Mondoweiss Online Newsletter



BDS flashmobs are largely led by women (who must contend with misogyny)

May 30, 2011

Kiera Feldman

Editor’s note: Kiera Feldman has an important piece up at Alternet on the BDS movement, flashmobs, and the gender politics of the Palestinian solidarity movement. Excerpts:

The real genius of BDS is its big tent appeal: supporters might choose to stick to boycotts of consumer goods made in settlements (e.g. SodaStream); some might launch divestment campaigns aimed at companies involved in the Occupation; or others might support the “full call,” which asks artists and academics to boycott Israeli institutions (as opposed to individuals) that have not hopped on the BDS bandwagon. Notable full BDS supporters include Pink Floyd, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Naomi Klein, and Judith Butler. “If you only want to boycott an egg, we want you to boycott an egg,” Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, told the Nation, explaining BDS’ grabbag of tactics….

And what is more big tent than a goofy song and dance?

To be sure, it is just one of the tactics that might comprise a larger targeted campaign. CodePink’s Rae Abileah and Colleen Kelly, a Catholic Worker and member of St. Louis Justice in Palestine (of Motorola flash mob fame) are borderline flash mob evangelists, who praised the form’s ability to engage a diverse group of people and build community.

Both Abileah and Kelly grew up choreographing Spice Girls dances at slumber parties; in flash mobs, the teen girl consumer culture they were weaned on meets the “don’t buy that” movement of their adulthood. It is, by and large, a movement dominated by women. “I think that’s everywhere though,” not just BDS, Kelly said. “When women are leaders, men are not as present.”

Dalit Baum, a member of the established Israeli feminist organization Coalition of Women for Peace and the founder of, agreed. “Women do most of the grassroots organizing,” she said. “Always.” What’s more, she added, they’re disproportionately queer.

But, of course, powerhouse women leading the charge—often with gutsy public actions–does not mean the end of the enduring tale of misogyny on the radical left, especially in the private sphere. “There is still sexism within our movements to combat too,” Abileah wrote in an email, stating the obvious, which can’t be said enough when advocating for the liberation of others. In a recent essay, Amirah Mizrahi, an activist with Jewish Voice for Peace, addressed the darker components of justice in Palestine work—that which is hard to reconcile with spectacles of joyful song and dance. “There is a problem with gender violence in this movement,” Mizrahi wrote. “If we cannot respect something so fundamental—the autonomy of another person over her own body—what are we fighting for?”

Counting myself among the BDS supporters, I too have swapped painful stories with female friends of sexism playing out in the most intimate ways, as if reenacting scenes from the early Women’s Movement days. I have been degraded exactly once in my life—by an Israeli BDS activist, a self-professed male feminist who talked of linked struggles, who knew better but did not act better. Knowledge, I learned in a lesson I will not soon forget or forgive, does not necessarily stop someone from violating women’s physical boundaries. It is a notch on a belt I wish no one owned.

Feldman’s postscript:

Thankfully, the movement is undergoing a serious reckoning on themes of sexism, sexual violence, and bad consent. I recently learned many women share similar stories about this very same Israeli BDS activist–and that a whole support community has formed to work toward systemic change and individual accountability. Feel free to email kiera dot feldman at gmail dot com to hear what’s in the pipes.

David Cameron 2-step. Can Obama follow?

May 30, 2011

Phil Weiss and Scott McConnell

1. Near the end of the conference of Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama on May 25:

Mr. Cameron described Mr. Obama’s speech last week, in which he discussed the parameters for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, as “bold and visionary, because I think it did an absolutely vital thing, which was to talk about ‘67 borders with land swaps.”

This is important. Not that it would resonate with the Republicans who are generally gaga over the Conservative Cameron. But it sets down a marker for the September battle to come.

2. The Guardian, today:

David Cameron has stepped down as a patron of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in a move pro-Palestinian campaigners claim is a result of pressure but which Downing Street insists is part of a general review of the prime minister’s charity connections.

Check out this Palestinian company’s documentary on the Gaza conflict, ‘A story of a war’
May 30, 2011 11:23 am | annie

I stumbled upon this stunning 48 minute documentary of the Gaza massacre today quite accidentally while poking around the web visiting one of my favorite Gazan bloggers. He featured another of Media Town’s videos. I was impressed with the quality so I looked up the film production company, Media Town PS, out of curiosity.

Media Town is the first Palestinian company specializing in producing documentary films. They posted this documentary on their You Tube page on May 18th. Amazingly it had only 557 views when I encountered it 2 hours ago. The cinematography, narrations and interviews are superb. This is a must see, it takes my breath away.

Includes narrations by Raji Sourani, Founder and director of Palestinian Centre For Human Rights, Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert and Amnesty International researcher Donatella Rovera, and weapons specialist Mark James, amongst others.

Israeli raid of cucumber fields in occupied West Bank another sign of water battle to come

May 30, 2011


and other news from Today in Palestine:

Gaza border crossing will remain free of European observers, Hamas official says
dpa 29 May — Speaking to the group’s al-Aqsa Radio, senior official says Hamas, in control of the coastal enclave since 2007, has proved it can manage Gaza’s Rafah crossing … Ghazi Hamad said Palestinians saw no need for the immediate return of European observers to the disputed crossing as provided for under a 2005 deal with Israel … Israeli Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said Israel now held Egypt responsible for security at the border.

Gaza businessmen applaud Rafah opening
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 May — The federation of businessmen in Gaza applauded on Saturday Egypt’s decision to permanently open its Rafah border with the coastal enclave. Head of the federation’s board of directors Ali Al-Hayik told Ma‘an he telephoned Egypt’s ambassador to the Palestinian Authority Yasser Othman to thank him for pushing through the policy change, following years of restrictions.
Israel slams Rafah reopening
JERUSALEM (AFP) 29 May — Israeli ministers on Sunday slammed Egypt’s decision to reopen its Rafah border crossing with Gaza, warning that terrorist groups would be able to move weapons and people freely through the crossing … Israel’s Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Egypt’s decision to reopen the crossing over Israel’s objections showed that the Israel could not rely on other nations to protect its borders. The UN and other rights organizations have called the siege on Gaza illegal. “This is very strong proof of why it is so important for Israel to guard our borders by ourselves to prevent the infiltration of terrorists and weapons,” he said at the beginning of a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. He said the border reopening was also proof that Israel needed to maintain control over the Jordan Valley under any peace agreement with the Palestinians, describing the 2005 border deal as “not worth the paper its written on,” although it did not cover the eastern border area where the Jordan Valley edges Jordan.
Egypt opens the border with Gaza – in pictures
In pictures: Egypt-Gaza border opens at Rafah
Israel allows limited goods to enter Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 May — Israel will open the sole operating goods crossing into Gaza on Sunday, officials said.
Gaza: Sheikh Yassin’s house declared heritage site
Ynet 29 May — Hamas to open home of spiritual leader killed in 2004 to visitors, turning location into historical landmark … Hamas made sure to preserve and display, for the first time ever, the wheelchair Yassin sat in when he was assassinated, as well as the blanket he covered himself with that day.,7340,L-4075509,00.html
Hamas simulates raid on flotilla
[photos] Ynet 29 May —  The Hamas government and Gaza security forces held a maneuver in the Gaza port last Thursday in preparation for the arrival of the Turkish flotilla next month. Dozens of people took part in the drill, including divers and medical personnel who trained in a number of scenarios. The participants simulated an IDF takeover of one ship and several Hamas men played the role of Israel Navy commandos. In another scenario, the forces simulated a rescue operation involving a person thrown overboard.,7340,L-4075106,00.html
Gaza committee says Ki-Moon responsible for danger ahead of flotilla
LONDON, (PIC) 29 May — The International Committee to Break the Gaza Siege has held UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon responsible for the danger ahead of Freedom Flotilla 2 set to deliver aid to Gaza in late June. Ki-moon recently called on states along the Mediterranean coast to help thwart the flotilla in order to avoid a conflict with Israel, which enforces a tight naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. The ICBGS said in a statement that followed on Saturday that the calls served as a “cover for Israeli piracy and encourages the attack of the flotilla.”
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
‘Unification of Jerusalem is a foundation of nation of Israel’
Haaretz 29 May — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells his cabinet that the government is obligated to build in Jerusalem, as it is ‘the heart of the nation.’

Israel to mark Jerusalem ‘reunification’ with cash
JERUSALEM (AFP) 29 May — Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday reaffirmed his intent to keep Jerusalem the country’s “undivided capital,” in a speech announcing a $100-million investment package for the occupied holy city … Israel captured East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War, later annexing it in a move not recognized by the international community. In the early years of the millennium, Israel built its separation wall around the city, dividing Palestinian communities on its outskirts from their neighbors. Israel marks the city’s “reunification” on Jerusalem Day, which this year falls on June 1.
East Jerusalem: Israel detains an 8-year-old Palestinian / Joseph Dana
972mag 29 May — The Israeli is ramping up arrests and attacks against Palestinian children. The targeting of children is nothing new in West Bank villages like Nabi Saleh and Bil’in. This afternoon, Israeli police raided the house of 8-year-old Ali Siyam in the Occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Police raided this house in order to arrest the children as part of a larger swap of alleged stone throwers in the area. In the process of taking the children, Israeli police officers assaulted Siyam’s aunt and uncle, the only adults present in the house. Siyam’s aunt was shot in the leg with a rubber coated steel bullet as she attempted to protect the child. His uncle was also beaten as police took the boy. Both were transferred to Hadassa Har Hatzofim hospital for treatment.

Protest against new settlement meets with heavy repression, six arrested
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 29 May — Dozens of protesters gathered outside the new Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Zetim in Ras al-‘Amoud district yesterday, Friday 27 May, amidst heavy repression from state forces and settlers. One settler attempted to run over protesters as he drove out of the settlement, as Israeli troops looked on. Settlers then began throwing stones and dropping water on protesters, chanting racist slogans and declaring that “Arabs are terrorists” and “the Israeli left stands in the way of the Jewish dream.” [or nightmare, depending on one’s point of view]
In photos: Friday demonstration in Silwan
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 29 May — The following are more photographs from the Friday 27 May demonstration in Silwan against Israeli settlements. Seven people were arrested, including both Palestinians and Israeli activists. Israeli forces, aided by armed settlers, applied violence against protesters including using tasers.
FPJS condemns IOF assault on journalists in occupied Jerusalem
GAZA (PIC) 29 May — The Forum of Palestinian Journalists condemned the assault on Friday evening of a group of journalists by IOF soldiers while the journalists were covering the events at the Ras al-Amoud neighbourhood in occupied Jerusalem. The FPJS said in a statement on Saturday that IOF troops assaulted journalist Diala Jweihan, and photo-journalists Sulaiman Khader and Atta Oweisat while covering a Palestinian protest in the neighbourhood.
Factory owner’s detention extended, charged with stone-throwing
[photo] Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 29 May — The detention of Bir Ayyub resident Mohammed Odeh was extended by the Israeli court today. Odeh, 34, was kidnapped from the factory he owns in Bir Ayyub yesterday afternoon by undercover Israeli forces. Odeh faces charges of throwing stones at Israeli troops. The arrest may be the first of many in a campaign of mass arrests to hit Silwan in coming days, say inside sources.

Israeli forces attack youth, one arrested

[photos] Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 29 May — Israeli forces attacked Palestinian youth near the northern entrance to Ras al-‘Amoud district, arrested a young boy. Witnesses state that Mohammed Sider, 19, was seized by Israeli forces from a local shop. The attack comes close on the heels of Israeli crackdown on peaceful demonstrations outside the new Israeli settlement opened in Ras al-Amoud.
Israeli forces raid Information Center again, director Siyam summoned and detained
[photos] Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 29 May — A large force of Israeli troops and secret police raided the Wadi Hilweh Information Center and adjoining Madaa Creative Center today. Officers were looking for Center director Jawad Siyam, who was not present, and instead issued his wife a summons for Siyam to the Jaffa Gate police station for investigation. A number of children were in the center during the raid, causing severe panic. Israeli forces subsequently raided Siyam’s family home, unsuccessfully. Siyam presented himself at the station later this evening and was detained for a period of time by police.


Settlers drown Palestinian land with wastewater in Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 29 May — …Head of Nahhalin village’s council, Osama Shakarna, told WAFA that those in charge of the water purification stations in ‘Beitar Illit’ settlement, west of Bethlehem, pumped waste water to the almond and grapes lands, west of Nahhalin. Shakarna pointed out that such practices polluted the underground water and caused serious damage to the crops; Palestinians can’t enter their lands anymore due to the high levels of wastewater in it. He warned of the dangerous effects of such practices on Palestinians’ health, saying “Summer is knocking the doors, and there is a great fear of spreading diseases and mosquitoes.”
Moreover, Israeli authorities handed over a number of notices to Palestinians living in Ain Fares area, southwest of Nahhalin village, to seize their lands.
2 injured by settler in car accident
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 May — A father and son were moderately injured Sunday, medics said, after they were hit by an Israeli settler driving to a Jewish-only settlement in the southern West Bank. The father accused the settler of purposefully running him down just outside of Bethlehem. Medical sources in the Al-Yamama Hospital in Bethlehem identified the injured as Ahmad Mustafa Sbeih,48, and his son Nour Ad-Din who is eight years old.
Soldiers detain Palestinians, abduct international activist near Hebron
IMEMC 29 May — Israeli soldiers detained on Saturday evening several Palestinians, including women and children, and kidnapped an international peace activist near Safa village, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The residents were working in their farmlands before extremist settlers of the Bait Ayin illegal settlement attacked them and uprooted olive trees and vineyard. Israeli soldiers arrived at the scene and, instead of removing the settlers, detained more than twenty Palestinians, including women and children, and an international activist, under the pretext that they entered a closed military zone. The claimed military zone is the agricultural lands owned by the residents.
Hundreds attend Susiya Creative Learning Center celebration in South Hebron Hills
[photos] AIC 29 May — Over 500 Palestinians, Israelis and internationals celebrated the one year anniversary of the Susiya Creative Learning Center in the South Hebron Hills on Saturday, 28 May with a cultural tribute to the nonviolent resistance of the Palestinian people … The afternoon celebration included poetry, songs and clowns who danced dabka with the village youth between the tents of the small village of Susiya … 400 people are obliged to live in tents, subjected to constant attacks by settlers. Abdel told us: “They come with guns, stones and bars. In the past weeks, every Saturday, they bring their sheep, which pasture our land. The Israeli army doesn’t defend us.”  Settlers also attempted to spoil Saturday’s happy afternoon of celebration with the same cruel violence. Around 5 pm, some of them tried to reach the village, coming down from the nearby hill from the settlement of Susyia. This time, the settlers were stopped by the army.
IOF places tight grip on village near Nablus
QALQILYA (PIC) 29 May — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have tightened procedures at the gates of the separation wall in the Azzun Atma village near Qalqilya, locals have reported. For the past week, the IOF has been curbing civilian movement there through provocative searches and inspections. Long lines of students, farmers, and laborers have mounted daily outside the gates as searches continue. Azzoun Atma is encircled by the Orinet, Shaarei Tikva, Elkana settlements, which are said to serve as a ‘death certificate’ to the farming village as they blockade it and take the majority of the land and restrict the possibility of its expansion. Walls have been erected on all four sides of the village for alleged security reasons. Khalid Raddad, a resident, points out that the planning situation has isolated Azzoum Atma from nearby villages Beit Amin and Sineria, which serve as natural extensions to it. The result is that families are separated from each other as well as farmers from their fields.

Enrollment at Israeli university in West Bank expected to grow at fast pace
Haaretz 29 May — The Council for Higher Education has decided that the number of students funded by the state at the Ariel University Center of Samaria in the settlement of Ariel will be allowed to grow to a much greater extent than at many other colleges.
Winds of hope in the occupied Syrian Golan / Francesc Cabré Sánchez
AIC 29 May — Life has apparently returned to normal in Majdal Shams, the main town in the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan. Shops are open, local farmers working their fields and in the centre of town there is nothing to indicate that four Palestinians were killed on the Nakba commemoration day (15 May) when they crossed the Syrian border to claim the right of return for refugees … Talking with the local population strengthens the sense that the killing will have long-term implications for Majdal Shams and the occupied Golan.  “Nothing will ever be the same. Palestinians showed us the way, because Israel is prepared to fight against violent uprisings, but does not know how to react or fight nonviolence,” says Fawzi Abu Jabal Hussein, a member of the local NGO Golan for Development .
The ruined village Palestinians will never forget / Harriet Sherwood
Guardian 29 May — The ruins of Lifta are the final remains of the Palestinian hamlets that fringed Jerusalem until 1948. Now plans to bulldoze them are causing outrage — In the soft golden light of a late spring evening, as yellow flowers are beginning to bloom on giant cacti, Yacoub Odeh climbs up through knee-high grass to the ruin that was his childhood home. For a man in his eighth decade, he is surprisingly nimble as he navigates ancient stones that litter the ground. But behind his light step is the weight of painful memories of a lost youth and a fading history.”Here is my house,” he says, sitting on the remains of a stone wall in whose crevices wild flowers and saplings cling. “Now only the corners remain. Here is the taboun[outdoor oven] where my mother used to bake bread. The smell!”

All’s well that ends well? Targeting Palestinian water pirates
MediaLine —  KUFR DAN, West Bank 29 May — The Israelis arrived at about one in the afternoon — a phalanx of 30 soldiers, 10 jeeps and a tractor at this town west of Jenin. Palestinians rapidly appeared on the scene as well and soon the two sides were scuffling, with farmers shouting “Get these tractors away before something happens” and climbing aboard a tractor in an effort to stop it from working …The Israeli troops hadn’t come to arrest suspected terrorists or to put down a violent protest. They were in Kufr Dan, a local center for cucumber farms, to close what officials said were illegal water wells. In Kufr Dan, they used a tractor to rip out pipes reaching down into water sources or to push the pumps deep into ground. In others, they cut electricity lines to the pumps. “There is a Palestinian phrase that says ‘pressure begets explosion.’ This could be the reason for another intifada. Israel is ruining its security with its own hands. They talk about peace but there is no peace,” Qaher Abed, village council member and farmer, told The Media Line.
Army violence
Medics: Palestinian beaten by Israeli soldiers at checkpoint
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 29 May — Israeli soldiers brutally attacked a Palestinian man at an army checkpoint near Hebron on Saturday evening, medics said. Israeli soldiers stopped Mahmoud Al-Battat, 19, at around 7 p.m. at a checkpoint near Ad-Dhahiriya in the southern West Bank as he returned from work in Israel, medical officials told Ma‘an. Soldiers beat him until he fainted, director of operations at the Palestinian Red Crescent Nasser Al-Qabaja said. Al-Battat recovered consciousness at around 11 p.m. and phoned his family. After receiving the call, relatives said they searched for two hours before they found him, and took him to a medical center in Ad-Dhahiriya.
Israeli forces shoot man near Gaza City, medics say
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 May — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man east of Gaza City early Sunday morning, medics said. Medical services spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya said the man was shot in his right leg in the Zaytoun neighborhood. He was taken to the Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
Palestinian captive suffers loss of memory after 10 years in occupation jails
RAMALLAH (PIC) 29 May — Wadi‘ Tamman (30), a Palestinian captive from the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, who suffers from epilepsy has lost his memory completely and no longer knows those around him, according to a Palestinian human rights organisation.
Non-aligned states urge release of Palestinians
NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AFP) 27 May — The 118-nation Non-Aligned Movement on Friday demanded Israel release a “substantial number” of Palestinian political prisoners as a “positive step” toward peace. At the end of a ministerial meeting in Indonesia, the movement reiterated its support for the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, a position it shares with the United States but which is rejected by Israel … They called on Israel to release Palestinian “political prisoners” including 300 under the age of 18 and 10 members of the Palestinian legislative council.
Wife: Australian nabbed for Hamas ties ‘in revenge for Mabhouh’
(AFP) 29 May — Family of man detained in Israel calls charges of involvement with terror group ‘preposterous’, says Israel seeking revenge for expulsion of diplomat over forgery of Australian passports in Mabhouh assassination —  The Palestinian-born Eyad Abuarga, an information technology expert, was arrested in March as he tried to enter Israel through the Ben Gurion airport,7340,L-4075187,00.html
Political / Diplomatic / International news
New govt to be announced 6 June
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 May — The composition of the new Palestinian Authority’s technocrat government will be announced on 6 June by delegates from formerly rival parties Fatah and Hamas as a major step to the implementation of a unity agreement, an official said Sunday … Sha‘ath is in Gaza with several Fatah delegates to continue work on implementing the unity plan, as others remain in Cairo ironing out details of the new government. He said the names of the new government would be presented to the Palestinian Legislative Council for approval. The body has essentially been defunct since 2007, when internal friction ended in a split between the leading Palestinian parties Fatah and Hamas.
The official also said he expected the issue of political arrests to be shortly concluded. Hamas regularly announces the detention of its members by Palestinian Authority forces operating in the West Bank, and says they are harassed for their political affiliation. “The number of prisoners has already been reduced to so few,” he said, that the underway process of setting up mechanisms for their release ahead of the unity government’s installation should be swift.
Peres to UN official: Israel supports creation of Palestinian state through negotiations
Haaretz 29 May — In meet with UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, president said UN must not create false hope for Palestinians that a unilateral declaration will bring about establishment of a state.
Report: Abbas, Peres held secret talks
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) — President Mahmoud Abbas held secret talks with his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres in April, Israeli media reported Friday. Abbas and Peres met in London to try and revive the stalled peace process, the Hebrew-language daily Ma’ariv reported. Since the meeting, the two have spoken on the telephone on secure lines, the report added.  Quoting a source close to the Israeli president, the newspaper said Peres was horrified that the talks had been exposed. “President Peres is the last Israeli who continues to enjoy a direct channel of dialogue with the Palestinians,” the source told Ma’ariv. “It is highly unfortunate that this channel will be sealed due to being made public.”
Netanyahu asked Canada PM to thward G8 support for 1967 borders
Haaretz 29 May — At the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper thwarted an announcement Friday by the G-8 countries that would have supported U.S. President Barack Obama’s statement that talks between the Palestinians and Israel should be based on the 1967 borders with exchanges of territory. According to a senior government official in Jerusalem, Israel was concerned over the implications of a specific mention of support for Obama’s call for negotiations based on the 1967 borders and exchanges of territory, so the prime minister’s bureau and the Foreign Ministry began working on the matter as early as the middle of last week.
US Senate confirms ex-Obama aide Daniel Shapiro as new ambassador to Israel
Haaretz 29 May — Shapiro is currently director for the Middle East and North Africa of the National Security Council after acting as Obama’s adviser on the Middle East and Jewish community relations during Obama’s presidential campaign.

Other news
IDF source: Israel bracing for clashes along its borders ahead of planned protests
AP/Haaretz 29 May — The Israeli military is preparing for the possibility of violent protests along its borders in the coming days, aiming to avoid a repeat of deadly unrest that erupted earlier this month, a senior military official told The Associated Press on Sunday. Facebook-organized activists have called for demonstrations next weekend in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan to mark the anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War, in which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip east Jerusalem and Golan Heights.
Israeli culture minister storms out of film, calls it too pro-Palestinian
Haaretz 29 May — At festival near Sderot, Minister Limor Livnat claims Shlomi Elkabetz’s movie ‘Testimony’ is one-sided and ignores Israeli suffering; audience responds with boos … The film, which opened Sapir College’s Cinema South Film Festival, features monologues based on testimonies by Palestinians and Israel soldiers.

Palestinians sue Israel for NIS 18m over daughter’s border crossing injury
Haaretz 29 May — Lawsuit comes after couple’s 4 year old daughter was seriously hurt as a result of being trapped in Allenby border crossing’s baggage claims carousel.

Israel’s military releases Itamar probe findings
TEL AVIV (Ma‘an) 29 May — Israeli forces operating to protect the Itamar settlement in the northern West Bank failed to “fully implement the defensible means available,” despite assessments that “recognized the existing threats,” the results of an investigation showed.
IDF: Palestinian police intentionally targeted worshipers at Joseph’s Tomb
Haaretz 29 May — Palestinian forces intentionally opened fire at Israeli Jewish worshipers last month, an Israel Defense Forces report concluded on Sunday, countering initial Palestinian claims that the shooting, which resulted in the death of one Israeli, was a mistake.Last month, Palestinian security forces opened fire on three cars full of Israelis who entered the West Bank compound of Joseph’s Tomb without permission and then tried to break through a local checkpoint.
Freedom Theatre without Juliano
AIC 29 May — … Almost two months have passed since the 4 April 2011 assassination of Juliano Mer-Khamis, director and a founder of the Freedom Theatre. Created in 2006 and located in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, the theatre project will survive the death of Mer-Khamis and will follow the path he blazed. So says Eyad Hurani, a young man from Ramallah who for the past three years has lived in Jenin, studying theatre and sharing hours with Juliano.
New Palestinian stamp on international passports
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 28 May — Palestinian artist Khalid Jrar launched a new campaign in which he invented a new stamp for the new sovereign state of Palestine and stamped foreigners’ passports with it to spread it all over the world. He didn’t wait for the declaration of the Palestinian state next September, but started looking for foreigners at Qalandia’s checkpoint to Ramallah’s bus station to stamp their passports … Most of the foreigners he met showed acceptance of his idea and offered their passports to carry the new stamp while others refused because they feared that they will not be able to enter Palestine again.
Bank of Israel governor sees growing support to replace IMF chief
Haaretz 29 May — Several of the world’s leading newspapers say they want to see Stanley Fischer as the next International Monetary Fund chief, and the Bank of Israel governor isn’t rejecting the option out of hand, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing an anonymous source.
Analysis / Opinion
‘Land Swaps’: Is there enough land to swap? / Nathan Jeffay
Forward 25 May — Tel Aviv — It is the magic formula that could end the occupation while letting the majority of settlers stay put. But how would an Israeli-Palestinian land swap, the basis of President Obama’s Middle East vision, outlined on May 19, actually work? … Every Israeli leader insists on retaining the large settlement blocs — usually defined at a minimum as the Etzion Bloc, Modi’in Illit, Ma’ale Adumim, and Givat Ze’ev and its surroundings — and the national consensus in support of this position is strong. But in Israel, many experts say there simply isn’t enough free land under Israeli sovereignty to exchange for them. [Why does no one mention that to a farmer on his family land held for generations, one piece of land is NOT like another, at all?  Can’t imagine most Palestinians accepting such an exchange, even if it were possible. Various pieces of land may seem to be much the same to ‘rootless cosmopolitan’, types, and those advocating this ‘solution’ may well fall into this category.]
Parallel states: a new vision for peace / Mark LeVine and Mathias Mossberg
AJ 28 May — …The language of sharing rather than division has long been associated with a binational or even one-state solution that have both been dismissed because their implementation would effectively mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state. But sovereignty and control can be shared while retaining a two-state structure that allows each side to secure and preserve its unique identity. Specifically, two states could be established in parallel over the same territory, both covering the whole area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. Termed a “parallel states” solution, this concept has been developed over the last four years by a team of Israeli, Palestinian and international scholars, policymakers and even protagonists in the conflict. It is built upon a new understanding of sovereignty that breaks the previously exclusive link with territory, and reorients the basis of identity, citizenship and rights away from land and towards the relation between the state and the individual citizen. Citizenship would follow the citizen wherever she or he may live within the territory of Israel/Palestine, not the territory itself.
Time to tear down fences / Rahela Mizrahi
EI 28 May — …Last week, images from Maroun al-Ras took me back to my youth, when after learning exactly what happened since 1948, my solidarity crossed all the way over to the ‘other’ side. Visiting my remaining family in the kibbutz, I am now met by electric fences, and the automatic gates no longer look natural. By committing the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the kibbutz’s founders predestined their grandchildren to live behind fences forever. According to an Arabic proverb, a thief does not sleep at night, and will not allow anyone else to sleep …
Hassan Hijazi crossed the Syrian border to the heart of the Zionist project: the white city of Tel Aviv. For a day he wandered around his hometown, Jaffa, a few years before its expected complete Judaization … For now, Tel Aviv exists as a European colonial bubble protected by the human shield of Sderot, the violent settlers in the West Bank and Jewish-Arab Mizrahim pushed by white gentrification to settlements such as Maale Adumin and Pisgat Zeev. But that bubble, surrounded by fences and more fences, is soon to pop. Welcome home to Jaffa, Hassan Hijazi — the first returning refugee! (listserv) (archive)

Nakba Day at Erez Crossing — and Naksa Day is next Sunday

May 30, 2011

Joe Catron

nilsanderssonnilsandersson2Photos by Nils Andersson.

I gasped as the first bullet struck a young man standing a few paces ahead of me. Watching him crumple to the ground, I struggled for breath and fought my natural urge to run. “Allahu Akbar!”, the crowd roared around me. “Yalla, Shebab!” A half-dozen other men – none of whom could have been older than twenty, and most of whom looked much younger – rushed forward, retrieving their fallen compatriot and carrying him quickly to a waiting ambulance. A thin trail of blood marked their path, ending in a small, dark puddle where the first of the day’s many gunshot victims had fallen.

Thousands of refugees and other Palestinians had gathered at the Erez Crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. An imposing military structure of massive concrete barriers and machine gunners’ towers, the border wall separates Gaza Strip residents from the 78% of Palestine seized by the State of Israel in 1948. For the two-thirds of residents who are refugees, it also prevents their return to the homes from which they and their families were forcibly expelled that year. Palestinians throughout the world remember this Nakba, or catastrophe, every May 15 with gatherings, demonstrations, and resolutions to someday return.

But this year would be different. Inspired by the popular uprisings against dictatorships across the Arab region, Palestinians were resolved to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of 711,000 people from their country by making history, rather than remembering it.

On the morning of May 15, Nakba Day, tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered around the borders of Israel and its occupied territories, determined to march to the homes and homeland denied to them for generations. In Beit Hanoun in Gaza, they walked from buses forced to stop kilometers from the crossing by the sheer numbers of the crowd. Many remained at checkpoints preceding the crossing. Others pressed forward, their eyes fixed on the distant gate.

The Israeli response came quickly.

Bullet after bullet penetrated the crowd of unarmed demonstrators, each one finding its target. Artillery shells pounded the sandy dunes around us, and after several hours, tear gas canisters hissed through the air. Over a hundred people were hospitalized with serious injuries, while elsewhere on the border, a 17-year old boy was killed by artillery fire. The rest of us escaped with tear gas inhalation, cuts from exploding concrete and shrapnel, and bloodstains from the limbs, torsos, and faces shattering around us.

Yet the demonstrators kept coming. After every retreat from gas, gunfire, or the thunderous boom of artillery, there was another surge. Only when the sheer brutality of the Israeli forces had sufficiently depleted the number of those capable of pressing forward did the strength of the crowd begin to wane.

And somehow, the overall mood remained one of measured, but tangible joy. The victory sign was everywhere, and smiles were common not only on the runners ferrying injured marchers to medical attention, but also on the young men and women they carried. Everyone seemed to intuitively sense that they were doing something historic, closing one chapter in the long, painful struggle for Palestinian freedom and opening another one that offered more hope for a happy ending.

Elsewhere, the state violence inflicted upon peaceful marchers was even worse. At the border between Syria and the occupied Golan Heights, Israeli gunfire killed four of them, while in Lebanon, ten suffered the same fate. Hundreds, if not thousands, were seriously injured.

But like the returnees in Beit Hanoun, those from Lebanon and Syria refused to be dissuaded by military repression. Dozens of the latter poured through Israeli barriers, spending hours in the welcoming villages of the occupied Golan Heights before leaving under the protection of their Syrian hosts. One, Hassan Hijazi, made it all the way to the Jaffa home from which his family was exiled in 1948. Before surrendering to Israeli police, the 28-year old told journalists, “I wasn’t afraid and I’m not afraid. On the bus to Jaffa, I sat next to Israeli soldiers. I realized that they were more afraid than I was.”

Hijazi’s seven million fellow Palestinian refugees aren’t afraid either. On Sunday, June 5, they will return to the borders created to exclude them, and perhaps beyond. Like the 63rd Nakba Day, this 44th anniversary of the Naksa, or setback – Israel’s 1967 occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and subsequent expulsion of 300,000 additional refugees – promises a commemoration like none before it.

June 5 will not determine the outcome of the Palestinian movement for return. That outcome was already determined by the decades of grassroots organizing and popular struggle that culminated in the historic mobilization of May 15. Its finality can be glimpsed in grievances by Western media like Reuters that “[t]he Palestinians who forced their way across Israel’s border on Sunday turned back the clock on the Middle East conflict, putting centre stage the refugee question that many believed would be negotiated away,” and confirmed by the sweaty, stammered insistence of Zionists like Benjamin Netanyahu that “it’s not going to happen. Everybody knows it’s not going to happen.”

Those suddenly forced to defend not only the brutal excesses of their system, but the very racism of ethnic cleansing, exclusion, and apartheid upon which its existence relies, find themselves in a situation both uncomfortable and unprecedented. They have no reason to expect it to become easier in the coming months, as further waves of returning refugees push their fight for justice closer to the center of the world’s attention.

But June 5 will shape the outline of this next chapter in the Palestinian saga: its intensity, its length, and what follows it. Was May 15 a singular moment, or perhaps one suited for occasional repetition? Or was it the harbinger of a sustained, consistent struggle to come, a Third Intifada simultaneously challenging Israel from within, on every border, and across the globe?

Palestinians have amply demonstrated their ability to resist occupation over the long haul, while the global solidarity network supporting them has reacted capably to atrocities like the slaughters of 1,400 Palestinians during Operation Cast Lead and nine passengers on the first Freedom Flotilla. If these two movements can organize and mobilize as effectively now, seizing a unique opportunity to take the offensive and keep it, the Palestinian freedom struggle could prove a quicker and more decisive one than many of us had dared to hope.

Joe Catron is a resident of Brooklyn, New York and a current member of the International Solidarity Movement – Gaza Strip. He writes in a personal capacity.

‘The Israel Lobby’ — the docudrama. Part 1, the Prophecy

May 30, 2011

Ben Fishbein

This screenplay is a work of fiction. Almost all details have been invented, although the historical backdrop is largely accurate. Some public figures’ real names have been used as talismans of the important political reality in which the story is based, but the details of their lives– imagined.

I. October 1973. A thin man of 65 is walking through Washington. His face is pale above a proper uniform, blazer and dark wool slacks. He recognizes a friend in an oldfashioned suit walking ahead of him and rushes up to tap him on the shoulder. The man turns around and glares at him from a rotting face. The nightmare sequence is repeated twice–dead faces in old suits.

Wilson wakes up from his dream. In the twinbed beside his, his wife wears a mask against the morning light.

II. Now it is daytime and Wilson is walking through downtown Washington, past Lafayette Park across from the White House. A big pro-Israel rally is taking place. Israel has been overrun at the start of the October war. A woman on a bullhorn shouts that the Jewish state that made the desert bloom and served the U.S. again and again is now on the verge of destruction and the American government doesn’t care. Wilson flinches as a demonstrator lunges past him on the sidewalk, then smiles frozenly when another hands him a flyer. It has an image of barbed wire crisscrossing a map of Israel under the words, Never again? Wilson slips it into a trash can.

He hangs his blazer in the hall closet. Home is a townhouse on a narrow street near Dupont Circle. There are a few artifacts from the East among the furnishings, a tapestry, a large Berber rug. His wife is on the couch doing a crossword. They enjoy a simple joyless dinner in the kitchen. Fish and broccoli. The television is on, a small black and white. Nixon announces that he is airlifting arms to Israel to save the Jewish state. Wilson’s wife glances at him but his face is impassive.

She: “Mrs. Elkind was at Betty’s garden club lunch.”

He: “Remind me.”

“Your son was dating her daughter. Till her mother objected.”

“I thought you objected.”

“Sometimes I can’t believe what passes for your memory.”

“Well I thought you did.”

“I didn’t say anything. She did. It was the one thing we could agree on. And today she said that you were an Arabist.”

“And what did you say?”

“Well I didn’t think so. You had ambassadorial grade when you retired and you worked with four presidents.”

Wilson has an ironical smile. “Arabist. It is a polite way of saying anti-semite.”

“Evan, please. I knew I shouldn’t have told you.”

“Next time you must agree with her, and ask her what is someone who tries to understand the Jewish condition in Europe or the Middle East, a Jewist?”

“I don’t know why I tell you these things.”

She watches All in the Family, and he goes back to a room that serves as sewing room and storage and study. Between oil paintings of the Wilson children there are framed 8-by-10 photographs of four presidents on the wall. Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy. Wilson opens a rolltop desk and scrapes around the little drawers till he finds an old address book filled with penciled and ink-scratched names. He finds what he is looking for, Henderson, an entry with many scratched-out numbers. He picks up a dial phone. In Arkansas, a woman answers.

Wilson: “Hello. Is Loy there?”

“Who do I say is calling?”


After a long interval, a man’s voice comes on, deep with a slight southern accent, irritated. “Why you calling Evan?”

“You watch the news.”

“I told you not to call me.”


“That’s right, unless life depends. Alright Evan.”

“Loy why do I remember the name Elkind?”

There is a grunt and pause. “Rabbi. ACJ.”

“They were on our side?”

“Yeah, but I hate to break it to you Evan, we failed.”

The line goes dead.

III. A week or so later. A classroom at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Tom Friedman doesn’t have his signature mustache yet, but he holds a telescoping steel pointer as he gives a lecture to his fellow students with a map of Israel and Palestine and the surrounding countries. He describes the miracle of the Six Day War, how the Israelis took out the Syrian air force on the ground. He is enthusiastic, makes a chalk outline of the Sinai and draws a giant blue arrow across it.

A tall blond teaching assistant watches from the front desk, clearly impressed but mildly skeptical. He has fencing gear at his side, he’s half a jock.

He asks, “There wasn’t a way to avert that war?”

Friedman stops, annoyed. “The Arabs wanted war, Steve. Nasser blockaded the straits of Tiran.” Again, the pointer. “It is one of Israel’s only vital ports.”

The teacher presses. “But wasn’t there an expansionist aim to the war? And is that why this one is happening now?”

Friedman is graveled for a moment, then holds the pointer up to Tel Aviv and then glides it over to Jenin in the West Bank. “I don’t think you appreciate the geography, Steve. This distance here is smaller than the distance from where we are standing to the Mississippi River in St. Paul. The Arabs live here in the Judean hills. They can rain down rockets on the largest city in Israel. They often have. What choice does that leave Israel?

“What would we do if St. Paul declared war on us and massed troops on the other side of the Mississippi.”

He turns to the classroom. “But I guess the rockets wouldn’t reach Steve in Minnetonka.” It’s a jab at the affluent suburb he believes Steve Walt lives in.

Walt grins uncomfortably and slouches back in his seat, defeated. Friedman returns to his excited chalktalk of the Sinai.

“Now here is the position of the Golani Brigade,” he says. “They are the elite. All Israelis have to serve in the armed forces, but the Golani is taken from the very, very–“

IV. A week or two have gone by. Wilson sits at the dining room table, ruminating. A newspaper is unread before him, alongside a crystal vase of cut flowers. The headlines are blaring. The Syrians have been routed. The Egyptians are trapped in the Mitla pass in Sinai. There is a photo of young Ariel Sharon. He has enveloped the Egyptians. There is a photograph of a charred tank with charred corpses in the desert.

Wilson is tormented. He goes upstairs then climbs a small wooden ladder into the attic and frees the cap on the roof to give himself some light. There are many boxes piled here and there from his diplomatic service. He moves boxes around till he finds 1947-50, marked Partition, Recognition. He drags the box out into the light and prises the top loose. A mouse flies out the back of the box and gives Wilson a start. A lot of the papers have been chewed up to make bedding for mice.

Wilson lifts out an intact folder. Inside is a copy of the letter from Secretary of State George Marshall to Harry Truman alerting him that the Zionists have announced the establishment of a Jewish state, on May 14, 1948. The typewritten words Jewish state have been crossed out with a pencil, and an aide has written “Israel” into the memorandum.

Wilson is frozen half in shadow and light. He flashes back 25 years.

He is youngish, in the ornate Indian Treaty Room of the Old Executive Office Building. Secretary of State Marshall has just received the typed memo from an aide and pencils his initials on it grimly and hands it to Wilson to bring to the White House. Wilson has started down the checkerboard tiled hall when the phone rings and Marshall comes to the door and calls out to him. He motions for the letter and crosses the words “Jewish state” out with a pencil and writes in Israel. Wilson goes clattering down the wide marble stairwell of the OEOB.

V. Weeks have elapsed. A middle class neighborhood in Philadelphia. A few boys and girls are playing touch football in a worn-to-dirt back yard. Inside the house, Douglas Feith sits at the kitchen table, typing a letter to the New York Times. Douglas is 14, precocious, with shaggy hair and glasses. He stops at the word Sinai and tries several spellings, sounding the letters out in the air, before he grabs a nearby atlas. He reads aloud as he types.

“Israel cannot sacrifice the Sinai, it will have no security. The Bible mentions the Sinai many times when it speaks of the kingdom of David.…”

There are footsteps and young Douglas looks up. His father is home from work, standing in the kitchen door, wearing a white short-sleeved shirt. On the wall is a portrait of Theodore Herzl. The father leans over the boy’s shoulder and jabs the page, where his son has written Nasser.

“You’re spelling it wrong,” he says. “It’s M-o-m-s-e-r.”

The son looks up quizzically. “No I’m not. It’s N-a-s-s-e-r.”

“Nasser the Momser. That’s the only name for him.”

The son gets a flabbergasted look, momser is Yiddish for bastard. “I can’t write that in the New York Times.”

“They’re goyim, what do they know?”

The son turns his face determinedly to the typewriter and continues his work. As he types, the father drops an open letter in front of his son. It is from the Holocaust museum. They want to know if there are any photographs of Dalck Feith’s five brothers and sisters.

“We have pictures,” the son declares.

“They’re not getting them.”

“Dad come on.”

The father picks up the letter. “These are the same bastards who didn’t bomb the railroads when they could. And now they want pictures? Feh.”

He walks out of the room and the son peers back at his letter.

VI. Wilson moves purposely down the street in downtown Washington and pushes open the big coffered brass door of the National Archives. He submits a slip and the curators wheel out a cart with eight grey document boxes piled on it. He lifts them on to his desk and the curator hands him a rules sheet. He has to use a pencil, and put on white gloves when he is handling the photographs. The oil in your fingertips can ruin the emulsion on photographs. We see him turning slowly through the pages with a glazed expression on his face. We see his own name on documents. Secretary of the Anglo-American Inquiry Commission. 1947.

He opens a box of photographs and there is David Ben-Gurion. Wilson looks off in another brown study.

The scene changes to David Ben-Gurion and Chaim Weizman at a table in London. Fans are going. The windows are open.

“The Jewish connection to the land is unquestionable, it goes back 3000 years. There were Jews living in Jerusalem before Christians, before Muslims,” Ben Gurion is saying. ‘

Weizmann leads forward. He is older, balder, looks like Lenin with his little beard. “The Jews have brought incredible riches all over the land. The land is flourishing as never before because of scientific achievements.”

“I was asking about Jerusalem,” an Englishman with a plummy accent insists. “What are the Zionist plans for Jerusalem?”

Ben Gurion glances at Weizmann and Weizmann leans forward again. “We have no plans for Jerusalem. It would be an international city.”

Young Wilson sits watching, wearing a linen suit. Someone touches his shoulder. He goes to a back office and is on a telephone. He speaks Arabic with an American accent. It is a very tense call. It is back and forth for a minute or two, and an older commissioner in a dark suit stands there watching him. Wilson hangs up.

“They’re not coming.”

“They’re not. You mean the Egyptians?”

Wilson shakes his head. “The Egyptians. The Syrians too. The Saudis. They say they see what is unfolding. They don’t wish to be a party to it. They will be sending us a letter.”

The door opens and a lean darkhaired man in a suit comes in wearing a yarmulke.

“I’m looking for a Mr. Wilson.”

“Yes sir, that’s me.”

“Rabbi Elkind. ACJ. The American Council for Judaism.”

“Yes I got your telegram. You will testify?”

“Of course. This is very serious. The idea of a land without a people for a people without a land—Zangwill’s idea– well the land already has people and we are not a people, we are a world religion, and a civilization. The claim that we are a people is a nationalist conceit, born in the 19th century.”

Wilson sighs, defeated. He sees at once that the man is an intellectual not a streetfighter.

VII. Wilson’s living room. A day or two later. Wilson and his wife sit with the newspaper and the mail in mid-morning. It is obviously a ritual. There are cut flowers on the table and Mrs. Wilson moves efficiently through the letters, till she comes to what looks to be a large wedding invitation with formal calligraphy on it.

“Why Liddie Elkind is getting married after all!” his wife says.

“Not to Bobby.”

“No not to Bobby,” his wife says thinly.

“That was a narrow escape. Who is she marrying?” “Some graduate student from Minnesota.”

“Another Jew?”

“I don’t think so. The wedding is private with a judge. There is a party after.”

Wilson turns his head away and puts the paper down. He has his first feeling of resolution and determination since the beginning of the docudrama, and maybe for the last 30 years.

“I am going to write a book,” he says, thinking out loud.

“You. Write a book? You can barely write a shopping list. About what, Evan.”

He flushes and puts down the paper, already reconsidering. “The Easter bunny.”

“The Easter bunny?” He drops the paper and starts up the steps.

“The Easter Bunny and Liddy Elkind’s Jewish boyfriend, it will be a potboiler.”

“Don’t be silly with me Evan.”

“The Israel lobby,” he calls down absently.

“The Israel bunny?”

He is at the bottom of the attic steps, about to go up to his boxes, and calls down loudly, “The Israel lobby!!”

VIII. It’s that night. Another bad night for Wilson. He is tossing and turning and groaning. His wife gets out earplugs for herself but Wilson continues to writhe.

He is back in his nightmare of the streets. He goes up to old friends and when they turn their faces are rotted.

He wakes up and lies there. His eyes open and they are like the gates of hell, black and staring. He is sweating. He sits up at last on the bed and holds his knees. Brooks Brother boxer shorts with little hanging sheep on them. His chest heaves as if he has run a marathon.

He has had a kind of backward vision. As he collects his breath we see what he prompted his dream.

It is a meeting in the White House. Truman is there and Marshall and Acheson and Dulles. They call on young Wilson to read a statement. The paper trembles in his hand.

“Even the most cursory survey of Arab opinion suggests the grimmest prospects: that a Jewish state in Palestine can only be established by force, and it can only be preserved by force.”

He sits up on the bed sweating. Everything he said has come true. There was a war in ’48, a war in ’56, a war in ’67 and now this one in ’73. He thinks about Folke Bernadotte killed at a checkpoint in Jerusalem in ’48. He thinks of Bobby Kennedy killed in the Los Angeles hotel kitchen. He thinks of the charred bodies in the tanks of the Sinai. They are all fulfillment of the prophecy.

To be continued.

The radicalization of antiwar congressman Walter Jones, R-S.C.

May 30, 2011

Philip Weiss

Beautiful report by George C. Wilson at the Nation on South Carolina Congressman Walter Jones’s crusade to get American out of Afghanistan. Joined by antiwar Democrats, like Filner and Woolsey and Schakowsky (Oh Jan where are you on Israel!) and Kucinich, and Republican Ron Paul. The greatness of this piece is: We are all born into certain attitudes. I was born into them in the Jewish liberal East Coast. When we grow up we get to think for ourselves. Walter Jones is thinking for himself, about America’s crazy foreign policy. From Wilson’s piece:

Even though more retired military people live in Jones’s district than in most other districts in the country, he has discovered that many marines who served in Afghanistan agree with him that the United States is fighting a hopeless, never-ending war for a corrupt government. Jones, who gets down on his knees every night to pray for God’s guidance on the issues he will be voting on in the House of Representatives, is conscience-stricken about all the American lives being lost or ruined in Afghanistan and Iraq. His conscience, laminated to his guilt for voting to invade Iraq in 2002, has radicalized this conservative Republican from rural North Carolina into doing everything he can to get the roughly 100,000 US troops in Afghanistan the hell out of there.

Jones is seeking co-sponsors on a bill that would force President Obama to send a plan to Congress to pull all our troops out of Afghanistan. Jones is especially eager to win over Republicans to his side in hopes of compelling Boehner to become more flexible on the pullout. As of the May Congressional recess, Jones had forty-one co-sponsors signed up, including seven Republicans.

Jones has allied himself with liberal Democrat Dennis Kucinich on many issues raised by the “war on terror” and Obama’s decision in late March to go to war against the Libyan government without bothering to get Congressional authorization. “We must not let any war continue absent legal authorization by Congress,” Kucinich said. He contends that Obama not only violated the War Powers Act of 1973 but also the Constitution, which empowers Congress, not the president, to declare war and provide for the common defense, in Arti-
cle 1, Section 8. Kucinich has vowed to force a vote in the House “to end US military operations in Libya.” Jones and Kucinich are discussing filing suit in federal court to force a judicial ruling on whether Obama overstepped his constitutional bounds regarding Libya.

Jones is also a point man in an effort in the House to grab back from the president the powers the founding fathers gave Congress to declare war and provide for the common defense…

Here is Jones’s brief for withdrawing from Afghanistan as early as December 31, drawn from our talks and his recent statements on the House floor and in news conferences:

§â€ˆ”Afghanistan will never be changed,” no matter how many troops we send there or how many billions we spend in the corruptly led country. “Great leaders and great nations have tried to change Afghanistan. We’re trying to change a country that no one else has changed. It’s different from Iraq in a multitude of ways. At least Iraq had a semblance of government. Afghanistan has none of that.”

§â€ˆThe Afghan Infrastructure Fund of $400 million “would help create another ‘bridge to nowhere,’” Jones contended in championing an amendment to eliminate the money. It is “going to be borrowed money from the Chinese to begin with…. We’re propping up a corrupt, dishonest government headed by President Karzai,” he said. “And we’re going to say to the American people, we can’t help you with your infrastructure needs in your counties, in your towns.” Jones’s amendment was defeated 294 to 135, but he got ninety-nine Democrats and thirty-six Republicans, including Republican Fred Upton of Michigan, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to vote with him.

§â€ˆ”I want to share very quickly a letter from a retired colonel who’s a marine [who] lives in my district,” Jones told his House colleagues. He quoted: “‘I would have been on my third or fourth deployment by now to a war that has gone on too long…. It makes no sense if we’re there four years or forty. The results will be the same…. This war is costing the United States billions of dollars a month to wage, and we still continue to get more young Americans killed. The Afghan war has no end state for us.’”

Some questions about a transition to one state

May 30, 2011


It has been a little over a year since John Mearsheimer gave his talk “The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews versus New Afrikaners” which clearly and unequivocally predicted that the I-P conflict would end with the One State Solution. A year of shock and recognition has now led to great curiosity about the how the transition to One State is going to come about. I would like to ask some open-ended questions and elicit the response, and the knowledge base of the Mondoweiss community. I encourage critical responses to all the questions and points that I’m bringing up here. The essential questions are in bold.

Inability to get recognition at UN – Sep 2011

Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad is making his push for UN recognition of Palestine in September 2011, following his two year state-building program. However, the vote in the Security Council is virtually certain to be vetoed by the Security Council. Joseph Deiss, the President of the UN General Assembly, said that there was no way that the UNGA would go ahead with a vote on Palestine statehood without a recommendation from the Security Council.  Approval in the Security Council can be expected to by blocked by an American veto.

Thus it appears that the September vote will fail to achieve the desired goal of UN recognition of statehood in September. The Palestinians will have a choice thereafter to continue with the status-quo, which is more palatable for the leadership, while providing sustenance to the Occupation. The alternative choice is to take the One State road, the first step of which is the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority.

Dissolution of the Palestinian Authority

How is the dissolution of the PA going to take place? The international donors funding the PA support hundreds of thousands of Palestinian workers in the West Bank, and of course power and prestige for the leaders. First question, I would like to know if the dissolution of the PA would create a hardship so difficult that it is impossible? I’ll then ask the question in a softer way: if not impossible, is it merely improbable? Will Israel succeed in forestalling the One State Solution for decades to come by buying off Palestinians with PA jobs?

While I can see that dissolution of the PA, and demands by Palestinian citizens for a binational state will be a powerful force, Palestinians must be willing to pull the trigger on it. That means giving up the idea of an independent state. If Palestinians are flatly unwilling to give up on the independent Palestinian state, and they stick to it like glue, then the Israelis might win and the Palestinians will get Bantustans for a long time to come.

I would like to ask commenters, particularly Palestinian commenters, what is the feeling and thinking in the Palestinian community regarding attachment to the state, overriding the leverage created by dissolving the state and making the conflict exclusively about voting rights?

Is it sufficient for Palestinians to have a only a cultural identity, as opposed to an exclusive national identity?

Following the Push for One State

I agree with Mearsheimer’s overall outline that the apparent nature of Israel as an Apartheid state. The framing of the issue as one of voting rights seems powerful, in that it resonates with America’s civil rights history. However, the Zionist hold on American thinking processes is also powerful. Is it conceivable that even after the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority, that the American public still would not be persuaded to extend equal voting rights to Palestinians?

The visit by Netanyahu to Congress and AIPAC, showed a frightening level of power over Congress, akin to a hammerlock. Is it possible that the power of the Israel Lobby is so strong in the US, and to some degree the EU, that even if the PA dissolves itself, that there still would be no effective action?

Is it possible that BDS would fail to be of sufficient power to effect change? Is it possible that even if there were a realistic medium degree of European BDS, that American, Canadian, Chinese and Russian trading would simply fill the gap?

There is a danger that the One State threat is a bluff that will be called by Israel. The danger is that Israel will buy off the PA and the Palestinians and give just enough progress to keep it from dissolving itself. In other words, find ways to continue the time-wasting negotiation game.

Demographic picture of One State

The demographic reunification of Israel-Palestine has three stages: integration of the West Bank, integration of Gaza, and the resettlement of those refugees that wish to return.

The current Jewish/Palestinian demographic ratio in Israel is 75.3%/20.5% .

With West Bank-only (no Gaza) integration, the ratio is 56.6%/40.3%.

With West Bank and Gaza integration, the ratio is 48.8%/48.4%.

With West Bank, Gaza, and return and integration of refugees from Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan (specifically those still in camps, and without Jordanian government services) the ratio is 44.2%/53.4%.

The numbers don’t add up to 100% because of citizens who are neither Jewish nor Palestinian.

The question being asked here is: Will the changes in demography, created by Palestinian integration in the One State Solution, materially affect how Americans, Europeans, and others feel about BDS of Israel? Will the Israel Lobby be able to use the demographic picture to block effectiveness of BDS?

I recognize that these questions are very difficult, but Mondoweiss has numerous well read readers who have already have insight on questions that I am only beginning to ask. I look forward to investigation of how the One State Solution will ever be brought about, or if, in fact, it will be.

When Satloff says 1967 is a ‘major departure from policy,’ he’s wrong

May 30, 2011

Michael Several

In an opinion piece written for the Jewish Journal on May 24, Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the Washington Institute of Middle East Policy, characterized President Obama’s statement that “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states” as “a major departure from long-standing U.S. policy.” That simply is false.

First, the Congress of the United States recognizes the importance and significance of the 1967 border. Public Law 108-11, enacted in 2003 to provide among other items, $9 billion dollars in loan guarantees to Israel, states:

“That guarantees may be issued under this section only to support activities in the geographic areas which were subject to the administration of the Government of Israel before June 5, 1967: Provided further, That the amount of guarantees that may be issued shall be reduced by an amount equal to the amount extended or estimated to have been extended by the Government of Israel during the period from March 1, 2003, to the date of issue of the guarantee, for activities which the President determines are inconsistent with the objectives and understandings reached between the United States and the Government of Israel regarding the implementation of the loan guarantee program: Provided further, That the President shall submit a report to Congress no later than September 30 of each fiscal year during the pendency of the program specifying the amount calculated under the preceding proviso and that will be deducted from the amount of guarantees authorized to be issued in the next fiscal year”. According to the Congressional Research Service, “in 2003 and 2005, the United States reduced loan guarantees to Israel by an amount equal to Israel’s estimated spending on settlement construction in the West Bank and Gaza Strip”.

Second, numerous statements were made from 2009 through 2010 by government officials that made the same points that President Obama made. The following are some of those statements:

Clinton Remarks with Egyptian FM Gheit, 11/4/09:

We would not be having this discussion if we had reached a deal [in 2000], because as you remember, the parameters that were laid out would have recognized a state on the ’67 borders with some swapping of land agreeable to both sides, and it would have also established the capital for the Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, and it would have created a shared responsibility with international support to protect the holy places that are holy to all three major religions.

Clinton Remarks after meeting with Jordan FM Nasser Judeh, 1/8/10:

The United States believes that through good faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.

Clinton remarks: AIPAC, 3/22/10.

But, we believe – (applause) – we believe that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree to an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the ‘67 lines, with agreed swaps, and Israel’s goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israel’s security requirements. (Applause.)

Clinton Remarks at U.S.-Islamic Forum, 4/14/10

We believe that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.

Remarks by Ambassador Alejandro D. Wolff, U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations, on the Middle East, in the Security Council Chamber, April 14, 2010

Only through good-faith negotiations can the parties mutually agree on an outcome that ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.

Clinton remarks: opening of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, 4/15/10

But as a good friend, we believe that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree to an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the ‘67 lines, with agreed swaps, and Israel’s goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israel’s security requirements.

Remarks by Andrew J. Shapiro, Assistant Secretary, Political-Military Affairs, at the Brookings Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Washington, DC, July 16, 2010

We believe that through good faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.

Clinton speech ATFP, 10/20/10

We remain convinced that if they persevere with negotiations, the parties can agree on an outcome that ends the conflict; reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps – (applause) – and Israel’s goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israel’s security requirements. (Applause.)

For Satloff to now characterize President Obama’s statement as a major departure from U.S. policy because he was the first president to say this principle, you would have to believe that our State Department and our mission to the United Nations do not speak for the government they represent. With all due respect to Mr. Satloff, such a belief is nonsense.

Michael Several co-edits the website, Settlements in Palestine.

Learning Torah in the West Bank, with the protection of the IDF, and US donations

May 30, 2011

Philip Weiss

The following is part of an email from Yaakov David Ha’ivri, who directs the Shomron Liaison Office, which supports Israeli settlers in the Nablus area of the northern West Bank. I’m leaving his spelling as is.

Dear Friends, Please see below information on the concert we have planed to celebarte Jerusalem day this coming Teusday night. The amazing miricles of the Six Day War with the return of our holy city Jerusalem and all of our bibical heartland Judea and Samaria to the Jewish people is a clear mark of the begining of the redemtion of our people and the honor of HaShem. I hope that you can join us at the concert and if you can’t be there in person that you will tak part through a donation to help sponsor the event. If you would like to make a donation online you can do so via paypal at this link…

or send a check to: Shuva Israel PO Box:

27255 Austin TX 78755 USA

And this is from the Shomron site, for Tuesday night, they’re planning a visit to Joseph’s Tomb.

On the day of the liberation of Jerusalem and the Shomron We are giving thanks to Hashem and taking a firm hold of our homeland. On Tuesday, the eve of the 28th of Iyar (31/5/2011) We will go up to Mitzpeh Yosef at the top of Mount Gerizim, overlooking Shechem, with the cry: Kever Yosef must be given equal status with the Machpela Cave!

We demand free passage into Yosef’s resting place for people coming to pray and to learn Torah under the IDf’s complete jurisdiction.

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