One Democratic Secular State for all its citizens in Israel and Palestine


Posted January 7, 2011 at 7:46 pm

N E W   P A L E S T I N E    N E W S L E T T E R

No.3 — 7 Jan 2011

ONE STATE News and Opinion

♦♦ Human Rights Watch report

In a 166-page report “Separate and Unequal” the international organisation Human Rights Watch analyses Israel’s two-tier system of governance in the West Bank and calls on the EU and its member states, and on businesses and operations active in the West Bank, to stop practices that violate international law. Palestinians face systematic discrimination merely because of their race, ethnicity, and national origin, depriving them of electricity, water, schools, and access to roads, while nearby Jewish settlers enjoy all of these state-provided benefits. While Israeli settlements flourish, Palestinians under Israeli control live in a time warp — not just separate, not just unequal, but sometimes pushed off their lands and out of their homes.  In Area C and East Jerusalem, over 30% of the population has been displaced since 2000. “Such differemt treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity and national origin … violates the fundamental prohibition against discrimination under human rights law.”

The report called on businesses that benefit from this system to end such operations: “Foreign governments and businesses at risk of being tainted by Israel’s unlawful practices should identify and end policies and actions that support them.” And it called on the USA to stop sending money to Israel that finances this discrimination. About half the total money Israel gets from US taxpayers is spent on settlements, and the report also urges the US to verify that tax exemptions claimed by organisations funding Israel “are consistent with US obligations to ensure respect for international law, including prohibitions against discrimination”.

Human Rights Watch called on the EU, a primary export market for settlement products, to ensure that it does not provide incentives for settlement exports through preferential tariff treatment, and to identify cases where discrimination against Palestinians has contributed to the production of goods. For example, crops exported from settlements using water from Israeli-drilled wells that have dried up nearby Palestinian wells, limiting Palestinians’ ability to cultivate their own lands and even their access to drinking water.

It’s a pity that the report appears to omit, from its examples of discrimination, the right to vote and participate in the political process.  If, as the report implies, the West Bank is an integral part of one country that’s practising ethnnic discrimination internally, then the central missing human right is the right to vote, and HRW would surely be calling for this. But if it’s a conquered territory under foreign military rule with a supposed ongoing “peace process” that’s a different story. Either way it’s wrong and illegal, but what’s confusing them is that we have a hybrid: the majority of the people in the West Bank are living under military dictatorship, while the invading settlers in their parallel but separate cocoons not only have all the material benefits but have a political voice and the vote.

♦♦ Rabbis v. the State of Israel

Rabbi Eliyahu, who initiated the infamous statement that Palestinians are foreigners and any Jew who rents them an apartment should be boycotted and excommunicated (in some versions of this fatwa, killed; or was that reserved for love and romance with the enemy?), was summoned to his local police station to answer questions about this incitement to racial hatred. (The main question we’d have is: do most Israelis need such incitement or are they quite capable of hating Arabs without rabbinical help?) He then summoned his colleagues and co-signatories to a conference, and they all declared non-cooperation with the police, courts and secular law and threatened to strike or resign, to loud cries of “bring it on” from godless anarchists. Maybe it’s not so funny:  could this be the first shoots of a future power struggle that could see the orthodoxy seize the whole establishment in a matter of a few decades at most? They are as mad as any other fundamentalists, call the shots on a whole range of issues, have consciously organised themselves into politics, the army, education and key civil service and Intelligence positions. They have well armed private shock troops (such as settlement militias and the “security” firms active in East Jerusalem’s ethnic cleansing). Their birthrate (average 7 kids per family) hands them future elections on a plate. And they’ve managed to get all this paid for and subsidised by the entire population and many US Jews (among whom also the orthodox are outbreeding the liberals and secular Jews). As we wrote in August, “Their growth and growing power means that one of the world’s most powerful, and nuclear-armed state machines could one day be a rogue state in the hands of a fanatical, militant, militaristic group of religious Jewish Jihadis who are every bit as dangerous and irrational and hate-filled as their Muslim and Christian counterparts.”

♦♦ Chomsky: do we detect a little shift?

Noam Chomsky has been the classic leftist two stater, pouring vitriol on a single democratic state from a great height with ill-concealed prejudice and rudeness. It was a “welcome topic of discussion in elite circles”, it “is rejected with virtual unanimity … and would be even if there was some basis for taking seriously the rhetoric about democratic secularism”. Meaningful international support (i.e. at government level: extraordinary how this vaunted opponent of big power control completely discounts mass action by ordinary people) was “unimaginable”. Advocating something so unrealistic constituted a refusal to take responsibility, and choosing instead “to take part in an academic seminar among disengaged intellectuals on Mars”. He does support the right of return, but purely as an abstract legal concept and says it would an act of cruelty to the refugees to suggest it might actually happen.

Now, two days into the new year, he has written (Breaking the Israel-Palestine Deadlock) that recent moves  —  the recognition diplomacy, and the Human Rights Watch report challenging US finance to the settlements  —  open the possibility of  “breaking the logjam”. In passing he deals a glancing blow to the idea that the two-state process “is dead, or mistaken” and to the idea that the Palestinian side should call for annexation followed by an anti-apartheid struggle that would lead to full citizenship. In past times this would have been his cue to have a rant about the detached academics peddling a one-state view. But now he simply warns that Israel is too canny to play this game and would just annex the parts it wants. (Which is in fact what it has done already, and is what is leading to the logjam-breaking moves he outlines in the article.) Maybe we’re reading too much into this, but it does seem that this big beast of the left-wing opponents of one state has taken leave of his vitriol.

What’s New in One Democracy

♦♦ Son of the Undead, but options are closing in on Israel
South American and maybe soon European countries are responding to the Palestinian call for recognition. What is this about, and how will it impact on the fight for a single state? We find pluses: reduced options and further isolation for Israel; and minuses  — it could be a “shot of adrenaline” for the undead two state process, and it will slow down and divert the political process needed for progress towards a single state, which is still the only just and realistic result.
Read it here

♦♦ Richard Falk’s speech in London
Eminent international law professor and UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Israel and Palestine spoke in London in December. He said the Palestinian issue is the major moral struggle of our time, and for the first time the world can see who is the victim and who is the aggressor. He said “the action of people is now the main source of hope for the Palestinians, in contrast to the process advertised so misleadingly as a peace process, the attempt to impose an inadequate, unsustainable solution which at best would be a ceasefire, not a real peace” but merely an attempt to “translate disparities of hard power into stable, permanent relationships. It means stabilising structures of injustice and legalising criminal practices and policies.”
Read it here

♦♦ Is there “too much Jewish influence on the media”?
A progressive radio station in southern America, KPFT Radio for Peace, got into hot water after a reporter said Jews had too much influence in the media. To rebut accusations of anti-semitism KPFT then handed Israel’s diplomatic service a regular slot. One Democracy deconstructs the story of frying pans and fires in eight rivetting judgments.
Read it here

♦♦ New in One Democracy’s FAQs: Isn’t it for Palestinians to decide on One State or Two?
We say yes of course, only the Palestinians can decide, but others may speak and campaign. We look at what’s known of Palestinian support for one state in the scattered population centres and at the credibility of the leaderships that still promote separate states. We argue that knowledge and discussion of the alternative to partition is needed to empower Palestinians to make an informed decision. But the fight for one state will only take centre stage when Palestinians raise the demand for full and equal civil and legal rights.
Read it here

♦♦ Is there One single decent argument against the One single state?
Looking for any good arguments against one state that we can get our teeth into, but sadly disappointed by statement from a senior political scientist that nationalism is real but democracy an “abstraction”.
Read it here

♦♦ Christmas trees banned in Nazareth: what’s behind the story?
It looked like another blundering local official carried away by Israel’s wave of racism. But there was more to the story than Christmas trees: another ugly tale of ethno-demographic civic engineering, going back as far as the 1950s — a time generally considered by left Zionists as the Golden Age of Liberal Zionism.
Read if here

♦♦ New Facebook Page  ONE STATE, ONE DEMOCRACY FOR PALESTINE AND ISRAEL: Follow the link and click the Like button to stay connected!/pages/One-State-One-Democracy-for-Palestine-and-Israel/166133830084464?v=info


♦♦The IDF reported, according to Haaretz, two soldiers “slightly injured” by the rock throwers. Perhaps they were suffering from pre-existing conditions.  Jerry Haber

♦♦ As the bulldozer pushed through the walls of Salim’s home, it pushed me through all the ideological rationalizations, the pretexts, the lies and the bullshit that my country had erected to prevent us from seeing the truth: that oppression must accompany an attempt to deny the existence and claims of another people in order to establish an ethnically pure state for yourself.” Jeff Halper

♦♦As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight  -  lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.

♦♦ There’s this kind of religion of two-states, and I call it a religion because it doesn’t base itself on evidence. They say that Israelis really want that, and that Fatah really wants it, and almost 20 years they’re working on it, so how is it that it isn’t happening? It isn’t happening because no one wants it to happen, because both sides understand that it’s impossible. Ali Abunimah

♦♦The when and how is very dangerous to predict because there’s always some factor that blindsides you that you didn’t expect. Exactly how it plays out and when it plays out, having covered disintegrating societies, it’s impossible to tell. In 1989, members of the opposition to the Soviet Empire told me that they predicted travel across the Berlin Wall separating East from West Germany would open within the year. Within a few hours, the wall didn’t exist. Chris Hedges 

♦♦George Mitchell continues to say that the objective of the talks is “an independent, viable state of Palestine living side by side with Israel.” The incoherence of such an objective should be palpable. How can one honestly talk about such an envisioned Palestinian state as “viable” when the American leadership agrees with Israel that “subsequent developments” (the code phrase for settlements, land seizures, wall, ethnic cleansing, annexation of Jerusalem) need to be embodied in the outcome of negotiations? … Who but a fool could think that a just peace could emerge from such a deformed pattern of geopolitical diplomacy? Richard Falk

♦♦ We have it in our power to begin the world again. Tom Paine

♦♦ The occupation has led to a moral corrosion of Israeli society which has almost reached a point of no return. Joseph Dana

♦♦  The campaign against “delegitimizers” is based on a fundamental misunderstanding among Israel and its advocates that Israel suffers from an “image problem” which can be fixed on the one hand with better public relations, and on the other with the sorts of dirty tricks used against The Electronic Intifada and others. But Israel does not have an image problem, it has a reality problemAli Abunimah

Coexistence Projects: our new regular feature

The Negev Coexistence Forum

NCF recently ran a two-week photography project during the winter school vacation for the children of Al Arakib. It was supported by a number of professional Arab and Jewish photographers and by Activestills, and was an attempt to heal some of the trauma that the 100 children of this Bedouin village have repeatedly experienced in the past few months, as their village has been demolished eight times over, always in the early dawn, to make way for a Jewish National Fund forest. The violent destruction of one’s home by a small army of police in full riot gear (or, on one occasion, accompanied by a group of Israeli teenagers who came along for the fun) has predictably had painful ramifications on the mental health of the children.

These daily creative workshops began each morning in a temporary tent in the center of the village with the visiting volunteer photographer. This helped the children to process their experiences of the conflict and deal with their emotions through self-expression. And it’s a chance to have a good time too. Various aspects of photography are explored with the children such as landscapes, portraits and photojournalism.

A selection of the best photographs will be gathered to form a travelling exhibition in Israel and abroad to heighten awareness about the plight of Al Arakib and the reality of their daily life.

The Negev Coexistence Project for Civil Equality runs weekly lectures, workshops and field trips, and weekly Sunday afternoon protests, solidarity visits following demolitions to bring material help, a protest tent, and publicity for other acts of vandalism such as plowing up fields just before the harvest is due.

Last month the NCF was awarded the Emil Greenzweig Prize for Human Rights. The citation said “We decided to award the prize in the name of Emil Greenzweig to the Negev Coexistence Forum, it being a Jewish-Arab organization struggling for the rights of a national minority from a wide humanistic and civil viewpoint. This includes a wide spectrum of activities including demonstrations, protest watches, support missions, and solidarity visits, the organization being the most prominent of the local organisations that supported the community of El Arakib and still support them today.”

On special activity days volunteers come from all over Israel. They might organise a water convoy, join the villagers in renovating a kindergarten or help to construct access roads. They also sponsor the Arab-Jewish Student Partnership based at Ben Gurion University at Beer Sheva, where they enable contact between students who would normally not mix. They organise classes where Arab and Jewish students teach each other English and Arabic, and have campaigned for equal facilities for the Arab students.

The Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality is unique in its being an Arab-Jewish organisation rooted in various Negev communities, a grassroots body for Arabs and Jews alike, providing dialogue with diverse populations and mobilising them into action. This gives it tremendous authority on a national scale to represent the region in contacts with a wide variety of social, political, academic and professional groups as well as those engaged in protest and resistance for human rights.  Read their impressive Open Letter to the Jewish National Fund



Jawaher Abu Rahma

Our very sincere condolences to her family and the whole village of Bil’in for their loss. Jawaher died at just 36 after inhaling tear gas at the New Year’s eve Friday protest at the wall. Two years ago her brother Bassem was killed by a tear gas canister that was fired directly at his chest. Their surviving brother says he has no desire for revenge: justice would be enough. Altogether 21 protestors have died at the wall, and countless others have been injured. There’s been speculation whether what killed Jawaher it was a new gas or the old CS riot gas that was known to kill in some instances, e.g. higher concentrations in the air. The IDF’s propaganda went into obscene overdrive, claiming Jawaher wasn’t even at the demonstration and/or that she died from a pre-existing condition, or maybe was killed by the medical centre at Ramallah: all of which wasn’t hard to rebut, but as always the Israeli lie machine relies on reaching further, faster. Israeli sympathisers mounted two impressive demonstrations at the Defence HQ and at the US Ambassador’s residence, where they delivered empty gas canisters collected at the protest, which had been made in the US and exported on condition that they were safe to use.

8th Jan Update: yesterday’s Friday demo was led by women’s and feminist organisations and was joined by hundreds of Israelis and by Palestinians from other parts of the West Bank, some of them trekking through the hills to get to Bil’in which had been closed off since dawn. Two people passed out from inhaling tear gas, and Bil’in leader Iyad Burnat was injured. A water cannon sprayed people with chemically contaminated waste water, and sound bombs and rubber bullets were used. See more details and video, and also a detailed account of Jawaher Abu Rahmah’s death in response to the IDF, on Bil’in own website.

Gaza pounded in deadly attacks  —  fears of another invasion

The casual air strikes on Gaza and the picking off of anyone in in a gunsight in the border areas has never stopped, and doesn’t even make it into the news. And there are plenty of signs that Israel’s military are planning a further mass-scale “operation” in Gaza, with senior military officers declaring that “it’s not a question of if, but rather of when”.

Meanwhile the leaders of Palestine seem more pre-occupied with visiting a building plot for their proposed embassy in Brasilia, formulating resolutions for the UN and building a new town, no doubt to house the displaced populations from the rest of the West Bank after they’ve sold them out to Israel. Has the PLO or PA asked the 104-odd countries that recognise a Palestinian state to promise counter-measures against Israel if it hits Gaza again?

 Richard Falk writes: Silence is complicity. Perhaps, worse in some respects than this Israeli war-mongering, is the stunning silence of the governments of the world, and of the United Nations. World public opinion … has taken no notice of this recent unspeakable escalation of threats and provocations seemingly designed to set the stage for a new Israeli attack on the hapless Gazan population. This silence in the face of the accumulating evidence that Israel plans to launch Operation Cast Lead 2 is a devastating form of criminal complicity at the highest governmental levels, especially on the part of countries that have been closely aligned with Israel, and also exhibits the moral bankruptcy of the United Nations system.

Israel Guilty of Child Abuse on a mass scale

According to Israeli police, 1200 Palestinian children have been arrested, interrogated and imprisoned. And that’s just in Jerusalem, and just this year. The youngest of these children was seven years old. From the age of 12 they can be tried as adults.

Children and teenagers can be dragged out of their beds in the middle of the night, taken in handcuffs for questioning, threatened and humiliated. Further, based on 100 sworn affidavits collected in 2009, lawyers working in the occupied West Bank found that 69% were beaten and kicked, 49% were threatened, 14% were held in solitary confinement, 12% were threatened with sexual assault, including rape, and 32% were forced to sign confessions written in Hebrew, a language they do not understand.

Minors are often asked to give names and incriminate friends and relatives as a condition of their release, a perversion of any justice system that can leave lasting psychological damage. This came out in court when witness statements taken from two 12-year olds retracted statements saying that Bil’In militant Abdullah Abu Rahmah had thrown stones, which forced the prosecution into the open to charge him, under old British Mandate law, with incitement to political resistance.

Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, has a petition addressed to Barak Obama, asking that he press Israel to release all these children immediately, to put an end to this psychological terrorism, and to abide by the Convention on the Rights of the Child that they have signed.

A wonderful film full of hope

On Thursday December 16th 2010, heavy snow fell in Washington as 131 people were arrested in a Civil Disobedience event at the White House protesting the continuing wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and in Iraq. Before getting arrested, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and gifted orator Chris Hedges provides an extraordinary anti-war soliloquy which is on this film inter-cut with dramatic and powerful scenes from this amazing demonstration in a blizzard. This action was organized by  Veterans For Peace  See Jeff Zavala’s short film, which is really quite special:

3 months in prison for a bike ride

Israel marked the 2nd anniversary of its murderous “Cast Lead” attack on Gaza by jailing not any of the perpetrators of the proven war crimes in Gaza, but Israeli dissident Jonathan Pollak, for taking part in an “illegal assembly”: a bike-ride in Tel Aviv 3 years ago to protest the siege against Gaza.

As Jerry Haber in Magnes Zionist put it, he was jailed “for riding a bicycle in a demonstration that he did not organize, nor was anybody else arrested. Why Pollak, then? Because he is a leading Israeli Jewish activist in the fight against the Separation Barrier; because he preaches non-violence; because he comes from a high-profile family; because Israel is trying to stamp out the non-violent protest movement before it gets even more international press and support. “

Pollack’s supporters were thrown from the court, starting with one ejected just for wearing a T-shirt objecting to the Occupation. The T-shirt had clearly not heeded the state prosecutor’s request to “make an example out of Pollak and those who engage in similar anti-occupation work”.

Jonathan Pollak certainly is an example to us all, a young man who states “I will go to prison wholeheartedly and with my head held high. It will be the justice system itself, I believe, that will need to lower its eyes in the face of the suffering inflicted on Gaza’s inhabitants, just like it lowers its eyes and averts its vision each and every day when faced with the realities of the occupation.”

While the 3-month sentence, as Pollak emphasised in his statement, does not compare with what Palestinians are facing (terrible beatings, live ammunition fired randomly, violent arrests of children as young as seven, indefinite imprisonment with no charge or trial, punitive or random trashing or demolition of homes and casual killing of protestors) it is another sign that every step the ragime takes against its opposition only seems to seep further under its skin and disfigure the pretty face it once managed to put on for the world.

Time Magazine in the West Bank

The interiors are immaculate, the teenage lads are doing their homework, hanging out, playing games, larking around … and dealing with tear gas. The pictures are in Time Magazine, in a moving photo story by Joachim Ladefoged called Growing Up Palestinian in the Age of the Wall. These are not horror stories. 15-year old Ramzi, the central character, is clean and neat, but seems a bit melancholy. It’s five years since he actually spoke to an Israeli, a soldier who stopped him on his way to school and demanded to know where he was going. The wall, says Ladefoged, “has created a separation of the mind, such that an entire generation of Palestinians is coming of age without even knowing what Israelis look like”. The only Israelis Ramzi has seen are soldiers and settlers. Three years ago an amazing 71% of Palestinians said they favoured reconciliation. Now it’s down to 61%, but among the young,  only 46%.,29307,2036191_2217499,00.html

Michael Mansfield: Anyone can take Israel to Court

Israel has done pretty well so far not to land up in court more often. But many of the outfits that do business with Israel are not so immune to legal action. It seems that the net may be closing in, at least on Israel’s accomplices.

Renowned practising lawyer Michael Mansfield, speaking in London in December, stressed that “civilised nations now attempt to live by a legal superstructure”. He quoted, as many do,  the unanimous 2004 judgment by 14 senior judges at the International Court of Justice at the Hague, that Israel’s separation wall was illegal.  

But he went further. He stressed that using this judgment, countries, organisations and individuals could hold Israel to account, because the ICJ ruling stated “the court is of the view that all states are under an obligation not to recognise the illegal situation … States are also under an obligation not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction. It is also for all states, while respecting the UN charter and international law, to see to it that any impediment resulting from the construction of the wall to the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self determination is brought to an end.”

This judgment also led to the recent re-convening of the Russell Tribunal, whose purpose is to empower people to act when states do not, and to address the complicity of states that should “see to it that the situation is brought to an end“.

The recent session of the Tribunal in London focused on the complicity of companies making money out of illegality, which makes them legally liable for compensation claims.

This was also the strong recommendation of the recent Human Rights Watch report, which called on businesses to “sanction themselves” and end operations in the “two-tier system of laws, rules and services” (i.e. apartheid).

Mansfield stressed that any individual can bring a private action, such as the action brought against Trafigura for dumping toxic waste off the west African coast, which won compensation under international human rights law.

The Russell Tribunal is providing hard, sworn evidence and documentation that can be used at law. The next session in South Africa will provide a legal template by comparing Israel with Apartheid South Africa, whose regime was ruled as a crime against humanity.

The successes of the BDS campaign are often measured against the progress of the South Africa boycott. Not only has BDS travelled faster and further in just five years, but it has these powerful legal weapons that have mostly been established in the aftermath of the collapse of apartheid and were not available to the ANC.

The financial motor of the boycott weapon relies on legal and financial pressure on bodies whose motivation is profit and who are accountable to their shareholders not to lose money by falling foul of the law. This target sector is much more sensitive and responsive than governments, and is independent of the think tanks, lobbies, party funders, electoral threats, horsetrading, outdated Cold War thinking and plain stupidity that shape political and diplomatic actions.

Helen Thomas bounces back

Barack Obama joked about being “really excited” to get his first Press Conference question from Helen Thomas. He soon regretted trifling with her, when she bluntly asked: Mr President, do you know of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons? Now that Helen Thomas has herself been ambushed (by a rabbi, actually) and booted out of the White House Press Corps, she hasn’t gone quietly. Someone said “now that she’s retiring, perhaps she’ll have more to say about this issue”. You bet she will. She’s now become a You Tube star, given a string of interviews watched by up hundreds of thousands, and she still isn’t mincing her words on the Middle East. Still, American democracy will miss the only member of the White House Press Corps who in 50 years was never neutred. And won’t we need her if ever Sarah Palin is standing at that podium??

Enjoy this one before the censors put a stop to it

Two years after the massacre, a demand by Gaza for justice

 Three dozen civil society organisations in Gaza (including trade unions, professional associations, women’s organisations, cultural, arts and students’ groups, sailing, fishing and maritime associations, health and medical personnel, agricultural workers and political groups) have signed an Open Letter from Gaza on the second anniversary of the bloody, one-sided war on its population code-named “Cast Lead”.

They appeal for international support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign to counterbalance Israel’s overwhelming military might, and for more blockade-breaking initiatives, ships and convoys.

But, they note, “the Goldstone Report came and went” and still the siege “carries on unabated”, quoting UNRWA head John Ging: “There’s been no material change for the people on the ground here in terms of their status, the aid dependency, the absence of any recovery or reconstruction, and no economy.”

22 International organisations including Oxfam, Save the Children and Christian Aid have also, in their 2nd December report “Dashed Hopes”, called for international action to force Israel to lift the blockade.

The letter says “We Palestinians of Gaza want to live at liberty to meet Palestinian friends or family from Tulkarem, Jerusalem or Nazareth; we want to have the right to travel and move freely. We want to live without fear of another bombing campaign that leaves hundreds of our children dead and many more injured or with cancers from the contamination of Israel’s white phosphorous and chemical warfare. We want to live without the humiliations at Israeli checkpoints or the indignity of not providing for our families because of the unemployment brought about by the economic control and the illegal siege. We are calling for an end to the racism that underpins all this oppression. … is it so far-fetched that a Palestinian child deserves the same human rights as any other human being?”

They demand an end to the siege, the protection of civilian lives and property according to international law, the release of all political prisoners, immediate financial and material support to cope with present hardship as well as reparations and compensation, and an end to occupation, apartheid, and continuing war crimes.  Add your support to this letter

One Family in Gaza

Jan Marlowe’s moving 22-min film One Family in Gaza lets Kamal and Wafaa, two loving parents, describe in sickening detail what happened when the Cast Lead soldiers came to their door,  and how they are living now: in a tent, grieving for their dead boy, missing their destroyed home, but holding on to their values. Kamal, still carrying in his body one of the bullets that hit him, plants a garden in memory of his son, and says: “I wouldn’t wish on any Israeli what happened to us.” Their courage and dignity are awe-inspiring.

Wikileaks cables confirm what we knew on Gaza siege

 ”As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to (U.S. embassy economic officers) on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge”

Israel wanted the coastal territory’s economy “functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis”, according to the Nov. 3, 2008 cable.

Another cable revealed systematic of corruption at the Karni crossing, with Israeli guards pocketing up to $3000 to let a truckload of merchandise through.

Five criteria of a settlement  —  and of the Netanyahu government  —  according to Haaretz writer Bradley Burston:

* It exists in order to obstruct progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace.
* It insists that it has nothing to do with the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian peace.
* It serves the aims of the Orthodox Jewish minority, often at the direct expense of the needs and hopes of the Israeli majority, and the future of Israeli democracy.
* Its actions anger and alienate Israel’s allies and further inflame its enemies.
* It will do anything – including at times of extreme risk to Israel, nothing – in order to avoid being dislodged.

Getting into his stride, Burston imagines the arrival of the Messiah into present-day Israel. “When the Messiah is crucified” he writes “the army will deny that he was even present at the time”.

McCarthyism in the US

In a US development now seriously resembling the McCarthyite political witch-hunts of the 1950s, the FBI has raided homes and offices, taken files and computers, and summoned anti-war and Palestine solidarity activists to appear and testify to a grand jury that’s investigating whether they are providing  ”material support” for terrorism. None has been charged with a crime. All have refused to testify, saying it’s a clear attack on freedom of speech and dissent, and that the Grand Jury is being used for political inquisition and intelligence gathering.

Those subpoenaed include staff at Electronic Intifada, which, since it featured in Israel’s hit-list of top “de-legitimisers” of  the Zionist regime, has faced a barrage of assaults on its funding and operations in different countries. In the US, it campaigns to end U.S. funding of the Israeli occupation, for an end to the war in Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq.

In June, an American Civil Liberties Union report documented 100 recent reported incidents in 33 states where “Americans have been put under surveillance or harassed just for deciding to organize, march, protest, espouse unusual viewpoints and engage in lawful behaviours such as writing notes or taking photographs in public”.

In September even the FBI’s internal audit criticised the agency for misleading Congress and unlawfully spying on anti-war and environmental activists. And then the Washington Post blew the whistle on FBI provocateur tactics of cooking up fake “terrorism plots” that the government could later claim to have foiled.

Now there’s a Committee to Stop FBI Repression, bringing more protests, wider circulation for the message, more people drawn in to the struggle, and, it seems, egg all over the ugly face that’s trying to muzzle America’s rights.

McCarthyism in Israel

The Knesset has now passed a bill penalising groups such as Combatants for Peace and Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem and Machsom Watch and other groups monitoring the activities of the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank. Their funding is to be investigated by a special inquisition commission. As Hagai el-Ad, director of the Association for Civil Rights commented, “Time and again members of the current Knesset have shown that instead of dealing with the content of the criticism, they prefer to silence and vilify those who voice such opinions.”

Hitting at funding serves two purposes: to hinder their work and to smear them as agents of hostile foreigners and “terrorists”. The groups point out that all their accounts are transparent and donors are already listed on their websites. And they call for all human rights complaints to be investigated impartially, not buried.




FacebookStumbleUponTwitterGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksShare

« Back to Page

1 Comment

  1. For Obama, a Shift in Tactics, Not Ideology…

    WASHINGTON — Most of the speak in Democratic circles on Thursday, after it became known that President Obama had chosen William M. Daley as his chief of staff, was of going back to the 1990s. The consensus was that Mr. Obama, who once held himself ou…..

    Trackback by — January 7, 2011 @ 9:00 pm