war against Mexico and the white expansion into lands populated by Mexicans and those populated by Native Americans.

Since We Are Talking About Race…

There is another side to race in Israel and Palestine that gained the attention of our delegation: race within the Palestinian community.

Among Arabs, race is a very complicated matter that cannot be distilled down to skin tone or hair texture. The Arabic word that is frequently used for “blacks” is the same word that is used for “slaves” (Abeed or Abid). Yet, some who use that term—as in the case of Northern Sudanese—would be described as black in a US context.6 It is also worth noting that there has been struggle around the very usage of the term, much as there has been in the USA around terms such as “Oriental.”

One can get different signals from within both Arab and Muslim history regarding race. One of the most important people in Islamic history was an Ethiopian slave liberated by the Prophet Muhammad, named Bilal ibn Rabah. And certainly a “black” presence can be seen throughout the Arab world and Arab history, e.g., in the recent past, Egypt’s Nasser and Sadat. At the same time there was the Arab-run slave trade and in various parts of the Arab World biases against those seen or described as black.

Arabs who migrated to the USA (pre-1980) by and large developed a relationship with African Americans that was less than solidaristic. Arab/African American tensions in the US in part reflected the economic niche that many Arabs came to occupy, that is, store owners in African-American neighborhoods, and otherwise having little constructive contact. This was compounded by attempts by Arab immigrants to assimilate into white America, attempts which grew in complexity in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

The problematic side to the relationship between Arabs and African Americans in the US contrasts with the emergence of a significant Muslim trend within black America and also with the attention that the Arab world received within progressive political circles in black America in the context of the anti-colonial struggles of the 20th century. For example, the Egyptian Revolution and the Algerian Revolution were discussed in African-American political movements and frequently served as points of inspiration. The favorable feeling toward the Arab world in much of black America was aided by the outstanding assistance that Arab nations, such as Egypt and Algeria, offered to anti-colonial struggles in other parts of Africa.

The Palestinian movement, as it moved to the Left and became more radical in its analysis and approach, also saw itself as aligned with other anti-colonial and national liberation movements. This included attention to the African-American people’s movement in the US. The Left within the Palestinian movement had an appreciation of the African-American struggle, but the global solidarity work of the Palestine Liberation Organization never matched that of South Africa’s African National Congress or Pan African Congress of Azania in terms of building a breadth of organized support.

Nevertheless, certainly by the time of the Oslo Accords (1993), the PLO/Palestinian Authority adopted a different and more insular view. Much like Ireland’s Sinn Fein, which in the aftermath of the cease fire in the north of Ireland slowly but surely abandoned many of the broader international relationships it had cultivated, the Palestinian Authority turned in on itself, ignoring many of its global supporters, and sadly, ignoring many from the global Palestinian Diaspora as well. As such, connections that seemed to have existed between the Palestinian movement and black America dried up.

Attention to the matter of racism among Arabs reemerged in the context of the civil war that took place in the Sudan (between the North and the South), and subsequently, the war in Darfur and the genocide that unfolded. As a result of the fact that so many countries of the Arab world united behind Sudanese President Al Bashir in both internal conflicts (claiming that the West was attempting to dismantle the Sudan), and ignored the plight of those who suffered at the hands of his and prior regimes, sensitivity to this issue has grown within segments of black America.

Our delegation was not immune to that sensitivity. Thus, it was fascinating to have begun the trip with a discussion with Afro-Palestinians. There is a lengthy African presence within and among the Palestinian people. While there are those who can trace their ancestry back 1,000 years, over the last 100 years migrants from various parts of Africa settled in Palestine (what is now Israel as well as the Occupied Territories) and were absorbed into the larger Palestinian community. This community sees itself as Palestinian and there has been much intermarriage with other segments of the Palestinian community. Yet, shades of color and the legacy of the Arab slave trade remain a component of the Arab reality, compounded by the impact of European colonialism and its modification of the ignominious color line.

The biases we occasionally encountered were not surprising, any more than unpleasant encounters between an Arab delegation and some African Americans, if the former were visiting the US. The critical matter that confronted us, as a delegation, was the attitude of leading elements of the Palestinian movement toward race both within and among the Palestinian people, but also vis-à-vis the Arab relationship within and toward the larger African world.7 It was here that we began a constructive dialogue that can be mutually beneficial. Among other things it reminded the African Americans that race does not play itself out identically around the world. Our experience with white supremacy in the US, for instance, is quite different from the rationale and operation of race among Arabs, a formerly colonized people. Our experience with white supremacy, however, shares a great deal in common with the Palestinian experience with Israeli apartheid in both the state of Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Time Running Out

When I first visited Occupied Palestine, in 2011, there was something about the experience that seemed very familiar. It was not only the sense of the racist oppression the Palestinians were experiencing; it was something else. When I returned home I realized what it was.

In 2005 I drove with my family from Los Angeles to Boulder, CO. We drove through a Navaho area. There was a sense of depression, if not despair, from the Navaho we encountered and the realization that this proud people had been relegated by a conqueror to less than perfect lands where they were to remain. Some Native Americans were not so “lucky.” They are only remembered by the names of some rivers and towns, having been annihilated in the process of the European expansion westward.

There was a moment in the early 19th century when the demographic balance of North America was not so unbalanced that it might have been possible for Native Americans to have constructed a different outcome. This was the principal focus of the Shawnee leader Tecumseh, but there were others who also recognized the nature of the challenge. Unfortunately, by the time of the US war against Mexico, the balance was clearly against Native Americans. Immigrants from Europe were flooding into North America, and combined with technology (including military technology), the Native Americans were defeated and ultimately marginalized.

While Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. may have been correct in affirming that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice, this does not mean that every morally just struggle wins, at least in the short-term. There is something about timing, which is linked to organization and the extent of support any cause has within both a nation-state context and globally.

As our delegation rode through Israel and the Occupied Territories I could not help but wonder how much time remained for the Palestinians. I do not mean to suggest that they face physical annihilation, in the sense of extermination through mass executions.8 They do face the possibility of a different sort of annihilation. If their land continues to be seized; if they cannot build; if they remain cornered like rats in a maze; they will cease to exist. They will find themselves without their homeland, and much like Native Americans in North America, relocated to some other territory or simply dispersed onto the winds.

Much of the Israeli political establishment believes that Palestinians should be evicted and moved to Jordan. In that sense the Israeli strategy for a slow-moving annexation of the West Bank, as criminal as it is, is nevertheless quite understandable. They want to turn the conditions in the Occupied Territories, along with the conditions for Palestinian citizens of Israel, into something so inhospitable, that there is no choice but to move.

Our delegation certainly was moved to speak out against this abomination. Yet so much more is necessary. Insofar as the leadership of the Palestinian Authority is prepared to make serial and humiliating concessions to the demands of Israel and its US sponsors, the future of the Palestinians will resemble the reality of today’s Native American nations in North America. In the alternative, the extent to which the global community is moved to counter the current denial of Palestinian rights, appropriation of Palestinian lands, and displacement of Palestinian people—as occurred with regard to colonialism and white minority rule in Africa—is the extent to which Dr. King’s arc will bend toward justice.

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1 Some in the Palestinian movement have taken the position that the entire area of historic Palestine is occupied. They base this claim on the manner in which the United Nations divided up the then-British-controlled “Palestine Mandate” into Jewish zones and Arab zones (and Jerusalem as an international city) without the input or approval of any Arabs, not the least being the exclusion of the Palestinians themselves. In the text of this essay, however, the use of the term “occupied” makes reference to territories seized by Israel through the June 1967 war.

2 Morocco, in part due to its alliance with France and the US, has done much the same.

3 For more on the situation in Hebron, see: Allison Deger, “Palestinians in Hebron demand Israel ‘Open Shuhada Street’ and protest 20th anniversary of Ibrahimi Mosque massacre,” Feb. 24, 2014, mondoweiss.net/2014/02/palestinians-twentieth-anniversary.html. Additionally, see: Alternative Information Center, “Settler Aggression Against Palestinian Children in Hebron,” Institute for Middle East Understanding, April 14, 2011, at imeu.net/news/printer0020752.shtml.

4 It is interesting to note that European settlers did much the same thing in South Africa. The post-apartheid government began taking steps to remove the alien vegetation due to its impact on the environment.

5 A close examination of the current numbers, if one were to look at the Gaza, West Bank, and Palestinian citizens of Israel, points to the basis for the demographic unease within the Israeli establishment. This helps to explain the xenophobic tendencies within the right-wing of the Israeli establishment that would actually like to envision a wholesale population “swap.”

6 Look at a picture of Sudan President Al Bashir, for instance.

7 The wording of this challenge is complicated by many factors. “Arab” represents a culture and Arabic is a language. Arabs are themselves quite diverse. In fact, there is an overlap between Arabs and other ethnic groups in North Africa especially, e.g., the Berbers. Arabs are part of Africa (and Asia) and the broader African world, while at the same constituting their own Arab world. Neither is monolithic. The Maghreb, or the Arab world to the west of Egypt, includes various tribes and ethnicities as far west as the Western Sahara and Mauritania.

8 The Deir Yassin massacre is among the most well-known of the ethnic cleansings carried out against Palestinians between 1946-’49 at the hands of Zionist military units.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a racial justice, labor and international writer and activist. He is a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, an editorial board member of BlackCommentator.com, and the co-author of Solidarity Divided.

 

Related Links

 

TRIGGER HAPPY ISRAELI SOLDIERS CAUGHT ON VIDEO

Doctors surround the body of Samir Awad, 16, fatally shot by Israeli soldiers “hiding” near his school as he “tried to run away,” in January 2013. (Issam Rimawi / APA images)

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The brief video below from Amnesty International highlights the killing of Samir as one of several where Israeli occupation forces have “carried out willful killings which could amount to war crimes.”

The video was released to complement Amnesty’s recent report “ ‘Trigger-happy’ Israeli army and police use reckless force in the West Bank.”

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See Ali Abunima’s Report HERE

‘HELL NO! WE WON’T GO!!’

Reminiscent  of the protests during the Vietnam War, Israeli youth are now refusing induction into the Israeli Army.

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The teenagers said in their letter that they will not join the army in protest of “the ongoing occupation and the army’s invasion of civil life that deepens the notions chauvinism, militarism, violence, inequality and racism in society.” 

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In the US it started with just a few who put their personal freedom on the line for what they believed …

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Teenagers write to PM: We won’t join an army that commits war crimes 

Dozens of teens sign letter to Netanyahu declaring their intention to refuse to enlist to the IDF for moral reasons.

Dozens of teenagers sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday declaring their intention to refuse to enlist to the IDF for moral reasons.

The teenagers said in their letter that they will not join the army in protest of “the ongoing occupation and the army’s invasion of civil life that deepens the notions chauvinism, militarism, violence, inequality and racism in society.”

The letter’s authors urge Israeli youth nearing the age of 18 to reconsider “the meaning of army service.”

“The Palestinians in the occupied territories live under the Israeli government’s rule, even though they did not choose this government and they cannot influence its decision-making in any legal way. This situation is unequal and unjust,” the letter said.

The letter’s authors bemoaned the ongoing “human rights violations” and “acts that are considered war crimes according to international law” that happen in the West Bank, such as “executions without trial, settlement construction on occupied territory, administrative arrests, torture, collective punishments and unequal division of resources like water and electricity.”

According to them, the army service perpetuates the current situation, which is why “following our conscience, we cannot take part in a system that commits the aforementioned acts.”

The letter’s authors noted the problems in the military also seep into civilian life, shaping education, job opportunities, and “lead to racism and violence within society and to discrimination based on ethnicity, nationality and gender.”

“The army’s actions distance us from finding a solution and reaching peace, justice and security,” Mandy Kretner from Tel Aviv, one of the letter’s authors, said in a press release.

“The army serves the powerful people in society and not the citizens, who are only a tool. Me and my friends refuse to be cannon fodder,” Shaked Harari from Bat Yam, another signatory, said.

 

Source

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

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