Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Mustafa Barghouthi’s 2-state/1-state straddle

Jun 01, 2011

Philip Weiss

Yesterday the Atlanta Journal Constitution ran a fine piece by Mustafa Barghouthi, the Palestinian leader, saying that he could support a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders– but forget about this land-swaps business. As he explains:

Our best West Bank land and aquifers would go to Israeli settlements in exchange for sub-standard land elsewhere. Already, Israel uses 80 percent of West Bank water resources and on a per capita basis Israeli settlers use approximately 48 times more water than Palestinians. The current unjust water distribution is likely to be made permanent if Israel keeps settlements, all of which are illegal under international law.

Israel’s retention of settlement blocs and a military presence in the Jordan Valley will make our state noncontiguous and nonviable. Our state would be little more than disconnected Bantustans.

Barghouthi is on an American swing and I saw him last Thursday at the Nation. He’s a very impressive statesman– tough, thoughtful, seasoned, charming, goodlooking. The sort of person you hope will help to lead a country before long.

During that session Barghouthi said that Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was the “death sentence of the two-state solution” because it promised Bantustans and ghettoes. And if Netanyahu really believes that life for Palestinians inside Israel is such a paradise– Israel offers the best political conditions for Arabs anywhere in the region, Netanyahu said– then why not extend those freedoms to all the other Palestinians, in a one-state solution?

I found Barghouthi’s position a little too clever, and during the Q-and-A, I asked this question: Two years ago I heard you speak in Palestine, outside the Ofer prison, and say that if Israel can’t give Palestinians a viable state, why can’t we try living in one democratic state. Well now it’s two years later, there are tons more settlers, and I hear you saying the same thing. Why don’t you tell us what your vision is of the future?

To his credit, Barghouthi didn’t pause. I think the one state solution is the best idea, he said. (This isn’t an exact quote; I was taking occasional notes, the session was recorded but has not yet been posted at the Nation site).

I said, Well why not make that your program?

He said, “We will not fall into the same trap [as we did in the past]… of allowing them to accuse us of destroying the two state solution.” If Israel really does leave the occupied territories, then we can talk about a two-state solution and talk about a federated agreement between states. But that, he said, would be a “miracle.”

So isn’t it just rhetoric, I said, when you talk about the two-state solution?

Barghouthi said, “The first day we declare that we are giving up on a two-state solution… they will say, you are the ones who want to destroy Israel.”

I left the meeting with enormous sympathy for Barghouthi. He knows what happened to Arafat after Camp David. Clinton blamed the failure of the talks on him, and even today Eliot Spitzer echoes that theme on his cable show. (Yes and when will a Palestinian have a cable show?) Barghouthi knows how slanted the American discourse is in favor of the Jewish state, so he can’t be seen to oppose it, and yet he surely doesn’t believe in a Jewish state– as a man born in Jerusalem who can’t even go to his birthplace!

As always, I thought about American Jews. Barghouthi cannot be clear about his program, I believe, because American Jews are wed to the idea of the need for a Jewish state. If they were not wed to this idea– if they accepted the possibility that they might not need a second state to run to when things get hot here– it would liberate Barghouthi to discuss these issues frankly in the U.S., and surely lead to more flexible American policymaking overseas.

But maybe that’s another miracle?

Palestinians consider legal maneuver to overcome US veto of statehood in Security Council come September

Jun 01, 2011


and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property, resource theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Settlers
Hundreds of Israelis march through East Jerusalem under heavy security
Haaretz 1 June — Police arrest 15 people in clashes following a flag procession marking 44 years since Jerusalem’s reunification in the 1967 Six-Day War … About 30,000 Israelis were expected to take part in the march through Sheikh Jarrah, past a contentious Jewish enclave there … Two of the left-wing activists protesting the march were reportedly arrested. Five residents of East Jerusalem were arrested after hurling stone at the march. Near Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate, five Jewish men were arrested after uttering nationalistic calls at nearby Israeli Arabs and reportedly attempting to strike them. In the city’s Hanevi’im Street, two marchers were arrested after hurling objects at Israeli Arabs passing nearby. No injuries were reported in any of the incidents. In a separate incident, One man was arrested after entering a Sheikh Jarrah mosque, waving a flag.
Police arrest Palestinian journalists outside Al-Aqsa
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 1 June — Israeli forces arrested two Palestinian journalists in the Al-Aqsa courtyard today at 1pm. Muna Qawasmi of Al-Quds newspaper and Maisa Abu-Ghazaleh were seized by Israeli police, who alleged that the two had been following Jewish groups in the Old City and photographing them. Witnesses state the police confiscated the journalists’ mobile phones and cameras on the spot. Qawasmi and Abu-Ghazaleh were then transferred first to Bab Alsilsila police station then Alqishla in Jaffa Gate.
$8.4 million European-Palestinian agreement to support Jerusalem projects
MEMO 1 June — On Tuesday, May 31, the Palestinian Authority and the European Union signed a €6 million agreement (approximately $8.4 million) to support developmental, cultural, educational, health, humanitarian, and human law projects in Jerusalem.  The head of the Palestinian Authority President’s office, Hussein Al Araj, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Palestinian side, was quoted by official PA media sources as saying that he hoped that the plan would receive Arab and Muslim support in combating Israeli schemes to Judaize Jerusalem.
Israeli forces arrest five children while playing
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 1 June — Five Palestinian children were arrested by Israeli forces in Silwan at 3:45pm today. Amer Walid Siyam (7), Tamer Walid Siyam (11), Ahmed Khaled Rajaby (11), Mohammed Ibrahim Riwadi (10) and Rawnaq Zaki Zaytun (8) were playing when they were seized by Israeli forces from Alwar Hill between Bir Ayyub and Alabasya districts. Residents state that the situation had been quiet in the region at the time of the arrests. The Israeli forces were seen leaving an Elad settlement in the area to close in on the children. As yet the children’s families have not been notified as to where they are being held.
Israeli forces storm Bir Ayyub
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 1 June — A convoy of Israeli military vehicles stormed Bir Ayyub district last night at 7pm, kidnapping two children. Tamer, 10, and an unknown youth were taken by Israeli troops. Tamer’s mother told Silwanic that his father is already imprisoned, on a double life sentence, while his eldest brother Tha‘er, 19, has been serving a house arrest sentence for the last two weeks. “I’m afraid for my son,” she said.”“I am powerless in the fact of this repression and systematic targeting of our children.” A spate of child arrests has gripped Silwan in recent days, despite an otherwise calm atmosphere in the area.
Israeli forces raid Ein Aluza house, one arrested
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 1 June — A large force of Israeli troops stormed a Palestinian home in Ein Aluza district last night at 11pm. No explanation was given by troops to Ibrahim Odeh, the house owner, for the kidnapping of his son, Fadi Odeh, 16.
Youths seized by Israeli special forces
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 1 June — Israeli special forces kidnapped two Palestinian boys from Wadi Hilweh district of Silwan late last night. Murad al-Banna, 18, and an unknown youth were seized by troops last night on the pretext of stone-throwing and involvement in local protests. Al-Banna had been on his way home from a gathering to mourn the death of a relative in the Al-Bustan region when he was arrested. Al-Banna’s brother told Silwanic that the allegations of stone-throwing are clearly falsified, given that his hand is currently broken. “How could Murad throw a stone with a broken hand?” he asked. “Moreover, Silwan was quiet last night – no protests!”
Report: Israel has rounded up 1,200 minors [in Jerusalem] since start of 2010
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC) 31 May — A report released Tuesday reveals a drastic escalation in friction between Israeli police and the Palestinian citizens of Jerusalem, especially those in the Silwan and Al-Issawiyya districts. Issued by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the report documents that police since the beginning of 2010 rounded up 1,200 Palestinians suspected of throwing stones and kept some 760 of them in custody. About a third of those arrested were indicted and imprisoned until the end of the legal proceedings, the ACRI said. “The large numerical gap between the youth who were questioned and arrested and those who were actually indicted speaks to the suspicions of Palestinians, who believe that most of these arrests and interrogations are intended solely to intimidate the minors,” the report says.
Celebrating United Jerusalem – in Sheikh Jarrah / Adam Keller
28 May — On June 7, 1967 IDF soldiers entered the Old City of Jerusalem. This historic event left the famous photos, shown at any Israeli history book, of paratroopers crying with joy at the Wailing Wall. Three days later, in the early evening hours of June 10, the paratroopers were followed by the State of Israel’s bulldozers, making an impressive debut appearance in East Jerusalem. All residents of the Mughrabi Quarter, which was founded in 1193 and had been part of the Jerusalem landscape for nearly eight centuries, were ordered to evacuate their homes immediately. The entire quarter – 135 houses were destroyed and completely razed within hours. All traces were removed and the large, impressive Wailing Wall Plaza came into being. It is likely that during this historic event, too, some tears were shed, but the photographers were no longer present. To commemorate these exciting events, the State of Israel set up the annual Jerusalem Day
PM: Jerusalem being abandoned
Ynet 1 June — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lamented the fact that Jerusalem’s youth are “abandoning” the city but vowed to make infrastructure changes that would change this. Speaking at a special Knesset hearing held in honor of Jerusalem Day, Netanyahu promised to build more schools and improve transportation to and within the city … On Tuesday Netanyahu defied pressure from the United States and Europe to share Jerusalem, saying that he will not stand for the division of the capital and insinuating that he plans to authorize more construction there.,7340,L-4076836,00.html
Netanyahu: Arabs and Jews alike benefit from united Jerusalem
Haaretz 1 June —  … Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin delivered a political message of his own at the Knesset session, highlighting the disparities between the western and eastern parts of the city. “We promised a united Jerusalem but we failed to deliver,” he said. “We built the City of David, established Ma’ale Hazeytim, salvaged the Hurva Synagogue from ruin – but what have we done for Ras al-Amud? What have we done for the children living in East Jerusalem who can’t find a school that will have them?” Rivlin went on to describe the “barely functioning” postal services in East Jerusalem.
Peres: Jerusalem will see peace in our time
Haaretz 1 June — President Shimon Peres said Wednesday that peace could be achieved in Jerusalem in “our time”, declaring that Israel has replaced the divisions that once wracked the holy city by offering freedom to all faiths and creeds.
Vote on Bedouin housing postponed
Ynet 31 May — The Prime Minister’s Office has decided to postpone the presentation of a report reviewing the status of Bedouin settlements in the Negev, as well as the subsequent government vote on its conclusions, Ynet learned Tuesday. The decision followed what was described as extensive pressure by the various parties, most notably over the report’s recommendation to allot Bedouins in the Negev hundreds of thousands of acres of land, in favor of future towns. Both the Right and the Left have reportedly claimed that the Bedouins’ persistent refusal to settle in regulated townships — as offered by various governments over decades – has rendered them ineligible to receive the scopes of land recommended in the report.The Bedouin settlement plan, put together by a special unit in the Prime Minister’s Office, aims to regulate the land issue, and prevent Bedouin tribes from illegally squatting across the Negev.,7340,L-4076737,00.html
2 hurt in attack in Bethlehem village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 May — Israeli settlers injured two Palestinians in the Sinjil village Tuesday, residents said. The settlers filmed an attack on one of the Palestinians, according to onlookers in the Ramallah village. The mayor called the Palestinian Authority, which coordinated with Israel the settlers’ evacuation.
Settler arson attack on the village of Madama
ISM 1 June — On Monday 30 May at 4pm, the villagers of Madama reported that a fire had been started by seven to eight settlers in one of the village’s wheat fields. The field was close to the place where less than a week ago, Hamad Jaber Qut – a 66 year old shepherd, was attacked by 15 settler youths with knives and sticks whilst tending his sheep and getting ready for prayer. Mohammed, a resident of Madama, witnessed the arson attack which came at the hands of settlers who reside in the illegal settlement, Yizhar which is 1.5km away on top of one of the hills overlooking the Palestinian village. Mohammed saw them throw petrol and light the wheat. On seeing the smoke, the residents of Madama called the fire brigade to put the fire out, by which time the settlers had retreated back into the settlement. The fire was put out in due course.
Bethlehem: Checkpoint at dawn with Palestinian workers
AIC 1 June — 2410 people crossed the Bethlehem checkpoint the other day in two hours and forty five minutes, from 3.55AM to 6.40AM. “A good average if compared to a regular day,” related a volunteer of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), an association that monitors the Bethlehem check point twice weekly. Sometimes we stay here until 7.45-8 AM for the same number of people.” … Every morning the workers wait at least one hour in an iron cage, outside. The cage’s broken roof doesn’t spare them from the cold of winter, the terrible heat of summer and the rain. This cage is more than 100 metres long but once inside it feels never ending … This is only the first step, a sort of people flow control before the real checkpoint.
Hamas: Rafah border is paralyzed
Ahram 1 June — Palestinian officials told Ahram Online that Rafah Crossing is paralysed after Egyptian authorities restored restrictions on the border with Gaza Wednesday. Only two buses crossed from Egypt to Gaza during Wednesday, according to Ghazy Hamad, a senior official to the Hamas foreign minister in Gaza. He added that there is disagreement between Hamas and Egypt over the number of travellers to be permitted to cross every day, and the criteria under which people can gain entry visas, whether to Gaza or Egypt…  “Ninety five per cent of the people on this blacklist do not have security problems with Egypt; the list also includes old women in their seventieth year,” Hamad said.
PA ambassador to address Egypt’s Rafah blacklist
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 June — Officials at the Palestinian embassy to Egypt said Wednesday that contacts were being made with Egyptian authorities over the publication of a list of 5,000 blacklisted from travel through the newly opened Rafah crossing. Sources said there were already promises from Cairo to review the names on the list, which were principally Gaza residents currently inside the coastal enclave. If on the blacklist, a Palestinian cannot receive permission to travel via the crossing with Egypt. Representative of Palestine in Cairo Mohammad Arafat said the situation was being handled delicately, following Egyptian insistence that all efforts already made came in the face of immense pressure from Israel and the United States. “Egypt is under Israeli and US pressure to close Rafah and to keep the situation as it was after June 2007,” Arafat told Ma‘an
Scores at Rafah spark tension with Egypt
RAFAH (Ma‘an) 1 June — An escalated crisis between Egypt and the Hamas government of the Gaza Strip was dampened Tuesday night, as officials met over ways to handle the flood of Palestinians seeking to cross the Rafah border terminal … On the first day of full operations, 530 Palestinians used the terminal crossing both ways, while the second day saw 845 Palestinians pass through the terminal. On Monday, the third day of operations, 722 Palestinians entered or exited Gaza. The slow process and long lines frustrated officials, while a list of more than 5,000 Palestinians blacklisted from using the terminal sparked anger from Hamas. Officials traded increasingly headed accusations over who failed in the creation of a mechanism to allow Palestinians to use Rafah, culminating in a late-night meeting between security personnel from both sides. Following the meeting, the officials announced that a cap of 400 travelers per day would be set on the crossing, and the names of the permitted passengers would be posted one day ahead of travel … Hamas officials in Gaza have accused Egyptians of failing to meet their pledge to fully open the crossing. In Cairo, however, officials say they are doing more than enough, noting the move is already a challenge to Israel.
Egypt: Consulate may open in Gaza after govt formed
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 June — Egypt is seriously considering the possibility of opening a consulate in Gaza City, a top official was quoted Wednesday, saying the office would oversee travel coordination for those not permitted to travel freely through the newly opened Rafah crossing. The office, Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinian Authority Yaser Othman told Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hal, would be a branch of the consular seat in Ramallah, and could be opened shortly after the new unified Palestinian cabinet is announced. According to the paper, released by Birzeit University’s Center for Media Development based in Ramallah, Othman said the principal task of the office would be to coordinate travel permits for men between 18-40, who are currently the only group not permitted free passage via the Rafah border crossing
Gaza’s third generator to resume operations
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 June — The Gaza Energy Authority announced Wednesday that the power station’s third generator would resume operations as of 2 p.m. Since 2007, Israel’s closure of the Gaza Strip has led to severely restricted fuel supply, causing power shortages. Restrictions on the import of equipment saw the power station’s four generators reduced to three, only two of which have been working since 2009. A plant official said a strategic reserve had been tapped, in order to provide the necessary fuel for the third generator, but cited a lack of funds to purchase fuel for the regular operations. In 2011, the restricted Israeli supply was supplemented by fuel smuggled in through the underground tunnels connecting Egypt and Gaza, used in electricity generation for the first time after a local engineer developed a refining process. The engineer was later abducted by Israeli intelligence agents during a trip to the Ukraine. Kanan Obeid, president of the Energy Authority, decided to re-launch a near-capacity generation schedule in time for high school students to study for their final exams, set for June 15. The set of tests, known locally as the Tawjihi, determine which programs at Palestinian universities students can apply to. Before the third generator began operating, Gaza residents had eight hours of rolling blackouts a day.
Video: Gaza Reels
A timely and slick video from Gisha on how Israel controls Gaza, along with a “cheat sheet” on the closure policy
Israeli forces  — violence / attacks / incursions
ISFSR: Attacks aimed at striking Palestinian survival
NABLUS (PIC) 1 June — The International Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights said Israel’s attacks on the Al-Bara Muslim girls association and the office of the Islamic orphan relief fund on Tuesday morning in Jenin were only the last in a long series of violations targeting organizations operating in the occupied Palestinian territories. Altogether ISFHR researcher Ahmed al-Beitawi documented 21 attacks on institutions and associations in the Palestinian territories since the onset of 2010. The attacks targeted charities, centers of culture, art, and the media, and village councils. Most notably, the Israeli occupation forces raided the Al-Maqasid charity society in Jerusalem and the international solidarity movement in Ramallah in late January and early February of 2010. In the operation, the IOF arrested foreign activists and deported them. Later in February, the IOF raided the headquarters of the Hope cancer patient fund … Beitawi said that the attacks were aimed at striking Palestinian organizations designed to relieve disadvantaged Palestinians under occupation and help them survive on their land.

Israeli gunboat fires on fishermen in Gazan waters
ISM 1 June — Ramadan Zidan, 51, and his son Mohamed, 20 set sail from the harbor in Gaza at seven in the morning, they didn’t plan to go far, only to fish outside of the harbor. For an hour and half everything went well, it was a beautiful morning and they still hoped to have a successful day of fishing. When the Israeli gunboat first started to approach them at eight thirty a.m. they thought nothing of it, they were close to the port, nowhere near the Israeli imposed three mile limit on Palestinian fisherman. Unexpectedly the gunboat started to shoot around their boat.
Short video: Night raid / Haitham Khatib
29 May — One o’clock after midnight, two Israeli Jeeps Invaded the center of Bil’in village, and the soldiers became throwing sound bombs randomly causing a panic and inconvenience to the citizens when they are asleep.
PA to cover treatment of journalist injured on Nakba Day
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 June — Palestinian journalist Muhammad Othman will be transferred to Jordan for medical treatment at the expense of the Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas ordered on Wednesday. Othman was shot in the chest by Israeli soldiers while covering a rally commemorating the Nakba Day on May 15, near the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. Sources told Ma’an that Othman has hemiplegia, and is unable to move the left side of his body as a result of the wound, which doctors said damaged his spinal cord.
Aid flotillas
Photoessay: Undefeated, freedom flotillas expand
GAZA CITY 31 May  (IPS) – A gleaming new memorial towers in the centre of Gaza City’s battered port. Flanked by flags of various nations whose citizens have sailed to the Gaza Strip to highlight the all-out siege on Gaza, the memorial’s inscription bears the names of the Turkish solidarity activists who died one year ago when Israeli commandos firing machine guns air-dropped onto the Freedom Flotilla, killing nine and injuring over 50 of the civilians on board.
MV Finch: Three Malaysian on Gaza aid mission arrive home
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) 1 June — Three of the six Malaysians who were on board the MV Finch to send humanitarian aid to Gaza, arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport Wednesday evening … The three were among 12 passengers on board the vessel which left Malaysia on May 3 to send 7.5 kilometres of PVC pipes in an effort to restore the sewage system in Gaza … MV Finch has been stranded in Egyptian waters and until yesterday had yet to receive consent from the Egyptian government to dock at El-Arish Port.
Haniyeh surprised by UN chief’s opposition to flotilla
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 May — The head of the Hamas government in Gaza said Tuesday he was surprised to hear the UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s statements calling on organizers to cancel an aid flotilla. Ismail Haniyeh urged Ban to backtrack on his call and support the Palestinian cause – not to “ignore Israeli massacres against the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza.”
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Soldiers disperse protest in north Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 May — Israeli forces opened fire during a protest in Gaza early Tuesday, activists said. There were no injuries in the incident in Beit Hanoun, along the border with Israel, the coordinator for the demonstration against Israel’s no-go zone, Saber Za‘anin, explained. Residents walk toward the no-go zone each Tuesday demanding access to their farmland. Israel’s army says it considers the area a combat zone and frequently opens fire.
Israel warns Syria, Lebanon ahead of ‘Naksa Day’
Ynet 1 June — Israel issued a harsh warning to Syria and Lebanon ahead of ‘Naksa Day’ – the 44th anniversary of the Six Day War. “We shall use all means to prevent an attack on our sovereignty. You will be held accountable,” the message said. Israel is raising its alert level ahead of Sunday’s events, which may involve marches on Israel’s borders similar to those held on ‘Nakba Day.’ Israel has also informed the United Nations it will not tolerate any attack on its sovereignty. The Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Akhbar newspaper reported that Sunday’s events may be canceled in light of enormous pressure on Hezbollah and the Lebanese Army which may hurt their ability to secure the marches.,7340,L-4077203,00.html
Christians plan mass at Bethlehem checkpoint
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 June– Churches and community groups from Bethlehem and Jerusalem will hold a church service on Saturday next to the checkpoint dividing the cities, a statement said Monday. After the service, at the Benedictine Church abutting the checkpoint, congregants will process by candlelight along the separation wall, and gather to watch presentations and films projected on the wall about the restrictions on Palestinians’ access to Jerusalem, according to organizers. [End]
Deheishe Camp refugees speak, prepare for return on 5 June
AIC 1 June — Between the narrow streets in the Deheishe Refugee Camp, the 1948 refugees get ready for 5 June. After the Nakba commemoration of 15 of May, the Palestinian refugees killed and injured on the borders with Lebanon and the Israeli soldiers’ violence in West Bank, Palestinian refugees will march again. Rumors run rampant amongst the 15,000 refugees in Deheishe, who promise to take part in the commemoration. “On 5 June we won’t go back to our homes — Khalil, a 23 years old man says — but it will be the beginning of our struggle. We won’t free Palestine with a demonstration, but we will regain our lost unity.
Photos: Lebanon Nakba march
25 black-and-white photos of the May 15 march
Coldplay endorses Freedom for Palestine single on Facebook page
Haaretz 1 June — British music giant Coldplay have endorsed an upcoming musical collaboration called “Freedom for Palestine,” released as a single by the War on Want and One World foundations. Writing on their official Facebook page on Wednesday, Coldplay referred fans to the “Freedom for Palestine” page, saying: Some of our friends are involved in OneWorld’s new ‘Freedom for Palestine’ single,” providing a link to the official “‘Freedom for Palestine”
VIDEO: Greek BDS activists plant trees in Estee Lauder store
EI 31 May — … According to a press release from an activist performance group calling itself the Land Annexation Society, six participants dressed in suits as members of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and “proceeded to ‘plant’ trees over the Estee Lauder shop space [in Thessaloniki, Greece] … flyers were distributed to shoppers and staff informing them that ‘this Estee Lauder space is currently being rezoned.'” The JNF is an Israeli quasi-governmental institution which has facilitated ethnic cleansing operations since 1948 and continues to administer land-grabs for Jewish-only use in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, and in places like al-Araqib in the Naqab (Negev) desert. It was tasked with literally covering up the destruction of approximately 500 Palestinian villages beginning in the late 1940s by planting trees and forests over the ruins of Palestinian homes. The JNF has currently re-branded itself as an environmental charity organization, and has implemented its land confiscation policies as ones under a benign-sounding ‘re-greening’ project in the Naqab.
Administrative detention of Hamas lawmaker extended
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 1 June — Israeli authorities extended Tuesday the administrative detention of former minister and legislator Nayef Rajoub for an additional six months, two days ahead of the end of his current term … Under a 1979 Israeli military law, Palestinians can be detained without charge for a period of up to six months, a period of administrative detention that can be renewed indefinitely. At last count there were 222 Palestinians being held under the law, two of whom have been detained without charge for more than 43 consecutive months.
Change and Reform Bloc denounces extension of MP’s detention
MEMO 1 June — The Change and Reform Bloc of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) has denounced the Occupation Authority’s decision to extend the detention of one of its members, Nayef Rajoub, for another six months. The bloc considered the decision to be part of an Israeli strategy to eliminate the symbols of Palestinian legitimacy. In a press statement released on Tuesday, May 31, the bloc stated that the verdict reflected Israel’s insistence on violating the immunity of Palestinian members of parliament
Group: 26 from Bethlehem arrested in May
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 1 June — Israel arrested 26 residents of Bethlehem last month, the Palestinian Prisoners Society said Wednesday. Abed Khalil, the head of the rights group, said arrests increased in May among minors. The army destroyed property and used jeeps during the raids that arrested many schoolchildren, he said.
Israel detains 5 in West Bank overnight
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 1 June — Israeli forces detained five Palestinians from areas of the West Bank overnight, a military statement said, with Palestinian officials identifying a young man and two minors taken from the Qalqiliya area … Local sources told Ma‘an that several Israeli military jeeps entered the neighborhood, breaking street lights and plunging the area in to darkness as soldiers carried out home raids. Relatives said the homes of the three detained were ransacked.
Sheikh Salah charged with obstructing officer
Ynet 1 June — Islamic Movement leader charged with violently refusing security checks on Jordanian border,7340,L-4077009,00.html
Israel to release detainee suffering from cancer
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 1 June — The Israeli military prosecutor at Ofer detention center has endorsed an appeal to release a Palestinian prisoner in administrative detention since Jan. 17, because he has cancer. Lawyer Tariq Barghouth, who works for the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Prisoners Affairs, said Wednesday that the prosecutor agreed to release 58-year-old Yasser Rajoub from Hebron in the southern West Bank after his condition worsened.
Political / Diplomatic / International news
Palestinians may try to sidestep US veto in UN statehood push, official says
AP 1 June — …Security Council approval is needed to gain acceptance as a UN member. But President Barack Obama has signaled the U.S. will use its veto power in the council. The Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Wednesday that the Palestinians will seek an emergency session of the General Assembly known as “Uniting for Peace” to override any veto. The move is certain to set off legal wrangling. And Malki acknowledged the Palestinians still do not have the required two-thirds support in the assembly.
Other news
Israel-Iran trade ties thriving
Ynet 31 May — Under American radar, dozens of Israeli companies secretly engage in relations with Islamic Republic through third parties —  Iranian money appears to be stronger than the Iranian threat, as dozens of Israeli companies have been holding secret trade relations with the Islamic Republic in recent years.
TA rampage driver receives threat letters
Ynet 31 May — Lawyer of driver suspected [by some] of carrying out deadly rampage in Tel Aviv on ‘Nakba Day’ gets letter with suspect’s photo with swastikas on through forehead … The letter contained racist slurs, calling the driver “a pig son of a pig”, “Palestinazi,” and other debasing statements. The author of the letter also write “the terrorist will never leave jail,” and that “the sea is the same sea, and Arabs are the same Arabs — garbage.”,7340,L-4076704,00.html
Magic Wand defense system slated for test run
Ynet 31 May — Defense establishment says mid-range anti-missile system to become operational sooner than expected,7340,L-4076672,00.html
TV anchor under fire for Arab discrimination comment during Netanyahu’s US Congress speech
Haaretz 1 June — Dozens of viewers complain about comment added by Yonit Levy of Channel 2 television about the status of Arabs in Israel – said during the prime minister’s speech to Congress.
Gaza man sentenced to death on collaboration charge
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 June — A military court in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip sentenced a man from Rafah to death Tuesday after he was found guilty of collaboration with enemy entities. Fadel Msallam Shallouf, 26, was sentenced to death by hanging, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported. The court convicted Shallouf of spying for an enemy state.
Even Hamas leaders don’t know where Shalit is
Haaretz 1 June — Home Front Defense Minister says most of the militants involved in the soldier’s capture from Gaza five years ago ‘are no longer with us … Most of the members of Hamas who know where Shalit is being held died “in unfortunate accidents,” Vilnai said. “Anyone involved in the abduction does not need to worry about the day that he will end up in an old-age home, because he will not get there,” added the minister.
Analysis / Opinion
What about defensible borders for Palestine? / Yousef Munayyer
31 May — Let’s recap a few basic points: 1. Israel occupies Palestine and not the other way around. 2. Israel has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, the states on its longest borders. 3. Israel has one of the most advanced armies in the world with a vast arsenal of offensive weapons. 4. Israel has hundreds of Nuclear Weapons. 5. Per U.S. and Israeli demands, the proposed Palestinian state would have no military. . Israel has actively and aggressively colonized Palestinian territory through the use of force, not the other way around. 7. Israeli settlers have a history of aggressive violence against Palestinians and zealously covet Palestinian territory. And yet, despite all of this, the debate continues to be about whether the ’67 lines are defensible for Israel?
Jerusalem Day celebrations will not cover up the city’s rot and discrimination / Yossi Sarid
Haaretz 1 June — Jerusalem Day is an artificial celebration, which only the religious Zionist movement, settlers, workers on an organized outing, the president, the mayor and Channel 1 bother celebrating in a big way. Most people in Israel don’t even know, and don’t care, why it even exists.
Foundation myths / Joseph Dana
Tablet 1 June — On May 15, five days after Israel’s Independence Day, Palestinians rallied around the Nakba — the Arabic word for catastrophe, used to mark the displacement of as many as 750,000 Palestinians in 1948. It was a bid to reiterate their opposition to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and control of the Gaza Strip. For the first time in years, every Israeli newspaper carried the word ‘Nakba’ on its front page, albeit not in reference to the historical event but to demonstrations that consumed the West Bank and Israel’s border towns. The episode highlighted an important truth: Sooner or later, Israel will be forced to incorporate the Palestinian Nakba narrative into the larger Israeli societal discourse. There can be a Zionist narrative of 1948 that includes the tragic and violent Palestinian experience of displacement — but it must be predicated on the acceptance of the Nakba in Israeli society.
The US-Israeli train wreck / Jeff Gates
Dissident Voice 31 May — President Obama hopes to head off a train wreck in September at the U.N. General Assembly. That’s when member nations plan to press for an independent Palestine. The Israel lobby is furious. Critics doubt that the General Assembly has the authority to recognize Palestine. Yet protection of member sovereignty has been a goal of the U.N. since its founding. Thus the priority that Israel placed on U.N. recognition after President Harry Truman acknowledged Israel on May 14, 1948, eleven minutes after the Zionist enclave declared itself a state. Truman refused to recognize this enclave as “the Jewish state.” Despite Barack Obama’s reference to the Jewish state in a recent speech on the Middle East, during the final days before granting recognition and thereby “legitimacy,” Truman was consumed with the fear that Zionist aspirations would lead to a racist or a theocratic state.Those concerns led Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann to lobby Truman with a seven-page letter reassuring him that Jewish settlers envisioned a thoroughly secular state similar to the U.S. and Great Britain. (listserv) (archive)

Most American Jews would consider it a ‘major tragedy’ if Israel ceased to exist (but only 1/4 say ‘biggest tragedy of my lifetime’)

Jun 01, 2011

Philip Weiss

JTA report on a poll of 1000 American Jews conducted by the rightwing group CAMERA. Supports my view that the Jewish community is very conservative on these questions, including dividing Jerusalem, but maybe there’s light at the end of the tunnel?

More than 75 percent of those polled said the biggest obstacle to peace in the region is the Palestinians’ “culture of hatred” and promotion of anti-Israel sentiment.

Seventy-eight percent said it was essential for the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and 62 percent did not believe that Israelis would be free from Palestinian terror attacks even if a Palestinian state were created in the West Bank and Gaza.

Nearly one in four said they would consider it “the biggest tragedy of my lifetime” if Israel were to no longer exist, and 58 percent said they would call it “a major tragedy that personally concerned me.”

Major New Weblog Features: The Anti Hypocrite Tools

Jun 01, 2011


Back in January we promised everyone some major features.

And some of them came to pass, like editing comments after the fact. Or even more importantly, cleaning up badly formatted URLs.

But we we’ve had a major feature almost finished but giving us a bit of trouble so the launch was delayed and delayed.

In celebration of the arrival of summer, we are offering all of our beloved readers a new set of Anti Hypocrite Tools.

Linked to every name now is a full list of all the past comments of that commenter.

So if you are trying to find false flags and duplicity, it’s much, much easier.

An even more powerful tool is searching any commenter’s past comments.

If you’d like to see everything any given commentator has said about BDS, you just have to go to his profile page and search. Here is a sample profile page: is a sample search query:

From here it’s straightforward to find comments which contradict one another and would indicate bad faith from the commenter.

These tools are not just great for catching hypocrites at their dirty work. You can also include a larger bio, a home page and a profile photo (go to to get a photo).

To add your own bio and your own home page go to your profile, here:

These tools are also great for enjoying the comments of those commenters who are particularly interesting and less prolific for example Eva.

Let us know if there is any way we can improve these tools for you. Keep in mind, these tools are powerful queries spanning 300k comments and the pages may load a little more slowly than a normal page.

An open letter to Fouad Ajami on his misrepresentation of the Arab revolutions

Jun 01, 2011


Neocon Fouad Ajami lately published an attack on the Palestinians in the Wall Street Journal— an unfiltered anthology of Israeli myths and lies, revisionist history, misrepresentation of the Arab revolution, and so forth; dismissing the UN statehood effort. I wrote out a letter, an e-mail really, to Ajami only to find that he does not have a listed e-mail. Odd, considering he’s an academic who frequently publishes. I guess he does not want to hear any rebuttals.

I kind of felt like kicking myself after I had written so lengthy a letter and now without anything to do with it. Then I thought maybe it could be an open letter.


I have read your books and try to read all your WSJ contributions, but this is the first time I have decided to reply in a (open) letter. I hope you’ll do the same, a simple courtesy, and fully read this letter.

I never truly appreciated your callousness and proclivity to pander to American Zionists until I read your recent op-ed in the WSJ dismissing the forthcoming Palestinian statehood declaration. Even for a page that features the likes of Bret Stephens, it was filled with casual lies and distortion of history, and adopted so uncritically the Israeli narrative, in a pathetic effort to cater to the “White Man”.

You say the Palestinians and Arabs rejected partition and chose war with the Zionists, but I know you know that the Zionists were working with the Hashemite kingdom to sabotage any truncated Palestinian state. Even if the Palestinians accepted the principle that they should attend to Western hearts and guilt by sacrificing their own land and accepted a partition plan whereby the one-third population of Jews, overwhelmingly recent immigrants, nay colonizers, should receive 55% of Palestine while the two-thirds population of indigenous Palestinians should redraw their borders to solely 41% of their homeland (I am sure it is superfluous to remind you that Jerusalem was proscribed an international zone on 4% of the land), an absurd partition plan, unprecedented in history where colonization is bestowed not just with recognition but with an even more favorable condition than the natives (it is not as if the Palestinians were accorded even a majority of the land, how did they the actual majority of the people get less than half? and they are supposed to be the bad guy and ingrates for not accepting this handed down injustice?!). But even if the Palestinians accepted this cruelty, the Zionists and Hashemites were in agreement that no Palestinian state should come into being. The Zionists – then and now – believe that Zionism cannot survive unless the natives are denied their rights. It was not the Palestinians who sought to deny the Jews, since Palestinian nationalism does not deny Jews their rights as individuals, but the Zionists who were not content to deny simply Palestinian statehood but the very idea of a Palestinian people, to quote your inspirer Golda Meir.

And your nonsense about combined Arab armies, meant to convey a massive Arab force seeking to overrun a underdog Jewish force, is further disinformation when you know that the Arab forces were 1) late to the game 2) 1/3 of the combined force of the Zionists 3) poorly armed as opposed to the Zionists who had superior weapons, procured weapons, including bombers from sympathetic Americans, and even violated the ceasefire agreement to purchase weapons and 4) the Arabs were so poorly organized that they were at times shooting at one another and 5) most of the Arab armies never even crossed into the territory allocated for the colonial Jewish state. And besides, the Zionists had ethnically cleansed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians even before a single Arab army declared war, whatever the merit of that declaration.

Contrary to your Zionist propaganda, the Palestinians did not flee on their own accord, but were massacred and compelled to flee under threat of further violence. You cite Jaffa, the Palestinians in Jaffa, then Palestine’s greatest city and so important that it was carved out by the United Nations as part of the Arab state, an Arab island of 70,000 citizens, enveloped by the Jewish state next to Tel Aviv in the partition. In Jaffa, the people were pushed into the sea by the Zionists who later posed as victims of Arabs who were allegedly seeking to do unto them what they had cruelly did to the Palestinians. Jaffa was the victim of a barrage of rockets, you know the ones Israel whines about today, by Menachem Begin’s Stern gang, leading to tens of thousands to escape (what they thought temporary) via ferry to Beirut. But the Zionists made sure there was no return. And Begin used Jaffa as a way to prove his Zionist bona fides. For it was the Zionists who refused to accept an Arab city in their generous 55% allocation. (who has the sense of entitlement? forgive the Palestinians for actually believing they have a right to their country).

It is fallacious that you seek to position Arab Jews as comparable to Palestinian refugees, a Zionist gimmick. In no way to lessen their plight, but their tragedy is not the same: it was a migration or forced exodus over decades, greatly encouraged by the Zionists, and many were allowed to sell their property, and they deserve compensation and return, but that is a separate issue for which the Palestinians do not need to answer. Your statement about the Beirut of your dreams and the Jewish quarter being a Hezbollah enclave, what further fabrication! The Jewish quarter is in Beirut’s Sunni dominated central district and the Maghen synagogue has been recently renovated, that entire area is as much a Hezbollah stronghold as the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board is dominated by leftists. Hezbollah wouldn’t dare to even step foot next to Lebanese Sunnis who detest it. And are you ever reminiscent about the lost quarters of the Palestinians? I am sure you know this but I guess without such nonsense and pandering you would not be part of the club, and not get published. Sell your soul to be treated like a human being by America’s fanatical pro-Israel elites.

One last point: Nothing was more egregious than your patently false statement that the Arabs in Tunis, Cairo, et al have not raised the banner of Palestine since the revolution began. Of course, if you read Arabic newspapers, and I am sure you do, you know that many Egyptians have been open about their disdain for Israel, a wish to end the shameful bought “peace” of Sadat, attacking Mubarak-Suleiman as stooges, and proudly raising the flag of Palestine. But if you choose to adopt the Tom Friedman nonsense that the revolutions have no foreign policy implications, that’s your wish to ignore reality. Palestine is there, it is always there for Arabs.

Let me conclude by stating that I am a Tunisian living in America and I watched every moment of my birth nation and its revolution in exhilarating and tearful excitement. Do not use the rising up of the Arab people as a fig leaf in your silly and inferiority-minded polemics. No Tunisian would ever dignify you, for you readily humiliate yourself. An Arab like yourself, so eager to cast aspersions on the Palestinians people, who have suffered so much and so unfairly, no, this moment is not for you. You do not share it with us. We do not wish to have you. Please, no longer wish us Arabs goodwill for we do not seek it from such a hand. On the day of the Tunisian revolution, an al Jazeera screen grab casually captured a Palestinian flag hanging from a Tunisian apartment balcony. Palestine always waves high for the Arabs, it is always there, Tunisians have not forgotten it and have shouted, in an amendment, “The people want the liberation of Palestine”.

Nothing is more vulgar than to use the Arab revolution to advance your anti-Palestinian cause, the revolution does not vindicate you, it refutes you. Palestine will only rise in a free Arab world. It is your tyrants Ben Ali, Mubarak and al-Saud who sought to deny Palestine in the Arab conscience. Every Arab knows that the Arab revolution will not be complete until Palestine is free. A cursory run through a Tunisian Facebook page will show that Palestine is still the heart of the Arab people. So, please, at least have the decency to acknowledge that you are not part of the Arab moment, rejected by the Arab people and further pulling yourself away, and that you may never awake from your slumber to recognize the justice of the Palestinian cause and call yourself an Arab, head held high.

Are Palestinians standing up for an inclusive national identity?

Jun 01, 2011


Editor’s note: Clenchner, a commenter at this site, is an American Israeli living in New York. He was a founder of the Shministim group in 1987 and spent time in prison as a refusenik. And oh, we try and have some bandwidth on this site.

The New York Times has a story the other day about one of the difficulties emerging out of the Arab Spring. It turns out that secular citizenship and modern, state based nationhood are still very difficult concepts for many in the Arab world. In Egypt, conflict between Muslims and Copts still represents a major unresolved tension. In Lebanon, well, it’s Lebanon. Syria’s ruling structure is often expressed in sectarian terms as an Allawite regime. Jordan’s history is intertwined with the tensions between a Palestinian majority and the Hashemite monarchy that enjoys strongest support from Bedouin tribes. Bahrain? Sudan? Western Sahara? Berbers? Where exactly is the secular ‘state of all citizens’ in existence in the Arab world?

This isn’t to say that there isn’t strong support for the idea of the secular nation state or Arab nationalism. There is, and it has often come from the region’s Christians and other minorities. The Muslim religion, some would say, does a good job of articulating the need for a stronger, community wide sense of identity that trumps loyalty to a tribe or clan. The competition between religious, ethnic, tribal, linguistic, racial and geographic identities isn’t a historical blip in the Middle East. Some say it defines the region. The cultural emphasis on ‘unity’ has complex roots in religion and history. Among other things, it is a response to a legacy of divisions, internal and imposed from the outside.

These kinds of observations shouldn’t translate easily into facile comments that encompass ‘Arab culture’ or ‘Muslim civilization.’ But it’s fair and useful to take these observations and connect them to the conversation around one or two states in Palestine. What I want to understand is – what is the current base of support for a redefinition of ‘Palestinian’ to refer to a secular, multi-ethnic and multi-national identity that includes Arabic, Hebrew and Russian speaking individuals?

The narrative I observe among the one state and BDS community is that a) the Zionist state does not deserve to exist as an ethnocracy (or at all) and that b) a secular state of Palestine in which all ethnic and religious identities are equal represents a superior alternative. In South Africa, the explicit goal of the liberation movement was a multiracial democracy in which white, black, Indian and other groups would enjoy equal rights. For a time, this was the explicit goal of Fatah and the Palestinian national movement, between the phase of seeking to drive most Jews out of Palestine, and the current phase of seeking a state over part of Palestine. Are we able to say that there is a consensus among Palestinians for this vision right now?

Most of words I’ve seen about the one state solution focus on the injustice of the status quo, and the attachment of various groups to the ideal of secular, equal citizenship. But very little seems to address the challenges of a citizenship-based secular state in the Arab world. Were I a defender of the status quo or a shill for an unequal Israeli state, I might drive my points further, and argue that a one state solution can’t possibly work. But that’s not my position.

Instead, I thought I’d just ask some questions and see what the community has to say about certain, largely unexplored points. Specifically:

1. Why have efforts to make the Palestinian liberation movement a joint enterprise of both Arabs and Jews largely failed? The only ideological tendency that has included Jews and Palestinians as equals is Communism, as reflected in the history of the Israeli Communist Party, Maki, and in the Trotskyist background of those who founded Matzpen and the Alternative Information Center. The South African experience is that the ANC was constituted as a multiracial movement from the very start. Affirming this wasn’t only a political position expressed pro forma, but a central element of the resistance culture itself. Compare the Freedom Charter to the Palestinian National Charter. (And no, I’m not making a statement about the Charter’s contemporary relevance.)

2. What is the likelihood of a Palestinian political tendency that explicitly includes Israeli Jews as equal members/participants to become prominent in Palestinian political culture? Are we going to see resistance struggles in which Israeli Jews are not relegated to the role of ‘solidarity activists’ as though they were internationals, but instead to roles like that played by whites in the South African struggle, whites like Joe Slovo?

3. Is there a program or organization that is taking on the transformation of Palestinian society and politics to reflect the Arabic/Hebrew/Russian speaking parts of the future Palestinian state that may one day come about? Will it be standing for election? Accepting members on a mass basis, including Hebrew speaking Israelis?

4. When can we expect the Palestinian liberation movement – in the hearts and minds of Palestinians – to reflect the non-sectarian, non-nationalist mindset of a citizenship based state? Before or after the transformation of Israeli Jewish society? What are the formulations that will come to replace ethnic Arab Palestinian nationalism?

These aren’t questions about ‘proving’ one thing or another. They aren’t presented as any kind of defense of the status quo. But if we are talking about the existence of an ideological tendency that strives to establish a certain kind of state in Palestine, we have a duty to ask: how is this being manifested today, in the Palestinian national movement? Where does it stand in relation to the genuine mass movements in Palestinian political culture, the one around Fatah and the one around Hamas?

This isn’t to deny the intellectual output of folks like Ali Abunimah or Uri Davis. I’m well aware of the One Democratic State Group. It’s only that these eminent personalities, for all the work they do, don’t have a mass base. The last Palestinian elections, the ones that brought Hamas into power, were widely seen as fair. Can we point to any elected Palestinian leaders that represent voters (in Israel, Gaza, or the West Bank) or members (trade unions, professional associations, etc.) who are on record articulating a vision of Palestinian national identity that includes Hebrew and Russsian speakers?

My position is that I would like Israeli nationality to include Arabic speaking Israelis as full and equal citizens, which they are not. I support ongoing efforts to push Israel in the direction of a secular state. There are some political parties in the Knesset that support this, including Hadash and Balad. It feels quite wrong though, to impose this view on Palestinians living under occupation, who seem to prefer, by large margins, an ethnic, Arab-Palestinian identity that does not include Hebrew speakers like myself. But a Palestinian mass movement to redefine Palestinian identity would be very persuasive. How likely is that?

‘Tablet’ says peace is only possible if Israelis study the Nakba

Jun 01, 2011

Philip Weiss

Oh my. Tablet has a superb piece by Joseph Dana on the necessity of discussing the Nakba. In the Israeli discourse, the piece says. Well what about the Amurkan discourse? But since when has an American Jewish publication run such a frontal discussion of Israeli foundational myths? Dana excerpts:

In the late 1980s, a group of Israeli “new” historians began rewriting the foundation myths of the country. Through recently declassified Israeli and British state documents, the new historians uncovered a different version of events, which was much closer to Palestinian accounts of partial ethnic cleansing that took place in 1948. Led by [Benny] Morris, a devoted archive historian, they were able to confirm that roughly 750,000 Palestinians fled from their homes, in part due to Israeli military force, small-scale massacre, episodic cases of rape, and violent intimidation. The new historians proved that Israel had planned to expel thousands of Arabs regardless of the success of the U.N. partition plan. As the 1990s dawned, Israeli society was no longer able to easily dismiss the Palestinian narrative of the Nakba as mere propaganda….

Including the Nakba in Israeli public discourse, newspapers, and textbooks hardly means the unqualified embrace of one version of history over another. But open discussion of competing narratives with reference to the historical record is clearly a precondition for any wider kind of social and political understanding between Israeli Jews and Palestinian citizens of Israel and between Israelis and Palestinians. Repressive attempts to criminalize narratives of the Nakba—however partial or wrong-headed its opponents may believe those narratives to be—block any possibility of mutual understanding and weaken critical discourse inside Zionist circles and within Israeli society as a whole. The most likely victim of such misguided attempts to shore up Zionism through attacks on free speech and the historical record is Zionism itself.

Writing on the wall: ‘Coldplay’ endorses ‘Freedom for Palestine’ song

Jun 01, 2011

Philip Weiss

Annie got on this video for us yesterday (she has an amazing nose for news) and lo, Coldplay is into it too. Coldplay, wow, what a band; this is huge, folks.

British music giants Coldplay have endorsed an upcoming musical collaboration called “Freedom for Palestine,” released as a single by the War on Want and One World foundations.

Palestinians once weren’t smart and inventive, Walzer says, but now they are

Jun 01, 2011

Philip Weiss

At Dissent, Michael Walzer says that Netanyahu is walking with his eyes shut toward disaster. And he has this analysis of the Palestinians. Reads like free association, and that’s interesting.

Palestinian leaders would be happy to accept an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, but they are in no way ready to end the conflict; no Palestinian leader has even hinted at a willingness to give up the right of return. None of them are strong enough to do that, but I suspect that none of them want to do that. Their strategic goal is what I am afraid it has always been: the creation of a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish state that they don’t recognize and with which they are not reconciled. But tactically they are newly inventive. They worked backward: their first resort was violence and terror; their last resort is peaceful protest. Had they reversed the order, they would have a state by now. There have been small nonviolent protests in the past, and these protests continue today in villages along the Wall, but they have been and still are marginal to the Palestinian struggle, never endorsed by Fatah or the PLO—and certainly not by Hamas. Now Israel faces the prospect of something radically new. How can it resist masses of men and women, children too, just walking across the ceasefire lines?

Actually, if the Palestinians are smart, as they are these days, they won’t walk across the lines, for that raises the specter of return, and the right of return doesn’t (yet) have sufficient international support. Come September, after the UN recognizes their state, they will march inside the 1967 lines, thousands of them—from Nablus, say, into the nearby settlements and army bases, asserting their own sovereignty and territorial integrity. And what will Israel do then? Many Israeli rightists would, almost certainly, prefer a new terrorist campaign, which would put the Palestinians once again in the wrong. That is certainly possible, but it is, suddenly, less likely than peaceful protest.

Then the song changed

Jun 01, 2011

Alexandra Hartmann

Alexandra Hartmann is a participant in an Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation to Israel and Palestine that is being co-led by Anna Baltzer and Adam Horowitz.

As we drove into Bethlehem from the West Bank, the Israeli separation wall did not loom over our tour bus as much as it sat squat and unchanging in front of us; not so much a shouting declaration of its presence as a constant reminder. As I stood at the base of the wall, I was not moved; I was not in awe. I have been in this country for five days and the occupation already feels like an unflinching reality. What did put a flicker of feeling in my heart was the art, writing, and graffiti painted on the wall by the Palestinians—the words and colors layers deep and overlapping up to varying heights along the six-meter tall cement slab of canvas.

It’s not how I expected to feel about the wall and not how I expected to feel in the occupied regions of Palestine. I didn’t feel defiant or resistant. I didn’t feel a want to beat the wall or tear it down with my bare hands. I felt the need to examine it and look at it and read it and listen to it. The wall itself has a complicated story with many hands and actors, which is separate from and bigger than my story about the wall. Now that I have seen it—touched it—now that members of our delegation have written on it in bright pink paint, we are part of its story. But still, what I’ve contributed is a tiny moment in the wall’s unfurling story and seems minuscule compared to the role it plays in my story of my time within the West Bank.

Similarly to how our drive within the gates of the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim felt different from our time in East Jerusalem, being within the wall and then, further, within the Dheisheh refugee camp felt truly different than sitting in classrooms or coffee shops, talking about the conflict and the plight of the people. Whereas the settlement felt cushioned from the conflict, the camp felt seeped and heavy with it in a way that is hard to describe. Walls are meant to separate, just the same as iron gates, just the same as elective fences. And not only did it seem like our friends in Dheisheh were far separated from the heady academic talks of border agreements and mass amounts of paper-pushing happening in offices in Jerusalem, but they seemed very much trapped within a cage made for them by the wall. One young man told us how he and his friends would drive around the perimeter of the town for entertainment, which takes a mere ten minutes.

Still the people in Dheisheh are warm and resilient. We stayed at the Phoenix Center, an organization started to address growing needs of the camp through service, cultural, and educational programs and so named because of its on-going reconstruction due to multiple demolition orders issued by the Israeli government. The center receives many international volunteers and so as we toured the winding, graffiti-covered streets of the camp, children approached us happily. often offering us greetings in English and colloquial Arabic. Our guide, Aysar, led us through the neighborhood, stopping to tell us about the artwork on the walls and to explain how the Israeli army would do nightly raids in the neighborhood, just to train their troops. He talked of many hardships, but he had such a natural ease about him as he paused his talks to light a cigarette then continued, sauntering through the streets, greeting friends along the way. In fact, as we walked through the camp, I was put quite at ease. In appearance, it was not unlike areas in Morocco, Malawi, or Guatemala where I have traveled before and the projects of the Phoenix Center reminded me of NGO work around the globe. Some people insist that the Palestinian conflict is not unique. In many ways they are right;  history repeats itself. But the fact that finding a bittersweet familiarity in poverty and struggle makes one more comfortable amongst  their manifestations—as I felt walking through the camp—is a sick phenomenon that needs addressing.

I felt these waves of familiarity throughout the day as Naji, the director of the Phoenix Center, and his wife shared their stories. I felt them still as Aysar and his friend Ahmad smoked with us on the roof of the center after dinner and then led us through the now-unlit streets to another cultural center in the camp to smoke hookah. As we sat around a small table in a dining area on the top floor, passing the hookah pipe and listening to Ahmad play al-‘ud, I felt that I could be anywhere in the world at that moment and that I was truly among friends. I let the sweet smoke and warm summer breeze brush my face and felt an intense calm.

Then the song changed. “We often traveled and played concerts with another friend. One day we were crossing through the checkpoint back into the West Bank and he was shot and killed. We wrote this song for him.”

Ahmad plucked the strings of his instrument with purpose, his back curved so that his cheek could rest wearily on the smooth curve of its body. A cigarette dangled from his lips and his friends gently took  it from him when the ash accumulated, replacing it after taking a drag from it themselves. I stared out the window as one of the two large, bright nearby rooftop lights meant to illuminate the pathways of the camp flickered and waned against the dark of the night.

Palestine is like no other place on earth; the Palestinians like no other people.

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