Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem
Chair of West Midland PSC
With the exception of the first item, the remaining 5 are about Palestine and attitudes towards it.
Item 1 criticizes Israel’s leaders for sacrificing Israelis to prop up their egos. Bravo to Merav Michaeli who most always writes wisely and well. I would only add to her criticism that the peace that she wants (as do most of us) will only be forthcoming when Palestinians have justice, including the ROR.
Item 2 briefly informs us that the EU will allow Palestinian produce from the West Bank and Gaza into its markets duty-free.
Item 3. Is a surprise: the American public, a poll shows, supports a Palestinian state. This is a tremendous change in attitude. Something is or some things are working.
In item 4 Knesset member Haneen Zoabi states that she supports non-violent moral Palestinian resistance.
In item 5 author Ghada Karmi disputes the notion that Palestinian refugees left Palestine of their own volition.
In item 6, Ali Abunimah calls the idea of unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state will only bring forth a paper tiger, and that to make real progress for the rights of Palestinians we need to use bds. His is the longest article of the 6, but well worth reading. But then, so are the others.
All the best,
April 13, 2011
Israel’s leaders sacrifice the people for their own ego
Now, more than ever before, our leaders sacrifice individual citizens for “nationalist” reasons, so to speak, that serve mainly their own private national ego.
By Merav Michaeli
“For those who want total quiet, there is Finland and Western Europe, and they can go there,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said this week, apropos the situation in the south of the country, in a radio interview with Aryeh Golan. That’s not a mistake. Barak said that in his own voice. Those who came here, to the State of Israel, in order to set up a national home after 2,000 years, should also be able to face the tests. Those who want total quiet, can go to Finland.”
Beyond the fact that this statement totally contradicts any Zionist concept – after all, those who came here after 2,000 years came expressly for the quiet, Barak, in saying this, summed up with the entire doctrine of the regime in Israel: I am the ruler, you are my cannon fodder. You’ll do exactly what I decide for you, and not the opposite.
This reality has shaped every social struggle here over the past 30 years, and even more so the “political” struggles demanding an end to the occupation, making peace and, in effect, the cancellation of rule by a security sect over us.
“All the possibilities are available to us,” Barak continued in the same interview and added immediately: “Hamas is elaborating and the Israel Defense Forces is elaborating.” That is the equation and there is no other.
Peace, an agreement, are not among the possibilities available to us, according to Barak.
Maj. Gen. (res. ) Yom-Tov Samia, former OC Southern Command, wrote in Hebrew Haaretz last week that “there is no army in the world that was forced by its leaders to rule over another people for almost 40 years.” The key word here is “forced.”
For 44 years, the regime in Israel has forced its citizens, the vast majority of whom want peace and do not want the settlements, to continue to die on the front and to be blown up on the home front, simply because it can.
In his book, “Wars Don’t Just happen,” Motti Golani shows how in 1967, before the Six-Day War, Levi Eshkol forbade the then head of the Mossad to go to Egypt for talks. In 1970, Golda Meir forbade (World Zionist Organization Chairman ) Nahum Goldmann from speaking to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. She said: “There’s no one to talk to.” Sound familiar?
In 1973, the government refused attempts to reach an arrangement with Egypt and Jordan, turned down offers of mediation from the United Nations, the mediation of the English and mediation on the part of former American President Dwight Eisenhower – even though the results of this refusal were completely clear; it was worried how it would look to the public, but this did not prevent the government from going ahead with full force to war.
The regime continued in this fashion, with the lingering of the first Lebanon War, with the lack of planning for the Second Lebanon War, with going to the talks at Camp David without prior planning and without backing for a failure, in ignoring the Saudi initiative, in the disengagement from Gaza without an agreement, in the continued construction in the settlements.
Since then, we have had additional shock-shelled people, and we continue to become more shell-shocked and traumatized citizens after being forced to be selectors at roadblocks, to break arms and legs, to kill civilians, little girls and boys, to be victims of suicide bombings and Qassam rockets and terror – people who live in a perpetual nightmare year after year.
Now, more than ever before, our leaders sacrifice individual citizens for “nationalist” reasons, so to speak, that serve mainly their own private national ego. Ehud Barak, who has been compared to Napoleon, apparently is closer in identity to Louis XIV in feeling that “l’etat c’est moi” (“The state is me” ). Therefore, anyone who doesn’t feel good with me should kindly get up and go to Finland.
The time has come for us to say that “the state is us” – and that we want leaders who would like to achieve quiet here, not in Finland.
April 13, 2011
EU grants Palestinian produce duty-free access
EU foreign policy chief Ashton announces deal during Brussels meeting with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad.
Tags: Israel news Gaza Palestinians
The European Union announced Wednesday it would grant duty-free access to produce from the West Bank and the Gaza strip in a bid to support Palestinian state building.
The deal was announced during a visit by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who was in Brussels for a meeting with international donors.
“Facilitating Palestinian trade is a crucial element of the state building process which the EU is supporting both politically and financially,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.
The EU said the agreement would be valid immediately and would apply for 10 years to “all agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fish and fishery products” except fruit and vegetables, which would be subject to a duty if their price was below a set level.
3. Al Jazeera,
April 13, 2011
US public supports Palestine statehood
Israel is resorting to last-ditch efforts to prevent a Palestinian statehood declaration.
MJ Rosenberg Last Modified:
The Israeli government is so frightened by the prospect of a Palestinian declaration of statehood that it is considering withdrawing its troops from the West Bank [Reuters]
It becomes clearer every day that Binyamin Netanyahu’s government is terrified by the prospect that the Palestinians are planning to unilaterally declare a state later this year. In fact, it is safe to say that no other proposed Palestinian action has ever shaken up any Israeli government the way that the idea of a unilateral declaration has.
According to Haaretz, Prime Minister Netanyahu is so frightened at the prospect of a Palestinian declaration that he is considering withdrawing Israeli forces (not settlers, of course) from the West Bank as an inducement to prevent the Palestinians from acting:
Netanyahu is weighing a withdrawal of Israel Defence Forces troops from the West Bank and a series of other measures to block the “diplomatic tsunami” that may follow international recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders at the United Nations General Assembly in September.
Netanyahu’s fear is well-placed. Here is Haaretz newspaper columnist Ari Shavit describing what would follow a unilateral Palestinian declaration:
At that moment, every Israeli apartment in Jerusalem’s French Hill neighbourhood will become illegal. Every military base in the West Bank will be contravening the sovereignty of an independent UN member state. The Palestinians will not be obligated to accept demilitarisation and peace and to recognise the occupation.
That is true. But it is also true that an internationally recognised Palestinian state, with a flag flying at the United Nations, would level the playing field for negotiations.
Ever since Israeli-Palestinian negotiations began in 1993, they have been fundamentally unbalanced. On one side is the most powerful military force in the Middle East, backed to the hilt by the United States. On the other is a stateless people who control no territory, have no military, and are barely surviving economically.
That would change once a Palestinian state is declared. Of course, that new state would be weak and vulnerable, but it would have international law on its side, just as Israel does within the pre-1967 borders.
Diplomatically, the two sides would finally be equal; negotiations between the two sides would be government-to-government, not between a powerful state and a supplicant.
Negotiations would have to take place simply because a Palestinian declaration does not, in and of itself, resolve such issues as mutual security, refugees, Jerusalem, and the rest. It simply ensures that such negotiations would, at long last, be serious.
Of course, a September declaration is no done deal. The Palestinians will first need to achieve unity so that the Palestinian state includes both the West Bank and Gaza.
Although the International Monetary Fund now says that the West Bank alone already could constitute a viable Palestinian state, that is true only economically and not politically. A viable Palestinian state must include Gaza and be contiguous.
Palestinian unity will be difficult to achieve for many reasons, including the deep personal animosity between the leaders of Hamas and Fatah, the two rival Palestinian factions.
An important first step toward unity would be for Hamas to adhere to a full cease-fire with Israel starting now (the last thing the Palestinian Authority wants is to declare a state that is at war with Israel).
In fact, during the past week Hamas has been sending feelers to Israel about ending the violence between the two sides, which Israel has ignored.
It is not that Israel wants the strikes and counter-strikes to continue, it is that Netanyahu and company understand that a permanent cease-fire will foster the Palestinian unity necessary for a declaration of statehood.
In fact, it is beginning to appear that preventing a unilateral declaration is Israel’s primary diplomatic goal, one that informs all its policies relating to Palestinians. (For their part, Palestinians view Israel’s nervousness about the prospect of a declaration as confirmation that it is precisely the right strategy to achieve a state and peace with Israel.)
Of course, the Obama administration is likely to do everything it can to thwart the Palestinians’ plans. AIPAC is already working on congressional letters calling on Obama to stop the declaration and, no doubt, an overwhelming majority of the House and Senate will sign on. (The 2012 election is looming and candidates and incumbents are highly focused on fundraising.)
The good news is that the United States cannot use its veto to prevent Palestinian recognition by the United Nations. For Palestine, as for Israel in 1947, it is the General Assembly that confers statehood and not the Security Council. The administration would have to use the other tools in its kit to thwart the declaration; it has no veto.
On the other hand, maybe, just maybe, the administration will recognise that a unilateral declaration of statehood could be the one device that would achieve its oft-stated goal in the Middle East: “two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security”.
American support for Palestinian state
The American people seem to be getting it. According to a poll released on Monday by the right-wing Israel Project, only 51 per cent of Americans oppose a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence. Fifty four per cent favour a Palestinian state achieved through negotiations.
For those familiar with polling on matters relating to Israelis and Palestinians, the results are startling. The percentage of support for the Israeli position is usually in the high 70s, while support for the Palestinians is in the teens. Suddenly there is a major shift, and this in a poll sponsored by an organisation that clearly did not want to see findings like these.
Perhaps the Obama administration will come around too.
The United States should support the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, followed by serious negotiations. The alternative has been tried over and over again and it always fails.
Why not try something that may actually achieve peace and security for two peoples who, like everyone else, are entitled to it?
It is time for President Obama to deliver on the promise he made in Cairo to use his authority not to defend the deadly status quo but to end it.
MJ Rosenberg is a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network. The above article first appeared in Foreign Policy Matters, a part of the Media Matters Action Network.
You can follow MJ on twitter @MJayRosenberg.
This article was first published by Foreign Policy Matters.
April 13, 2011
Supports moral resistance. MK Hanin Zoabi Photo: Sharon Tzur
MK Zoabi: I Hope Arabs launch Intifada
Arab MK says ‘occupiers cannot expect to lead normal lives,’ Israelis ‘shouldn’t be surprised’ at attack on bus
“I hope the Palestinians launch a massive popular resistance, one that is political and strategic, like the First Intifada,” Knesset member Hanin Zoabi (Balad) said Wednesday.
In an interview with Mynet, the Balad MK stated that in her opinion, Judge Richard Goldstone was bullied into his latest actions, the rocket which hit an Israeli school bus in the south was actually Israel’s fault and Israeli Arabs should take notes from Egyptian protestors.
Comparing the First Intifada with the Al-Aqsa Intifada, Zoabi said that “the second Intifada was much more violent. The first one was better. Tahrir Square should be the Arab youths’ new model. I would like to see them mount a popular resistance against the occupation, because occupiers cannot expect to lead normal lives.”
As for the incident which saw a rocket hit an Israeli school bus, leaving one teenager critically injured, Zoabi said that “Palestinians were killed before that incident and Palestinians were killed after it. You don’t count the dead Palestinians, only the dead Israelis. It is immoral for only the occupier to be seen as the side entitled to lead a normal life.”
But can targeting a school bus be perceived as part of the legitimate Palestinian resistance? “I support moral resistance. I don’t condone murder, but what I’m saying is that the same people, who don’t want to see babies come under fire, should also think about the babies in Gaza.
“If you don’t want them to fire at you, then the Israeli public should take to the street and protest against the Gaza siege. Until that happens, you shouldn’t be surprised by such thing things.
“(The Palestinians) will fight. True, it’s not moral and it’s foolish and ineffective, but that is how people react when you push them into a corner and ruin their lives. Besides, it’s not about the school bus.”
‘Gaza siege no longer news worthy’
According to the Balad MK, the real point is that “no one is talking about the Gaza siege anymore. It’s not newsworthy any more. It’s become the norm. You Israelis only bolster the occupation, and grade those who want to fight it. Any attack on civilians is a crime. The Palestinians are also averse to the killing of children and babies, but the occupation and the siege are a hothouse for such crimes.
“After the family in Itamar was slaughtered, I issued a press release denouncing the act. Not one media outlet published it. In it, I also said that the occupation was the biggest crime.”
Turning her attention to the recent controversy surrounding the Goldstone Report, whose author, Richard Goldstone, said he now questioned the findings that led his committee to determine that Israel may be guilty of perpetrating war crimes during Operation Cast Lead, Zoabi said that in her opinion, the South African judge cannot be taken seriously.
“Goldstone is not a serious man and his foolish statement was uninformed. He said he had information when in fact he had none. He said those things as an isolated, threatened person.”
Zoabi added she believes Goldstone feels threatened by his own Jewish South African community. “They won’t even let him into the synagogue. He is not a stupid man, but he failed to reveal any details of his new discoveries.”
She further dismissed Goldstone’s determination that Israel had taken significant steps to probe its modus during the campaign in the Strip, saying “We know what measures Israel took. It investigated 500 cases in Gaza, only three of which resulted in convictions. That has no bearing on the overall picture. What he said was insignificant and meaningless.”
April 12, 2011
Blowback: Israel’s bogus narrative on Palestinian refugees
Comments (60) (96)(30)April 12, 2011 | 3:18 pm
Ghada Karmi, author of “In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story,” responds to The Times’ April 7 article on Lifta, the last intact pre-1948 Palestinian village. If you would like to write a full-length response to a recent Times article, editorial or Op-Ed, here are our FAQs and submission policy. [Another book by Ghada Karmi is “Married to Another Man” –worth reading. Dorothy]
What a timely article, “Israel and Palestinians have conflicting visions for village’s future.” April is a good month for recalling the abandoned homes, towns and destroyed villages of what was once Palestine. It was the month in which my own family was forced to leave our home in Jerusalem. Contrary to the official Israeli version, still largely believed, that the Palestinian exodus of 750,000 people — without which there would be no Israel today — happened in the fog of war, people like me are living proof that many of us had been forced out of our homeland months earlier.
The Israeli version claims that during the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli war, the Palestinians fled, as happens in wars everywhere, or were panicked into leaving by their leaders. For more than 60 years, this has served to absolve Israel of its culpability for that tragedy.
In fact, between January and May 1948, thousands of us were already leaving because of the violence and the deliberate tactics of the Jewish leadership intent on creating an empty space in which to erect a state. As a child, I remember seeing a poor Bedouin man walking down our street shot dead by Jewish snipers from an empty house opposite ours.
The people of Lifta (the village that The Times features), which is just three miles from my old neighborhood in west Jerusalem, were already fleeing in December 1947. The Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah and the Stern Gang, a Jewish dissident group, attacked the villagers with guns and hand grenades. By February 1948, most houses on the edge of the village had been demolished; the inhabitants fled in terror.
The same fate was intended for Katamon, where we lived. Increasing attacks on our street and its vicinity had the same desired effect as in Lifta. After January 1948, when the Semiramis Hotel on a street near ours was bombed by the Haganah, killing 26 people (a nightmare of horror that I dimly remember), the attacks against our neighborhood escalated. Families started leaving, fearful for their children and believing it would be a temporary evacuation. By the time we left, hardly any of our friends remained. The increasing danger around us forced my parents to leave. We took nothing with us, convinced it would not be long before we returned.
Terrible as this was when I look back, at least our street and our house still stand today. They were taken over by Jewish settlers and underwent various changes, but they largely remain. Yet I do not know which is worse: the hundreds of Palestinian villages Israel wiped out after 1948 and whose previous inhabitants can only hope to find through faded memories; the dozen villages left such as Lifta, still standing but ruined and depopulated; or, as in my case, my house being in the possession of strangers (New York Times correspondent Ethan Bronner lives in an upper story added on later), who do not recognize my history or my right to my family home.
On setting up its state in 1948, Israel set about demolishing every vestige of Palestinian life and history in the land. The physical destruction of the villages, the replacing of Palestinian names with Hebrew ones and the wholesale takeover of Palestinian culture, whether in food — “Israeli falafel” — or in the traditional Arab dabke dance, renamed the Israeli “hora,” were all aimed at making the world forget there had ever been anyone other than Jews in the Holy Land.
Through the work of Israeli filmmaker Benny Brunner, I have discovered another refinement of this cultural theft: the takeover of private Palestinian book collections, including ours. After 1948, Israeli officials took what books they found from abandoned Palestinian homes. Tens of thousands were looted in this way. Some of them remain in the Israeli National Library today, designated abandoned property. Brunner is currently making a film of this, “The Great Book Robbery.”
Palestinians have never accepted our enforced oblivion. We are fighting to tell our history, win a future of political freedom and secure the return of refugees forced from their homes and never allowed to return. For these reasons, the battle to preserve Lifta must be won — its remains a physical memorial of injustice and survival.
— Ghada Karmi
6. Al Jazeera,
April 13, 2011
The efforts of the Palestinian Authority to push for statehood are nothing more than an elaborate farce, writer says.
If historical precedents in Lebanon and Syria are any indication, the declaration of statehood by the Palestinian Authority will have little effect, despite what Palestian prime minister Salam Fayyad might say [GALLO/GETTY]
What do you do if your decades-long campaign to bring about an independent Palestinian state on those fractions of historic Palestine known as the West Bank and Gaza Strip have resulted in total failure?
The answer seems to be, if you are the Western-sponsored Palestinian Authority (PA) in Israeli-occupied Ramallah, to pretend you have a Palestinian state anyway, and to get as many other countries to join in this charade as possible.
This appears to be the essence of the PA strategy to gain admittance for the “State of Palestine” to the UN General Assembly by September.
Already, the PA is lobbying hard for countries to support the move, and in recent months a number of states, particularly in Latin America, have extended full diplomatic recognition to the Ramallah authority. The New York Times cited diplomats who say that if brought to a vote in the UN General Assembly, the measure would likely pass.
A fantasy ‘state’
The PA’s push for recognition of a Palestinian state is the diplomatic counterpart to its much-touted “institution-building” and “economic development” efforts which are supposed to create the infrastructure for a future state.
But the institution-building program is nothing more than a mirage, boosted by public relations tricks and good press.
In fact, the main “institutions” the PA has built are the police-state and militia apparatuses used to repress political opposition to the PA and any form of resistance to Israeli occupation. Meanwhile the economy of the West Bank, and the PA itself, remain completely dependent on foreign aid.
UN recognition of a Palestinian make-believe state would be no more meaningful than this fantasy “institution-building”, and could push Palestinians even further away from real liberation and self-determination.
Figures from the Ramallah-based PA have justified their UN recognition strategy as a way to bring international pressure to bear on Israel.
“Such recognition would create political and legal pressure on Israel to withdraw its forces from the land of another state that is recognised with the  borders,” Ramallah ‘foreign minister’ Riyad al-Malki told reporters in January.
Similarly, Nabil Shaath, a top Fatah official, explained to the New York Times that if a Palestinian state were recognised by the UN: “Israel would then be in daily violation of the rights of a fellow member state and diplomatic and legal consequences could follow, all of which would be painful for Israel.”
But can anyone who has seen how the “international community” functions when it comes to Israel believe such delusional expectations?
Lebanon has been a member state of the United Nations since 1945 and yet this did not prevent Israel from occupying southern Lebanon from 1978 until 2000. Israel’s occupation of Lebanon ended not because of any international pressure, but only because the Lebanese resistance drove Israel and its collaborating militias out.
Since its massive bombardment of Lebanon in 2006, Israel has violated Lebanon’s sovereignty thousands of times – according to the UN itself. But its constant overflights of Lebanese airspace and kidnapping of Lebanese citizens among other violations has never prompted “diplomatic and legal consequences” to hold Israel accountable.
Similarly, since 1967 Israel has occupied the Golan Heights, which belong to Syria (also a UN member since 1945). There has been virtually no armed resistance on the Golan Heights nor has there been any international pressure for Israel to withdraw or for Syrian refugees to return to their homes.
Even after Israel illegally annexed the territory in 1981 – a move condemned by the UN Security Council – the international community’s silence has allowed Israel’s colonisation of the Golan Heights to continue unabated.
Why would the situation in the “State of Palestine” be any different?
The effort to seek diplomatic recognition for an imaginary Palestinian state on a fraction of historic Palestine is a strategy of desperation from a Palestinian leadership that has run out of options, lost its legitimacy, and become a serious obstacle in the way of Palestinians regaining their rights.
Relying heavily on diplomatic forums and the good will of the “international community” has also been tried before and produced no results. Recall that in 2004, the PA expended enormous efforts to obtain an advisory ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague that Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank is illegal and must be torn down.
But beyond obtaining the ruling, the PA had absolutely no strategy to mobilise Palestinians and their allies to pressure the world to actually implement the decision. It was a paper victory that resulted in no change on the ground.
Indeed, there is significant evidence that while the PA’s diplomatic corps and negotiators were busy in The Hague, the leadership sought to stifle attempts by Palestinian civil society organisations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to organise around and bring attention to the ICJ ruling, almost certainly due to pressure by Israel and the United States.
Would the government of an “independent Palestine” still under Israeli occupation and reliant on aid from the US and EU be able to stand similar pressure in the future? The PA’s record to date offers no basis for optimism.
In spite of these efforts, the ICJ opinion did have one important consequence. It was not the PA or the defunct Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) that began to mobilise.
Rather, amid the inaction from world governments to enforce the ICJ ruling, Palestinian civil society independently issued the 2005 Palestinian Call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
This campaign seeks to isolate Israel and pressure it to respect Palestinian rights and international law, through popular boycotts similar to those that helped end apartheid in South Africa.
Rather than fetishising “statehood”, the BDS campaign focuses on rights and realities: it calls for an end to Israel’s occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands conquered in 1967; full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and respect for and implementation of the rights of Palestinian refugees. These demands are all fully consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law.
The PA has never endorsed this campaign, and in fact has sought to distract from and undermine it by calling only for a half-hearted boycott of Israeli settlement goods while actively promoting trade with Israel in violation of the BDS call.
Reduxing the bantustans
Many have accurately likened the Palestinian “state” envisaged by the PA and its sponsors to the “bantustans” of apartheid South Africa.
The bantustans were nominally independent states set up by the apartheid regime to grant “citizenship” to blacks, as a way to derail demands for true equality.
World governments did not fall for the trick, and refused to recognise the bantustans because they understood that diplomatic recognition for these entities would actually set back the struggle to end South African apartheid.
Not coincidentally, the only country to have had extensive dealings with the bantustans – allowing them to open diplomatic missions and frequently receiving their leaders – was Israel. Israel saw the bantustans as a model for how it would one day manage the Palestinians.
Recognition of a Palestinian “state” under Israeli occupation would certainly solidify and perpetuate the privileges and positions of unelected PA officials, while doing nothing to change the conditions or restore the rights of millions of Palestinians, not just in the territories occupied in the June 1967 war, but within Israel, and in the diaspora.
Far from increasing international pressure on Israel, it may even allow states that have utterly failed in their duty to hold Israel accountable to international law to wash their hands of the question of Palestine, under the mantro of “we recognised Palestine, what more do you want from us?”
Palestinians and their allies should not be distracted by this international theatre of the absurd, but should focus on building wider and deeper BDS campaigns to end Israeli apartheid everywhere that it exists, once and for all.
Ali Abunimah is author of One Country, A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse and is a contributor to The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict. He is a co-founder of the online publication The Electronic Intifada and a policy adviser with Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.