IN PHOTOS ~~ 13 YEARS IN IRAQ

On 19 March  one hundred people marched into Manhattan’s Times Sq. to protest the continuing war in Iraq and the Mid-East. This day was the 13th anniversary of the American attack on Iraq. Veterans For Peace, The War Resisters League, “WE WILL NOT BE SILENT” and other peace groups marched into the Square beating the peace drums and displaying banners and posters demanding peace.

Commentary and Photos © Bud Korotzer

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As always, our dear Pete was there in spirit ….

EVER WONDER WHY THEY SAY ‘YANKEE GO HOME’?

Image by Carlos Latuff

Here’s just one reason …

POTUS goes to Cuba ....

POTUS goes to Cuba ….

FRIDAY’S TOONS ~~ WIKILEAKS ARCHIVES HELLARY’S EMAILS

Image by Carlos Latuff

RELEASE: Search engine for 30,322 Hillary Clinton emails from Blair to the Rothchilds SEE

RELEASE: Search engine for 30,322 Hillary Clinton emails from Blair to the Rothchilds
SEE

Image by Branco

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Let’s hope it rains on Election Day😉

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NO STATE NECESSARY IN PALESTINE AS THINGS STAND

In light, this writer recommends that the PA leadership abandon once and for all the illusive quest for Palestinian statehood and opt for a the creation of a democratic and unitary state (between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean) where Jews and Arabs live together in peace and equality irrespective of religion and ethnicity.

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Dear Palestinians: We don’t need a state under existing circumstances 

By Khalid Amayreh

 

I have no doubt in my mind that the establishment of a diminutive Palestinian state under existing circumstances would be a major historical disaster befalling the Palestinian people and their enduring just cause.

 

Such a disaster would be greater in its magnitude than the Nakba of 1948, when Israel was created and the bulk of Palestinians were forced into exile.

 

There are numerous convincing reasons showing that the appearance of a Palestinian state (or statelet, or entity, or a confederate of Bantustans) would be more of a solution to Zionism’s problems than a solution for the Palestinian problem.

 

Indeed, if we internalize the meaning of politics as the “art of the possible,” we must accept in our minds that a Palestinian state established under present global geopolitical realities would have to be a state devoid of statehood, a deformed entity without a real substance, without sovereignty and without a future.

 

It would be a state without Jerusalem, without the repatriation of the refugees to the places from which they were expelled at gunpoint in 1948, without economic viability, and even without sufficient water resourced.

 

Today Israel is at its Zenith in terms of political, economic and especially military power. Israel is a nuclear power and more or less in control of the politics and policies of the United States. On the contrary, the Palestinians are at their nadir politically and economically. Indeed, the Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip are virtually hostage to the Israeli mood. Our water supplies come from Israel. Our electricity comes from Israel. Our fuel supplies come from Israel.

 

Yes, we are hostage to Israeli criminality and depravity which Israel calls “good will.”

 

Israel views our very survival as an expression its “magnanimity.” Hence, any Palestinian state born out of the present circumstances would be inherently deformed, inherently precarious and almost totally dependent for its very survival and continuity on Israel.

 

We all Know that Israel wants the PA to be a kind of a Palestinian Judenrat” responsible and answerable to Israel, first and foremost. This is what is euphemistically referred to as “security coordination” between the PA and Israel. In short, any would-be Palestinian state under existing conditions would a vessel state that is completely subservient to Israel.

 

Indeed, we would exaggerate very little if we argued that the relationship between Ramalla and Tel Aviv has more in common with the relationship between Berlin and the various Judenrates (Jewish councils under the Nazis) than it does with the relationship between two normal entities, e.g. states.

 

Hence, it would be a great historical foolishness on the Palestinians’ part to pursue statehood under the current circumstances.

 

The PA continues to cling to a faint glimmer of hope called international legitimacy. But we all know deep in our hearts that international power politics, not legitimacy or international law, is what counts in the final analysis. The ongoing Syrian holocaust should serve as a striking example illustrating the moral bankruptcy of the world.

 

Nor would, or even could the US, let alone Europe be able or willing to force Israel to come to terms with even the very minimum of Palestinian rights acceptable to the majority of our people at home and in the Diaspora.

 

After all, the US and Europe have always been part of the problem, not part of the solution.

 

Indeed, Israel wouldn’t have reached this level of arrogance, insolence and intransigence had it not been for America’s unlimited supplies of advanced weaponry to the rebellious entity.

 

Palestinian advantage: Today, the Palestinians do have a clear demographic advantage over Israel.  Israel knows this fact too well but chooses to ignore it for political and psychological reasons as recognizing it openly would be an implied admission of the failure of Zionism.

In fact, we can safely claim that Israel is an apartheid state, par excellance, whereby a Jewish minority is ruling over and systematically persecuting a non-Jewish majority.

Let no one raise his or her eyebrow. Facts are facts.

In 2005, a US government report revealed that Palestinian population in Israel and the occupied territories exceeded the Jewish population. The following table shows the basic demographic data until the year 2004.

https://electronicintifada.net/content/ei-exclusive-palestinian-population-exceeds-jewish-population-says-us-government/5491

 

 

2004 Jewish, Palestinian and Other Minorities’ Populations of Israel/Palestine, according to the U.S. State Department’s Country 2004
Population Percentage*
Jewish 5,200,000 48%
Palestinian 5,337,185 49.3%
Other Minorities 290,000 2.7%
Total 10,827,185 100%
* Rounded to 1 significant figure.

 

Today (2016), and assuming the accuracy of the data mentioned, it would be safe to argue that the Palestinian population between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean (Israel proper, West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem) exceeds the Jewish population by at least 300,000 people.

 

We could also deduce from the data that the Palestinians would have a clear and   uncontestable majority within mandatory Palestine between two to three decades.

 

In light, this writer recommends that the PA leadership abandon once and for all the illusive quest for Palestinian statehood and opt for a the creation of a democratic and unitary state (between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean) where Jews and Arabs live together in peace and equality irrespective of religion and ethnicity.

 

IN PHOTOS ~~WOMEN’S BOAT TO SAIL TO GAZA IN SEPTEMBER 2016

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Getting ready for the sendoff in New York …

Photos © Bud Korotzer

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THE EXISTENTSIAL DILEMMA FACING ISRAEL TODAY

By definition, a dilemma is a situation where one has to choose between two unattractive choices. 

 An activist puts a Palestinan flag on the Separation Wall facing the Modi’in Illit settlement (Photo: Anne Paq/ Activestills.org)

An activist puts a Palestinan flag on the Separation Wall facing the Modi’in Illit settlement (Photo: Anne Paq/ Activestills.org)

Zionism’s existential dilemma 

By Khalid Amayreh 

 

In 1895, the fledgling Zionist movement dispatched a number of rabbis to Palestine to explore the possibility of establishing a homeland for Jews in the predominantly Arab country, then under Ottoman rule. 

After scouring the country, the rabbis sent back the following message: “The bride is beautiful but she is married to another man” 

Today, 120 years later the legitimate husband and the rapist turned-master of the house continue the century-old fight for legitimacy and possession of the land. 

At one point, the arrogant and self-absorbed rapist thought he achieved a final victory over the legitimate husband who obviously lacked the wherewithal to defend, let alone repulse, the powerful beast, the pugnacious settler and colonizer. 

But the legitimate man of the house was not to be crushed. He survived despite his weakness, vulnerability and poverty. 

In a certain sense, he survived in spite of logic and history. 

Today, notwithstanding Israel’s incessant efforts to obliterate the Palestinian and his memory, there are as many Palestinians as there are Jews in the area between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean, including Israel proper, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. 

This is more than just another problem facing the Zionist enterprise in Palestine. This is the ultimate nightmare haunting Israel, rendering its future precarious. 

Indeed, the fact that Israel and the territories it occupied in 1967 are today populated by approximately 6 million Palestinians (in addition to 6 million Jews) should be viewed as the ultimate strategic failure of Zionism. Of course, this failure was never intended to be. In fact, it was inadvertent as it was inevitable. 

The re-emergence of demographic realities in Palestine-Israel reminds us of Albert Camus’s iconic words, appearing in his famous play   “Le Malentendu” or “In Cross purpose.”

“In a world where everything can be denied there are forces undeniable, and on Earth where nothing is sure we have our certainties.” 

Thus it seems that Palestinians have survived “in spite of logic” and “in spite of history”, perhaps thanks to Camus’ “forces undeniable” 

That is precisely the Palestinian odyssey in a nutshell. 

I have no doubt that history will record that one of the main reasons for Israel’s ultimate demise is the intensive proliferation of Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank which rendered the establishment of a viable Palestinian state utterly impossible.   

Yes, it is hard to thank someone for doing you a favor he never intended to do in the first place. But perhaps we Palestinians ought to thank Israel for building that many settlements in the West Bank. 

I don’t know if Israel knew or not what she was doing.

But the net outcome is the same as the   seemingly existential dilemma already facing the Zionist enterprise  is irreconcilable, irreversible and inescapable. 

By definition, a dilemma is a situation where one has to choose between two unattractive choices. 

The dilemma facing Israel and Zionism today is having to choose between a bi-national state where at least half of the population is non-Jewish (and they are growing demographically at a faster rate in comparison to Jews) or adopting perpetual occupation, repression, and apartheid as outstanding policy pending the appearance of the Messiah, irrespective of his religious affiliations and political orientations!! 

Israel might very well be entertaining a third Choice. After all, Israel is Israel and can be expected to embark on the unthinkable. 

But the “unthinkable”, however ghoulish it might be could boomerang on Israel and be decidedly suicidal for Jews especially in the future. 

This is because any foolish act against the Palestinians, such as mass expulsion, which would be tantamount to an actual genocide, would really open the gates of hell on Israel. 

Because then every expelled man, woman and child would, almost spontaneously and automatically, transform themselves into bombs walking on two legs. And they would meet absolute approval and backing from the 1600 million followers of Islam and other supporters. 

Such would be the ultimate triumph of the Isis.

TIMELY TOONS ~~ SUNDAY IN TURKEY

Images by Carlos Latuff

Erdogan's Crackdown on Freedom of Speech in Turkey

Erdogan’s Crackdown on Freedom of Speech in Turkey

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How Erdoğan is Blackmailing Europe

How Erdoğan is Blackmailing Europe

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Greece …

Greece and the Refugee Crisis ....SEE

Greece and the Refugee Crisis ….SEE

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY ON THE WEB

When a Brazilian’s cartoon is used at a gathering in New York and photographed by our roaming photographer …. it lead Carlos Latuff to state the following;

When I see my toons about Palestine being used, I feel that I kept my word with the Palestinians. Photo Bud Korotzer

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Other photos from the event … © Bud Korotzer

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THE PLIGHT OF OUR BETTER HALF IN PALESTINE TODAY

On this day we celebrate International Women's Day. 
Below you can read of the situation and plight of women 
in Occupied Palestine.

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International Women's Day
Prepared by Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

The struggle of women here continues unabated. Many people like me believe
sincerely that had women been in charge here, we would have had a free
Palestine by now. My mother who is 84 years old showed us by example what
giving and self-sacrifice and love of people and land means. My wife and
three sisters are likewise examples of what we all should aspire to do:
kind, dedicated, and hard-working human beings. Like millions before them
and millions contemporary with them, these women make life livable while
many men (and a few women) engage in hurting others and pushing for
conflicts and war. Words are too mediocre and inadequate to express our
feelings but I simply want to say to all the women working for peace and
justice: thank you and to pledge that we will work with you for more
progressive change in our societies. As males, we must challenge the system
we inherited of giving privilege to men (Patriarchal societies we live in).
This must be in deed not in words.


For the local situation of Palestinian women today, I urge you to read this
remarkable new issue of the excellent magazine “This Week in Palestine”
dedicated to our better half.
 

TURKEY TOONS OF THE DAY

Images by Carlos Latuff

The not so Great Dictator

 Erdogan, The Little Dictator!

Erdogan, The Little Dictator!

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Erdogan Declares: Freedom of Speech is DEAD in Turkey!

Latuff's Website was one of the first to be banned in Turkey .... Read more HERE

Latuff’s Website was one of the first to be banned in Turkey …. Read more HERE

SATURDAY’S TOON ~~ THE END OF PRESS FREEDOM IN TURKKEY

Image by Carlos Latuff

The latest from Turkey HERE

The latest from Turkey HERE

Related report ….. (Click on link) 

Turkish authorities seize newspaper close to cleric Gulen – state media

Zaman, the country’s highest-selling paper, was taken over by the government on Friday. It is considered critical towards Turkish President Erdogan.

 

FRIDAY’S TOON ~~ GERMANY TO BAN NEONAZI PARTY

Image by Carlos Latuff

Germany to ban neonazi party

Germany to ban neonazi party

Related report (Click on link)

Germany attempts to ban neo-Nazi party amid fears over rising racist attacks

#SuperTuesday SPOOFS …. THE WINNER IS …

Image by Carlos Latuff

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And from #SuperTuesday

My friends in the US were always puzzled how Hitler could rise to power in Europe.Now they understand.

My friends in the US were always puzzled how Hitler could rise to power in Europe.Now they understand.

Thoughts to ponder …

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One solution …

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SUPER TUESDAY SPOOFS ~~ RACISM OR WAR

The choice is yours!

Images by Carlos Latuff

Click on this .... #NeverTrump

Click on this …. #NeverTrump

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Weapon manufacturers support Hillary Clinton more than any other candidate

Weapon manufacturers support Hillary Clinton more than any other candidate

WIKITOON

Image by Carlos Latuff

NSAGov Targets World Leaders for US Geopolitical Interests

NSAGov Targets World Leaders for US Geopolitical Interests

NSA Targets World Leaders for US Geopolitical Interests

Today, 23 February 2016 at 00:00 GMT, WikiLeaks publishes highly classified documents showing that the NSA bugged meetings between UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, between Israel prime minister Netanyahu and Italian prime minister Berlusconi, between key EU and Japanese trade ministers discussing their secret trade red-lines at WTO negotiations, as well as details of a private meeting between then French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Merkel and Berlusconi.

The documents also reveal the content of the meetings from Ban Ki Moon’s strategising with Merkel over climate change, to Netanyahu’s begging Berlusconi to help him deal with Obama, to Sarkozy telling Berlusconi that the Italian banking system would soon “pop like a cork”.

Some documents are classified TOP-SECRET / COMINT-GAMMA and are the most highly classified documents ever published by a media organization.

WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange said “Today we showed that UN Secretary General Ban KiMoon’s private meetings over how to save the planet from climate change were bugged by a country intent on protecting its largest oil companies. We previously published Hillary Clinton orders that US diplomats were to steal the Secretary General’s DNA. The US government has signed agreements with the UN that it will not engage in such conduct against the UN–let alone its Secretary General. It will be interesting to see the UN’s reaction, because if the Secretary General can be targeted without consequence then everyone from world leader to street sweeper is at risk.”

 

FROM

TOON OF THE HOUR ~~VOTE HILLARY! ~~ VOTE WAR!!

Image by Carlos Latuff

Weapon manufacturers support Hillary Clinton more than any other candidate

Weapon manufacturers support Hillary Clinton more than any other candidate

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Hillary Clinton received more money from weapons makers than all other candidate, including Republicans

Hillary Clinton received more money from weapons makers than all other candidate, including Republicans

DAILY SPOOF ~~ BRITAIN CRIMINALIZES THE BDS MOVEMENT

Image by Carlos Latuff

UK government criminalizing BDS from the classroom to the courtroom

UK government criminalizing BDS from the classroom to the courtroom

Related FROM

British schoolboy questioned for pro-Palestine badge and pro-BDS pamphlet

By Annie Robbins

The UK government’s assault on public support for Palestinians has invaded the classrooms. According to a recent report from the Independent, Anti-terror police question schoolboy for wearing pro-Palestine badge. Note that BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, was apparently a factor in the case:

Rahmaan Mohammadi’s teachers at Challney High School for Boys in Luton referred him to police under Prevent – the controversial government anti-radicalisation programme, which critics have claimed is heavy-handed, discriminatory and ineffective.

As well as wearing pro-Palestine badges and wristbands, Mohammadi was in possession of a leaflet advocating Palestinian rights by pressure group Friends of al-Aqsa. He had also asked for permission to fundraise for children affected by the Israeli occupation.

The child had a pamphlet in his belongings from the well-known UK based non-profit, Friends of Al-Aqsa, (FOA) a BDS supporting NGO with an international support base that’s been around for almost 20 years. With 12 UK locations FOA describes itself as   “concerned with defending the human rights of Palestinians and protecting the sacred al-Aqsa Sanctuary in Jerusalem.”

Mohammadi described his experiences at a meeting of campaign group Students Not Suspects at Goldsmiths University in London. He alleged that police warned him not to talk about Palestine in school, and further claimed that staff members had approached his 14-year-old brother and pressured him to to tell Rahmaan to “stop being radical”.

The anti-terrorism police force, after visiting the child’s home determined that Mohammadi– whose age was not given– was not-at-risk! While this case was pursued on alleged radicalization grounds, boycott is coming under greater and greater pressure from the British government and they are now set to criminalize support for BDS.

Read more at  SOURCE

NEW TOON FOR THE NEW COLD WAR

Where is Global Warming when we need it most?

Image by Carlos Latuff

Cartoon of the Day: Obama, Putin and the "New" Cold War

Cartoon of the Day: Obama, Putin and the “New” Cold War

 

NO UNILATERAL ISRAELI PATH TO TWO STATES

If Israel’s leadership is serious about reaching a two-state solution, the road is defined and clear. It requires that Israelis grapple with the real interests and demands of Palestinians as of equal substance and value to their own, rather than wishing them away.

No unilateral Israeli path to two states

By Sam Bahour FOR

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The composition and track record of the current Israeli government leads Palestinians to expect very little from Israel in the way of advancing peace. After five decades of military occupation, and repeated failures of two decades of bilateral negotiations based on the Oslo Accords, there is a clear need for new ideas. But the proposals offered by Amos Yadlin’s post last month, “Two states, four paths for achieving them,” do not accord with basic realities on the Palestinian side, and as such do not offer a viable pathway to a two-state outcome.

Yadlin’s argument is premised on the belief that a negotiated two-state outcome is not possible today because of a Palestinian refusal to engage. He argues: “It appears that in 2016, the Palestinians do not view a two-state solution…as a preferred outcome.” Palestinians, by contrast, see their leaders’ actions, like the November 2012 UN General Assembly resolution that accorded Palestine observer state status, as efforts to save the two-state solution in the face of Israeli actions that undermine it.

The outcome Yadlin offers as one that would meet Israel’s needs would require Palestinians to forfeit basic components of statehood and basic principles of Israeli-Palestinian peace that are enshrined in international law, such as the right for Palestinian refugees to return to their or their families’ places of origin in what is today Israel.

Similarly, Yadlin calls for Palestinians to accept “limitations on their sovereignty” to meet Israeli security concerns. From a Palestinian perspective, though, that sovereignty has been systematically constrained already by Israeli policies, including annexation of territory and the expanding settlement enterprise. These are but two examples of divergent viewpoints between Israelis and Palestinians that doom each of the “four paths” Mr. Yadlin proposes to reach a two-state solution.

Each of Yadlin’s proposed paths for Israel—negotiations toward a final status agreement (with the expectation that they would fail due to Palestinian intransigence), pursuing a regional agreement, seeking an interim bilateral agreement, and taking unilateral action—is problematic.

“A negotiation process resulting in a final status agreement” – The Oslo Peace Accords and the 20 years of unconsummated negotiations that followed were an intensive effort to achieve just that. However, they failed in part because they did not address the fundamental asymmetry between the parties to those accords—Palestinians recognized a state, and Israel, in turn, recognized the representative body of a national movement seeking its right to self-determination.

If Israelis were serious about two states, and heeded lessons from the failed interim agreements of the Oslo process, a good starting point would be for Israel to reciprocate the political recognition of Israel that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) made back in 1993. Israel’s recognition of the state of Palestine is long overdue, especially after more than 130 countries—including the Vatican—have done so.

This symmetrical recognition would also define the end game upfront as the outcome to which both sides are already formally committed—and then both sides can spend their negotiating energies on realizing two states living in peace.

“A regional agreement” – The notion that a regional track could substitute for the bilateral track suggests a failure to learn from the past. At many points throughout the history of this conflict, Israeli politicians and policymakers have sought to transfer the Palestinian issue onto other regional states—as in the Camp David I agreement with Egypt, or the suggestion that Palestinians should instead create their state in Jordan, a sovereign country.

It is positive that Mr. Yadlin seems to embrace the Arab Peace Initiative (API) as a means for progress toward two states—but it can only play the role he envisions if it morphs into something it is not.

The API is not a starting point for negotiations, but rather terms of reference for an agreement that Arab states would recognize as sufficient to gain Israel normalization within the Middle East. As such, Yadlin’s call for an “updated version” in which the “plan should be decoupled from the issue of the [occupied] Golan Heights” and “not be conditional on a solution to the refugee problem according to U.N. Security Council Resolution 194 from 1949,” do not take into account Arab governments’ own interests in these issues. Regional peace for Israel is unattainable without Israel first making peace with Palestinians.

“An interim bilateral agreement” – When Palestinians accepted the interim agreements of the Oslo bilateral process, there were 100,000 illegal settlers on the ground. Two decades of negotiations has left us with over 500,000 settlers and with the Palestinian community in the West Bank and Gaza further fragmented and battered. This is why the Palestinian leadership has been crystal clear in rejecting another interim agreement.

Without more than verbal commitments to a viable two-state solution, and without a clear pathway to get there, another interim agreement would only allow Israel to create more “facts on the ground” that would preclude such a solution. It is hard to understand how such a proposal would offer Palestinians any hope of progress, given the experience of the past two decades.

“In the case a negotiated agreement cannot be realized, an independent Israeli determination of its own borders” – It is even harder to understand how a unilateral Israeli determination of its own borders could, as Yadlin argues, “reinforce the agreed two-state solution paradigm,” especially because this would likely require massive Israeli military force (along with continued blind support from the United States) to create more facts on the ground. It’s understandable why Israelis would prefer to negotiate this conflict with themselves rather than engage with their adversaries, but it is the vast disparity in power between Israelis and Palestinians, not the logic of conflict resolution, that gives Israelis the realistic ability to do so. Still, this does not mean that unilateral decisions by Israel will one day find support among Palestinians.

It’s understandable why Israelis would prefer to negotiate this conflict with themselves rather than engage with their adversaries, but it is the vast disparity in power between Israelis and Palestinians, not the logic of conflict resolution, that gives Israelis the realistic ability to do so.

It is the nature of international conflicts that they can “end” only in one of two ways: either the two parties agree to a solution that meets their mutual interests, or the side with greater power dictates, imposes, and enforces an outcome over the objections of the weaker side. In proposing unilateralism as a “solution,” Yadlin abandons the more sustainable former pathway for the latter, which I see as doomed.

If Israel’s leadership is serious about reaching a two-state solution, the road is defined and clear. It requires that Israelis grapple with the real interests and demands of Palestinians as of equal substance and value to their own, rather than wishing them away. Equality can be achieved in two, truly independent states; or this conflict will default to a single state—as warned by President Obama and Secretary Kerry—marred by a civil rights struggle that may take another 70 years to bear fruition, but whose result is pre-defined.

TRYING TO CROSS THE ‘FLYING CHECKPOINT’ IN PALESTINE

There are hundreds of fixed checkpoints inside the illegally occupied West Bank, most are between one Palestinian area and another and not on the “Green line” but we also have to face the “flying checkpoints” which literally can be anywhere and anytime.

Hizma flying checkpoint

Hizma flying checkpoint

Biodiversity and terrorism

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

I was with two of my students and an International visitor heading to Birzeit for our first class in biodiversity this semester on Saturday when we got selected for search at an Israeli “flying checkpoint”.  There are hundreds of fixed checkpoints inside the illegally occupied West Bank, most are between one Palestinian area and another and not on the “Green line” but we also have to face the “flying checkpoints” which literally can be anywhere and anytime.  In this case a long line of cars were held at Hizma.  When it was our turn, a young Israeli younger than my son told me to stop.  I said can I pull to the side to let other cars pass.  He said no.  There were several of them young recruits dressed in police uniforms and in army uniforms.   In the occupied territories the two services are indistinguishable and operate as one fascist occupation force.  Another Israeli was nearby so I said why can’t I pull to the side.  He turned over to his commanding officer who nodded his agreement.  Then the officer asked me to pull onto the circle in the middle of the road.  They asked for all our ID cards and handed them to another person who went to check them via his computer.  Then they demanded each of us get out of the car in turns.  My students in the back first, then the international visitor, then me.  Some of the uniformed occupiers pointed their guns at us while others demanded we empty all our pockets and frisked us.

They searched the car and they flipped through the camera memory to see all our pictures. They were saying things in Hebrew and I was telling them repeatedly we do not speak Hebrew and that we can speak in English or Arabic to them.  I think they all understood English and at least two showed they understood Arabic after persistence from us.  I repeatedly asked in Arabic and in English why we were picked on.  One occupier said it is because he liked the shape of my car!  When I turned to a female soldier and asked her the same question and adding “are we living in a fascist state,” she merely shrugged her shoulders and said “he liked your car”.  They did not smile but I did, which seemed to irritate them.  Ryan was asked if he smokes anything and why is he here.  Then they asked him “do you like Palestinians,” to which he answered “I like all people!”  After delaying us for half an hour, they handed our ID cards to the international visitor and let us go.  For me, I was used to this.  One of my students (also a museum employee) is from an isolated village of Nahhalin which is frequently closed off has also been frisked and checked many times in the past.  His village was closed in the last three days and he sleeps in Bethlehem instead.  My other student (also a museum employee) and the international visitor had never experienced such harassment.  We joked later that this was a “good taste” of colonial occupation for them.

We discussed how these are really mild experiences compared to others.  For example, for the first five weeks of 2016, Israel demolished an average of 30 Palestinian structures weekly, displacing an average of 66 persons a week (this is three times the weekly average than that in 2015).  Palestinian young people as young as 12 continue to be murdered by Israeli occupation forces almost every other day.  Israeli soldiers carry knives in their backpacks to plant as “evidence” against many Palestinians they murder.  But there is growing Palestinian desperation.  Israeli occupation forces currently hold hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners without charge (“administrative detentions”.)  At least one of those who has been held for nearly three months is on hunger strike (taking only water and salt.)  He will likely die in the next couple of days if Israel does not release him (Mohammad Al-Qeeq).  The Israeli Knesset continues to add racist laws to an already long list of racist laws (over 50) that discriminate against non-Jewish “nominal citizens”. This is not counting hundreds of military orders that discriminate against us who are not considered “nominal citizens” in our own country occupied by individuals with a superiority-inferiority complex gathered from around he world under the banner of Zionism.

Gaza’s situation is far worse than the West Bank and Gaza prisoners get no family visits and the Strip is besieged and starved of basic supplies.  Most of the tunnels that “smuggled” humanitarian supplies have been destroyed.  A slip of the tongue by Israeli Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed that Egypt’s new policy of flooding the tunnels between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula with seawater had come at Israel’s request.  The promise of rebuilding after Israel’s last genocidal attack on Gaza never materialized.  We shudder to think that it is again time for Israel to test new weapons on the Gaza “laboratory”. Israel’s largest “export” is weapons-related technology, and Israeli leaders have to “test” their weapons on the nearly two million captives in the open air prison called Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile Fatah and later Hamas have taken the bait/infection of “Oslo process” believing it is possible to have an authority under occupation.  Here in teh West Bank many good Fatah leaders admit to us privately that they do not support the president whose erm expired years ago and who firest anyone who criticizes him. Yet he takes unilateral decisions to join the despots in “Saudi Arabia” and his speeches are frequently dotted with statements like “we have our hands stretched for peace.. we stop any armed resistance..we arrest activists… we believe only in peaceful demonstrations…ask [beg] the US and International community to exercise its responsibilities .. etc”.  Contrast this with what Ho Chi Minh once said: “Viet Nam has the right to enjoy freedom and independence and in fact has become a free and independent country. The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilize all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard their freedom and independence.”  Or what Martin Luther King Jr said from Birmingham jail: “I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate…who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.'” Or even what Yasser Arafat said during the siege in Beirut or when Israel was pounding his last two rooms in his Ramallah headquarters “we will have freedom or die as martyrs”.

It is hard to cope with political leaders who do not seem to push strong enough but it is harder to deal state terrorism (which is far more devastating than individual terrorism). I (almost) retain sanity by staying busy (teaching plus other volunteer jobs including directing the Palestine Museum of Natural History, clinical laboratory work, writing, lecturing on Palestine, visitor guiding, research, and more.)  Birzeit University where I teach (more coach) a Biodiversity course is a beautiful campus with great students and faculty.  Before class, and having been delayed at the flying checkpoint, my two students had to rush to finish their work on “fruit flies/Drosophila”.  Spring is here and he gardens are blooming. The smell of freshly dug air mixes with the smell of almond blossoms. Good people and good food ameliorate life under occupation.  It helps to have a larger cause than one self.  Like MLK Jr and Steven Biko and Malcolm X, we are some times bewildered by the people around (including internationals and Palestinians) who show signs of “mental occupation” or are simply apathetic. But I would like to focus on those who have freed their minds and are helping others do the same.  There are literally millions of points of light out there.  We do not “win” over the darkness but it is those lights that make life meaningful. My own students (at Bethlehem Bible College, Birziet, and Bethlehem University) are also lights. For all those points of light we say thank you.

Here are a few lights expressing via writing “We are not just numbers”

And here is a timeline of positive actions using boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) done in 2015 as examples of points of light

Having humility to recognize all these lights can help us amplify our own small light.

If you want to help in lighting our small candle locally, please see this

Photoassay of colonialism

 

ACTION: The UK and US government are introducing new rules that would prevent local councils from supporting BDS.

If you live in the UK, please take action to stop the government doing this.
In the US, please write your representative

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