Friday, August 31, 2007

Talking to terrorists

Alastair Crooke writes brilliantly on why Hamas and others who are shunned should be negotiated with.


An appropriate disclaimer for Gaza children: Don't play near rocket launchers, you could get hurt (or killed).

Apparently those three kids WEREN'T connected at all to terrorists, and were just frolicking near an area where Qassams are launched. And in typical Israeli fashion, anything around is obliterated, including innocent civilians.

"...[T]he probe, which was launched immediately after the incident, determined that the children were playing tag near the launchers, as revealed by army footage recording the incident. The video reportedly shows the children - who appear as figures whose age cannot be determined - approaching the launchers and then moving back, in a way that could be seen as suggesting that they were loading the launchers with rockets."

Tag. The IDF declared you 'it'. But the Haaretz contradicts itself:

"The video does show one of the figures to be a child, army sources said, but this happened so close to the moment of impact that the troops were unable to abort in time."

Didn't they just conclude that the ages could not be determined? And yet an army source indicates that one of the figures is a child.

A peak into the comments is one that is ghastly. Here we have Gili from Montreal:

"IDF were acting based on the best information available to them. Beyond that there is no one to blame by [sic] the terrorists who cynically use children as human shields for their attacks."

No one to blame? I seem to recall that children were killed not by "terrorists" but by Israeli soldiers. Oh, and that human shield chicanery is getting old. Let's make some breaking news for you Gili, the IDF is not absolved from such a accusation either. Is there a moral equivalence for this odious act of terrorism? Does that mean Israel are terrorists too?

Hausman from Sussex cannot be outdone:

"No one but Hamas is to be blamed for what happen. They went out of their way to put launchers near where children were playing."

Hamas determines where children play now? Stretching their power a bit there. Not even the most ardent Islamofascist could control such a thing. Children play wherever and whenever. I wonder if Hausman ever had a kid? Or even knew one. Or better yet, if he knew how densely populated the Gaza Strip is lately. I shall post a rebuttal from another commenter:

"They cannot play near their houses because the IAF might hit a car passing by, and they cannot play on the streets because hamas and fatah militants might shoot them.. and god they cannot play in a park or a playground because there isn`t any. Why is anybody surprised they grow up to be terrorists?"

Thanks Yasir from Canada.

The cake has to go to Dan from Haifa. Let's indulge ourselves shall we.

"Three young Palestinian cousins were killed on Wednesday in northern Gaza when Hamas fired rockets at innocent Israelis across the border, operating from within Palestinian community in the vicinity of children.

The practice of firing rockets and operating in civilian areas has been a great asset for Hamas in its terror war against Israel. Although using civilians as human shields is defined as a war crime, Hamas is happy to create a moral nightmare to a humane army such as the IDF. For Hamas, any Palestinian that is killed is used as a great propaganda tool. Furthermore, Hamas is known to fake and stage fictitious stories and `evidence` in order to blame Israel of killing innocent civilians.

The irony, of course, is that Hamas has murdered intentionally more Palestinian civilians in one month than Israel unintentionally in 5 years."

Where do these people come from? (Israel) A "humane army"? Let's retool here for a moment. "For Israel, any Israeli that is killed is used as a great propaganda tool." Way to go Einstein, think these up yourself? In any conflict, whether it be American, Afghani, Iraqi, Sudanese, Somali, Syrian, Lebanese, Palestinian, etc., THEY ALL USE CASAULTIES to help their cause. What better fuel is it than seeing people being slaughtered by your enemy?

I know these are only on the comments section but there is no hint of a source. Unlike myself, who loves sources, I do well to dispell the myth that our friend Dan here concocts. (I'm sorry, I still can't stop scratching my head at the "humane army".)

Of course, I consulted B'Tselem for some eye opening statistics on casaulties. Nevermind the notion that he leaves out the part when Israel INTENTIONALLY murder Palestinian civilians. That's just a slight omission isn't it? The Palestinians are the only ones capable of targeting civilians. Not for the "humane army". How could someone make such a claim though? Just a brief look at the B'Tselem table and the number is so heavily one on side that this distinction is too stupid to contemplate.

Dan has got it so wrong. B'Tselem adds up 189 casaulties by Israel just THIS YEAR! The list is extensive of how they were killed. But last year had the number at 656! I wonder if he could distinguish which ones the IDF did not "intentionally" murder?

Whereas for the Hamas? B'Tselem does distinguish who were killed. But the highest number for one month is at 160. Israel already has 189 for this year. What would be the point of adding up another four years of IDF massacres? It would dwarf the number of 160. And how many could be attributed to Hamas alone? Wasn't Fatah part of that civil war in the Gaza Strip also? Weren't they also responsible for some deaths? So that number could be even LOWER.

This guy just strikes my heart. Atilla Karagozoglu manages to fit Iran into the picture:





Now how annoying was that? Yeah, he will nuke Israel. It's still not proven they have an nuke at all. Who has the nuke again? Ahhhh. It's the other country starting with an I: Israel, who is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The only cartoons that they depict are ones posted by fucking Danish newspapers.

Talking peace is one thing, actively seeking it is another. Theatre to placate the masses will not fool us forever.

Tosefta from Tveria:

"Tragic accidents such as the present one easily happen in today`s situation. But the IDF probably understands its mistaken MO by now. If the launchers have little value, why should the terrorists even risk themselves to retrieve them. The Qassam rocket itself is much larger than the launcher so it can be seen from the air even better than the launcher. The IDF should only hit people who are next to Qassams, not next to the launcher after the fact."

Maybe those Qassam rockets aren't so expendable if they are trying to retreive them.

The IDF does understand the mistake through a public relations perspective: in the overall grand scheme of usurpation of 100 % of Palestine, it's all part and parcel of the bigger picture. They may have admitted their folly this time around, only perhaps through intense pressure from the international community, or in fear of a backlash from human rights organisations. But there will be no accountability. It has been stated before, the IDF has impugnity in the Gaza Strip, thanks to the Sharon "disengagement".

Policing those Qassams is a lost cause until Israel engages with Hamas, or relinquishes the occupation, or maybe not even to that extent. Perhaps some relief might slow down the desperate fire from those who are humiliated hourly, aka opening up the Rafah border or cease the embargo and let people live their lives as normal (in the Gaza Strip). Addressing the ROOT causes of why they are pissed off might help ease the pain instead of the perpetual violence that riddles this conflict. But that can only happen if Israelis want to give up anything for genuine peace, not phony dententes that enable Israel to encroach more land in the West Bank.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Why the US and Israel should lose

Former CIA Analyst Bill Christison makes the case against the US and Israel imperial initiatives in the Middle East:

"For overwhelming moral reasons, I do not want the U. S. and Israeli governments to be victorious in any present or future Middle East wars. I want them to lose such wars.

U.S. policies in the Middle East since 9/11 have already caused a million or so killings and have created more injustice in the world than existed formerly. Every day results in more killings, more injustice. Unless might does indeed make right, we have no right whatever to win these wars. We should lose them.

If the U.S. were to "win" these wars, whatever that means, more of the world's people than at present would be ruled by the U.S. Most of these people do not want to be ruled by the U.S. -- which makes the wars themselves anti-democratic. That fact alone is reason enough to conclude that our country should lose these wars.

My personal belief is that the United States and Israel will inevitably lose these wars over time in any case. If this loss is in fact inevitable, conventional wisdom would argue that it is better for the loss to happen rapidly in order to hold casualties down. In a continuing civil war over which outsiders have limited control, however, conventional wisdom may not apply.
Nevertheless, a truly rapid -- meaning within the next six months -- acceptance of defeat by the U.S. and Israel of their own Mideast policies would probably offer the only possibility of mitigating the blame assigned to these two nations by the rest of the world for future mass killings of human beings throughout this unstable area.

Much of global public opinion will in any case correctly attribute a large residual responsibility to the U.S. and Israel for the utterly disproportionate and one-sided killings already carried out since 9/11 in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank. Further killings that occur during even a short and rapid transition to inevitable U.S. and Israeli defeat will only enlarge this residual. But a short, quick, and determined acceptance of defeat will still reduce to some extent the charges of U.S. responsibility for future killings.

A lasting peace in the Middle East will only happen, of course, if the U.S. and Israel are wise enough publicly (and honestly) to end their drive for joint
imperium over the Middle East and Central Asia and also to cease their efforts to bring about regime change in Iran and Syria. In other words, as has long been the case, the U.S. and Israel will need to make serious long-term changes in their own foreign policies if they wish to avoid a conflict lasting for generations that ultimately they cannot win.

As of now, no evidence exists that either country is willing even to consider such policy changes, and no evidence exists that either the Republican or Democratic Parties in the U.S., any political parties in Israel, the military-industrial complexes of the U.S. and Israel, the Israel lobby in the U.S., the U.S. Protestant Christian Right, the Catholic Church, or the ruling elites of any EU states will bring one jot of meaningful pressure to bear on the Israeli or the U.S. government to change their policies.

If change is to come, it must come from ordinary voters, particularly in the U.S., applying pressure on the various groups listed above, or from ordinary people succeeding in setting up new groups or parties that will succeed in bringing greater pressure to bear. The pressures must be very strong and very explicit. People must emphasize day after day to both Democratic and Republican members of Congress and to every presidential candidate that the U.S. must first and foremost change its own policies. And people must emphasize to all politicians that the Israel lobby is one of the strongest forces pressing both Democrats and Republicans
not to change U.S. policies, thereby preventing healthy political debate in the country. This must stop.

Finally, my hope is that sensible U.S. voters will agree with the opinions summarized here and in addition create a groundswell of support for the immediate impeachment and conviction of Bush and Cheney. This is the only action, in my view, that opens up the possibility of rapidly bringing about the necessary changes in U.S. policies."

(Emphasis in original.)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Palestine since 'Disengagement'

Jake Hess takes the reader through what the "disengagement" really meant, the results on the Gaza Strip, and the bigger agenda that was concurrent to the policy of annexation in the West Bank. It is yet another myth by the supporters of Israel that is exposed when examined thoroughly.

Palestine since 'Disengagement'
What has changed?
by Jake Hess

This month marks the two-year anniversary of Israel's 'disengagement' from the Gaza Strip. Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School wrote the following in September, 2005: "Israel's successful evacuation of the Gaza Strip demonstrates the desire and ability of the Israeli government to make and implement tough decisions necessary for a pragmatic peace based on a two-state solution."[1]

Dershowitz is right. Although his article misrepresents the Israeli government's intentions as benign, the Gaza 'disengagement' can only be understood as the first step in Israel's long-term objective of imposing what they call a 'two-state solution' on the Palestinians. Many analysts sympathetic to the Palestinian cause have written, correctly, that the Gaza withdrawal has coincided with settlement expansion in the West Bank. Few, however, define the political endgame Israel is moving toward.

The purpose of this article is to outline, briefly, the long-term objectives of the 'disengagement', to show how they've been implemented in the West Bank during last couple of years, and to describe current conditions in Gaza. Doing so can help provide a framework for interpreting the recent and upcoming diplomatic summits in the region, including the renewed talk of moving toward a final settlement.[2]

Ephraim Sneh, a member of the Israeli Labor Party who has held several senior posts in the Israeli military and government, has summarized the purposes of the 'disengagement' plan. "The goal is to perpetuate Israeli control in most of the West Bank, and to repel any internal or external pressure for a different political solution," he writes. When the construction projects are complete, "The Palestinians will be left with seven enclaves connected by special highways for their use", and Israel will be left in control of eighty percent of historic Palestine.[3] The enclaves created by the Wall and settlements will, if the Sharonists have their way, form the basis of a Palestinian "state".

Sneh's calculations jibe with Sharon's past announcements that he would tolerate a Palestinian "state" on 42% of the West Bank.[4] (The 42% figure is most likely based on the percentage of land Palestinians were given full or partial control over during the Oslo years). In December 2004, Zalman Shoval, then a senior advisor to Sharon, told The Boston Globe that "Sharon wants to wait until the [West Bank Wall] is completed" before negotiations on Palestinian independence can begin. "That way, [the Wall] would be more or less a line of reference for negotiations on the final border" of a Palestinian state, consisting of half the West Bank.[5]

Ehud Olmert, the current Israeli Prime Minister, has said that he is committed to the same goals as his predecessor, including use of the Wall to designate Israel's "final borders."[6] If the government views the borders as permanent for Israel, of course, then they must also be permanent for their Palestinian neighbors and any future "state".

This is a useful backdrop against which to interpret current Israeli activities in the West Bank.

Presently, some 450,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank.[7] Since the Gaza 'disengagement', their overall population has continued to expand some three times as fast as that of cities in Israel proper.[8] In the first half of 2005, the year the 'disengagement' was carried out, "there was a twenty-eight percent increase in settlement housing starts compared to the same period in 2004", according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.[9] The leading Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz, recently reported on a "population boom" in non-East Jerusalem settlements, resulting in a 5.45% growth rate for the colonies in 2006.[10] Currently, three thousand new housing units are under construction in the West Bank.[11]

The two major documents driving Likud/Kadima settlement policy, to which Olmert is an heir, have historically been the Drobless Plan and the Sharon Plan. Both define the objective of settlements as to incorporate Palestinian land into Israel and to defeat the possibility of viable Palestinian statehood by fragmenting the West Bank into isolated chunks. According to the Drobless Plan, "The best and most effective way to remove any shred of doubt regarding [Israel's] intention to hold Judea and Samaria [i.e., the West Bank] forever is a rapid settlement drive in these areas."[12]

As Minister of Agriculture in the first Likud government, in 1977, Ariel Sharon said of the settlements: "We have to physically dominate the entire West Bank….We have to establish wedges of Israeli/Jewish settlement between centers of concentrations of Arabs on either side of the green line [i.e., the border between the West Bank and Israel]... And we have to make physically impossible the creation of any territorial contiguity on the part of the Palestinians."[13]

In a recent report, Amnesty International writes: "By building a network of settlements and a network of 'bypass' roads around all the Palestinian towns and villages, Israel has removed the possibility of Palestinian territorial contiguity in the West Bank…and ensured effective control of the entire [area] – and of the lives of more than two million Palestinians who live there." This is part of what they describe as "Israel's policy of dividing the Occupied Palestinian Territories into disconnected and non-viable fragments", which "continues to be implemented at a growing pace."[14]

In a major May 2002 report on Israeli settlement policy, "Land Grab", the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem writes: "The drastic change that Israel has made in the map of the West Bank prevents any real possibility for the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state as part of the Palestinians' right to self-determination" (p.133).

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the Wall, from the standpoint of Palestinian survival, is its path around greater Jerusalem. Under the projected route, Human Rights Watch argues, the last remaining land corridor connecting the northern and southern West Bank – an area known as "E-1" – will be surrounded and effectively annexed to Israel, thus cutting the West Bank into two pieces.[15] East Jerusalem – the historic center of Palestinian economic, cultural, and social life – will be isolated and virtually inaccessible from the rest of the West Bank, resulting in immeasurable hardship for Palestinians as a result.[16]

The Israeli settlement monitoring organization Peace Now has also strongly argued against building settlements in E-1, for similar reasons. They agree that doing so would cut the West Bank in half, and "sever access to East Jerusalem for Palestinians in the West Bank, and sever access to the West Bank for Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem." "Both of these situations", they write, "are antithetical to the achievement of any real, durable peace agreement and the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state". They assert that "No serious analyst would support" the assumption that "Israeli-Palestinian peace and a two-state solution are possible without East Jerusalem being contiguous with and part of a Palestinian state."[17] Although the Israeli government has not yet begun construction of settlements in E-1, they certainly intend to surround the area with the Wall,[18] so the effects will be the same.

B'Tselem contends: "The construction of the Separation Barrier is the final step in the almost-completely isolation of East Jerusalem. It finalizes the division of the West Bank into easily controlled portions, and renders social, commercial and family life untenable for Palestinians in Jerusalem and its environs", dealing a "further blow to any chance of resolving the conflict through negotiations and agreement."[19]

Israel is currently building a road which is said to ensure territorial contiguity for Palestinian after completion of the Wall. Yet, even Martin Indyk – a former AIPAC employee and one-time senior advisor to the Clinton administration – argues that Israel should give E-1 to the Palestinians. "E-1 is a critical issue in maintaining the territorial integrity and contiguity of the West Bank with East Jerusalem – it's the only place where it's possible to do that", he recently told the New York Times.[20]

Meanwhile, two years after the 'disengagement', Gaza is "under the effective control of Israel" as a "sealed-off, imprisoned, and occupied territory", in the words of the UN's Special Rapporteur on human rights in Palestine.[21]

According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, Israel controls Gaza's "air and sea space, movement between Gaza and the West Bank (also via neighboring countries), the population registry, family unification, and the crossing of goods to and from Gaza…Also, residents of Gaza rely solely on Israel for its supply of fuel, electricity, and gas."[22]

Gisha: Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, an Israeli organization, asserts that "Israeli control over the lives of Gaza residents remains constant", including the ability to control all imports and exports by virtue of its ability to "close all crossings into Gaza".[23] Put simply, Gaza is still occupied, and Israel therefore retains obligations to its residents under the Hague Regulations and Fourth Geneva Convention, Gisha says. Human Rights Watch agrees: "Under international humanitarian law, Gaza remains occupied, and Israel retains its responsibilities for the welfare of Gaza residents."[24]

Given these facts, it's tempting to say that nothing's changed in Gaza since the 'disengagement'. Yet, things have changed; by many indicators, the humanitarian situation there is worse than it has ever been. The disaster has emerged as a consequence of Israel's withholding of tax revenues to the PA, the boycott of the same institution by international governments, and the imposition of increased movement restrictions in the occupied territories.

Human Rights Watch writes that, in 2006, "The closure of Gaza was more complete than at any time since the outbreak of the intifada in 2000, with the Rafah international border, Erez crossing, and other crossings into Israel designed for the transport of goods closed entirely or opened only irregularly, with disastrous effects on Gazan exports and imports."[25]

Amnesty International writes: "The extent of the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip for most of 2006 has been unprecedented…the long blockade of [Karni commercial crossing] halted the export of Palestinian goods, causing waste of perishable agricultural exports and a loss of markets for these and other exports. The blockade resulted in the closure of 920 small factories, which in December 2005 employed 25,500 workers, as they were no longer able to export their products."[26]

According to Gisha, Israel's "administrative control of civilian life has intensified since the completion of Israel's disengagement plan", and "Israeli actions since September 2005…have contributed to an economic and humanitarian crisis in Gaza not seen in the 38 years of Israeli control that preceded the withdrawal of permanent ground troops."[27]

The UN refugee agency working in Occupied Palestine, UNRWA, describes Gaza as "locked down and imprisoned", as "closure of the crossing points for commercial and construction goods…has reached unprecedented levels." The "conditions of siege imposed on Gaza and the ongoing fragmentation of the West Bank are destroying the fabric of Palestinian society". As a result, "Living conditions in Palestinian areas are now deplorable, slumping to levels unseen since 1967. Every aspect of life has been affected; the entire Palestinian population is suffering. The majority are now dependent on food and cash handouts."[28]

Recently, a senior official of the UNRWA warned that, as a consequence of Israeli-imposed closures, "Gaza risks becoming a virtually one hundred percent aid dependent, closed down and isolated community within a matter of months, or even weeks, if the present regime of closure continues",[29] while the World Bank has warned that the territory is in danger of an "irreversible" economic collapse.[30]

As a consequence of what B'Tselem has called a "protracted economic siege that forces on Gazans a life of poverty and want", [31] eighty percent of Gaza's factories have closed down, while the territory's "local private sector, identified by international mediators as the well-spring of Palestinian economic recovery and thereby hopes for peace, faces terminal decline", the Financial Times reports.[32]

Oxfam writes that, as a consequence of the financial boycott of the PA, "the number of Palestinians living in poverty has jumped by 30%, essential services are facing meltdown, and previously unknown levels of factional violence plague Palestinian streets." The number of Palestinians living in deep poverty, on less than 50 cents a day, "nearly doubled in 2006 to 1 million".[33] According to the UNRWA, 87.7% of households in Gaza, and 55.6% in the West Bank, live in poverty.[34] The UN has reported that half the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are starving, or in danger of starving.[35]

Israeli military attacks, like the siege off Gaza, have intensified since 'disengagement'. "Both air and artillery shelling increased throughout the year after the withdrawal," according to the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq.[36] The UNRWA has reported "daily shelling, ground incursions and air operations" into Gaza as part of the "Summer Rains" operation, "causing widespread damage and leading to high numbers of civilian casualties."[37] Following 'disengagement', B'Tselem writes, "Israel increased its attacks on armed Palestinian activists, killing many bystanders in the process."[38]

These killings are part of what Physicians for Human Rights (Israel) describes as "Israel's policy of terrorizing the civilian population" of Gaza, including "the deliberate and conscious killing of civilians."[39]

Israel and its apologists defend these attacks on "security" grounds. Yet, according to Human Rights Watch, there were fewer Palestinian suicide attacks in 2006 than any year since the al-Aqsa intifada began in September 2000. Two Israelis died from the much-publicized qassam missiles launched from Gaza.[40] And although the number of Israelis killed by Palestinians diminished by half, the number of Palestinians killed by Israel tripled, according to Amnesty International.[41] In all, according to B'Tselem, Israel killed 660 Palestinians, and Palestinians killed 23 Israelis, in 2006.[42]

So, two years after the Gaza 'disengagement', this is the tragic reality in Occupied Palestine. Although the Israeli government is attempting to move toward some kind of a 'two state solution', the "pragmatic peace" envisioned by Dershowitz is a long way off.

Jake Hess is a graduate student at Brown University. He welcomes feedback at JakeRHess(at)


[1] Alan Dershowitz, "This time, peace may be the real thing", Chicago Tribune, September 09, 2005.

[2] See, for example, Samuel Sockol, "Olmert, Abbas, Hold 'Promising' Talks Ahead of Proposed Summit", Washington Post, August 07, 2007.

[3] Ephraim Sneh, "Sharon's plan will perpetuate war", Ha'aretz, October 11, 2004.

[4] Ari Shavit, "Sharon is Sharon is Sharon", Ha'aretz, April 12, 2001.

[5] Dan Ephron and Farah Stockman, "Bush camp cautious on post-Arafat support", The Boston Globe, December 19, 2004 .
[6] Greg Myre, "Olmert Outlines Plans for Israel's Borders", The New York Times, March 10, 2006 .

[7] Amnesty International, "Israel and the Occupied Territories", annual report 2007.

[8] John Dugard, "Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967", UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, January 29, 2007, para. 32.

[9] Cited by Human Rights Watch in "Israel: Expanding Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories", December 27, 2005.
[10] Nadav Shragai, "Ultra-Orthodox Jews deliver a population boom to the West Bank", Ha'aretz online, August 14, 2007 . See also Peace Now, "Summary- Peace Now Settlement/Outpost Report 2006", February 21 2007. Neither report deals with settlements in East Jerusalem.

[11] Tovah Lazaroff, "Peace Now: Israel is building 3,000 new homes in West Bank", The Jerusalem Post, February 22, 2007.

[12] Quoted by B'Tselem in "Land Grab: Israel's Settlement Policy in the West Bank", May 2002, p. 14. B'Tselem cites: Matitiyahu Drobless, "The Settlement in Judea and Samaria – Strategy, Policy and Program" (in Hebrew), World Zionist Organization, September 1980.

[13] Quoted by Geoffrey Aronson (Director of Research and Publications at the renowned Foundation for Middle East Peace, as well as Editor of its indispensable "Report on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories"), " Sharon's New Map", FMEP, June 19, 2002.

[14] Amnesty International, "Enduring Occupation: Palestinians under siege in the West Bank", June 2007, pgs. 20 and 32.

[15] Human Rights Watch, "Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories", annual report 2006.

[16] See UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, "Three Years Later: The Humanitarian Impact of the Barrier Since the International Court of Justice Opinion", July 09, 2007; UNOCHA, "The Humanitarian Impact of the West Bank Barrier on Palestinian Communities: East Jerusalem", June 2007; Human Rights Watch, "Israel: Expanding Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories", December 27, 2005; and Chris McGreal, "Secret British document accuses Israel; FO paper says international laws are being violated and peace jeopardized", The Guardian, November 25, 2005.

[17] Peace Now, "Settlement in Focus: What is E-1?", May 2005.

[18] Maps of the Wall around Jerusalem are available here: (go to page 9) and here:

[19] B'Tselem, "A Wall in Jerusalem: Obstacles to Human Rights in the Holy City", Summer 2006, pgs. 29, 31.

[20] Steven Erlanger, "A Segregated Road in an Already Divided land", The New York Times, August 11, 2007.

[21] Dugard, ibid.

[22] B'Tselem, "The Gaza Strip after disengagement."

[23] Gisha, "Disengaged Occupiers: The Legal Status of Gaza", January 2007. Also see Amnesty International, "Enduring Occupation: Palestinians under siege in the West Bank", June 2007, pg. 31.

[24] Human Rights Watch, "Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories", annual report 2006. Also see HRW's 2007 annual report entry on "Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories" (January 2007).

[25] Human Rights Watch, annual report, January 2007.

[26] Amnesty International, "Israel and the Occupied Territories: Road to Nowhere", December 2006.

[27] Gisha, ibid.

[28] UNRWA, "Emergency Appeal 2007".

[29] UNRWA, "Press Statement by Filippio Grandi, Deputy Commissioner General, UNRWA", Gaza City , August 09, 2007.

[30] "World Bank: Gaza Strip may face 'irreversible' economic collapse", Reuters/Ha'aretz, July 12, 2007.

[31] B'Tselem, "The siege on the Gaza Strip", July 26, 2007.

[32] Harvey Morris, "Industry in Gaza Strip near collapse", Financial Times, August 03, 2007.

[33] Oxfam, "Poverty in Palestine: the human cost of the financial boycott", April 13, 2007, pgs. 1, 3.

[34] UNRWA, "Emergency Appeal 2007", p. 8.

[35] Donald Macintyre, "Half of Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza malnourished", The Independent, February 22, 2007 .

[36] Al-Haq, "One Year after the 'Disengagement': Gaza still Occupied and under Attack", p. 2.

[37] UNRWA, "Emergency Appeal 2007", p. 11.

[38] B'Tselem, "The Gaza Strip after disengagement".

[39] PHR-Israel, "Report: Harm to Children in Gaza", November 08, 2006, pgs. 2, 3.

[40] Human Rights Watch, annual report, 2007, p. 5.

[41] Amnesty International, "Israel and The Occupied Territories", Report 2007.

[42] B'Tselem, "683 people killed in the conflict in 2006", December 28, 2006.

An accomplice killed

Or was it just "collateral damage'?

"Mahmoud Ibrahim Karnawi, 11, was shot after Israeli troops moved into Saida village in the northern West Bank, witnesses said. They said the troops were trying to arrest his older half-brother, a wanted Islamic Jihad militant, and came under fire as they approached the family's home, setting off a gunfight.

Neighbors said the boy was inside the home at the time of the shooting and hit in the crossfire. Hospital officials in the nearby town of Tulkarem confirmed the death. Hospital officials said Tariq Mulhem, an Islamic Jihad militant not related to the boy, also was killed.

Relatives said the boy lived in Israel with his parents — a divorced Palestinian woman is now remarried to an Arab Israeli. The family was visiting relatives in the West Bank at the time of the shooting, the relatives said."

Victimised, or simply just subhuman? Nah. Just Palestinian.

A Boycott of Israel

The latest by John Pilger paints a grim picture on the ground:

"That was 40 years ago. On my last trip back to the West Bank, I recognised little of Qalandia, now announced by a vast Israeli checkpoint, a zigzag of sandbags, oil drums and breeze blocks, with conga lines of people, waiting, swatting flies with precious papers. Inside the camp, the tents had been replaced by sturdy hovels, although the queues at single taps were as long, I was assured, and the dust still ran to caramel in the rain. At the United Nations office I asked about Ahmed Hamzeh, the street entertainer. Records were consulted, heads shaken. Someone thought he had been "taken away . . . very ill". No one knew about his son, whose trachoma was surely blindness now. Outside, another generation kicked a punctured football in the dust.

And yet, what Nelson Mandela has called "the greatest moral issue of the age" refuses to be buried in the dust. For every BBC voice that strains to equate occupier with occupied, thief with victim, for every swarm of emails from the fanatics of Zion to those who invert the lies and describe the Israeli state's commitment to the destruction of Palestine, the truth is more powerful now than ever. Documentation of the violent expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 is voluminous. Re-examination of the historical record has put paid to the fable of heroic David in the Six Day War, when Ahmed Hamzeh and his family were driven from their home. The alleged threat of Arab leaders to "throw the Jews into the sea", used to justify the 1967 Israeli onslaught and since repeated relentlessly, is highly questionable."

We know who helps the destruction of Palestine:

"The ethnic cleansing of Palestine is as much America's crusade as Israel's. On 16 August, the Bush administration announced an unprecedented $30bn military "aid package" for Israel, the world's fourth biggest military power, an air power greater than Britain, a nuclear power greater than France. No other country on earth enjoys such immunity, allowing it to act without sanction, as Israel. No other country has such a record of lawlessness: not one of the world's tyrannies comes close. International treaties, such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratified by Iran, are ignored by Israel. There is nothing like it in UN history."

But Pilger states that there is a change of attitude towards the boycott of Israel:

"The swell of a boycott is growing inexorably, as if an important marker has been passed, reminiscent of the boycotts that led to sanctions against apartheid South Africa. Both Mandela and Desmond Tutu have drawn this parallel; so has South African cabinet minister Ronnie Kasrils and other illustrious Jewish members of the liberation struggle. In Britain, an often Jewish-led academic campaign against Israel's "methodical destruction of [the Palestinian] education system" can be translated by those of us who have reported from the occupied territories into the arbitrary closure of Palestinian universities, the harassment and humiliation of students at checkpoints and the shooting and killing of Palestinian children on their way to school.

These initiatives have been backed by a British group, Independent Jewish Voices, whose 528 signatories include Stephen Fry, Harold Pinter, Mike Leigh and Eric Hobsbawm. The country's biggest union, Unison, has called for an "economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott" and the right of return for Palestinian families expelled in 1948. Remarkably, the Commons' international development committee has made a similar stand. In April, the membership of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voted for a boycott only to see it hastily overturned by the national executive council. In the Republic of Ireland, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has called for divestment from Israeli companies: a campaign aimed at the European Union, which accounts for two-thirds of Israel's exports under an EU-Israel Association Agreement. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, has said that human rights conditions in the agreement should be invoked and Israel's trading preferences suspended."

We can only wait and see if the momentum can be effective enough to mobilise the international community to restrain Israel. The outlook was not so good, and Gazans are still in suffering as the days go by, and the West Bank has not seen any relief despite Abbas' selling out of his own people.

The demagogues may have the upper hand now, but this scenario cannot last forever. The Palestinians don't have that long to wait.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why Israel?

Written by Jason Kunin, he extensively goes through the boycott campaign of Israel.

"To be sure, there are may terrible things going on in the world, and much suffering being inflicted upon people by despotic governments. Yet what makes Israel a target for boycott is that boycott has the potential to be an effective, peaceful tool by which ordinary people can bring about change, and many Jewish people – including me – support it for precisely the reasons I have listed above. As George Bisharat wrote just as I was completing this article, “‘the worst first’ has never been the rule for whom to boycott. Had it been, the Pol Pot regime, not apartheid South Africa, would have been targeted in the past. It was not - Cambodia's ties to the West were insufficient to make any embargo effective. Boycotting North Korea today would be similarly futile.”13 Israelis have deep ties to the West and generally like to see themselves within its liberal traditions. Like people anywhere, they are no less prone to wanting to be liked and thinking well of themselves. They are no more lacking in personal decency than people anywhere else. And like people in many places – most places, perhaps – they have been ruled by bad leaders and indoctrinated since birth into accepting an unjust status quo. As in apartheid South Africa, a boycott campaign has the potential to reach ordinary Israelis – to appeal to their sense of decency and invite them into the family of “ordinary” nations they so long to join. All they have to do is end their apartheid now."

Hamas the moderates

Even though Israel continues with increased force on Gaza, Hamas is attempting to limit the retaliation in a bid to show they are serious about talks:

"re was a time when the killing of six Hamas gunmen, which Israel said it did Monday in an airstrike on the Gaza Strip, would have propelled the Islamic militants to unleash a barrage of rockets into southern Israel.

But despite angry vows of revenge, Hamas continued to uphold Tuesday an undeclared policy, established after its takeover of Gaza in June, of limiting rocket attacks on Israel."

Despite Israel's incursions, they refuse to acknowledge that Hamas wants to play the politics game.

"Though many observers argue that Hamas's political agenda dictates different behavior from its days as underground opposition to the Palestinian Authority (PA), Israel's army continues to see Hamas as a group driven by an extremist agenda. Still, a military spokesperson acknowledged that Hamas has recently resisted the kind of sustained barrages on Israeli cities that provoked escalations in the past."

What have we been saying all along?

"No political process can take place without involving the party which represents a major force in Palestinian society," wrote Ahmed Yousef, the political adviser to former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, in an op-ed in the daily newspaper Al-Quds. "The way that the international community deals with Hamas decides the way the Islamists deal with the West, either in the shape of coexistence in the shape of confrontation."

Nothing but a more militant group can arise out of the boycott of Hamas. It is time to let them play the politics game.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What the MKs really think

We can peak into the mindset of the Israeli Knesset members when one of its leading members, Arieh Eldad, muses that "Jordan Is Palestine". All thanks to a misguided revival of the Jordanian Option, which was originally a plan to overlook the PLO twenty years ago and refuse to grant sovereignty for the Palestinians by seeking "moderates" to be the suitable partner for Israel. (Does that sound familiar to anyone?)

Eldad astutely quotes Rabin, "a Palestinian state will rise only on the ruins of Israel". Typically Eldad wants to promote the idea that the Palestinians want the demise of Israel (as some of them would welcome after sixty odd years of oppression), but unintentionally invokes the hardline that no Palestinian state will ever be given unless its 'on the ruins of Israel'. In crude lamen's terms, you'll have an independent state "over my dead body".

The Jordanian Option is demurred, because Eldad wants the world to recognise that:

"Jordan is Palestine. Between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, only one country has a right to exist, the State of Israel. Palestinians have a state across the river. They are 70 percent of its citizens."

Woah. Exchange the word "Israel" for "Palestine", and you would have the typical perception that has conditioned public opinion for decades. But this is taboo, is it not? No. Eldad is just stating openly what every MK (besides the Arab ones) in the Knesset, past and present, have been thinking. They clearly do not want any state resembling viability next to them. ALL of the area between the Mediterranean to the Jordan River is reserved for the Jews. Not exactly a partner for peace, is it?

Eldad gives the statistic that 70 % of Jordan's citizens are Palestinians. Interestingly enough, what was left out is that these citizens are part of the Diaspora that Israel helped create since 1948. According to the Global Exchange website,

"Jordan has received the largest number of Palestinian refugees. An estimated 100,000 of all refugees fled across the Jordan River in 1948. A large majority of Palestinians are Jordanian citizens. Since the return of over 300,000 Palestinians from Kuwait in 1991, between 45% and 70% of all Jordanians are Palestinians from the West Bank. Although Palestinians suffer from discrimination and a large number still live in camps, Jordan has granted full citizenship to the Palestinian refugees and their descendents."

One wonders if a state can conveniently displace the indigenous population to the neighbour states, and then audaciously announce that they had no connection to the land and are really part of the country they inhabit in refugee camps.

Eldad continues:

"The land of Israel was already divided into two countries when Churchill tore what lies across from the Jordan River from our national home and gave it to the Arabs in 1922. And even if this was an historic crime against the Jewish people, it is already an historic fact we failed to change."

Nevermind that Transjordan was created by the British Empire for lovely oil purposes, Israel was founded in 1948, not 1922. Zionism was marked down in the land of Palestine and to this day, they still feel it an injustice that they were not only given 100 % of Palestine, instead of only 55 % (which they then forcefully took the rest from the Palestinians during 47-48), but the true part of Eretz Israel, even east of the Jordanian River. Statistics have shown that the Jewish population represented quite the minority even in 1922, at 11%. Up until the creation of the state, they only represented a third of the total population. And yet it is "an historic crime against the Jewish people". What kind of a crime is it against the Palestinians? Oh right. They are Jordanians, correct? In addition, wasn't all of this part of a sham self-determination policy that aimed to placate the indigenous population while being under the control of empirical satraps?

What Israel wants is expulsion. Whether it is with Eldad's "voluntary transfer", or with Olmert's slow destruction. No Palestinian state is negotiable for Israel: they want them expelled to the east of the River Jordan.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The longer it lasts, the harder it will be to stop

Uri Avnery lets the cat out of the bag:

"The most grievous expression of the situation in the occupied territories under Olmert and Barak is the daily killing. Almost no day passes without a new atrocity. A pupil is run over, his injuries are critical, he is kept at the roadblock over an hour until he dies. The army issues a laconic statement: he was on the list of those "forbidden to enter Israel". Five soldiers seize a boy waiting at a bus stop and beat him to death. A sick woman arrives at a roadblock and is detained there for no apparent reason until she dies.

Such stories have become routine and no longer cause a ripple. Two or three journalists do still get upset and report them, the rest just ignore them. Senses have been blunted. It's not news."

It's tough to change this when they become automatic. They don't even warrant a news story, and if so, it's buried in the back pages or given fifteen seconds of air time.

Palestinians only real hope is the international community to say enough is enough. But with the media inured to what has been a forty year debacle, its just another day of the occupation.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Occupation 101

Historiographer Ilan Pappe's movie, Occupation 101, which was aired around Toronto not long ago, can be viewed here.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

No American President can stand up to Israel

Former member of the Reagan Administration, economist Paul Craig Roberts, writes about the Israel Lobby and its hold over foreign policy wonks in DC:

"On June 8, 1967, Israel attacked the American intelligence ship, USS Liberty, killing 34 American sailors and wounding 173. The Israelis even strafed the life rafts, machine-gunning the American sailors leaving the stricken ship.

Apparently, the USS Liberty had picked up Israeli communications that revealed Israel's responsibility for the Six Day War. Even today, history books and the majority of Americans blame the conflict on the Arabs.

The United States Navy knew the truth, but the President of the United States took Israel's side against the American military and ordered the United States Navy to shut its mouth. President Lyndon Johnson said it was all just a mistake. Later in life, Admiral Moorer formed a commission and presented the unvarnished truth to Americans...

Many Americans are unaware of the influence of the Israel lobby. Instead they think of the US as "the world's sole superpower," a macho new Roman Empire whose orders are obeyed without question or the insolent nonentity is "bombed back to the stone age." Many Americans are convinced that military coercion serves our interest. They cite Libya, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now they are ready to bring Iran and Pakistan to heel with bombs...

So what does explain the complicity of the Democratic Party in a policy that the American public, and especially Democratic constituencies, reject? Perhaps a clue is offered from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune news report (August 1, 2007) that Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison will spend a week in Israel on "a privately funded trip sponsored by the American Israel Education Federation. The AIEF--the charitable arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)--is sending 19 members of Congress to meet with Israeli leaders. The group, made up mostly of freshman Democrats, has plans to meet with Isreali Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and [puppet] Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The senior Democratic member on the trip is House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who has gone three times. . . . The trip to Israel is Ellison's second as a congressman."

According to the Star-Tribune, a Republican group, which includes Rep. Michele Bachmann (R, Minn), led by Rep. Eric Cantor (R, Va) is already in Israel. According to news reports, another 40 are following these two groups during the August recess, and "by the time the year is out every single member of Congress will have made their rounds in Israel." This claim is probably overstated, but it does show careful Israeli management of US policy in the Middle East."

Who else could stop a tenureship, defame a former President, and smear a book before it is even released? And we're meant to put our hopes on those who represent the "people" to do the right thing and form a solution out of Israel-Palestine conflict? The Lobby holds their balls so they stay in Congress. This is our honest broker to negotiations.

Still no hint of negotiations

As was predicted earlier, the Abbas and Olmert summit has not and will not be an efficacious conference:

"PLO Executive Committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo told the Arabic-language paper Al-Quds Al-Arabi that no negotiations are currently taking place between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on core issues standing in the way of the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The statements come just days after sources in Jerusalem said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud and Abbas have begun been negotiating a new document on the core issues.

These issues include the permanent borders of the future Palestinian state, the question of jurisdiction over holy sites in Jerusalem, and the Palestinian refugee problem.

Abed Rabbo told the paper, which is published in London, that Israel refuses to discuss the issues before the U.S.-backed Mideast peace conference set for the fall.

He said that if Israel continues to refuse, the conference will be useless."

One year since Lebanon

Jonathan Cook lays down the truths that was denied in the media about last year's befuddled Israel-Hizbollah war that was potrayed oh so nicely for the Jewish State:

1. Why the war began.

"The war began on 12 July, when Israel launched waves of air strikes on Lebanon after Hizbullah killed three soldiers and captured two more on the northern border. (A further five troops were killed by a land mine when their tank crossed into Lebanon in hot pursuit.) Hizbullah had long been warning that it would seize soldiers if it had the chance, in an effort to push Israel into a prisoner exchange. Israel has been holding a handful of Lebanese prisoners since it withdrew from its two-decade occupation of south Lebanon in 2000."

2. Who started the war.

"Last weekend, an editorial in the liberal Haaretz newspaper went so far as to admit that this was "a war initiated by Israel against a relatively small guerrilla group". Israel's supporters, including high-profile defenders like Alan Dershowitz in the US who claimed that Israel had no choice but to bomb Lebanon, must have been squirming in their seats...

Recent reports have revealed that one of the main justifications for Hizbullah's continuing resistance -- that Israel failed to withdraw fully from Lebanese territory in 2000 -- is now supported by the UN. Last month its cartographers quietly admitted that Lebanon is right in claiming sovereignty over a small fertile area known as the Shebaa Farms, still occupied by Israel. Israel argues that the territory is Syrian and will be returned in future peace talks with Damascus, even though Syria backs Lebanon's position. The UN's admission has been mostly ignored by the international media."

3. Israel only targeted legitimate targets.

"At the time, it looked suspiciously as if Israel had taken the brief opportunity before the war's end to make south Lebanon -- the heartland of both the country's Shia population and its militia, Hizbullah -- uninhabitable, and to prevent the return of hundreds of thousands of Shia who had fled Israel's earlier bombing campaigns.

Israel's use of cluster bombs has been described as a war crime by human rights organisations. According to the rules set by Israel's then chief of staff, Dan Halutz, the bombs should have been used only in open and unpopulated areas -- although with such a high failure rate, this would have done little to prevent later civilian casualties.

After the war, the army ordered an investigation, mainly to placate Washington, which was concerned at the widely reported fact that it had supplied the munitions. The findings, which should have been published months ago, have yet to be made public.

The delay is not surprising. An initial report by the army, leaked to the Israeli media, discovered that the cluster bombs had been fired into Lebanese population centres in gross violation of international law. The order was apparently given by the head of the Northern Command at the time, Udi Adam. A US State Department investigation reached a similar conclusion."

4. Hizbollah deliberately stationed within civilian areas.

"Since the war's end Hizbullah has apparently relocated most of its rockets to conceal them from the UN peacekeepers, who have been carrying out extensive searches of south Lebanon to disarm Hizbullah under the terms of Resolution 1701. According to the UNIFIL, some 33 of these underground bunkers ­ or more than 90 per cent -- have been located and Hizbullah weapons discovered there, including rockets and launchers, destroyed.

The Israeli media has noted that the Israeli army calls these sites "nature reserves"; similarly, the UN has made no mention of finding urban-based Hizbullah bunkers. Relying on military sources, Haaretz reported last month: "Most of the rockets fired against Israel during the war last year were launched from the 'nature reserves'." In short, even Israel is no longer claiming that Hizbullah was firing its rockets from among civilians.

According to the UN report, Hizbullah has moved the rockets out of the underground bunkers and abandoned its rural launch pads. Most rockets, it is believed, have gone north of the Litani River, beyond the range of the UN monitors. But some, according to the Israeli army, may have been moved into nearby Shia villages to hide them from the UN.

As a result, Haaretz noted that Israeli commanders had issued a warning to Lebanon that in future hostilities the army "will not hesitate to bomb -- and even totally destroy -- urban areas after it gives Lebanese civilians the chance to flee". How this would diverge from Israel's policy during the war, when Hizbullah was based in its "nature reserves" but Lebanese civilians were still bombed in their towns and villages, was not made clear.

If the Israeli army's new claims are true (unlike the old ones), Hizbullah's movement of some of its rockets into villages should be condemned. But not by Israel, whose army is breaking international law by concealing its weapons in civilian areas on a far grander scale."

5. Hizbollah intentionally targeted civilian areas.

"Nonetheless, new evidence suggests strongly that, whether or not Hizbullah had the right to use its rockets, it may often have been trying to hit military targets, even if it rarely succeeded. The Arab Association for Human Rights, based in Nazareth, has been compiling a report on the Hizbullah rocket strikes against Arab communities in the north since last summer. It is not sure whether it will ever be able to publish its findings because of the military censorship laws.

But the information currently available makes for interesting reading. The Association has looked at northern Arab communities hit by Hizbullah rockets, often repeatedly, and found that in every case there was at least one military base or artillery battery placed next to, or in a few cases inside, the community. In some communities there were several such sites.
This does not prove that Hizbullah wanted only to hit military bases, of course. But it does indicate that in some cases it was clearly trying to, even if it lacked the technical resources to be sure of doing so. It also suggests that, in terms of international law, Hizbullah behaved no worse, and probably far better, than Israel during the war."


"The evidence so far indicates that Israel:

* established legitimate grounds for Hizbullah's attack on the border post by refusing to withdraw from the Lebanese territory of the Shebaa Farms in 2000;

* initiated a war of aggression be refusing to engage in talks about a prisoner swap offered by Hizbullah;

* committed a grave war crime by intentionally using cluster bombs against south Lebanon's civilians;

* repeatedly hit Lebanese communities, killing many civilians, even though the evidence is that no Hizbullah fighters were to be found there;

* and put its own civilians, especially Arab civilians, in great danger by making their communities targets for Hizbullah attacks and failing to protect them.

It is clear that during the Second Lebanon war Israel committed the most serious war crimes."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The case for boycott

George Bisharat invokes South Africa (again) for a justified boycott of Israel:

"Israel's defenders have protested that Israel is not the worst human-rights offender in the world, and singling it out is hypocrisy, or even anti-Semitism. Rhetorically, this shifts focus from Israel's human rights record to the imagined motives of its critics.

But "the worst first" has never been the rule for whom to boycott. Had it been, the Pol Pot regime, not apartheid South Africa, would have been targeted in the past. It was not - Cambodia's ties to the West were insufficient to make any embargo effective. Boycotting North Korea today would be similarly futile. Should every other quest for justice be put on hold as a result?

In contrast, the boycott of South Africa had grip. The opprobrium suffered by white South Africans unquestionably helped persuade them to yield to the just demands of the black majority. Israel, too, assiduously guards its public image. A dense web of economic and cultural relations also ties it to the West. That - and its irrefutably documented human-rights violations - render it ripe for boycott."

And questions when enough is enough, or when the international community can finally light a fire in their proverbial asshole to mobilise into something meaningful.

"What state actions should trigger a boycott? Expelling or intimidating into flight a country's majority population, then denying them internationally recognized rights to return to their homes? Israel has done that.
Seizing, without compensation, the properties of hundreds of thousands of refugees? Israel has done that.

Systematically torturing detainees, many held without trial? Israel has done that.

Assassinating its opponents, including those living in territories it occupies? Israel has done that.

Demolishing thousands of homes belonging to one national group, and settling its own people in another nation's land? Israel has done that. No country with such a record, whether first or 50th worst in the world, can credibly protest a boycott."

The perfect case:

"If boycotting apartheid South Africa was appropriate, it is equally fair to boycott Israel on a similar record."

Precedence is a peculiar thing.

"Israel has been singled out, but not as its defenders complain. Instead, Israel has been enveloped in a cocoon of impunity."

The state continues to bulldoze every public condemnation of its actions. Who can stop it? We know who can. Assholes down south, get a move on.

Monday, August 13, 2007

What will be offered

As usual, no concessions to the Palestinians, not even to their boy Abbas. Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times:

"Even some members of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority argue that Mr Abbas is likely to be offered a deal that he can only refuse. One prominent Fatah member predicts gloomily: “We will be offered a state within the borders of the Israeli security wall, which will mean losing huge parts even of the West Bank. The Israeli settlements will stay. Our borders will be controlled by Israel. We won’t be allowed an army. There will be no right of return and the Israelis will effectively take over Jerusalem. This will be presented as a temporary arrangement. But the temporary would become permanent.” Mr Abbas’s allies say that it would be political suicide for him and for Fatah to accept a deal like that. Hamas would take over the Palestinian cause by default.

When I put this scenario to a senior Israeli official in Jerusalem last week, he replied: “The Palestinians are being over-optimistic. They are not going to be offered even that.” The Israeli military – backed, it seems, by public opinion – is unwilling to take the risk of handing control of security on the West Bank back to the Palestinians. The vast security barrier that the Israelis have constructed has helped to keep out suicide bombers. But rocket attacks have been launched against Israel from Lebanon and from Gaza. Similar attacks from the West Bank could hit Israel’s big cities. So the Israeli military is likely to argue for retaining the hundreds of checkpoints, all over the West Bank, which make daily life and commerce impossible for the Palestinians. Trips from one West Bank town to another – which should take a few minutes – can often take hours because of the checkpoints."

Defty put:

"They feel little need to take risks for peace."

Optimism should be put back on the shelf. Abbas is not the saviour, nor is the stance of subservience to an occupier. Life continues to be a misery.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Last week in Palestine

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights released its weekly report from the dates 2nd of August until the 8th. And I gotta tell ya, it is quite a hefty list.

" Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)

5 Palestinians, including a child, were killed by IOF in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
2 of the victims were extra-judicially executed by IOF.
One of the victims was shot dead by IOF near a military checkpoint in the West Bank.
21 Palestinians, including a child, and an international human rights defender were wounded by IOF gunfire in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
IOF conducted 29 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
IOF arrested 49 Palestinian civilians, including a child, in the West Bank.
IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT.
An old woman died at an IOF military checkpoint in the West Bank as IOF troops obstructed her evacuation to the hospital.
IOF have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world and a humanitarian crisis has emerged.
Some Palestinians have been stuck at the Egyptian side of Rafah International Crossing Point, and the number of deaths among them has mounted to 19.
IOF arrested 2 Palestinian civilians at Erez checkpoint in the northern Gaza Strip when they were on their way back to the Gaza Strip from Egypt.
IOF positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank arrested a Palestinian woman and a wound man.
IOF have continued settlement activities and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property in the West Bank.
Israeli settlers launched a series of attacks on Palestinian civilians and property in Hebron."

The report has to be read in its entirety to fully grasp at the gravity of the situation. It obliterates the myth that Hamas has total autonomy of the Gaza Strip. So does
impugnity ring a bell to anyone?

"The Gaza Strip, IOF carried out an extra-judicial execution attempt in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. The attack killed 2 Palestinian civilians and wounded 12 others, including a child, and 3 members of the al-Quds Brigades (the armed wing of Islamic Jihad). The attack essentially targeted the three members of the al-Quds Brigades. On Wednesday, 8 August 2007, IOF shot dead a member of the Executive Force of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior and wounded a civilian, who were organizing the movement of Palestinian civilians coming back to the Gaza Strip from Egypt through Erez crossing."

Doesn't a sovereign nation aspire to control its own borders? Not this so-called state impending.

"IOF have continued to close all border crossings of the Gaza Strip for nearly one year. The total siege imposed by IOF on the Gaza Strip has left disastrous impacts on the humanitarian situation and has violated the economic and social rights of the Palestinian civilian population, particularly the rights to appropriate living conditions, health and education. It has also paralyzed most economic sectors. Furthermore, severe restrictions have been imposed on the movement of the Palestinian civilian population. As a consequence of the total siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, at least 73% of the families in the Gaza Strip live below the poverty line, and unemployment has been estimated at 55%. In addition, the living conditions in the Gaza Strip have further deteriorated with the non-payment of salaries for the public sector for nearly a year as international donors have frozen aids provided to Palestinians, and Israeli authorities have suspended the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian National Authority since March 2006. Moreover, the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip has severely impacted the flow of food, medical supplies and other necessities such as fuel, construction materials and raw materials for various economic sectors...

The closure of border crossings deprives the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip of their right to freedom of movement, education and health. IOF have continued to impose severe restrictions on fishing in the Gaza Strip. Following the attack on IOF on 25 June 2006, IOF prevented fishing. Approximately 35,000 people in and around Gaza’s coastal communities rely on the fishing industry, including 2,500 fishermen, 2,500 support staff and their families. Fishermen have been subjected to intensive monitoring by IOF, which use helicopter gunships and gunboats to monitor the fishermen. The Oslo Accords allow Palestinian fishermen to go fishing up to 20 nautical miles away from the Gaza seashore."

They don't even have control of the airspace and the sea. What's a Gazan to do?

The Abbastan West Bank didn't fare much better.

"In the west Bank, On Thursday morning, 2 August 2007, IOF troops positioned at ‘Attara Bridge checkpoint, north of Ramallah, fired at Palestinian child, wounding him. The child died from his wound on the following day morning. On the same day evening, IOF shot dead a Palestinian when he attempted to escape from a house in Nablus as they came to arrest him. The victim was a member of the al-Quds Brigades. On 2 August 2007, IOF wounded a Palestinian civilian when they attempted to arrest him at Beit Eiba checkpoint, west of Nablus. On 3 August 2007, 3 Palestinian civilians and a Danish human rights defender were wounded when IOF used force against a peaceful demonstration organized by Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders against the construction of the Annexation Wall in Bal’ein village, west of Ramallah. On 6 August 2007, a Palestinian civilian was wounded when IOF fired at a number of Palestinian children who threw stones at military vehicles in ‘Ein Beit al-Maa’ refugee camp, west of Nablus...

During the reporting period, IOF conducted at least 29 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those incursions, IOF arrested 49 Palestinian civilians, including a child. Thus, the number of Palestinians arrested by IOF in the West Bank since the beginning of this year has mounted to 1,702."

29 military incursions? Let's remind ourselves that this was during the period of seven days. That's an average of just over four incursions a day: we can tell what
incursions look like. Palestinians can expect more effective draconian measures and the world community can just sit on the couch not even knowing about the atrocities being inflicted daily.

The irony is this is meant to be a quiet time for the West Bank thanks to Fatah being a compliant little Arab. Israel reneging on their word? Nah. That never happens.

Business as usual in the occupied territories.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Get out of jail card

Just an example of IDF behaviour we are accustomed to as they rule with impugnity.

"IDF Soldiers Never Go to Jail for Killing Palestinian. Never."

The Murder of Abir Aramin, Nine Years Old
By Nurit Peled-Elhanan

How sad it is to come to the realization that the number of those who evade service in the army of occupation is so low that there is virtually no effect on the motivation of Israel’s children to put on the uniform of brutality.

Professor Stewart Cohen of Bar Ilan University consoles us by declaring that the “blame” lies in the increase in the number of Haredis who do not serve and he informs us that the army of the United States would have been happy with such a low percentage of evaders during the Vietnam war. Maybe we would do well to learn something from the Americans of the 1960s, or even from the Haredi Jews who fear for the safety of their children.

When the extent of evasion became known, I was invited onto the program of Oded Shahar, “Politika”, as a mother who will not permit her son (now 15 years old) to join the army. Apart from me, I was informed over the course of a protracted campaign of persuasion, only men were invited, most of them warmongering generals like Effie Eitam and Yossi Peled.

After I was convinced that my participation in the program would be important, I agreed. The researcher asked me why I would not allow my son to enlist. I explained to her that an army that has been involved for forty years now in systematic and growing abuse of a civilian population, (abuse that even a courageous journalist like Gideon Levy calls by the gentle name of “policing”), an army that teaches its soldiers that killing Palestinian children and those who protect them, like Rachel Corrie and James Miller, is not a crime, an army whose commanders are immune to punishment though they commit daily crimes against humanity, is not a suitable place for my son, who was brought up to love people, who has Palestinian friends, whose brothers and parents have Palestinian friends who are subjected to that same reign of terror and daily torment. After half an hour I was told that despite my contribution there were not enough seats on the stage.

A few days later we were told in an isolated solitary news broadcast that the file on the murder of Abir Aramin, the daughter of Salwa and Bassam Aramin, has been closed. Bassam is one of the founders of the Palestinian-Israeli movement Combatants for Peace, where my sons Elik and Guy are members. Bassam Aramin spent 9 years in an Israeli jail for being a member of the Fatah in the Hebron area and for trying to throw a grenade on an Israeli army Jeep which was patrolling in Occupied Hebron.

On a Tuesday afternoon, the 16th of January, an Israeli soldier shot his nine year old daughter, Abir, in the head as she was leaving school to go home. The soldier will not spend an hour in jail. In Israel, soldiers are not imprisoned for killing Arabs. Never. It does not matter whether the Arabs are young or old, real or potential terrorists, peaceful demonstrators or stone throwers. The army has not conducted an inquiry in Abir Aramin's death. The police and the courts have questioned no one except for Abir's sister, who was holding her hand while she was falling. The young sister was asked time and again how many meters were they from the school gate, from the kiosk, from the jeep.

There was hardly any investigation except for a private one by Bassam and his friends who know exactly who the killer is. But as far as the Israeli Defense Forces are concerned, the shooting did not happen. The army's official account of her death is that she might have been hit by a stone that one of her classmates was throwing "at our forces." That in the face of the finding of a senior pathologist, who worked for many years in an institute of forensic medicine.

One of the allegations against the evaders is that they have stopped believing in “values” such as sacrifice. Whose sacrifice, exactly? On what altar? To what god?

The soldiers of Israel are called upon to sacrifice children, parents, volunteers, and sometimes themselves on the altar of the megalomania of the insolent and corrupt leaders of the state of Israel, who have succeeded in converting this whole country into an altar on which they sacrifice other people’s children to the god of death. And no one is guilty of their deaths; no one is ever punished for the murder of a Palestinian child. The state takes care of those who serve it, sometimes. Other times it sacrifices even them, with the same cold-bloodedness and for the same reasons.

And the murderers? What about them? Do they know that they committed crimes? Do they toss and turn in their beds at night? Are they tormented by images of the small bodies that convulse and fall under their rifles, bombs and shells? Probably not. We know of no case in which any soldier turned himself in and expressed remorse for his actions. That is the biggest success of Israeli education: the distinction between blood and blood, between dead child and dead child, and the inculcation of the firm belief that the murder of Palestinians and their friends is not a crime.

Everyone who enlists in the army knows this and is prepared for it. Half the nation! How many millions are there in half the nation? How many millions of young men and women who are simply unmoved by the crying of a child, the agonies of a woman in labor, the pleas of an old man and the deaths of innocent people? How many millions of people who never learned to refuse orders that are manifestly inhumane even if they are legal according to the racist laws of their state, and to say no to corrupt leaders and bloodthirsty generals?
Well done, IDF! Well done, Israeli Jewish education, that has succeeded nearly perfectly in bestowing the values of racism, nearly without opposition.

And if my son Yigal really does want to participate in the military programs that they impose on high school students starting in grade 10, or God forbid, to enlist in the army of occupation and torment, I will see it as a dreadful educational failure. A terrible maternal failure. And if I do not do everything I can to prevent him from becoming a murderer or a corpse at the age of 18 I will know that I betrayed him and my vocation as a mother.

Like fish in a barrel

IDF troops are now exempted from any responsibility in the Gaza Strip.

"According to the bill approved by the ministerial committee on Sunday, "In light of the High Court ruling… a situation has been created in which many residents of the Gaza area and the surrounding villages will file damage lawsuits for damages allegedly caused to them, following the IDF's legitimate and legal defensive activities."

The bill added that 'following the disengagement from Gaza… it is unthinkable that (Israel) will continue to bear any responsibility for the residents of the Gaza area, which are, in this case, residents of the villages beyond Israel's northern border.

Today, when Israeli communities cease to exist in the Gaza area, any Israeli activity in this area is a defensive activity in every sense of the word. In that case, there is no room for damage lawsuits from people who are residents of an entity which is not the State of Israel, all the more so from residents of an entity which sponsors actions against the State of Israel'."

Gazans are now at the mercy of the soldier's whim. Who is being placated by all of this? Perhaps more adventures of this nature can be labeled "defensive activity". Or shooting unarmed humans. Or just firing bombs at the airport. Or maybe just to test out those new weapons on those pesky Arabs.

Let's dress up a phony disengagement and we can forget about who really controls Gaza eh? Just like staging a flimsy election and calling it a democracy (while being occupied). That pertains to Mahmoud Abbas too, not just Iraq/Afghanistan/etc...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

It's good to be a settler

No one can hold you accountable.

Besieged On All Sides: Israeli Settlers & Troops Violate Palestinians with Impunity

Whilst the mainstream Western press feeds its obsession with Hamas versus Fatah politics, Jewish settlers and the Israeli military are continuing business as usual in occupied Palestine.

Today marks another tragedy for another Palestinian family now grieving a sudden and avoidable death. If 75 year old Kamila Ibrahin Aqbaha had been allowed through the checkpoint at Barta’a ash Sharqiya village this morning, she may well still be alive. But Israeli troops refused to allow her to cross the checkpoint on foot and climb into the ambulance waiting for her on the other side. They also prevented the ambulance from crossing over to her side of the checkpoint and taking her to a local hospital. Mrs. Ibrahin Aqbaha died at the checkpoint this morning.

Her son, Tawfiq, says he holds the Israeli military personally responsible for her death.

The official Israeli response to her death - that there was no prior coordination with the military to allow the ambulance through the checkpoint - is preposterous. There was never any suggestion that Kamila Abrahin Aqbaha was a criminal, a political liability, or any kind of ‘security threat.’ There was no rationale or benefit in preventing her from reaching a local hospital. But Kamila Ibrahin Aqbaha is, or rather was, a Palestinian. To the Israeli soldiers who stood in front of her, deciding whether she could go to hospital, she was a subject who could be detainable at will. Her life was not important enough for them to allow her immediate access to hospital.

This official Israeli response to the death of yet another Palestinian also illustrates how systematic military callousness is directly supported by the Government of Israel. Palestinians die across the Occupied Territories almost daily because Israeli troops act with state sponsored impunity.

This military impunity also goes some way to explain the many acts of violence committed by Jewish settlers against Palestinians. Lately, a string of ‘hit and run’ attacks on Palestinians have taken place across the West Bank suggesting a new trend of violence, one that is met with the usual impunity.

Settlers travel freely across the West Bank, driving on their completely separate road system or straight through the hundreds of permanent and ‘flying’ checkpoints that confine Palestinians. They fleetingly witness Palestinians being detained, humiliated and searched. Their violence towards Palestinians reflects the same state supported disregard for Palestinian life.

On Sunday evening an Israeli settler in Hebron drove a car into Noman Fawwaz Nazzir, a twenty-two-year-old Palestinian. Fawwaz Nazzir was hospitalized. The attack on him happened whilst a gang of settlers were setting two Palestinian homes ablaze in Hebron’s old city. It is the latest in a whole violent spate of hit and runs by settlers, who rarely face penalties.

Sixteen year old Mu’tasim Al-Jamal was selling sweets at the side of the road in Hebron on July 24th when a car driven by a settler drove straight into him. The car drove off, and Mu’tasim was also hospitalized. And so it goes on. Settler hatred of Palestinians is driven by ideology and fuelled by impunity. The State of Israel already has blood on its hands – and now the world stands silent as Palestinians are fatally detained at checkpoints and targeted by Zionist hit and run vigilantes.

The Israeli military are also guilty of hit and run crimes. Thirteen- year-old Alu Abu Bakr was hit by a military jeep in the village of Yabud, near Jenin on July 27th. He was standing in front of his own home when the jeep struck him and then continued driving. He survived after hospital treatment.

If the media averted its gaze from inter-Palestinian politics for a moment and looked instead at how Palestinians are surviving under siege, they would realize the Israeli occupation of Palestine is as brutal as ever.

Whilst Olmert talks smugly about resuming peace, Palestinians are enduring arson attacks, hit and run attacks, deaths at checkpoints, and the impunity of troops and settlers.

Like the Israeli military, settlers have been given a free reign to vent their hatred, racism and the power of their illegal occupation. How many more Palestinians have to be killed or injured before Israel is held to account for its crimes?

It makes it difficult to lay down the case for one state for all its citizens.