CALLING FOR MURDER ON THE ISRAELI BLOGESPHERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ties to Israeli army and “security” establishment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written FOR

PHOTO OF THE MONTH AND CALL TO ACTION

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 What is the Prawer Plan? 
On 24 June 2013, the Israeli Knesset approved the discriminatory Prawer-Begin Bill, with 43 votes for and 40 votes against, for the mass expulsion of the Arab Bedouin community in the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south of Israel. If fully implemented, the Prawer-Begin Plan will result in the destruction of 35 “unrecognized”Arab Bedouin villages, the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel, and the dispossession of their historical lands in the Naqab. Despite the Arab Bedouin community’s complete rejection of the plan and strong disapproval from the international community and human rights groups, the Prawer Plan is happening now.
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The Prawer-Begin Bill is an unacceptable proposition that entrenches the state’s historic injustice against its Bedouin citizens. Adalah and our NGO partners have been challenging the Prawer Plan before courts, government authorities and the international community, but we need your help to stop what would be the largest single act of forced displacement of Arab citizens of Israel since the 1950s!
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Please sign our petition and visit our Facebook page to find out what you can do to Stop the Prawer Plan!
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What is the Prawer Plan?
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Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel, inhabitants of the Naqab (Negev) desert since the seventh century, are the most vulnerable community in Israel. For over 60 years, the indigenous Arab Bedouin have faced a state policy of displacement, home demolitions and dispossession of their ancestral land. Today, 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens live in 35 villages that either predate the establishment of the State in 1948, or were created by Israeli military order in the early 1950s. The State of Israel considers the villages “unrecognized” and the inhabitants “trespassers on State land,” so it denies the citizens access to state infrastructure like water, electricity, sewage, education, health care and roads. The state deliberately withholds basic services from these villages to “encourage” the Arab Bedouin citizens to give up their ancestral land. If Israel applied the same criteria for planning and development that exist in the Jewish rural sector, all 35 unrecognized villages would be recognized where they are.
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In September 2011, the Israeli government approved the Prawer Plan, the brainchild of former Deputy Chair of the National Security Council, Mr. Ehud Prawer. The Prawer Plan will result in the destruction of the unrecognized villages and the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens. This plan was completed without consultation of the local community, and is a gross violation of the constitutional rights of the Arab Bedouin citizens to property, dignity, equality, adequate housing, and freedom to choose their own residence.
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Prawer is Happening Now
Despite complete rejection of the plan by the Arab Bedouin, and strong disapproval from the international community, Prawer is happening now. More than 1,000 houses were demolished in 2011 alone, and civil society observed the same practices in 2012.  Since Prawer was announced, the government announced plans that will displace over 10,000 people and plant forests, build military centers, and establish new Jewish settlements in their place.
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The Prawer Plan is today being turned into an Israeli law. On 6 May 2013, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved the proposed “Law for the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev – 2013” (“the Prawer-Begin Bill”, after recommendations by Minister Benny Begin were included). On 24 June 2013, the Knesset approved the Prawer-Begin Bill with 43 votes for and 40 votes against. The bill will now be sent to the Committee for Interior Affairs and Environment to be prepared for the second and third readings.
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The international community has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the Prawer Plan. In March 2012, the UN Committee on the Elimination for Racial Discrimination called on Israel to withdraw the proposed implementing legislation of the Prawer Plan, on the grounds that it was discriminatory. In July 2012, the European Parliament passed a historic resolution calling on Israel to Stop the Prawer Plan and its policies of displacement, eviction, and dispossession. 
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A LONG BUT MUST READ, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE JEWISH

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                        — Yitzhak Epstein, “The Hidden Question,” 1907

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

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

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

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

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

THEY SAID NO TO THE EXCHANGE OF POLITICAL FOR ECONOMIC RIGHTS 

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE ARABS SAID NO TO THE JEWISH SETTLEMENT ENTERPRISE

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

                                         —Arthur Ruppin, 1930

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                         — Yitzak Shamir, 1943

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                         — Ben Gurion, Speech to Vaad Zmani, June 1919

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 Vladimir Jabotinsky, op. cit.

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

Source

THE BORN AND BRED NON CITIZENS OF JERUSALEM

 Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
aa-Israeli-apartheid-illustration
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Israel classifies Jerusalem natives as noncitizens
 

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM  — The Israeli ministry of interior has come up with a new plan to expel the Palestinian natives of occupied Jerusalem from their city through classifying them as “noncitizens,” lawyer Ahmed Roweidi revealed. Roweidi stated on Tuesday that the Israeli interior ministry started to specify periods for the residence of the natives in Jerusalem and classified them as noncitizens who are susceptible to deportation anytime. Roweidi described this new measure as a prelude to a new ethnic-cleansing campaign against the Palestinian natives in the holy city. He affirmed that a number of Jerusalemite citizens went lately to the Israeli occupation authority to renew their IDs and noticed that the word “resident” was added into the new cards with an expiry date for their residence in the holy city.
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The response …
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Jerusalemite groups: The natives of Jerusalem are citizens, not residents

 

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, The higher Islamic commission and the council of awqaf and Islamic affairs in occupied Jerusalem said that the Palestinian natives of Jerusalem are citizens and can never be residents.

This came in a statement released on Saturday by the two Jerusalemite institutions in response to a recent Israeli measure classifying the Palestinian natives of Jerusalem as residents and not citizens in new IDs issued by the interior ministry.

The new Israeli IDs given to the Palestinians in Jerusalem do not only identify them as residents, but also they are provided with an expiry date for their residence in their holy city.

The higher Islamic commission and the council of awqaf and Islamic affairs condemned the Israeli measure as racist and urged the Palestinians in the holy city to uphold their legitimate rights, protect their homes and property and defend their holy sites.

They highlighted that the Palestinians in the holy city are its native citizens and their citizenship cannot be decided by the Israeli occupation regime, for they are deeply rooted in their city.

 

 

Both reports FROM

ZIONIST HARASSMENT ON THE WALLS …

Why are communities of Palestinian citizens of Israel increasingly the victims of racist vandalism at the hands of Jewish Israelis? Why were cars in Abu Ghosh damaged last week? Why were gravestones in Jaffa desecrated last month? Why was a school in Wahat al-Salam defaced last year?
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Israel’s racists step up attacks on Palestinian citizens

David Sheen *

Men stand near wall sprayed-painted with graffiti

Graffiti reading “Arabs out” and “Racism – Assimilation” in Abu Ghosh, 18 June.

 (Jim Hollander /EPA)

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Why are communities of Palestinian citizens of Israel increasingly the victims of racist vandalism at the hands of Jewish Israelis? Why were cars in Abu Ghosh damaged last week? Why were gravestones in Jaffa desecrated last month? Why was a school in Wahat al-Salam defaced last year?

Are attacks on these communities reprisals for anti-Semitic attacks that emanate from them? Is it because the sons of Wahat al-Salam crash cars into Jews? Is it because the youth of Jaffa perpetrate terrorist attacks against Israelis? Is it because the residents of Abu Ghosh provide protection to anti-Zionist suicide bombers?

The attacks listed in the first paragraph of this article actually occurred, but the ones listed in the second paragraph are totally false — I just fabricated them. No residents of these communities have been accused of committing crimes motivated by nationalism — or anti-nationalism, for that matter.

Even if any of them had been, it would not justify the collective punishment of these communities. But it would at least provide motives for attacks on these communities, motives that some Israelis might sympathize with: “revenge” for prior attacks on Jews, “intimidation” to prevent future attacks on Jews.

But again, residents of these communities are not suspected of having committed any hate crimes against Jewish Israelis. So what could be the motive for attacking them? In addition to the prescriptive messages spray-painted in previous attacks — “Arabs Out” and “Death to Arabs” — the perpetrators of the most recent acts of vandalism also included another slogan, one that does point to motive: “Racism or Assimilation.”

“Racism or assimilation”

For outsiders unfamiliar with the internal Israeli discourse, this phrase needs to be parsed. The vandals have posited these two nouns — “racism” and “assimilation” — as either-or options for Jewish people living in Israel. Aligning themselves with the first option, the perpetrators are acknowledging that their attacks on Palestinian communities are motivated by racism, and they are calling for more of the same. The other option, the alternative to racism, is the choice that they loathe: assimilation.

What is this creature called assimilation, and why do these self-professed racists hate it so much? Assimilation is simply the process by which individuals, or groups of individuals, adopt ideas from other individuals and groups of individuals. These racists want to prevent Jewish people from adopting ideas of other people because they want all Jewish people to adopt their own ideology: Jewish Dominionism.

Dominionists seek to transform the State of Israel from a democratic ethnocracy into a theocratic ethnocracy. The current government, a relatively secular regime that grants extra privileges to Jewish people on the basis of their ethnicity, is insufficiently Jewish in their opinion. The Dominionists want all affairs of state and all public spaces in Israel to conform to the rules of Orthodox Judaism.

If the Dominionists’ dreams were realized and they were able to forge the face of the state, what would it look like? At the first public conference of the Dominionist “Derech Chaim” movement in March, I listened to the movement’s leaders flesh out their shared vision for the future. They bemoaned the legal obstacles that hinder the accomplishment one of their main objectives: physically separating Jewish citizens from non-Jewish citizens in Israel.

Segregation

Dominionists do not make up a majority of the Jewish population in Israel; if they did, they would already have turned Israel into a full-fledged theocracy. But their desire to physically separate Jewish people and non-Jewish people into separate areas is shared by the secular segregationists, who do make up a majority of the Jewish population.

Secular segregationists do not want the country to be governed under the strict rules of Orthodox Judaism, but for their own racist reasons they would prefer to not have to see any non-Jewish Arab people as they go about their daily lives. When they seek medical attention at hospitals or recreation at amusement parks, there seems to be an increasing consensus among the majority of Jewish Israelis that religious segregation is a positive phenomenon.

To be sure, there are parts of Israel in which Jewish people and non-Jewish people choose to live close to each other and get along fairly well. They are few and far between, but they exist, and among them are Abu Ghosh, Jaffa and Wahat al-Salam. It is precisely because Jews and Arabs live there in relative peace that these communities are attacked. It is the option of Israelis and Palestinians living in a multicultural environment that the Dominionists want to eliminate.

If the government of Israel not only enabled segregation but also simultaneously enabled groups of Jews, Arabs and others to establish multicultural institutions and heterogenous communities, it could at least claim to be adhering to a libertarian interpretation of the right to equal treatment under the law. But there is only one such Palestinian-Israeli intentional community in the entire country — Wahat al-Salam — and as its first Palestinian resident told me just days before he died last year, it exists not because of the Israeli government’s efforts, but in spite of them.

While (what are likely) disorganized groups of Dominionist hooligans carry out physical attacks on mixed Arab-Jewish communities like Wahat al-Salam, highly organized groups of Dominionist activists move into mixed Arab-Jewish towns across the country with the avowed objective of preventing “assimilation” and eventually driving out the non-Jewish residents (Amy Teibel, “Devout Israeli Jews moving to Arab-Jewish cities,” Associated Press, 4 October 2012). And in the last three years, top Israeli political and religious leaders have stepped up their efforts to segregate areas of the country into Jewish and non-Jewish.

Racist rulings

In 2010, first dozens, and then hundreds, of chief rabbis on the government payroll issued a religious edict forbidding Jews from renting apartments to non-Jewish people. The rabbis justified their racist ruling by citing passages of the Bible which call for ethnic cleansing the land of Israel and implementing complete racial segregation (Deuteronomy 7). Their ruling still stands, and no disciplinary action was ever taken against the rabbis.

In 2011, Israel’s parliament, the Knessetpassed the Communities Acceptance Law, colloquially called the “Kaadan Loophole Law,” because it circumvented the Kaadan case at the high court, which made it illegal to bar a person from purchasing property just because he or she comes from a different culture. The new law granted hundreds of villages in Israel the right to veto home sales on the basis of the buyer’s background.

new government bill currently being debated in the Knesset would permit Israeli businesses to give preferential treatment to people who have served in the army. Although the law would also have a negative impact on some other groups, it is a thinly veiled attempt to sanction discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who, as a rule, do not serve in the military. If the law is enacted, it would essentially extend the legal right to segregate by religion to land developers in any area of the country, including downtown Tel Aviv.

After last week’s embarrassing attack in Abu Ghosh, just as a long list of Hollywood stars were visiting Jerusalem only a couple of kilometers away, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to condemn the attack, saying that it contradicted the values of the Israeli people, and of the Jewish religion (“PM: ‘Price tag’ attacks contradict values of Jewish people and state,” The Jerusalem Post). While that may be true for some Israelis, and for some adherents of Judaism, these racist attacks are clearly in sync with the values of large number of Jewish Israelis, including secular segregationists such as Netanyahu himself, and the Jewish Dominionists that are his power-brokering political partners.

*David Sheen is an independent writer and filmmaker. Born in Toronto, Canada, Sheen now lives in Dimona.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT APARTHEID

 It’s much worse than you thought it was …
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Politicians have voiced outrage following revelations that an amusement park in central Israel segregated students from Jewish and Arab schools by having them attend on separate days. …..Outrage at the discrimination or the fact that it was exposed?
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And what about this? No outrage?? … There is even a website called Avoda Ivrit — Hebrew Labor — that boasts a database of 2,000 businesses nationwide that only employ Jews. The website administrators did not respond to a message from the Forward, but one of the advertisers, the owner of Jerusalem restaurant Shipudei Hagefen, spoke enthusiastically about its Jews-only staffing policy. Zion Anovil said that he introduced the policy 10 years ago and has found it “good for business.” Diners, said Hagefen are “more satisfied,” have “more confidence,” and like the policy from the point of view of service and ideology. “There’s no legal problem — I can hire who I want,” he insisted.
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Amusement Park Discrimination May Be Tip of Iceberg in Israel

Businesses and Web Sites Openly Cater to Jews Only

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THINKSTOCK

By Nathan Jeffay

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TEL AVIV — Politicians have voiced outrage following revelations that an amusement park in central Israel segregated students from Jewish and Arab schools by having them attend on separate days. But civil rights activists say this discrimination is more common than many realize.

After learning that, for years, Superland in Rishon Lezion has been keeping schools from different sectors separate, Education Minister Shai Piron declared himself “shocked at the face of such acts that have no place in Israeli society.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began a Cabinet meeting June 2 by condemning the “phenomena of racism against Israeli Arabs.”

But according to Nadeem Shehadeh, attorney for the Israeli Arab nongovernmental organization Adalah, the incident at Superland doesn’t reflect a phenomenon — just everyday life. “This case isn’t unique,” he said. “What is unique is that it got to the media.”

The government’s practice of unequal allocation of resources between Jewish and Arab sectors is well documented. It was acknowledged bluntly in the findings of the Or Commission, a government panel appointed specifically to expose these practices, in the report it released a decade ago. But activists contend that discrimination by the private sector and by other service providers goes largely unchecked.

“There is no safeguard for equality,” Mohammad Zeidan director of the Arab Association for Human Rights, complained to the Forward. “And therefore there is a clear open window for discrimination.”

Israel did establish, in 2008, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. But with just 11 employees, it is seen by critics as largely reactive rather than proactive. Its activities consist mainly of non-discrimination training for employers who volunteer for this; it does not identify patterns of discrimination or look for offenders. It has initiated fewer than six cases a year on average in the labor courts.

Janet Shalom of the EEOC said her agency was established “in order to receive complaints and through that enforce equal opportunity in the workforce.” The commission is nevertheless seeking “to enlarge its authority,” said Shalom, by having employers complete voluntary reports on their hiring practices.

Activists contend that instances of discrimination are obvious.

Ads for services in trade directories, for example, will commonly use phrases like “Hebrew labor” and “blue and white labor” to signal to readers that they employ only Jews. The former was a slogan of Zionists in the pre-state era who were proud to work their own lands and make their own products, and while the latter refers to the Israeli flag, it’s widely understood to mean that the employees in question are Jewish.

There is even a website called Avoda Ivrit — Hebrew Labor — that boasts a database of 2,000 businesses nationwide that only employ Jews. The website administrators did not respond to a message from the Forward, but one of the advertisers, the owner of Jerusalem restaurant Shipudei Hagefen, spoke enthusiastically about its Jews-only staffing policy. Zion Anovil said that he introduced the policy 10 years ago and has found it “good for business.” Diners, said Hagefen are “more satisfied,” have “more confidence,” and like the policy from the point of view of service and ideology. “There’s no legal problem — I can hire who I want,” he insisted.

In fact, the law is clear. At least on paper, Israel’s Equal Employment Opportunities Law forbids discrimination on the basis of gender, marital status, pregnancy, age, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, views, party affiliation and reserve duty in the army.

Nevertheless, on Janglo, a website for English-speaking immigrants in Israel, some businesses dispense even with the euphemisms. “You have finally found the BEST and ONLY ALL JEWISH MOVING SERVICE for your moving needs,” one listing declares.

The Jewish Moving Service, which placed the ad, promised to get back to the Forward with a comment, but failed to do so. Janglo’s administrator, Zev Stub, insisted that the moving company’s ad message “is not one of employment discrimination,” adding, “We refuse messages that violate the law.”

The EEOC and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor “do not see the mentioned advertisement as an acceptable one,” the ministry told the Forward on behalf of both agencies.

Public pressures has forced some changes. Until April 2012, Ben Gurion Airport, the country’s aviation gateway, instructed taxi companies not to send drivers from “minorities” — that is, the Arab sector — to the airport. The rule was canceled after its existence became public. But the airport’s contract with the Hadar taxi company, which serves the facility, still specified that the company could hire only drivers who had performed army or national service, which the vast majority of Arabs don’t.

Arab cab driver Youssef Atallah argued last August that unless specific military experience is needed to do the job, a demand that the job be restricted to army veterans violates equal opportunity law. After Atallah complained to the EEOC, the airports authority canceled the employment criterion.

Still, a national service record continues to be a common requirement in all sorts of jobs, from high-tech to restaurant work.

“In military-related jobs, [that’s] okay,” said Auni Banna, a staff attorney with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. “But you don’t need to have been in the military to know how to wash dishes.”

Zeidan, of the Arab human rights group, said that politicians venting their outrage at the Superland incident as if it were some rare occurrence have missed an opportunity to tackle more pervasive discrimination.

“The politicians and the prime minister talk against it, and that’s it,” he said. “But it’s not as if anyone says, ‘Let’s go to the root and deal with the problem.’” In Zeidan’s view, the government, parliament and courts need to become “proactive.”

Some Israeli Arabs claim that properties suddenly become unavailable when it appears to the would-be seller that that the buyers are Arab. More blatantly, in 2010 dozens of rabbis — including some who are state-salaried — signed a letter claiming that renting or selling to non-Jews violates religious law. Piron, the same education minister who condemned the Superland discrimination — and who is also a rabbi — wrote in an online halacha forum in 2002 that religious law prohibits selling homes to Arabs. Piron has said that he no longer stands by his ruling.

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RACISM ON THE RISE IN ISRAEL

Instead of fighting suspicion and hate, politicians have in fact fueled these sentiments in recent years, by enacting laws that foster unequal treatment. Because of these laws, Arab schools can be deprived of funding if they remind their students of the 1948 expulsion, a day of mourning for Arabs and a day of joy for Jewish Israelis, which they have celebrated since independence. Communities are even allowed to turn away Arabs wanted to move there — so as to preserve their “Jewish identity.”

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Suspicion and Hate: Racist Attacks On Arabs Increase in Israel

By Julia Amalia Heyer

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Photo Gallery: Racist Attacks on the Rise in Israel
DPA

Arabs are being beaten and insulted in Israel, where the number of racially motivated attacks has risen dramatically. The unresolved conflict, fueled by nationalist politicians, is shifting from Palestinian areas into the Israeli heartland.

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The horror is etched on her face and caught on camera. Revital Wolkov is sitting in the driver’s seat of her white Toyota, staring over her right shoulder, through the broken rear window, directly into the lens. The hole in the window is shaped like a large butterfly.

Wolkov, 53, teaches history in Ramat HaSharon, near Tel Aviv. She was attacked and her car was damaged, merely because an Arab colleague was sitting in the passenger seat. It happened in March, but it wasn’t the only attack of its kind.In the spring, several Jewish teenage girls asked a women standing at a bus stop in Jerusalem whether she was an Arab. The woman, wearing a headscarf, replied that she was. One of the girls pulled the hijab from the woman’s head and spat in her face. The others kicked and beat the woman. A police officer stood nearby and watched. Hana Amtir, 38, three months’ pregnant, locked herself into her house for three days before filing a complaint with the police.

In a beach bar in Tel Aviv, an Arab waiter was clearing away bottles of mayonnaise and ketchup, but the men sitting at one of the tables weren’t finished yet. “Damn Arab,” they cursed, and then proceeded to beat the man, who was later hospitalized. None of the other guests came to his aid.

Youths attacked an Arab cleaning man working for the city of Tel Aviv as he was emptying garbage cans. They broke a bottle over his head. The man, covered with blood, asked them why they were doing this to him. “Because you’re an Arab,” they shouted.

Such attacks have become commonplace in Israel, but it isn’t Jewish soldiers beating Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. The attacks have nothing to do with militant settlers or an autonomous Palestine, although these conflicts are always at the back of people’s minds.

For decades, Jews and Palestinians have been fighting over the same piece of land. Some of them even share the same citizenship. Three quarters of Israel’s 8 million people are Jews, and 1.8 million are Israeli Arabs. However, their paths rarely cross in everyday life. Israel’s Arabs are not required to serve in the military, and many of them live in primarily Arab towns and neighborhoods, with their children attending Arab schools. They earn less on average and are not as well educated as Israeli Jews. Officially, they have the same rights as Jewish citizens, but in reality they are often the targets of discrimination.

‘We Have a Racism Problem’

The Jewish majority, influenced by terror and the constant threat of attack, sees the Arab minority as a “fifth column” of its hostile neighbors in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the entire region.

Instead of fighting suspicion and hate, politicians have in fact fueled these sentiments in recent years, by enacting laws that foster unequal treatment. Because of these laws, Arab schools can be deprived of funding if they remind their students of the 1948 expulsion, a day of mourning for Arabs and a day of joy for Jewish Israelis, which they have celebrated since independence. Communities are even allowed to turn away Arabs wanted to move there — so as to preserve their “Jewish identity.”

The suspicions are nothing new, as they reflect the underlying conflict in this country and beyond its borders. Nevertheless, attacks by perfectly normal Jewish Israelis on their Arab countrymen have been so brutal in recent weeks that the commentary has been surprisingly unanimous. The media on both the left and the right, otherwise rarely of the same mind, have condemned the attacks.

The Israeli press can be hard on its country and unsparing in its criticism. “We have a racism problem,” wrote the newspaper Ha’aretz. And Yediot Akharonot detects the process of dissolution of a “society that has never managed to establish a binding system of values for all of its components.”

Of course, it’s unfair to measure the severity of the problem against the highly charged atmosphere of the Israeli debate, because while anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are part of mainstream political thinking in the Arab world and often even encouraged by governments, Israel openly discusses racism at home. And, of course, the Israelis treat their minorities better than many Arab countries treat their Jews or Christians. But Israel has also set itself a high moral standard, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu consistently describing his country as a beacon in the darkness.

Sharp Rise in Attacks

According to the Coalition Against Racism in Israel, a group consisting of several organizations, racially motivated incidents have almost quadrupled since 2008. There were 16 reported cases in that year, compared to 63 between March 2012 and February 2013.

One of those incidents was directed against Revital Wolkov and her colleague, Suhad Abu Samira, 25, a Muslim woman who was wearing a black hijab when the attack occurred. The two teachers were on their way to a funeral service when Wolkov parked her car in a Jewish section of Jerusalem, where many religious Jews live and the Arab translations on street signs are often painted over. When the women got out of the car, they heard people shouting.

“There was an entire group of children and young people standing there,” Wolkov later said in her apartment. At first, the women didn’t understand what they wanted. The youths spat, threw oranges and water bottles at them and shouted: “Arab whore.” Samira began to cry and the women fled into a doorway.

Wolkov experienced the Six-Day War as a child and the Yom Kippur War as a teenager. She was also a soldier and fought in Lebanon. Nevertheless, the wars did not turn her into a cynic. Her face turns rigid when she talks about that afternoon. After working as a teacher for 26 years, her first instinct was to seek dialogue, so she left the doorway and returned to the youths in the parking lot.

Why are you doing this, she asked?

“You Jewish slut, you’re friends with the Arab whore,” they said. The words still echo in her mind today. Then they began throwing rocks and Wolkov fled. When she returned, her car windows had been smashed and the tires slit.

Israelis Feel Superior But Threatened

Wolkov’s parents emigrated from Yemen. She has brown skin, and she knows what it feels like not to look like everyone else. Wolkov was a good student, and yet a teacher once said to her, in front of the entire class, that he wouldn’t have thought that a Yemini could be so good at mathematics. Even though Israel is supposed to be a homeland for all Jews, its society, like societies elsewhere, is divided by skin color and ancestry. Ethiopians and Yemenis are at the bottom of the hierarchy, while Jews of European descent are at the top.

“This is the Middle East. Nothing is normal here. Everyone is traumatized,” says Wolkov. Many Israelis feel superior, she explains — militarily, morally and culturally — and simultaneously threatened. “Those who are afraid begin to hate,” she says.

People who live in Israel can easily feel like castaways on the high seas. There are the radicals of Hezbollah and Hamas, whose rockets are pointed at Tel Aviv, and there are the mad television preachers and politicians from Iran to Saudi Arabia, who want nothing more than to see Israel destroyed. Those who live there constantly see images on television of hate-filled people around the world burning Israeli flags and, even in the two Arab countries with which Israel considers itself to be at peace, angry mobs storming the Israeli embassy. And although Israel is the strongest military power far and wide, its citizens are filled with a deep-seated fear.

This leads to overwhelmingly anti-Arab sentiments. For instance, a survey by the University of Haifa found that more than half of Jewish Israelis don’t want to live next to Arabs. In another study, 63 percent of respondents said they agreed with the statement “Arabs are a security risk and a demographic threat to the country,” while 40 percent felt that the government should encourage Israeli Arabs to emigrate.

Arabs Seen as Enemies

Residents of Tel Aviv’s affluent northern neighborhoods collect signatures to prevent Arabs from moving into the area. In other cities, homeowners are berated for selling or renting to Israeli Arabs. The mayor of Nazaret Illit in northern Israel wrote a newsletter to congratulate residents on keeping the city’s Jewish population constant “at 82 percent.” He also called upon citizens to “fight against the right of everyone in Israel to live where he or she pleases,” and even to employ “methods we would rather not discuss.”

“Arabs are being attacked just for being Arabs,” says Mordechai Kremnitzer, a law professor at Hebrew University. He speaks slowly and sounds worried. “Given our experiences, it ought to be clear that this sort of thing cannot happen,” he says.

Do Jews have to be better people, just because they are victims of anti-Semitism and racism, of persecution and genocide? Is this even possible, given the trauma and ongoing conflict they face?

The state of war is now part of everyday life, says Kremnitzer. The decades of being an occupying power showed the Israelis that they are stronger than the Arabs, he explains. And an Arab, whether he lives in Israel or in the Palestinian territories, is only one thing for many people, says Kremnitzer: the enemy. It’s also oddly schizophrenic that someone can be a soldier serving with the occupying army in the West Bank by day, with almost unlimited power, and then, in the evening, return to being a fellow citizen with his Israeli Arab neighbors.

“Our soldiers are taught early on that the others are inferior to them,” says Kremnitzer. Almost every Jewish Israeli, male or female, serves in the army today. In his capacity as vice-president of the Israel Democracy Institute, Kremnitzer wants to meet with the country’s justice and education ministers. It is imperative that those in the government take action, he says. One in three children is now born into an ultra-Orthodox family, and most attend religious schools, which, rather than teaching students about universal values, drum into them the notion that the Jews have a biblical right to their land.

Instead of advocating peaceful coexistence, some politicians, especially nationalists and the ultra-religious, prefer to draw attention to themselves with anti-Arab statements. Former Interior Minister Eli Yishai referred to illegal African immigrants as “intruders who are contaminating the country with diseases.”

Extreme Rhetoric

A lawmaker with the governing Likud Party referred to them as a “cancer in the nation’s body.” Africans are also increasingly the targets of attacks, in areas like south Tel Aviv, where adolescent gangs have it in for the immigrants. Their leader is a former member of parliament with an ultra-right party.

Knesset Speaker Juli Edelstein wrote on Facebook that the Arabs are “a deplorable nation.” And Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister until recently, wants to transfer Israeli Arabs to Palestine in the context of an exchange of territory and to revoke the citizenship of those who are “disloyal.” He even once called for the execution of Arab lawmakers who had met with Hamas politicians. But half of the Israelis feel that Lieberman has fascist tendencies.

Although there are also politicians who protest against such sentiments, the extreme rhetoric still percolates into the collective consciousness. And with the police often sympathizing with the attackers, it’s no surprise that those responsible for racist attackers are not always punished. “There isn’t enough punishment for these actions,” says legal expert Kremnitzer, adding that many of the culprits have no sense that what they are doing is wrong. “They believe that politicians support what they do.”

Football fan Asi, 23, says that he isn’t a racist, just a nationalist. “I have no problem with Arabs, as long as they raise the Israeli flag and sing along when our national anthem is played.” Lieberman used the same logic to justify a bill he introduced calling for new citizens to deliver an oath of allegiance.

Asi, who lives in a small village near Caesarea, supports the Beitar Jerusalem football club. On a Thursday evening, he and other Beitar fans are standing at an intersection in Herzliya. Asi has a friendly face and a neatly trimmed beard. Like his fellow fans, he is here to demonstrate against the club’s owner.

When it was revealed in January that the Club planned to sign two Muslim Chechen players, the stands in the stadium became filled with hateful signs, with words like “Beitar — Pure Forever.” The fans chanted: “We are chosen, we are holy, but the Arabs are not.”Beitar Jerusalem, says Asi, that’s the holy menorah on a yellow background. The team, he says, can only win as a Jewish team, which is why Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to play in the club.

Beitar’s management has since cancelled the contracts with the Chechens and sent the two men back home. There were simply too many problems, the club wrote in a statement.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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Ironically, in an OpEd in today’s Ynet, the zionists claim that the Arab population in Israel loves racism …. how sick is that?
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I think the Arab citizens of Israel who complain don’t know or appreciate how good they have it. They should be thankful for the right to speak out without the police banging down their door and dragging them off to a dark jail cell to be held without trial.
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‘Racism’ or extinction

Op-ed: Most Arab citizens have it pretty good; prefer living in Israel than in any Arab country

Dan Calic

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Once again we hear voices crying out that Israel is a “racist” state. Should we be surprised? Not really. Why is it that every other group of people can have at least one national homeland where they are the clear majority? Yet, if the same privilege is accorded to Jews it’s called “racist,” or the other famous term – “apartheid state.”

Israel is located in the center of the Middle East. This region is comprised of 22 Arab countries, which cover over five million square miles, with a combined population of more than 350 million people, over 90% of whom are Muslim. The 6+ million Jews who live in Israel make up roughly 1.7% of the region’s population, so the Arabs enjoy an overwhelming majority of the regional ethnicity.

The Jews and Israel have been under constant threat of annihilation since the day independence was declared in May 1948. Have the 350 million Arabs lived under such a threat from Israel for the past 65 years?

Within Israel itself, slightly over 20% of the population is Arab. They enjoy all the benefits of citizenship. They vote, own homes, businesses, property, serve in the Knesset and Supreme Court. Plus, they are excused from serving in the army. Is there a single Arab country where Jews enjoy these same rights? Not one.

The majority of Arab-Israeli citizens will tell you they have it pretty good, and would prefer living in Israel than in an Arab country. Moreover, a couple of years ago, when the PA threatened to annex eastern Jerusalem, the Israeli Office of Immigration was flooded with Arabs wanting to apply for Israeli citizenship. What does that tell you?

So why all the talk of racism? Some may say Israel needs to be more “democratic.” Well, in fact, everyone in Israel gets to vote. So why the complaints?

It seems the problem is pretty easy to identify. The basis for the complaints can be based on only one thing: Jews are the majority and want to remain the majority.

Danes are the majority in Denmark, Swiss are the majority in Switzerland, Muslims are the majority in 22 countries, but no one is accusing any of these countries of racism. Yet if six million Jews are the majority in a country which is the size of New Jersey this is deemed “racist,” one cannot help but wonder what truly motivates those who make such accusations.

Israel is a democracy which among other things allows freedom of speech. Thus, those who voice such complaints are allowed to and are protected under the law. Would Jews be allowed similar privilege as citizens of Arab countries? Hardly.

I think the Arab citizens of Israel who complain don’t know or appreciate how good they have it. They should be thankful for the right to speak out without the police banging down their door and dragging them off to a dark jail cell to be held without trial.

If Israel is seen as “racist” because it’s the only country in the world where Jews are the majority, let the accusations come, and consider the source of the accusers.

If Israel acquiesces, the Jewish nation becomes extinct, which is precisely what the accusers prefer.

US STATE DEPARTMENT USING ONE HOLOCAUST TO JUSTIFY ANOTHER ONE

The WWII holocaust lasted for two or three years and the entire world was mobilized to stop it, but the Palestinian holocaust has been going on nonstop since 1948, with the main world political powers either siding with Zionist aggressors or doing virtually nothing to save the Palestinian people from the attempted annihilation by Zionist Jews seeking to emulate the Third Reich.

No one is claiming that six million Palestinians have perished or that Palestinian towns have been transformed into concentration camps, although Israeli blitzes against the Gaza Strip in 2008-9 and 2012 contained unmistakable elements which looked as if borrowed from the holocaust. What is the difference between the Gaza siege and the Ghetto Warsaw siege? Yes, details may differ here and there, given the circumstances in both cases, but the essence is the same.

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Muslim visits to Auschwitz serve Israeli propaganda
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By Khalid Amayreh
 

A number of Muslim clerics and imams reportedly toured the site of the former concentration camp, Auschwitz, in Poland last week. The imams hailed from a number of Muslim countries, including Occupied Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Bosnia and some of African countries.

The tour was sponsored by the American State Department and intended to educate Muslims about Jewish suffering during World War II. No other comparable program to educate Jews about the ongoing Palestinian Nakba was initiated, suggesting moral selectiveness and bias on the Americans’ part.

Israel and Zionist circles often use the holocaust as a mantra to justify the usurpation and occupation of Palestine by Zionist Jewish invaders and colonialists from all over the world.

We Muslims, including Palestinians, are not against visits by Muslims to sites of former concentration camps as a matter of principle. More to the point, we are not against sympathizing and identifying with the victims of Nazism, Jews and non-Jews alike.

However when such visits are manipulated by Israel and Zionist circles to justify and promote the ongoing Jewish-Zionist holocaust against Palestinian national existence, then we must stop and think deeply about the moral implications of such visits.

The WWII holocaust lasted for two or three years and the entire world was mobilized to stop it, but the Palestinian holocaust has been going on nonstop since 1948, with the main world political powers either siding with Zionist aggressors or doing virtually nothing to save the Palestinian people from the attempted annihilation by Zionist Jews seeking to emulate the Third Reich.

No one is claiming that six million Palestinians have perished or that Palestinian towns have been transformed into concentration camps, although Israeli blitzes against the Gaza Strip in 2008-9 and 2012 contained unmistakable elements which looked as if borrowed from the holocaust. What is the difference between the Gaza siege and the Ghetto Warsaw siege? Yes, details may differ here and there, given the circumstances in both cases, but the essence is the same.

Today, more than five million Palestinians are living as refugees around the world, waiting the moment when they can return to their homes from which they were expelled at gun point at the hands of the children and grandchildren of the holocausts.

Other Palestinians who were not deported are living a life of discrimination, humiliation, and constant repression and facing a precarious future as a result of Israeli racism, as the Jewish state continues to seek more lebensraum at the expense of the Palestinian people.

In short, Israel has been using and continues to use the memory of one holocaust to justify and rationalize another protracted holocaust, one that has been going on unabated for 65 years.

It is lamentable indeed that some Muslim imams, including Palestinians, have been duped by the Americans to serve Israeli propaganda efforts.

Perhaps, these gullible clerics should have also insisted they also visit the sites of the massacres of Deir Yasin, Tantura, Dawaymeh, Sabra and Shatilla and Ibrahimi Mosque, just to mention a few Zionist atrocities.

Perhaps the gullible clerics should have insisted they visit or meet with some Palestinian refugees, languishing in misery in Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

We Palestinians are not and will never be anti-Semites. Anti-Semitism, like Islamophobia, is morally and humanly repugnant. However, we will never agree to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionism is as moral and as ethical as anti-Nazism.

Indeed, when Jews or anyone else think, behave and act as the Nazis thought, behaved and acted, then we should have no problem comparing them with the Nazis.

There is no such a thing as a kosher genocide or kosher holocaust. And when a peaceable people is massacred and subjected to other forms of ethnic cleansing, we should call the spade a spade especially when we see it in the hands of our grave-diggers.

We must always uphold this truth, however unpalatable and politically incorrect it might be.

Today, Israel and her guardian ally, the United States are trying to define anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism. This is a malicious effort to legitimize evil, especially when committed by Jews.

In the recent past, anti-Semites used to be those who hated Jews for being Jews. Today, we are told that anti-Semites are those who criticize Nazi-like Jewish behavior in Occupied Palestine.

Needless to say, honest people around the world, including conscientious Jews, ought to reject this brazen cheapening of anti-Semitism. It is just beyond chutzpah.

As to the naïve clerics, they should apologize to their respective congregations and Muslims in general. They should also think twice in the future before accepting such invitations from the United States or Germany, the same states that continue to supply Israel with all sorts of advanced weapons of death and destruction that enable Israel to occupy more lebensraum and murder more Muslims.

The holocaust happened nearly 70 years ago, but Israel and Zionist circles would very much like to make it look as relevant as if it occurred a few months or years ago. This is an act of sheer deception and propaganda that should never escape our attention.

This is why we should be extremely cautious and never allow any activity, however innocuous it may look, to overshadow the plight of our people. The Zionists simply want to make the holocaust the main preoccupation of the world, mainly in order to overshadow and eclipse the ongoing and unrelenting Israeli holocaust against the Palestinian people.

We must not help them achieve this sinister goal.

 

NO VIRGINIA, IT’S NOT APARTHEID. IT’S A LOT WORSE!

Yes virginia low res
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The proverbial Virginia asked a few questions this week; How can a man like Morgan Freeman accept an award for combatting racism from a group of racists? How can that same man who recently portrayed Nelson Mandela in a film openly endorse apartheid by accepting that award?
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No Virginia, it’s not apartheid. It’s a lot worse! Just this week ….
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Israel effectively barring tourists from West Bank by neglecting to explain mandatory permit

To visit Palestinian-controlled areas, some foreign nationals need military entry permit that Israel doesn’t explain how to get.

By Amira Hass
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The separation fence east of the West Bank settlement of Alfei Menashe.

The separation fence east of the West Bank settlement of Alfei Menashe. Photo by Nir Kafri
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Since the beginning of 2013, Israel has forbidden tourists from the United States and other countries to enter the territories under Palestinian Authority control without a military entry permit – but it has not explained the application process to them.

Haaretz has learned of a recent case where clerics from the United States had to sign a declaration at the Ben-Gurion International Airport, promising not to enter Area A without permits from the Coordinator of Activities in the Territories.

The clerics signed the declaration, but representatives of the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority did not explain to them how to get the permits.

Not every tourist who is planning to visit the West Bank is required to sign the declaration, and no criteria have been published for how people are selected to do so.

The American clerics, who spoke with Haaretz on condition of anonymity, were sent by their church to work with Christian communities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. As a result of the declaration they signed and their inability to decipher the procedure for obtaining the permit, they have been unable to meet with the members of Christian communities in West Bank cities or visit holy places, like the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

One of the signers, who turned to the United States Consulate in Jerusalem for help, told Haaretz that the consulate employees are unaware of the existence of the declaration.

The text of the English-language version of the document reads:

“1. I understand that this permit is granted me for entry and visitation within Israel only, and it has been explained to me that I am unable to enter the areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority without advance authorization from the Territory Actions Coordinator and I agree to act in accordance with these regulations.

“2. I understand that in the event that I enter any area under the control of the Palestinian Authority without the appropriate authorization all relevant legal actions will be taken against me, including deportation and denial of entry into Israel for a period of up to ten years.”

In the Hebrew version, there is also a clear statement that unauthorized entry to the areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority is a transgression of the law. This is omitted from the English version.

The English version does not use the official and common English title “Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories,” but translates the Hebrew as “Territory Actions Coordinator,” raising doubts as to whether the coordinator’s office has seen the form.

The spokeswoman for the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority, Sabine Haddad, wrote to Haaretz that the Entry into Israel Law authorizes the interior minister to decide on the entry of foreigners to the State of Israel, but in the case of Judea and Samaria, the Israel Defense Forces chief of general staff makes the determination – with a permit from the coordinator’s office required by security legislation.

“When a tourist/foreign national arrives at the international border crossings and it is believed that he wants to enter Judea and Samaria, he should be informed [of the procedure] and asked for his promise to receive a permit from the coordinator’s office before his entry – a permit that constitutes an essential condition [of entry to the Palestinian Authority controlled areas],” said Haddad.

Haddad did not reply to Haaretz’s request for explanation of the pertinent clauses of the law, nor did she provide Haaretz with information about the department in the coordinator’s office from which to request the permit. On the English website of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories – a military unit that carries out and implements civilian policy in the territories – including the part dealing with ties with international organizations, there is no mention of the existence of such a procedure. In reply to an inquiry by Haaretz, the spokesman for the coordinator’s office said the matter of the procedure and the form is being examined.

About seven years ago, there was a report of a similar declaration that tourists were required to sign, but the practice was discontinued and renewed only at the beginning of this year. Several years ago, the Interior Ministry also began to limit the freedom of movement of tourists with work and family ties in the West Bank and to prevent their entry into Israel by means of a permit with the stamp “For the territories of Judea and Samaria only.”

Attorney Adi Lustigman turned Haaretz’s attention to a legal decision from August 2010 by Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Yoed Hacohen, which dealt with the appeal she filed against preventing the entry into Israel of an American citizen. Hacohen ruled that even according to the Oslo Accords, which the Interior Ministry occasionally relies on to explain restrictions on the movement of tourists, citizens of countries that have diplomatic ties with Israel need only an entry permit for Israel and a valid passport to enter Palestinian Authority territories. They are not required to have visiting permits from the Palestinian Authority, which are granted with the approval of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (as is required of citizens of countries that do not have diplomatic ties with Israel, and citizens from Arab countries such as Egypt and Jordan).

Lustigman believes the policy behind the declaration is illegal because it discriminates between foreign citizens whose destination is the settlements and those whose destination is Palestinian areas. The form itself, Lustigman says, “is not legal because it was formulated for an improper purpose – isolating the occupied territories – and in an improper manner. It makes the assumption that people who arrive in Israel as tourists, as clerics and for other purposes want to act in contradiction to the law, which may not even have been explained to them clearly.

“There is no reason to threaten foreign citizens, to turn them into suspects and to make them sign, as a condition for entering Israel, a form whose wording and content are unclear … If there really is such a procedure, it should be publicized in a simple, clear and accessible manner, and instead of handing out a threatening sheet of paper, they should hand out a paper containing an explanation and procedures for making the request. Because the Interior Ministry does not do so, and as far as I know neither does the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, it seems that there is no operative procedure, nor any procedure for submitting a request. We are left only with a prohibition, which, as we have mentioned, is invalid.”

The spokesperson for the U.S. Consulate did not answer Haaretz’s question as to whether Israel has informed the American authorities about the restriction and the obligation to sign, and did not explain the viewpoint of the U.S. Department of State on the issue.

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Coincidentally, the Ediitor’s pic at Comment Is Free was the following, By our very own Sam Bahour …It was written two years ago.
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Welcome to Palestine – if you can get in
Israel’s threat to deny visitors entry to Palestine is as disturbing as it is shocking. Our protest will be a civil society tsunami
By Sam Bahour 
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Separation barrier between Israel and the West Bank
A Palestinian flag is attached to barbed wire in front of the separation barrier between Israel and the West Bank in 2010. Photograph: Oliver Weiken/EPA/Corbis
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Palestinians have globally touted an array of rights that Israel systematically denies. There is the right of return, the right of freedom of movement, the right to water, the right to education, the right to enter(not to be confused with refugees’ right to return) and so on.

But the right to receive visitors, or lack thereof? This is the most recent addition. The prohibition on freely receiving foreign visitors is as disturbing as it is shocking, especially for a country that claims to be the only beacon of democracy in the Middle East.

Yes, you read correctly. Israel is threatening to refuse to allow Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territory to receive visitors from abroad. We are not talking here about visitors such as the 5 million Palestinian refugees whom Israel has refused to allow to return to their homes after being expelled by force and fear when Israel was founded in 1948. Rather, the issue now is that foreigners who desire to visit the occupied Palestinian territory are being denied entry into Israel.

Remember, there is no other way to get to the Palestinian territory of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which is under military occupation by Israel, except by passing through Israeli-controlled points of entry such as Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv or one of Israel’s sea ports or land crossings. The entry point to the Gaza Strip from the West Bank requires passage through Israel as well.

So, more than 300 international activists plan to arrive in Tel Aviv during the week of 8 July at the invitation of 30 Palestinian civil society organisations, to participate in an initiative named “Welcome to Palestine“. Delegations from France, Great Britain, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, the USA, Japan and several African countries are expected.

Upon arrival at Ben Gurion airport, the invited guests, all from countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel, will make no secret of their intent to go to the occupied Palestinian territory. This nonviolent act, a civil society tsunami of sorts, only comes after Israel’s restriction of movement and access to and from Palestine for Palestinians and foreigners has exhausted all established channels that carry the responsibility to uphold international law first and their domestic laws second.

The greatest inaction has come from the US state department, even though it has put on record, multiple times, the fact that Israel is discriminating at its borders against US citizens.

It is also worth noting that the 1951 Israel friendship, commerce and navigation treaty explicitly states: “There shall be freedom of transit through the territories of each Party by the routes most convenient for international transit …” and persons “in transit shall be exempt from … unreasonable charges and requirements; and shall be free from unnecessary delays and restrictions.” So much for respecting signed agreements.

Israel, as a state and previously as a Zionist movement, has gone to every extreme to fragment and dispossess the Palestinian people. It has had accomplices every step of the way, starting with Great Britain and continuing to this very day with the US and the flock of UN member states that act more like parakeets to the US than sovereign states when it comes to Palestine.

Well, the game of inaction is coming to an end. When states fail, people take over. It is these people, like those coming to Palestine this week, or those attempting to reach the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip by sea, or those living in Palestine and resisting the occupation day in and day out, who will prove to historians once again that history is made of real people who have a keen sense of humanity and the courage to sacrifice.

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J STREET’S DREAM OF PEACE IS PALESTINE’S NIGHTMARE

In a mass email sent on 5 May, Jeremy Ben-Ami, the head of the pro-Israel lobby group J Street, wrote to his supporters: “I’ve just arrived in Israel with a delegation of J Street leaders on our annual fact-finding mission to the region.” He added: “It’s an energizing time to be here. After years of frustrating deadlock, talk of peace is in the air again.”

What air is he breathing?

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J Street’s pipe dreams of peace

Miko Peled*
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Sixty-five years after their forced dispossession, Palestinian refugees are forbidden from returning home.

 (Issam Rimawi / APA images)

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May and June are once again upon us, which means Palestinians are commemorating theNakba (the catastrophe of their 1948 dispossession) and Naksa (the disaster of the 1967 War and subsequent occupation). Meanwhile Israelis celebrate the establishment of their state and the conquest of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, the Syrian Golan Heights and the Sinai. This inevitably leaves one to ask the banal question: “Will there be peace in our lifetime?”

In a mass email sent on 5 May, Jeremy Ben-Ami, the head of the pro-Israel lobby group J Street, wrote to his supporters: “I’ve just arrived in Israel with a delegation of J Street leaders on our annual fact-finding mission to the region.” He added: “It’s an energizing time to be here. After years of frustrating deadlock, talk of peace is in the air again.”

What air is he breathing?

US Secretary of State John Kerry recently told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that “the window for a two-state solution is shutting” (“Kerry: two years left to reach two-state solution in Middle East peace process,” The Guardian, 18 April 2013).

Myths and double standards

In fact, it’s been shut for decades. Kerry is merely regurgitating the old, numbing talking points. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is deadlocked because of the myths and double standards that dominate the debate.

Zionists claim that Jewish people have a right to “return” to Palestine — or the Land of Israel, as they call it — because they are related to the ancient Hebrews, a tribe that lived there thousands of years ago. Yet Palestinians who lived in Palestine only 65 years ago and remember when they were forced to leave as refugees are forbidden from returning to their homes and their land.

A nation whose connection to the land is based on something that took place thousands of years ago is telling a nation that still has the keys to their homes and the deeds to their land that they must stay out.

The State of Israel was established on the ruins of Palestine, but today close to half of the population residing under Israeli control are Palestinians. Israel maintains laws that discriminate against the Palestinian portion of the population — or what it calls the non-Jewish population.

Catastrophe continues

One may wonder why Palestinians call Israel’s establishment a catastrophe, or Nakba. It might be hard to grasp how this historic marvel, the revival of the Jewish state, could be called a catastrophe. However, a closer look will show that characterizing the war of 1948 as catastrophic is not only justified, it involves understating what happened.

The war of 1948 was an act of terrorism initiated by Zionist militias that ended up in the destruction of Palestine and the forced displacement of its people. What makes it even worse is that the catastrophe did not just take place in 1948. It began in 1948 and has been going on ever since.

The catastrophe continues with thousands of Palestinians in jail, 1.6 million living undersiege in Gaza, another 1.5 million living as second-class citizens in Israel, close to three million in the West Bank living at the mercy of the Israeli army, which knows little mercy, and approximately seven million Palestinians living as refugees outside of Palestine who are not permitted to return to their homes.

This May and June, it is time to reflect on the reality in which Palestinians are forced to live, and separate it from the virtual reality that Israel and its supporters try to paint. Perhaps this year it is time to assert in clear terms that supporting an exclusivist and discriminatory Jewish state means supporting a state that violates the most basic human and civil rights of millions of Palestinians, including the right to life itself.

If peace is indeed in the air then one would hope that Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, the refugee camps and in Israeli jails are also breathing it. If so, they can leave their cells and their makeshift homes, close the camps, open the prisons and return home, to Palestine. It also means that a bi-national democracy that respects and represents the rights of all people is on its way.

*Miko Peled is an Israeli writer and activist living in California. He is the author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.

Written FOR

IS DEFENSE OF PALESTINIAN CHILDREN ANTI-SEMITIC?

בית-אומר-2010-אן

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It has already been met here with a typical shrug of the shoulders, the report by the United Nations Children Fund declaring that Palestinian children detained by the Israel Defense Forces are subject to widespread, systematic ill-treatment that violates international law.

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UNICEF isn’t anti-Semitic

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UNICEF has published a report no less harsh, this time with respect to Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children. Now, you can no longer say it was because of anti-Semitism.

By Gideon Levy
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It has already been met here with a typical shrug of the shoulders, the report by the United Nations Children Fund declaring that Palestinian children detained by the Israel Defense Forces are subject to widespread, systematic ill-treatment that violates international law.

Now it’s no longer “the automatic majority” at the UN’s General Assembly, nor is it “Israel-haters” on the UN Human Rights Council. Now it’s UNICEF − and UNICEF is really another story entirely.

The UN International Emergency Children’s Fund, as it was originally known, was founded in 1946 at the initiative of a Polish-Jewish pediatrician and Holocaust survivor. And it has become, over many years, an organization of global celebrities.

Its name is displayed on the jerseys of Barcelona soccer players − jerseys that are also worn by many Israeli children. Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is a goodwill ambassador for the organization, as are fellow soccer player David Beckham, Princess Caroline of Monaco, British actor Sir Roger Moore, Columbian pop musician Shakira, and even our own musician David Broza and actress Yona Elian. This is the charity club of choice for the international jet set.

The Israeli Zena Harman received a Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the organization in 1965. Over a year ago, a festive ceremony was held by Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, during which Israel signed onto the new Convention on the Rights of the Child proposed by the organization.

An Israeli representative was chosen this year to serve on UNICEF’s executive board for the first time in 40 years, in what was portrayed as a rare diplomatic accomplishment. Even Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes served as the honorary chair of the Israeli branch of UNICEF.

UNICEF is concerned with protecting the rights of the world’s children, ensuring that they have access to clean water, proper nutrition, a fitting education and the like. From time to time, it publishes frightening reports about the abuse faced by children in the darkest of regimes and the world’s worst failed states.

Now, UNICEF has published a report no less harsh, this time with respect to Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children. Now, you can no longer say it was because of anti-Semitism.

The photo of the walls of the Israeli Ofer Prison in the West Bank on the cover of the report, and the picture depicted in its pages, should evoke dread among every Israeli parent. Some 7,000 Palestinian children were arrested in the past decade, an average of 700 per year.

The report described the process by which this generally occurs: A large military force invades a home in the dead of night and rudely wakes up its occupants. After a violent search that sometimes includes the destruction of furniture, the young suspect is bound with hand restraints, their eyes are blindfolded and they are ripped from their shocked and frightened family.

The child is taken to a jeep and usually forced to sit on the floor of the vehicle. On the way to the detention facility, the child is sometimes struck by the soldiers’ fists and legs while they are tied up.

At the investigation facility, the child waits hours, sometimes even an entire day, without food or water and without access to a toilet. Their interrogation includes threats of death, sexual threats directed toward them and their family members, and sometimes also physical blows.

No lawyers or family members are present when any child is investigated, as is required by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the one signed with so much pomp and circumstance at the education minister’s office.

By the end of their interrogations, most of the children admit everything they are accused of − usually stone-throwing. They sign confessions written in Hebrew, even when they have no idea what these “confessions” say.

Afterward, the child is sent to solitary confinement for a period that can sometimes last as long as a month. They are treated in a manner that is “cruel” and “inhuman,” according to the UNICEF report.

The child first meets their lawyer at the juvenile military court, and their remand is likely to be extended up to a period of 188 days, in violation of international standards. In contravention of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that detention must be a last resort, there is practically no chance of release on bail for children facing charges.

Then the punishment comes, usually a draconian one. Two of the prisons in which these children are incarcerated are located within Israel, in contravention of the Geneva Convention, which makes it very difficult for the children’s family members to visit them, also in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized. It is understood that in no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights, the UNICEF report states.

All of this occurs in a country where children are considered a source of joy, where concern for their well-being is of the highest priority. All of this occurs in your country, a short hour from your children’s bedrooms.

YOUTUBE ‘PROVES’ THAT A MURDERED PALESTINIAN CHILD WASN’T DEAD AFTER ALL

 It took 13 years for Israel to garner enough CHUTZPAH to present ‘proof’ that a child murdered by the IDF in Gaza wasn’t dead after all….
Here is the ‘proof’ they offer via YouTube…
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“Contrary to the claim that the boy was dead, the committee’s review of the raw footage indicates that at the end of the video – the part that was not broadcast – the boy appears to be alive,” the inquiry stated. “The probe has found that there is no evidence to support the claims that the father, Jamal, or the boy Mohammed, were shot. Furthermore, the video does not show Jamal being seriously wounded.”
“On the other hand, many signs indicate that the two were never hit by the bullets,” the panel added in its conclusion.
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Israeli panel: Palestinian boy ‘killed’ by IDF at start of intifada did not actually die

National Israeli panel of inquiry says iconic footage from start of second intifada reveals that Palestinian child apparently caught by IDF bullets did not actually die in the incident.

By Barak Ravid
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Mohammed al-Dura - AP - 19022012
The infamous image of Mohammed al-Dura (left) sheltering with his father Jamal. Photo by AP
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Thirteen years after an exchange of fire in Gaza appeared to have resulted in the death of a Palestinian boy at the start of the second intifada, an Israeli investigative panel has found “there are many indications” that Mohammed al-Dura and his father, Jamal, “were never hit by gunfire” – neither Israeli nor Palestinian – after all.

The national panel of inquiry further claims that contrary to the famed report carried by the France 2 television network on the day of the incident, September 30, 2000, 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura appears to be alive at the end of the complete footage captured of the event.

The investigative panel was commissioned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon in September 2012, and was headed by Yossi Kuperwasser, former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. It included representatives of the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit and the Israel Police, as well as outside experts.

The probe focused primarily on the France 2 report about al-Dura’s death and the events that followed. The report, which was presented by journalist Charles Enderlin, alleged that the boy was killed by bullets fired by Israel Defense Forces troops.

The committee found that the evidence in the television station’s possession did not support the claim that al-Dura died as a result of IDF gunfire. It added that the report falsely created the impression that the channel had solid proof that Israeli soldiers were responsible for the boy’s death.

“Contrary to the claim that the boy was dead, the committee’s review of the raw footage indicates that at the end of the video – the part that was not broadcast – the boy appears to be alive,” the inquiry stated. “The probe has found that there is no evidence to support the claims that the father, Jamal, or the boy Mohammed, were shot. Furthermore, the video does not show Jamal being seriously wounded.” 

“On the other hand, many signs indicate that the two were never hit by the bullets,” the panel added in its conclusion.

The inquiry casts doubt on the possibility that the bullet holes left on a wall under which the boy and his father sought shelter were caused by gunfire that came from a nearby IDF post, as was suggested in the France 2 report.

The committee stressed that “many question marks surround almost every aspect of the report,” further hinting that a boy named Mohammed al-Dura may have never existed.

The committee, which submitted its report for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s review on Sunday, charges France 2 and the reporter, Enderlin, with “harming Israel’s international standing and igniting the flames of terror and hatred.”

“Since it aired, the France 2 report about Israel’s actions has served as inspiration and justification for terror, anti-Semitism and the Israel’s de-legitimization,” the panel said.

An entire chapter within the inquiry report criticizes the media and offers conclusions that should be employed by journalists, even though no reporters were part of the committee. The panel asserted that the incident and its coverage highlight the need for “media outlets to abide by the strictest professional and ethical standards while reporting on asymmetrical conflicts.”

The photos of the Duras, father and son, taking cover behind a barrel during an exchange of gunfire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants, near the Netzarim junction in the Gaza Strip, remains one of the most enduring images of the second intifada.

Israel initially apologized for the boy’s death but issued a retraction when subsequent investigations indicated the boy was most likely killed by Palestinian fire.

In a February 2005 hearing in Paris, French Web site owner Phillipe Karsenty claimed France 2 had staged the incident, claiming the footage showed the boy still moving his arm, even though the cameraman had said he was dead. He provided a report from a French ballistics expert indicating the shots fired past the al-Duras came from the Palestinian position, and he pointed out that several scenes before the al-Dura incident appeared staged.

The judge agreed in that hearing that some scenes did not seem genuine.

However, Enderlin said that the images were no different from the clashes he had witnessed repeatedly. The prosecution stated that a dead Palestinian boy had been buried after the Netzarim junction incident, and that Jamal al-Dura consented to DNA tests that could prove the boy was his son.

 
 

RAPPIN FOR THE NAKBA

ONE MAN’S PERSONAL NAKBA
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EndTheOccupation

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We will return.
That is not a threat
not a wish
a hope
or a dream
but a promise
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For more on Remi Kanazi’s work, visit his website (www.PoeticInjustice.net) or follow him on Twitter @Remroum.
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Originally posted AT

MOTHER PALESTINE MARKS 65 YEARS OF THE NAKBA

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
nakba-day-2013
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Sam Bahour سام بحّور – Refugees Waiting

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Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American based in Al-Bireh/Ramallah, Palestine. He is a freelance business consultant operating as Applied Information Management (AIM), specializing in business development with a niche focus on the information technology sector and start-ups. Sam was instrumental in the establishment of the Palestine Telecommunications Company and the PLAZA Shopping Center and until recently served as a Board of Trustees member at Birzeit University. He is a Director at the Arab Islamic Bank and serves in various capacities in several community organizations. Sam writes frequently on Palestinian affairs and has been widely published. He is co-editor of HOMELAND: Oral History of Palestine and Palestinians. He blogs at http://www.epalestine.com. 

يحمل رجل الأعمال الفلسطيني سام بحور الجنسية الأميركية وهو يسكن في مدينة البيرة في رام الله، فلسطين. ويعمل بشكل مستقل كمستشار ومنسق مشاريع كما يملك شركة لإدارة المعلومات التطبيقية (إيم) وهي تختص في تطوير الأعمال والمشاريع مع تركيز على الشركات الناشئة. ولعب سام دوراً أساسياً في تأسيس شركة الإتصالات الفلسطينية (بالتل)، ومركز بلازا للتسوق. وأصبح مؤخراً عضو فاعل في مجلس الأمناء في جامعة بيرزيت. ويشغل حالياً منصب عضو مجلس إدارة في البنك الإسلامي العربي، كما يشغل عدة مناصب أخرى في منظمات المجتمع المدني. ويركز سام كثيراً في كتاباته على الشؤون الفلسطينية، فتنشر مقالاته على نطاق واسع. ساهم سام في تحرير كتاب “الوطن: التاريخ الشفوي لفلسطين والفلسطينيين” ويمكن معرفة المزيد عنه والاطلاع على مقالاته من خلال تصفح مدونته على الموقع الالكتروني التالي: www.epalestine.com

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During this tragic period of remembrance, just a reminder that NEVER AGAIN means something, TODAY!

A MOST HAUNTING PHOTO FROM BANGLADESH

Think of this photo the next time you go shopping for clothes …. LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL!
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A Final Embrace: The Most Haunting Photograph from Bangladesh

 03_img_02891
Taslima Akhter 
April 25, 2013. Two victims amid the rubble of a garment factory building collapse in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Click here to find out more!

Many powerful photographs have been made in the aftermath of the devastating collapse of a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. But one photo, by Bangladeshi photographer Taslima Akhter, has emerged as the most heart wrenching, capturing an entire country’s grief in a single image.

Shahidul Alam, Bangladeshi photographer, writer and founder of Pathshala, the South Asian Institute of Photography, said of the photo: “This image, while deeply disturbing, is also hauntingly beautiful. An embrace in death, its tenderness rises above the rubble to touch us where we are most vulnerable. By making it personal, it refuses to let go. This is a photograph that will torment us in our dreams. Quietly it tells us. Never again.”

Akhter writes for LightBox about the photograph, which appears in this week’s TIME International alongside an essay by David Von Drehle.

I have been asked many questions about the photograph of the couple embracing in the aftermath of the collapse. I have tried desperately, but have yet to find any clues about them. I don’t know who they are or what their relationship is with each other.

I spent the entire day the building collapsed on the scene, watching as injured garment workers were being rescued from the rubble. I remember the frightened eyes of relatives — I was exhausted both mentally and physically. Around 2 a.m., I found a couple embracing each other in the rubble. The lower parts of their bodies were buried under the concrete. The blood from the eyes of the man ran like a tear. When I saw the couple, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I knew them — they felt very close to me. I looked at who they were in their last moments as they stood together and tried to save each other — to save their beloved lives.

Every time I look back to this photo, I feel uncomfortable — it haunts me. It’s as if they are saying to me, we are not a number — not only cheap labor and cheap lives. We are human beings like you. Our life is precious like yours, and our dreams are precious too.

They are witnesses in this cruel history of workers being killed. The death toll is now more than 750. What a harsh situation we are in, where human beings are treated only as numbers.

This photo is haunting me all the time. If the people responsible don’t receive the highest level of punishment, we will see this type of tragedy again. There will be no relief from these horrific feelings. I’ve felt a tremendous pressure and pain over the past two weeks surrounded by dead bodies. As a witness to this cruelty, I feel the urge to share this pain with everyone. That’s why I want this photo to be seen.


Taslima Akhter is a Bangladeshi photographer and activist.

Source

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ALAN DERSHOWITZ HAS FINALLY LOST HIS MIND

A couple of hundred well-heeled, mostly liberal MV vacationers went home enlightened about Israel’s extraordinary generosity toward the vanquished Arabs in the wake of victory, and the Fakestinians who pretend to be aggrieved about the loss of something that was never theirs. But Dershowitz has been getting away with and even thriving on this mendacity for decades. Probably the only interesting thing about Thursday’s debate will be to see if there are any new whoppers in the hopper.
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Surely you don’t want this guy representing you at a trial …..
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The three whoppers of Alan Dershowitz

by David Samel 
alan dershowitz endorses a republican
Alan Dershowitz (Photo:Salon)
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This Thursday, Peter Beinart and Alan Dershowitz will once again square off on the subject of Zionism at CUNY, a debate that promises to cover a spectrum of opinion from A to B. It is unclear exactly what new ground they will cover, having debated at least twice before, once at CUNY last October, and a few months earlier onMartha’s Vineyard. One possibility is that Dershowitz will use the occasion to unveil newer and better lies. There is no shortage of exposés of his breathtaking dishonesty, including my own modest contributions about his 2010 debate with Susan Abulhawa, his whining about the BDS conference at Brooklyn College, and his recent claim that the Israel Army has the lowest rape rate of civilians. But Dershowitz keeps the lies coming fast and furious, and someone has to keep up with the Great Fabricator.

Take this short excerpt from last year’s Martha’s Vineyard debate with Beinart. Starting at about 29:20:

There’s a lot of common ground between us. Let me start by giving you a little of my own history on these issues. In 1967, as you probably all know, Israel tried very hard to keep Jordan out of the 1967 war… It was a responsive war, not a preemptive war. The War with Egypt and with Syria was a preemptive war, but the war that resulted in the capture of the West Bank was a reactive war. Israel captured the West Bank, immediately it offered to give it back, immediately… As … Moshe Dayan said, “I sat by the phone. We put an offer out, land for peace,” and the response was the meeting at Khartoum between all the Arab countries and the Palestinian leadership in which they issued the three famous no’s – no negotiation, no peace, and no recognition.
At 31:20: Israel has complied completely with 242. . . Any country that has made peace with Israel has gotten all of its territory back. So one has to remember that history and think of it very carefully. –
At 32:00: The Palestinian leader at the time, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, said there is no such thing as the Palestinian people. The last thing we want is a Palestinian State, we just don’t want there to be a Jewish State. So there’s a history here.

Those who view Dershowitz’s opening statement will no doubt spot other indefensible assertions of “fact,” but there are three major whoppers that I have never seen made by anyone else.

First whopper: “Israel captured the West Bank, immediately it offered to give it back, immediately.”

Seriously? Israel immediately offered to give back the West Bank? Where does Dershowitz get this from? Apparently by grossly embellishing on a more modest lie he previously spouted in his 2002 book, The Case for Israel. There, on p. 96, Dershowitz wrote that Israel agreed to comply with the principles of UNSC Resolution 242, and he recounts the story of poor forlorn Dayan waiting for a phone call from King Hussein. This earlier Dershowitz version does not make the claim that Israel actually offered to give back the West Bank, or that Dayan was ever quoted as saying, “We put an offer out, land for peace.” The book cites p. 330 of Benny Morris’s Righteous Victims for support.

Putting aside the problems presented by Morris’s historically inconsistent histories, what did he actually say on p. 330?

Morris does claim that Israeli leaders thought that “the conquered territories could be traded for peace,” that Dayan was waiting for King Hussein’s call (but not that Dayan said anything about an offer of land for peace), and that the Israeli cabinet secretly offered to give up the Sinai and Golan Heights for peace with Egypt and Syria, who rejected the overture.

However, when Morris discusses Israel’s plans for the West Bank, it’s a very different story.

[Israel] “postponed a decision concerning the West Bank, about which the ministers disagreed. There was a consensus not to return to the prewar borders – which Foreign Minister Abba Eban, nothing if not a dove, was to immortalize as “the Auschwitz lines” . . . The majority eventually coalesced around the plan proposed by Yigal Allon at the end of July 1967: to divide the West Bank between Israel and Jordan . . .  Israel would retain and six-seven-mile-deep strip along the west bank of the Jordan as a “security belt”. . .

In other words, Israel’s plan was to expand its width into Jordanian territory rather than return to the pre-existing border, and in addition, acquire a 6 to 7 mile wide swath stretching west from the Jordan River, in the middle of Jordanian territory!

To recap, in 2012, Dershowitz claimed that Israel immediately offered to give the West Bank back to Jordan, based upon his own decade-old book that makes no such claim, which was in turn based upon a 1999 Morris work that explicitly stated the opposite.

Second whopper: “Israel has complied completely with 242. . . Any country that has made peace with Israel has gotten all of its territory back.”

The only two countries that lost territory in 1967 and subsequently signed a peace treaty with Israel are Egypt and Jordan. Israel conquered the Sinai peninsula and Gaza from Egypt in 1967, and built Jewish settlements in each territory. In the early 1970’s when Egypt indicated a willingness to agree to peace with Israel in return for its captured territories, PM Golda Meir dismissed the overture out of hand. This led directly to the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and eventually to the Camp David agreement five years later in which Israel finally agreed to withdraw from the Sinai. This was not compliance with 242. It took another war to get Israel to part with the Sinai. Moreover, Israel continued its control of Gaza after the peace treaty. So Egypt never got “all of its territory back” and only got the Sinai not out of Israel’s compliance with SC 242 but after Israel’s initial rejection of the resolution’s principles.

As for Jordan, Dershowitz’s lie is even worse. Jordan made peace with Israel but did not get any of its territory back. It is true that it renounced its claim to the West Bank, but it assigned its rights over the territory to the Palestinians. If Israel, in exchange for a peace treaty with Jordan, had returned “all of [Jordan’s] territory” captured in 1967, it would have returned the entire West Bank to Jordan’s designated beneficiary, the Palestinian people. Instead, it has never relinquished one inch of that territory.

Third whopper (this one a double): “The Grand Mufti said there is no such thing as the Palestinian people. The last thing we want is a Palestinian State.“

Where does Dershowitz get this from? Apparently from his own peculiar powers of deduction. It is, of course, true, that the Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, as well the overwhelming majority of Palestinians, opposed the 1947 UN Partition Plan proposing a Jewish and an Arab State, but the objection was to the Jewish State, where hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish Palestinians resided. There was no objection to a state for Palestinians that was independent from the surrounding Arab states. There is zero support for the proposition that al-Husseini rejected the notion of a Palestinian State or the existence of the Palestinian people. With respect to the latter, Dershowitz might be confusing the Mufti with Golda Meir, who famously did deny the existence of Palestinians; people make that mistake all the time.

Beinart did not challenge Dershowitz on any of these lies, as conspicuous and indefensible as they were. In fact, at 43:40, he meekly responded that “I agree with some of that history. . . much of it was back many, many decades ago.” It was not only outdated, Peter, it was fictional.

Note Dershowitz’s demeanor, which he cleverly uses to bolster his fabrications. He casually recites this invented history as if it were facts we can all agree on, like 2+2=4. He throws in the reassurances that this history is “common ground,” and “as you probably all know.” In fact, such phrases act to promote unanimity of agreement with the fabrications to follow, since anyone who dares dissent from or even acknowledges ignorance of Dershowitz’s thumbnail narrative would be confessing to an embarrassing level of crudeness and lack of cultivation.

Does it work? It looks like it. A couple of hundred well-heeled, mostly liberal MV vacationers went home enlightened about Israel’s extraordinary generosity toward the vanquished Arabs in the wake of victory, and the Fakestinians who pretend to be aggrieved about the loss of something that was never theirs. But Dershowitz has been getting away with and even thriving on this mendacity for decades. Probably the only interesting thing about Thursday’s debate will be to see if there are any new whoppers in the hopper.

 

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WELCOMING THE STRANGER IN ISRAEL, UNLESS THEY ARE BLACK

The Torah, (not the King’s Edition) clearly states in Deuteronomy 10: 19 You shall love the stranger, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.’ Those that read only hatred in the Torah are not only destroying it, but are destroying the Jewish people as well.
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The State of Israel does not provide these people homeless shelters, which is particularly problematic for women, since sex is sometimes a precondition for being taken into an apartment.The bitter irony here is, of course, that we might have expected that a nation shaped by the refugee experience would find humane ways to deal with today’s displaced people.

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Israel’s Heartbreaking Policy to African Asylum-Seekers

Nation Founded by Refugees Now Turns Its Back on Them

Unwelcome: Few refugees in Israel are granted official refugee status and asylum.

GETTY IMAGES
Unwelcome: Few refugees in Israel are granted official refugee status and asylum.

By Leonard Fein

Meet Omer Olivier. Mr. Olivier is an asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has been living in Israel for the last seventeen years without official status. Although he has filed a request to be recognized as a refugee, his lack of recognized status means he cannot work legally nor get medical services.

And so, typically, it goes for those who claim refugee status in Israel. In recent years, there have been 4,322 applications for refugee status; according to Physicians for Human Rights, three have been processed and approved. (The figures are murky. A different report estimates between 35,000 and 38,000 asylum seekers, the vast majority of whom, knowing how slim are the odds that they will actually be processed, let alone approved as “legitimate” refugees, have not applied for asylum. Of those who have applied, less than one percent have been processed and accepted as refugees.)

The stumbling block is Israel’s refusal to examine people who claim refugee status on a case-by-case basis. By Israel’s preferred definition, asylum seekers are in fact infiltrators. So much for being gracious to the stranger.

I met some of these “infiltrators” in a day-care center in Tel Aviv in mid-April. They are stateless people, unable to return to Eritrea for fear of arrest and worse, unable to establish legal residence in Israel. The ones I met were four years old. Thousands more, children and adults, are housed at a massive detention facility in the Negev, which I plan to visit on my next trip to Israel.

Often, the argument put forward in defense of Israel’s restrictive policy is demographic: Israel would be overrun were its doors to be opened. Indeed, Prime Minister Netanyahu has inexplicably asserted that these people are “a threat to the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel.”

One obvious problem with this argument is that Israel is today a country with a population of more than eight million, and nowhere near the verge of being overrun, still less so were there a more thoughtful path to legal status.

Instead, Israel has determined that Eritrean and Sudanese refugees, the main asylum seekers, are simply not eligible for Refuge Status Determination, as required by the UN Convention on the Rights of Refugees, which Israel ratified on October 1, 1954. And when the terms of reference of that Convention were broadened in 1967, Israel ratified that, too, on June 14, 1968.

The Knesset Information Center acknowledges that Israel is the only developed country that uses temporary collective protection as an alternative to granting asylum on an individual basis, even though the guidelines of the UN High Commission on Refugees clearly state that granting collective protection does not relieve a country of its responsibility to guarantee basic social and economic rights to asylum seekers.

The collective “protection” currently imposed on Eritreans and Sudanese is, in effect, a deferred deportation order; those who are “protected” by it lack work permits, health insurance and welfare benefits. That means that Israel must somehow deal with the 60,000 asylum seekers in Israel who have survived the trek through Sinai, where many have been repeatedly raped or otherwise abused. Once in Israel, they congregate in poor neighborhoods where two-way resentment festers.

The problem: Israel makes the conferral of basic social rights contingent on at least legal residence. The unprocessed asylum seekers lack legal residence, hence lack access to health and social services, are cut off from all local social service frameworks, are barred from legal employment. This drives very many of them into an existence of indigency and want, renders them dependent on charity and non-profit social assistance organizations. Some women find their way to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, which reports that many require gynecological attention in the wake of their experience of rape and abuse.

This is not the case in many other countries, where legal status and social benefits are de-linked. While awaiting a ruling on their legal status, asylum seekers in most developed countries enjoy many or all the social rights due a citizen. That is definitively not the case in Israel. After being detained for months or even years, they are given a document that explicitly states that they lack the legal right to work. Lacking the legal right to work, they enter the unregulated job market, where they are often underpaid and overworked and not protected by labor laws and where they are dependent on a network of volunteers for health care.

Plus: The State of Israel does not provide these people homeless shelters, which is particularly problematic for women, since sex is sometimes a precondition for being taken into an apartment.

The bitter irony here is, of course, that we might have expected that a nation shaped by the refugee experience would find humane ways to deal with today’s displaced people. Israel is easy to love — but too often it breaks your heart.

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PALESTINIAN STUDENTS URGE MORGAN FREEMAN TO SAY ‘NO TO APARTHEID’ AGAIN

Palestinian student groups at Hebrew University have added their voices to growing calls on actor Morgan Freeman and renowned Canadian broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi to pull out of a 6 May Toronto award ceremony and fundraiser hosted by Canadian Friends of Hebrew University.

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Palestinian students at Hebrew University call on Morgan Freeman, Jian Ghomeshi to skip Canada fundraiser

 by Ali Abunimah

Israeli forces arrest protesters during a solidarity demonstration with Gaza, 20 November 2012.

(Mahfouz Abu Turk / APA images)

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Palestinian student groups at Hebrew University have added their voices to growing calls on actor Morgan Freeman and renowned Canadian broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi to pull out of a 6 May Toronto award ceremony and fundraiser hosted by Canadian Friends of Hebrew University.

In a 1 May open letter, published on the website of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation [PDF], several groups representing Palestinian students wrote to Freeman that, “While The Hebrew University grants you the award for ‘combating racism and promoting knowledge and education worldwide,’ it shows no signs of combating racism and discrimination within its walls; racism which is flagrantly practiced on daily basis against Arab students.”

Palestinian citizens of Israel who want to pursue higher education in their own country must attend Israeli Jewish institutions where the main language of instruction is Hebrew and where they face numerous forms of discrimination.

Israel has to this day never permitted the establishment of an Arabic-language university even though Arabic is ostensibly an official language, part of a policy reminiscent of the historic cultural repression of indigenous people in the United States, Canada and other settler-colonial states.

Discrimination, repression at Hebrew University

The five groups signing the letter are the Hebrew University branches of IQRAA – Students Association; NDSA – National Democratic Students Assembly; The Students’ Democratic Front for Peace and Equality and; THURI – A Palestinian Students’ Feminist Group.

Their letter details some of the systemic discrimination in which Hebrew University is involved:

Mr. Freeman, only very few among our generation have been qualified to attend universities due to state’s discriminatory policies against Palestinians in Israel. Our schools mostly lack the basic facilities needed for education, and the curriculum is structured to serve the State’s goal in socializing the pupils for self-estrangement. It contains very little, if any at all, on our history and culture. Furthermore it aims to erase our historical memory and promote the official policy line of divide and rule. This discrimination continues in the Universities in thegranting of scholarships among other things.

Yet, the restrictions imposed on our freedom of expression are more stifling. Last year, The Hebrew University banned several activities of Palestinian students within the campus; for example it prohibited the organization of the fifth Palestinian Cultural Festival. Moreover, during the current academic year, six Palestinian students were arrested following peaceful demonstrations which were held at the campus’ entrance, in support of the Palestinian prisoners’ open hunger strikes and against the war on Gaza. The university never intervened or contacted the students although they were brutally attacked by the police. These students did not commit any offense as they were released shortly after their arrests and no charges were pressed against them.

The letter reminds Freeman that “the Hebrew University is built on Palestinian confiscated lands and that it is a militarized institution” that participates in programs to train elite soldiers in Israel’s army of occupation.

Palestinian students refuse to be used to whitewash Israeli discrimination

Yara Sa’di wrote about the police crackdown on Palestinian students at Hebrew Universityfor The Electronic Intifada in March. In November she wrote that “Israel’s repression of Palestinian students reached new level during Gaza attack,” including at Hebrew University.

Sa’di told The Electronic Intifada that the open letter to Freeman is a rejoinder to the university’s efforts to use “its Arab students as a proof to its ‘pluralistic’ nature” and that the letter is “a challenge to the regular strategy of Israel and its institutions to use the Palestinian citizens of Israel as evidence for its decency.”

Mounting campaign

PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel previously wrote to Freeman to ask him not to accept “an award tarnished with apartheid and colonialism.”

The Hebrew University students’ letter also comes as the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has escalated its effort to convince Freeman and Ghomeshi to change their minds. More than 7,500 people sent messages to Freeman, according to the Campaign and dozens more have posted notes on Ghomeshi’s official Facebook fan page urging him to reconsider.

BDS South Africa, a Palestine solidarity organization, also wrote an open letter to Freeman urging him “to refuse the pro-Israeli effort to normalise its racist regime through association with your good name.”

The Israeli group Boycott from Within has also urged Freeman to abandon the Hebrew University fundraiser.

It remains to be seen whether Freeman and Ghomeshi will hear these voices and take a stand that requires them to go beyond empty platitudes about “peace” that leave the appalling status quo untouched.

 

 

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Also see THIS post

WALL OF APARTHEID A BLIGHT ON THE LANDSCAPE?

In reality, it’s the occupation itself that is the blight …
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The Israel Nature and Parks Authority on Wednesday proposed to the High Court of Justice that the Defense Ministry erect a simple chain-link fence backed by security systems instead of the concrete wall the ministry wants to build near the West Bank village of Batir, south of Jerusalem.
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Supreme Court hears proposal for ‘green’ fence along Green Line

Israel’s nature authority says a chain-link fence with security systems would balance environmental and security concerns in a West Bank area that could soon be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but environmentalists and Palestinians disagree.

By Nir Hasson
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The terraces of Batir, where security, national and environmental concerns are clashing.
The terraces of Batir, where security, national and environmental concerns are clashing. 
Photo by Michal Fattal

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority on Wednesday proposed to the High Court of Justice that the Defense Ministry erect a simple chain-link fence backed by security systems instead of the concrete wall the ministry wants to build near the West Bank village of Batir, south of Jerusalem.

The ministry is planning the 500-meter segment of the separation barrier to protect the train line to Jerusalem, which passes close to a school and several houses in the village.

At issue is a petition that was filed against the wall by residents of Batir and Friends of the Earth Middle East, a regional environmental organization. They are arguing that a barrier would irreparably damage the agricultural terraces in the region, which may be declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization when that body meets next month. 

At a hearing in February, the Defense Ministry proposed to the court that it erect a heavy chain-link fence instead of the wall. The Nature and Parks Authority, which joined the petition, presented the court with an alternative of its own – to build a relatively simple chain-link fence that would be reinforced with high-tech security warning systems on one side and hedges of sabra cactus plants on the other. The proposal also rejects the paving of a patrol road along the fence.

This, the authority said, would minimize damage to an area whose agricultural terraces served farmers for thousands of years and continue to be cultivated to this day.

At Wednesday’s hearing, the attorney for the petitioners rejected both proposals. Batir residents submitted their alternative, which is to move the fence westward onto Israeli territory. Friends of the Earth, meanwhile, argued that there is no way to build any kind of barrier in the area without destroying the unique structure of the terraces.

At UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee meeting next month, the terraces at Batir will come up for recognition as a World Heritage Site. The terraces are watered by an ancient system of springs, pools and wells. In addition to destroying the watering system, residents say, the part of the barrier in the Refaim streambed next to the Green Line, or pre-1967 border, could separate the villagers from 740 acres of their land.

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IF YOU ARE GAY, STAY AWAY!

GAYS NOT WANTED IN ‘CELEBRATE ISRAEL PARADE’

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“The Torah states that homosexual behavior can lead to the spitting out of Israel’s inhabitants,” Goldstein writes. “If we participate in a parade that endorses homosexuality, how are we contributing to Israel’s welfare?”
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Hopefully these people will soon join forces WITH where they are welcome!
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Gay Marchers Spark Celebrate Israel Parade Boycott Threat

Yeshivas Agree To Allow Gays To Participate in Annual Event

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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Big Zionist Tent: There’s room for bikers along with the Modern Orthodox youth groups and day schools that dominate the annual Celebrate Israel parade in New York. One activist says the parade should draw the line at gay marchers.

ESTHER RABINOWITZ
Big Zionist Tent: There’s room for bikers along with the Modern Orthodox youth groups and day schools that dominate the annual Celebrate Israel parade in New York. One activist says the parade should draw the line at gay marchers.
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An Orthodox activist has launched an effort to boycott New York’s Celebrate Israel parade for allowing gay and lesbian groups to participate, despite a reported agreement among Orthodox yeshivas not to object to the gay groups.

Avi Goldstein, a Orthodox Jew from Long Island, called for the boycott of the June 2 parade in a lengthy letter circulated in the Modern Orthodox community. In his letter, Goldstein writes that gay groups’ participation “compromised the moral integrity of the parade.”

Yet Goldstein’s effort appears doomed from the start. Goldstein reports in his own letter that a group of Jewish day schools principals agreed that they would not object to the gay organizations marching in the parade at a recent meeting attended by a representative of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York , which organizes the annual Celebrate Israel event.

A spokesperson for the JCRC would only confirm that the meeting took place. Rabbi Ellis Bloch, a staff member at the Jewish Education Project, which coordinated the meeting, would not comment on the meetings’ content.

This Celebrate Israel parade draws tens of thousands to Manhattan’s 5th Avenue each Spring. This year’s parade marks the second year in which gay Jewish organizations have marched openly. Before 2012, efforts by the gay and lesbian synagogue Congregation Beit Simchat Torah were met with a demand that the group not march with a banner that used the word “gay” or “lesbian.”

Mordechai Levovitz, co-director and founder of Jewish Queer Youth, which marched last year, said that he expects the 150 people to march with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender contingent this year. Gay and lesbian groups participating in the 2013 parade include Levovitz’s group, CBST, A Wider Bridge, and Eshel.

Though the parade is organized by the nondenominational JCRC, participation is heavily Modern Orthodox. Three quarters of the Jewish day schools that marched in 2011 were Modern Orthodox, according to a 2012 Forward report.

Gay groups’ participation didn’t cause much trouble last year. The groups marched at the end of the parade, and their participation drew little media attention. This year, however, Goldstein hopes to marshal Orthodox support and ban the gay participants.

“I hope to reach school parents, most of whom likely are unaware that Jewish Queer Youth was permitted to march in last year’s parade,” Goldstein told the Forward in an email. “Schools serve their parents and their student bodies; if concerned parents and students protest to their schools, the schools are obligated to take these protests into account.”

In his lengthy letter, Goldstein argues against gay marriage and the acceptance of homosexuality. He warns that biblical punishments threaten those who tolerate homomsexuality.

“The Torah states that homosexual behavior can lead to the spitting out of Israel’s inhabitants,” Goldstein writes. “If we participate in a parade that endorses homosexuality, how are we contributing to Israel’s welfare?”

Levovitz, for his part, said that he hadn’t been approached about the letter. The JCRC confirmed that Jewish Queer Youth and the other gay organizations were scheduled to march in the June 2 parade.

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